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The Wildest NFL Wild Card Weekend

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Dogs Rule!

Picking the winners and losers of NFL games is a dicey proposition. Anyone who tells they have a fool-proof system for predicting who will advance to this year’s SuperBowl in Atlanta, run in the opposite direction. Except if you’re lucky enough to have Cynthia Frelund from the NFL Network on your speed dial–listen to her. Her data-based predictions are reliable. Since Frelund and I are not tight yet…I tend to pay attention to the Vegas lines for guidance on picking games. But, if you went with Las Vegas’ predictions, you’d lost your shirt. Vegas went 0-3 with a push during the NFL’s wild-card weekend’s four matchups.

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Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

Texans (-1) Favorite; Colts won 21-7.

Colts’ signal-caller Andrew Luck needs to get more consideration for league MVP. What he has done offensively with a team without a bevy of skill players is extraordinary, especially given the injuries to his throwing shoulder he’s overcome.

The Colts jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the Texans were able to score a late touchdown in the fourth quarter. Their offense was led on the ground by RB Marlon Mack who had 148 yards and TD. TE Eric Ebron, who may go down as the most underrated player acquisition of the year had a TD as well.

As for the Texans, once again their hyped defensive line and secondary came up short in a big game. Watt and company allowed Mack and WR T.Y. Hilton to be key factors in the win. Houston was not helped by its “Superman” QB DeShawn Watson, who missed receivers from the pocket and threw an interception at 14-0 to close out the first half of the game.

I agree with some of the post-game analysis about the Texans, the window is nearly shut for the team and once again, head coach Bill O’Brien showed he is good enough to field a winning team, but not get them over the hump.

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys (-2) Favorite; Dallas won 24-22.

Yeah, Da’ Boys won. Can you sense our excitement? It took Ezekiel Elliot running for 137 yards and a clutch fourth-quarter performance by QB Dak Prescott for the Cowboys to beat the resilient Seattle Seahawks, 24-22. Now, the Cowboys will travel to California to try to beat the Los Angeles Rams and advance to Championship Sunday.

The two things that stood out to me in this game involved players’ lower bodies. We wish Cowboys WR Allen Hurns a speedy recovery from his horrific ankle injury and we will never know how much the injury to kicker Sebastian Janikowski affected the Seahawks’ game plan after the first quarter. Leave it the Boys to still piss off most of America by only winning by two points and therefore a push.

LA Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

Ravens (-3); Chargers win on the road 23-17.

When the Ravens installed rookie Lamar Jackson as their starting QB, the team took off offensively. The former Louisville Cardinal and Heisman-award winner demonstrated his athleticism with some highlight plays and led his team to the playoffs. Jackson sparked a dominant running attack and the Ravens racked up wins. But even with the victories, Jackson’s inconsistency from the pocket was evident.

On Sunday, his inaccuracy and playoff inexperience showed up too. He fumbled in the first half, missed throws, and could not get the offense in gear. The Chargers played a lot of cover two forcing Jackson to make stick throws between the linebacker and safety levels. He couldn’t do it, at least until the second half. Jackson tried to lead a comeback, but a strip sack and fumble recovered by the Chargers on the last drive of the game ended the hopes of the Ravens moving on. We are sure one of our favorite Ravens fan Stacy Keibler is still upset about the loss.

Me in My Place | 2011 | Esquire | Stacy Keibler

Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears

Bears (-6.5); Eagles win 16-15.

The Nick Foles/Eagles magic carpet ride continues, at least for another week. The Eagles backup QB did just enough to win the game against the favored Bears at Soldier Field. It may not go as smoothly for Foles against the Saints in the Superdome.

Foles has an uncanny ability to make key throws that convert first downs and get the ball into the end zone under heavy pressure. Foles took hits from Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks throughout the game, but he stood tall in the pocket. Especially on his fourth-down TD pass to Golden Tate late in the game.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t react to the missed field goal by the Bears K Cody Parkey. Man, you have one job. You can’t miss that kick. Granted, I can’t make that kick and I don’t know how difficult it is to be a professional football player, but he gets paid to put the football through the uprights. He’s not on the field to throw or catch a pass, make a tackle or even call a play. He kicks–that’s it.

Lastly, I don’t believe the Eagles’ Treyvon Huston tipped the kick. Parkey pulled the FG attempt.

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