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  • Contributors

    Cris Collinsworth

    Former Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals and Emmy-winning analyst from Sunday Night Football and Inside the NFL.
    Dave Lapham
    Has called game for the Bengals radio network for 25 years. Analyst for Big 12 games on Fox Sports Net. Played 10 years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals.
    Turk Schonert
    NFL quarterback for 10 years with the Bengals and Falcons. Has served as quarterback coach for the Buccaneers, Bills, Panthers, Giants and Saints and Offensive Coordinator for the Bills.
    Phil McConkey
    Played 6 years in the NFL as a WR, punt returner and kick returner for the Giants, Packers, Cardinals and Chargers. Played college football at the Naval Academy and served in the U.S. Navy before joining the NFL. Best remembered for his oustanding game in Super Bowl XXI.
    Josina Anderson
    Josina "JoJo" Anderson is contributing reporter on Showtime's Inside the NFL and is a weekend co-anchor/reporter/producer for FOX 31 Sports in Denver, Colorado. Josina produces the nightly sportscasts and covers the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and the Colorado Rockies.
    Jerry Jones
    NFL Draft Expert, has published the acclaimed Drugstore List since 1978.
    Russell S Baxter
    Researcher, writer and editor covering the NFL for over 30 years.
    Andy Freeland
    Statistician and researcher for NBC's Sunday Night Football.
  • Council of the Learned 2012: Wild Card Playoffs

    Saturday, January 5, 2013

    Cincinnati @ Houston- It's going to be pretty hard for the Texans to overcome the injuries to their quarterbacks in this game. Plus, rookie Andy Dalton has been gingering his way to getting more than a cup a coffee in this league. What? That all happened last year? They're playing again? Shouldn't there be a rule against two teams playing two bad Wild Card Games two seasons in a row? Cincy's offense has managed to regress some and is now predicated on how many times A.J. Green is able to make a great catch. Houston's defense has also gotten tickets onto the regression train. So, where is this going? PICK: (HOU 6-3)

    Minnesota @ Green Bay- Like a jerk, I shall quote last week's column:

    The How Savvy is Mike McCarthy Bowl. The Packers have too much pride to give up the record to AD, but can they be sneaky enough to keep this game close until a late score gives the Vikings the win so that the six seed Vikes have to go to Lambeau with Christian Ponder? I mean, no team really wants an extra game and it could be said that they fear AD much more than Cutler, but still, Christian “Housedad” Ponder in the playoffs?
    So, yeah, that happened. Nice of the Packers to let AD within 9 yards of the record. Plus, could we see if some gangsters paid off Tramon Williams last week? Someday, if Williams is up for the HOF, the ghost of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis will tell Peter King not to vote for him. This game has playoff beatdown written all over it, plus it has Ponder + Wind. PICK: (GB 8-1)

    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    Indianapolis @ Baltimore- Cancer Survivor vs. Retiring Reformed Preacher All-Time Great LB. The football Gods are so confused here. Chuckstrong is 7-1 in close games and even cements the story with a quarterback named Luck for a team who managed to give up more points than it allowed and once gave up 350+ rushing yards and still managed 11 wins. The Colts expected wins, according to Pro Football Reference, was a meager 7.2. The Council barely prefers the guy who talks to God every day over the guy to gave the middle finger to cancer. PICK: (BAL 5-4)

    A quick aside where I ask the world for something: World, please, hear me out. I'm not a very emotional man. I promise to scream and cry if I ever find out that the appearance fee for Chuck Pagano to speak is lower than anyone from The Jersey Shore; ever. Please, world, don't do what I think you're going to do. Put down the duck phone.

    Seattle @ Washington- There's no 0-0 Game of the Week in the playoffs because playoff games cannot end in ties, but this game may be the Read Option Showcase Game of the Year. Unlike the Nationals, the Redskins did not sit their star player during the final 16% of the season. If they had, then Robert Griffin III would have not have come back at all after the first half in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Pete Carroll's team has gotten Seattle and himself so excited that he started forcing his players to take Adderall. Josh Freeman now has become Kris Humpries to Bill Simmons' Russell Wilson and I hear they might be expecting. PICK: (SEA 5-4)

    LAST WEEK: 12-4
    SEASON: 163-92-1 (63.9%)

    Comments 13 Comments
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      I'm curious to see if Ray Rice runs through the Colts defense all day. Baltimore's defense is horrid. But maybe Ed Reed closes out his career with a big pick or two.

      I don't really understand what happened to Cincinnati's offense.

      Washington-Seattle is a marquee game and it's because of two rookies. Who'd a thunk it?
    1. Amy's Avatar
      By the way, I'm ATD on the Vikings. I just think AP has thier number this season, and think Minny might pull out a close one.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      By the way, I'm ATD on the Vikings. I just think AP has thier number this season, and think Minny might pull out a close one.
      That would transform a homehum affair into an epic.
    1. FrzzerBwler's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      I don't really understand what happened to Cincinnati's offense.
      Loss of #2 WR Mohamed Sanu late November. Offense has not clicked since.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      ATD on Indianapolis and Washington.

      Indianapolis vs. Baltimore- The whole 'Ray Lewis is retiring' story is great, but does anyone else think it makes the Ravens come off as desperate? They are supposed to be the better team, yet I get the sense that Lewis felt like they needed the motivation.

      Of course, it's not like Indy has been playing fantastic ball either. They've won 5 of their last 6, but other than splitting with Houston, they've squirted by against competition that hasn't been all that great. And Andrew Luck has not been very good over his last 5 games.

      @Det- 44.4% 7.24 YPA
      Ten- 47.1% 5.76 YPA
      @Hou- 48.1% 6.89 YPA
      @KC- 48.6% 5.86 YPA
      Hou- 50.0% 6.82 YPA

      In most cases, I'd think Indy was done after this week. They've overachieved the sum of their parts this season. However, they've run into a Baltimore team that is reeling. With the added motivation of winning one for Chuckstrong, and the fact that Indy feels like the epitome of the word "team", I'll give them a win, even if I don't feel all that confident about it.

      Besides, the viewing public deserves the "Peyton Manning vs. his heir apparent" narrative next week.

      Seattle vs. Washington- This game is one of the most even Wild Card round games I can remember. Usually the team that is hot is the one to go with, but these two teams have combined to win 14 of their last 15 games, so check and check. I guess I'll have to resort to distorted statistics to figure this one out.

      First of all, home field is going to play a small factor. As has been noted elsewhere, while Seattle is 8-0 in the friendly confines of Qwest Field, they are only *EDIT* 3-5 in stadiums that force them to follow generally accepted grammar rules, including losses at the appropriately spelled Sun Life Stadium (Miami), Ford Field (Detroit), Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis), and Candlestick Park (San Francisco). They now travel to a stadium that should be somewhat comfortable to them, considering that the Redskins also play in a stadium, FedEx Field, that scoffs at generally accepted proper grammatical abbreviations.

      Second, the Redskins are a 3 point underdog at home. Since 1980, playoff home underdogs are 20-11 straight up. I expected this to be a pick 'em game, or the Redskins as a small favorite, and was legitimately surprised when I saw that Seattle was a 3 point favorite.

      Third, both rookies have been playing great, but the sense is that Russell Wilson is the hotter of the two players. That is tough to argue, but there are some possible chinks that the Redskins will be able to expose. Over the past few weeks, Wilson has started to rely on his running ability more than his passing ability a little more often than earlier in the season. Over the 1st half of the season, he ran the ball 5 or fewer times in 6 of his first 8 games. That has reversed itself in the 2nd half of the season, as he's run the ball more than 5 times in 6 of his past 8 games, including averaging over 8 carries over his last 3 games. To counter that, Jim Haslett has done a great job during the Redskins 7 game winning streak of confusing opposing offenses. During that stretch, the defense has yielded an average of 95 yards rushing per game, and has only allowed more than 250 yards passing on 2 occasions, the Thanksgiving game vs. Dallas which they led by 3 TDs in the 4th quarter, and also their blowout over the Browns. Washington's defense has the ability to limit Marshawn Lynch. If they can also force Russell Wilson to make decisions from within the pocket, they should be in great shape.

      Last, if the Seahawks have a weakness defensively, it's against the run. They've only allowed 5 100 yard team rushing performances this season, but they've allowed 4.5 yards per carry, which ranks as a tie for 23rd. The Redskins are the best running team in the league, and have been great at utilizing the play-action off of their effective running.

      Of course, I'm sure I could come up with just as many reasons why Seattle will win. This should be a great game. But in the end, I think the Redskins have enough to take out the Seahawks.
    1. xmenehune's Avatar
      Usually when it's perceived to be a great players last game at home, the home team, responds with a win, thus BAL is the pick SU.

      HOU D has greatly regress'd and CIN D is being overlooked I think, somehow CIN produces just enough run O and AJ Green to pull out the win

      I think Woodson comes back for GB this week at home, with last weeks loss @MIN, GB returns the 'favor' and marches on for another week

      SEA @WAS, hoping for a close game and as long as Flecther is in this should be fairly close. I expect both teams to run and run, scoring? well maybe not as prolific as some of the other games this weekend. I give the road team the edge, I'm thinking Carroll n Co have a better idea on how to stop pistol and they have the personnel
    1. DaBearsFan's Avatar
      I'm only after the dash on the Cincinnati game, but to be honest, I don't have a good feel for how either AFC game is going to go. It seems to me like Cincinnati is playing a bit better than Houston right now, but I could see that game going either way (Weighted DVOA confirms this thought, but I'm not 100% sure how much it matters). I sense that Indianapolis is not as good as their record (based on point differential, DVOA, Advanced NFL Stats rankings), but I have lots of concerns about Baltimore as well; I'm trusting the advanced metrics but I don't feel confident.

      As for the NFC games I'm surprised at the margins for each game. I am confident that Green Bay is better than Minnesota, but Minnesota seems to have some strong matchup advantages to the Packers. Robo-Peterson 2.0 has just destroyed the Packers defense, and the Vikings pass rush seems to cause problems for Rodgers and the Packers. I went with the Packers, but I must say, my confidence level is low. On the other hand, I'm quite confident that Seattle will win, and win significantly against Washington. I think the home field advantage/road disadvantage gets played up too much with them. Seattle is just a really good football team that should be really prepared for Washington's offense, and with a not-100% RGIII, I just don't think Washington is going to put up very many points at all. I'm not going to say it's a blowout, but I'm pretty sure Seattle will win by a comfortable, 2 score margin.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Usually there's at least one game in each round that can be predicted with 80-85% certainty. I just don't see that being the case this year, really in any round. Green Bay seems to be the best bet this weekend, but Minnesota has played them tough twice, beating them just last weekend. And as DBF pointed out, it's not like the Packers have figured out how to stop AD. Is it possible he could put up 600 yards on them this year, before it's all said and done?

      Even moving beyond this round, is anyone sold on Atlanta or SF? Denver and NE both seem safe, but I have a sneaking feeling that at least one will go down prior to the AFC Championship, and honestly, I feel like the AFC rep in the Super Bowl is coming from this weekend's games. Denver is clearly the most likely of the 4 to advance, but it's not like Peyton has been immune to a playoff dud. Cincinnati is the potentially most dangerous opponent for them, in my opinion.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
      I'm curious to see if Ray Rice runs through the Colts defense all day. Baltimore's defense is horrid. But maybe Ed Reed closes out his career with a big pick or two.

      I don't really understand what happened to Cincinnati's offense.

      Washington-Seattle is a marquee game and it's because of two rookies. Who'd a thunk it?

      now on their 4th different #2 WR of the year.

      The interior of their oline has also seemed to have hit a rookie wall in rookie Zeitler, and 2nd yr guy Boling who didn't play much as a rookie.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      now on their 4th different #2 WR of the year.

      The interior of their oline has also seemed to have hit a rookie wall in rookie Zeitler, and 2nd yr guy Boling who didn't play much as a rookie.
      Thanks. I couldn't figure out why the offense had stalled.

      I'm with those who think Green Bay is the only strong bet this weekend. It's hard to beat a good team twice in a row. Minny was geeked in the dome. Not sure they can bring it again the very next week.

      I'm a bit skeptical that Ray Lewis' announcement will help Baltimore's defense much. Getting him, Suggs and strong safety Pollard back should make some difference, but how much will Suggs and Lewis be able to contribute? I'm wondering whether Ray Rice and Baltimore's o-line won't be the difference?

      Anyway, it's really nice to have so many games that aren't foregone conclusions! Very enjoyable.
    1. Andy Freeland's Avatar
      When did judge Landis join the Council of the Learned?
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeland View Post
      When did judge Landis join the Council of the Learned?
      He demanded full authority. I felt powerless.
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar