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Flamin’ Four – Wild Card Weekend

The regular season may be done but the excitement is far from over, it’s playoff time! This season has treated me pretty well so far as my picks finished 16-12-4, although now I have to think a totally different way because the playoffs are a whole different beast. Teams and players shine and shutdown in the playoffs and it can be very hard to predict who that will be, unless you’re the New England Patriots.

I will be continuing my Flamin’ Four picks throughout the playoffs, as you can clearly see, however the style of my picks will be different than how I picked them during the regular season. The picks will be straight up picks, meaning I’m just picking who I think will win each playoff game, no point spread. Since, there are only 4 games each weekend not all point spread lines have favorable bets/picks to make, so I made the change to straight up picks. Let’s get to some picks.

Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans

This might be the one of the worst playoff matchups of this decade and look no farther than the quarterback position to find the reason. For Houston, it has been headlined by the terrible play of the highly touted free agent acquisition, Brock Osweiler. For Oakland, it has been the unfortunate injury to star quarterback Derek Carr. Houston arguably has the best defense in the NFL and with Donald Penn, Oakland’s starting left tackle, out today Connor Cook could be under pressure most of the day. However, the one thing that the Houston defense doesn’t excel at is forcing turnovers at I think that will do them in today. I understand that Connor Cook is starting his career game and the Oakland defense is fairly average, except Khalil Mack, but Houston doesn’t have the firepower on offense to match the superb personnel Oakland has on offense. This will be a low scoring game with the battle of pass rushers leading the charge and no one is better than Khalil Mack.

Oakland (20-17)

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks

This is the most intriguing game to me this weekend. Everyone is penciling in Seattle as the victor and directing their focus to the Packers-Giants game. Let’s pump the breaks and take a longer look at this matchup. Detroit is on a 3 game losing streak and Seattle hasn’t won 2 games in a row since mid-November (They won last week). Neither team is rolling into the playoffs with any momentum nor is either team healthy. Since Earl Thomas broke his leg the Seattle defense hasn’t played the same and I won’t even began with their offensive line. On the Detroit side they will play without running back Theo Riddick and center Travis Swanson. Well, who has the advantage tonight? The answer is the 12th man. The Seahawks are 7-1 this season at home and Pete Carroll is 6-0 at home in the playoffs (best record in NFL history), while the Lions are a troubled road team with a 3-5 record this season. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks have too much experience to lose wild card weekend, though this will be a one possession game at the end.

Seattle (28-21)

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers

On Week 6 in Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Dolphins beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15. Both teams have talked about and posted the score of this game all around their faculties, however with different agendas in mind. The Dolphins are preaching that they have the personnel and game plan to not only match the Steelers but beat them. On the other hand, the Steelers are out to take revenge and prove to the nation that they are legit. Which story will lead the headline on Monday morning? I’m not 100% sure but I’m going with Big Ben in the Steelers. Just like Pete Carroll has a patent on winning playoff games at home, Big Ben has one on playing on an elite level during playoff games. I can’t pick against the Steelers and their tremendous offensive arsenal, even versus a rejuvenated Dolphins teams.

Steelers (27-21)

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers

If you have been following my picks this season you know how I’ve been frustrated with Eli Manning. However, just like Big Ben, Eli excels in the playoffs and finally plays consistent. The Packers secondary is depleted due to injuries, which is cause for concern since they have to face Odell and the strong receiving core of the Giants. Even after all that, Eli won’t be able to match the play Aaron Rodgers. Also, with the emergence of Ty Montgomery will be a key factor for the Packers success this postseason. Nevertheless, don’t pick against Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau during the playoffs. But be prepared America’s Game of the Week will live up to all its hype.

Green Bay (31-21)

I want my blog to stay connected with my readers, therefore I encourage you to comment below and share your thoughts and feelings on who you think will win this week or the weeks to come. Also, you can email me (hartshornthomas@gmail.com) if you’d like to discuss the playoff in more detail or talk about any sports topics you would like for me write about in the future.

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