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Thursday, 8 January 2015

10 Bold Predictions For Divisional Playoff Round


The Divisional games are all set for this weekend and everybody seemingly has their predictions about how this weekend’s games will go.  But most are straightforward, safe predictions.  Let’s go out on a limb and make some really BOLD predictions.

1.  The Baltimore Ravens go into New England and win, by double digits

Why It’s Bold:  The last time New England lost by double digits was in Week 4 in Kansas City when they lost 41-14.  The last time New England lost by double digits at home was in the play-offs in 2012 to the Baltimore Ravens 28-13.

Why It Could Happen:  Baltimore is getting hot at the right time and their defense isn’t allowing a ton of points.  They have outscored their last two opponents 50-27.  Conversely, New England only put up 36 points in their last two games.  It is true that Tom Brady only played the first half of Week 17 and Rob Gronkowski and several other starters sat that game out.  However, Brady only managed to put up six points on Buffalo and The New York Jets almost beat The Patriots in Week 16.  Brady has 262 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception in his last two games.  On top of this is the overused statistics about how Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh have beaten New England two out of three play-off match-ups in New England and had several chances to win that third game.  This trend could easily continue and New England could be looking at a 38-17 loss.

2.  Steve Smith has a huge game and scores three touchdowns

Why It’s Bold:  Steve Smith hasn’t caught three touchdown passes in a game since 2007 when he caught 8 passes for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Houston Texans.

Why It Could Happen:  Torrey Smith has caught four touchdowns in the last three games and New England will likely have to focus on Torrey Smith and Steve Smith could benefit greatly from this.  Also, the games between Baltimore and New England are historically intense games and those seem to be the games that Steve Smith gets up for the most.

Cam Newton finishes his game against Seattle with more rushing yards than Marshawn Lynch

Why It’s Bold:  Cam Newton only rushed for more than 50 yards four times this season, and only once has he rushed for more yards than Marshawn Lynch did.  That was Week 6 this season when Newton ran for 107 yards and a touchdown while Lynch only ran for 61 yards.

Why It Could Happen:  The last time Carolina played Seattle the Panthers held Lynch to 62 yards while Newton had only 24 rushing yards.  Newton finished the regular season with 197 rushing yards and three rushing touchdown in the last three games that he played.  Carolina could hold Lynch under 50 yards this week and Cam Newton could break a long run or two that would make this possible.


 4.  In Seattle, neither The Carolina Panthers nor the Seattle Seahawks will score a touchdown

Why It’s Bold: There was only one game this season where 0 touchdowns were scored, Week 15 when Arizona beat St. Louis 12-6.  The Panthers’ and Seahawks’ offenses are much better than The Rams’ and Cardinals’ offenses.  Seattle scored a touchdown in all 16 games this season, while Carolina allowed a touchdown in 15 of their 16 regular season games.

Why It Could Happen:  Carolina and Seattle went 59 minutes and 13 seconds without a touchdown the first time they met, and back in Week 8 when both defenses were still struggling.  Right now both defenses are playing very well and this game could easily be a 12-9 game.


5.  Dez Bryant will be held for less than 30 yards receiving with no touchdowns.

Why It’s Bold:  Dez Bryant has only been held to 30 or less yards twice this season, and he scored in both of those games.  There will be a lot of offense in this game and Green Bay has not had a lot of success this season with shutting down number one wide receivers.

Why It Could Happen: The Packers held Calvin Johnson to 39 yards and Golden Tate to 45 yards in Week 17 and Vincent Jackson to 60 yards and Mike Evans to 49 in Week 16.  While it will be a tough task, Green Bay’s defensive backfield could manage to frustrate Bryant enough to limit his targets and therefore limit his yardage.

Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers will combine for more than 800 yards of offense

Why It’s Bold:  This has only happened once this season when Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger combined for 922 passing yards and 948 total yards of offense.  Tony Romo has only thrown for over 300 yards once this season and Aaron Rodgers has only thrown over 400 once.  They both will need to be over those numbers in order for this to be possible.

Why It Could Happen:  Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers both have a plethora of offensive weapons, and if Green Bay jumps out to an early lead and manages to slow DeMarco Murray, Dallas may have to rely on Romo’s arm to keep them in it.  Romo and Rodgers both have the ability to scramble some, so they may get some assistance towards that 800 yard milestone using their legs.   But realistically they will have to do almost all of that damage through the air and an all-out passing battle between Romo and Rodgers would be very fun to watch. 

Fun fact, Dallas and Green Bay hold the record for fewest combined passing yards in a game with -11 back on October 24, 1965.


7.  Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck will combine for ten or more touchdowns

Why It’s Bold:  In the aforementioned Steelers-Colts game where they combined for 922 passing yards, they still came up one short with only nine touchdowns.  Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck each threw 5 touchdowns only once this season.  They would both need to put up those types of numbers in order to reach this prediction.

Why It Could Happen: In Week 1 Manning and Luck faced off and combined for six touchdowns.  However, that was early in the season and since then both teams have fared better offensively.  Both Quarterbacks have passed for four or more touchdowns in 25% of their games this season.  So each of them repeating that is not out of the question, and if this is a shootout where each quarterback has four touchdown passes, two more touchdowns is not out of the realm of possibility, especially with Luck’s ability to scramble for touchdowns.

The Denver Broncos will sack Andrew Luck at least eight times

Why It’s Bold:  The Denver Broncos’ defense has only two games with more than 4 sacks this season and Andrew Luck was only sacked more than three times once this season.

Why It Could Happen: The Broncos’ defense was not 100% healthy in week one and Indianapolis has not faced a defense that creates as much pressure as Denver does.  If this turns into a shootout, Luck will be forced to pass more and that will present Von Miller, DeMarco Ware and the rest of the defense with opportunities for more sacks.

One game this weekend will feature two teams that combine for over 1,000 yards of total offense and possibly challenge the record for most yards of total offense in a game

Why It’s Bold: This one happened twice this season, Week 8 between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis (1,087 combined yards) and Week 1 between New Orleans and Atlanta (1,040 combined yards.  Both of these games were well short of the 1,133 combined yardage record from 1950 in a game between the Los Angeles Rams and New York Yanks.

Why It Could Happen:  With quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton remaining in the play-offs, each one of them has the ability to produce a lot of yardage.  With everything on the line, don’t expect these quarterbacks to hold back if they feel the need to score points in a hurry.

There will be at least eight successful 4th down conversions this weekend.

Why It’s BoldDuring The Wild Card games, only nine 4th down conversions were attempted and five were successful.  In order for this to happen, there would have to be many more attempts or a better conversion rate.

Why It Could Happen: When teams are playing win or go home football, anything goes.  With coaches like John Harbaugh, Bill Belichick, Ron Rivera, Pete Carrol, Jason Garrett, Mike McCarthy, Chuck Pagano, and John Fox… they will all being playing to win and will not hesitate to take a gamble to get their teams one game closer to the Super Bowl.

Am I completely crazy to think these things will happen?  Do you agree with any of these?  Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@TCGRaven)

*Note the Raven in my Twitter Handle is named in respect of Edgar Allen Poe’s Poem, not the football team in Baltimore.


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