Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NFL Championship Game Picks

Packers @
Colts @


  • Like last week, everybody likes the home teams.

  • Since some early struggles and a 3-3 start, the Seahawks have finished on a very impressive 9-1 streak. That streak seems a bit less impressive when you notice that 7 of those games were facing offenses in the bottom half of the league (ranked 19th or lower) in points scored. They also played 4 of those games facing teams starting their second or third string quarterbacks (or fourth string, depending on where you want to put Ryan Lindley).

    I feel like the Seahawks are vulnerable to a high scoring team. Their record bears this out, they are 1-4 when their opponent scores 24+ points. On paper, the Packers look look like a team that can take advantage of this weakness.

    The biggest problem with this plan is Aaron Rodgers is hurt, and will almost certainly still be limited for Sunday. Beyond that, the Packers offense has also shown signs of struggling against good defenses, particularly on the road. Two of those games (@ Seahawks and @ Lions) were early in the season, but the third (@ Bills) was just a few weeks ago.

    Another problem for the Packers is their run defense. They've done a lot better since the bye week, but Sunday will be facing the best QB-RB rushing duo in the league. The Cowboys ran for 145 yards last week, and it seems almost certain the Seahawks will be able to surpass that. Maybe the Packers have a chance if they can score early and often, and keep it a game where the Seahawks will feel like they need to pass a lot to stay in it. But I think this is gonna be closer to the season opener, where the Packers kept it close for a while, but the Seahawks pull away in the second half.

  • Last week, Andrew Luck and the Colts took a big first step in shaking off their "can't win on the road against good teams" reputation, holding the Broncos to a near-season low of just 13 points, and scoring 24 on a defense that had held opponents to 21 or lower in 10 games. If the Colts can go into Foxborough and beat the Patriots, it will represent an extrordinary sweep of two of the highest regarded quarterbacks in the league, going back 15 years, and go along way to justifying Luck's place at that same level.

    That said, I think this is going to be the end of the line for this year's Colts. They are 0-5 when allowing more than 28 points this season, and the Patriots have reached that mark 9 times this season (including last week's victory over the Ravens). The Patriots are also 11-0 when they score at least 23 points (again counting last week). Unless Tom Brady is hurt too, I don't think the Colts' defense has what it takes to slow down the Patriots enough to keep them in this game.