Welcome to round 3 of the Post-season Playoff Edition!
Possibly the most exciting post-season in years continues with more thrills promised. And one can argue yet again that one or two other teams deserve to be here, however, every team that played Wild Card weekend is now eliminated and only the top teams survived. These big dogs face-off in the Championship round to determine who goes to The Show, and who watches it on TV. With the match-ups on this weekend’s card, you’re bound to need more than just your popcorn ready, you’ll need some ice, too!
2015/16 Playoff Teams Remaining: Patriots, Panthers, Broncos, Cardinals
NOTE: GAMES ARE SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2016 – CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS @ DENVER BRONCOS
The Line: Patriots -3
The Game: Sunday, January 24, 2016 – 12:05PM, PT on CBS – Forecast: 44f Mostly Cloudy/Winds 6m
The Skinny: The Patriots are healthy again and have served notice to the remaining teams. What’s more, the end results in the post-season has been true to form, so far. Reason enough to side with the Patriots? Well, hold your horses. Although the Gronk/Edelman return surely played a part in the New England victory last week, Kansas City actually made them look better than they are getting credit for with their top two pass rushers damaged and not a factor. Expect the Broncos to put more pressure on Brady, and to play the short pass better as well.
New England is ailing at the linebacker position and this could help the needed ground game…which helps Mr. Manning. Peyton is smart and will pick apart the Patriot defense if given enough time. He certainly has the weapons to throw to. His second start in a while will be a charm. Will his game be charmed enough to win? No one knows for now, but this game screams ‘he who has less turnovers’. Oh, and I can’t be the only one rooting for a dynamic exit for the sure first-ballot future Hall of Famer. Broncos Win, 27-24
ARIZONA CARDINALS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS
The Line: Panthers -3
The Game: Sunday, January 24, 2016 – 3:40PM, PT on FOX – Forecast: 30f Clear/Winds 3m
The Skinny: At the start of the season, I picked the Cardinals to finish third in the NFC West behind the Seahawks and Rams mainly because I lacked belief in the Arizona O-line. I also said they were by far the most intriguing team to me. I got the ‘intriguing’ part right, and that they still are. If I had to pick a second-most intriguing team it would be the one the Cardinals are facing this weekend, the Carolina Panthers.
Arizona is first in total offense and rated one notch higher in total defense than Carolina. So why don’t I feel pretty good about their chances? I’ll tell ya why…Because they are still without Tyrann Mathieu, and because the Panthers, at the top spot, are ranked a notch higher in points per game than the Cardinals. Also because the Panthers lead the league in that all-to-important turnover ratio. The Cardinals are fourth, but it’s not that close. Now, throw in home field advantage and the fact that AZ head coach Bruce Arians had to call out his O-line this week on the basis that, in his own words, they’ve been ‘getting their ass kicked’ in recent weeks. Of course, they (the offensive linemen) can respond in a positive way to this public statement, but I have every reason to doubt that it makes much difference against this Panthers defense. However, all that said, after last week, I’m not betting against Carson Palmer…Nor am I betting against Cam. Panthers Win, 24-20
Last week’s Wild Card record vs. the spread: W1 – L3, Total post-season record: 4W-4L
Good luck in the post-season. Thanks, and good luck, Mr. Betting Mann!