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Thank God It's Playoff Time

 

Volume VII, Week Wildcard

January 5, 2006

2005 Results

      

Week

Year to Date

%

Ben's Picks

+21

0-4-1 41-38-6 52%
Ben's Power Rating (BPR)

6-5-1

58-60-6

49%

 

Over/Unders

1-3 30-38-1 44%
Teasers 3-1 68-18 79%
HD's v Opposite Turf 0-3 14-24-1 37%
The Rant

      

        WOW, so that’s how it feels like to get run over by a semi. My last few lines of The Rant last week were, “The selections this week were especially tough to make. Not only do you have to gage the strengths and weaknesses of the individual teams, you have to also assume who’s starting and which teams are still mentally interested in winning. It’s a very tough task and the bottom line here is, take it easy this week.” Well my friends this observation was right on the money, although the Picks weren’t going 0-4-1 and –16* in the final week of the season. It was a very disappointing end to the season, as yours truly failed to heed his own advice. Not only did two of our selections lay down like dogs, the others got beat by last minute turnovers that changed the outcomes of the games. The Falcons were the biggest dog and the bone goes to their leaders Michael Vick and Jim Mora. Atlanta was eliminated from the playoffs and got trounced by their rival, the Panthers. Mora talked all week about how the Falcons wanted to win this last one to record back 2 back over .500 seasons. Well talk is cheap Mr. Mora and, if you don’t right the ship next year, you’ll be looking for work right quick. Michael Vick was of no help at all, some leader. The Colts wasted everyone’s time with a lackluster win over the lowly Cards. Indy only won by only 4 and had the Cards nipping at their heels. The Texans seemed to want to play, but a last minute missed kick cost them the win and sent the game into OT. San Fran was begging the Texans to take the Win in the “Bush Bowl” but Houston didn’t want any part of it. The league should do something about their draft format. This losing on purpose is ridiculous. The Philly game was also a major bummer. The Eagles seemingly had control of the game, with the spot and the ball. Then the Redskins forced a turnover and ran it in for the covering points. It was a major setback. Last, but certainly not least was Bret Favre’s last game as a Packer. Mike Holmgren tried his best to give Bret a going away present and he succeeded, but the Packers still didn’t cover the spread in an ATS tie. Is Favre really that good to be able to end the game right on the number? After watching him the last couple of years, I don’t doubt it, and the Cheeseheads still love him. Why?

        The BPR made a slight comeback going 6-5-1, but it doesn’t mean much in Week 17. The winners were Denver, Cleveland, Detroit, San Fran, Jacksonville, and St. Louis. The losers were Oakland, Indy, Chicago, Philly and Cincy. The Bengals wasted jet fuel by making the trek to Kansas City. The Chiefs still had a slim chance of making the playoffs and gave Cincy all they could handle and then some. It was Dick Vermeil’s last game and the Chiefs ended the season with some class. The Bengals dropped their last 2 games and are headed to the postseason on a major downer. Coach Lewis got his ass handed to him and it looks as though he and his young team are not ready to hit the playoffs. Lewis better pull a magic act because, ready or not, here comes Pittsburgh. Seattle was the tie. Atlanta, Miami, and New Orleans were not considered plays. The O/U’s didn’t help matters at 1-3 and the HD’s continued their downward spiral at 0-3. The Teasers closed out 3-1 and are still hovering at 79%.

        Now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. The Playoffs are here, no one will be resting and everyone will be balls out to win. There’s no excuses here, it’s win or go home. Who will be ready and who will be road kill? I love this time of year. Thanks and Good luck, Ben

 

 
Potential BPR Plays

    Remember compare the BPR [Ben’s Power Rating] to the spread and if there’s a difference of 4 points or more, in your favor, then that’s a potential play. Below are the potential plays for this week; I have already added the 4 points. (Check individual game BPR's for any  line movements):

 

  • Jacksonville +5 or greater
Loser
  • CINCY +4 or greater
No Play

Total = 

0 - 1
 

Closing Lines and Final Scores

 
Ben's Picks

All trends are ATS (Against The Spread) unless otherwise specified.

 

Saturday 4:30 EST

WINNER - 3* Washington v TAMPA --- The Skins enter the postseason on a major roll winning their last 5 games and securing the last playoff spot after being left for dead. Joe Gibbs makes his return to the playoff arena, as does QB Mark Brunnell. The Skins have settled in nicely after starting the season with Ramsey at QB. He left game one with a slight injury and never returned to the starting lineup. RB Clinton Portis carries the load and the veteran Brunnell knows how to manage a game. The Washington defense is also strong, with Greg Williams chalking the X’s and O’s. Gibbs, Williams and Brunnell have had playoff success and that should be an added benefit. The Bucs also sacked up, down the stretch, winning 4 of 5 and taking control of their division despite using a green QB, Chris Simms. Simms had some early problems, replacing the injured Brian Greise midseason, but he’s settled in nicely with the help of Rookie RB Cadillac Williams. Coach Jon Gruden has also been there and done that and the Tampa defense is solid, as always, with Monte Kiffin at the helm. This game is a replay of one of the more exciting games of the season, Tampa pushed over a 2 point conversion to close out the Skins 36-35. I see a much more defensive struggle in this match up, with both teams playing close to the vest and running the ball, to stay out of trouble. Whoever blinks first will be the loser. I think the Skins pass rush will make Simms blink first. Take Washington and the spot.

 

 

Saturday 8:00 EST

Loser - 2* Jacksonville v NEW ENGLAND --- The Jags took the easy road to the playoffs, pounding out wins against the weaklings and making the playoffs, despite a major injury to QB Brian Leftwich. Leftwich will be back starting this game and will be a bit rusty because of his 5 week absence. Coach Jack Del Rio has molded this team to be competitive on all fronts and this will be his first ever playoff appearance as a coach. The Jags have a conservative offense and a strong defense. The Pats survived another major scare this year, playing through injuries and again taking the AFC East. Early in the year things did not look good for the Superbowl Champs, RB Corey Dillon was on the shelf and SS Harrison was lost for the year, among others. It did not look good, but enter Tom Brady. Brady put this team on his back for a good month. He kept them competitive, until the reinforcements arrived, and got them past the finish line. One of those reinforcements is LB Teddy Bruschi. Now I’m as sick as you guys hearing about his comeback, but Bruschi’s return solidified this defense until the new players got their legs under them. There is no denying the fact that Belichick and the Patriots have been there and done that, but I’ve got the feeling the Jags have just enough ammo to hang around until the closing whistle. The Jags have a tendency to play up or down to the caliber of their opponents, I think they keep it close. Take Jacksonville and the generous spot.

 

 

 

Sunday 1:00 EST

WINNER - 4* Carolina v GIANTS --- The Panthers made the Falcons cry Uncle last week and pushed the door open into the playoffs. The Panthers were a Superbowl participant 2 years ago, but got backtracked by injuries last year. Coach John Fox has been an excellent coach the last 4 years and did a fantastic job bringing this team back to the postseason. Carolina fields a superior defense and a conservative offense, led by QB Jake Delhomme. Jake doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he wins games and has been through the playoff grind before. The Giants made it to the postseason with the benefit of an additional home game, due to hurricane Katrina, and made the most of it. Coach Coughlin took over this team 2 years ago, despite much grumbling, but no one is grumbling now. RB Tiki Barber is the key to the offense and QB Eli Manning has gotten better with each start, although he still has the tendency to put one up for grabs. The problem for the Giants presently is their defense, although adequate, they have been hit with a major injury problem at both LB and DL. That is not a good omen when facing a veteran team that has been there before. I believe this injury problem will be the undoing of the Giants. Take Carolina and the points.

 

 

Sunday 4:30 EST

WINNER - 5* Pittsburgh v CINCY --- The Steelers settled down after a rocky start and won their last 4 to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh struggled in the early going due to an unsettled RB rotation and injuries to QB Big Ben Roethlisberger. Ben tweaked his knee and had to miss 4 weeks and the Steelers had to make due with Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch. All I can say is, thank God Ben is healthy. The Steelers again field a strong running game complimented by a great defense. This year injuries have promoted Willie Parker to the forefront and the old man, Jerome Bettis, can still get it done. The Bengals started quickly out of the gates and have faded down the stretch. QB Carson Palmer is the real deal and he is the engine that makes all of the pieces work together. Cincy has great skill players and are extremely difficult to stop. The Bengals problem lies on defense, where they have allowed a lot of yards and a ton of points. These 2 teams split their games this season, with each team winning in the others building. In the first game Pittsburgh domiated with the run and pounded the Bengals into submission. In the second game, the Bengals broke out to an early lead and Ben had to try to bring the Steelers back with a broken thumb, but couldn’t get the job done. He threw 3 interceptions and that won’t happen here. The Men of Steel have more experience and I feel that will go a long way into deciding the winner of  this game. The Steelers have dominated the Bengals in recent years and I look for that trend to continue here. Take Pittsburgh.

 

Total = 3 - 1 for +10*
 
The O/U's

 

  • Wash v TAMPA UNDER
WINNER
  • Jax v NEW ENGLAND OVER
Loser
  • Carolina v GIANTS OVER
Loser
  • Pittsburgh v CINCY UNDER
Loser

Total = 

1 - 3
 
Teasers

  (Teasers MUST include key numbers: 3, 6, 7, 10, 14, etc.)

 

  • Washington +8
No Play
  • Jax +14
No Play
  • Carolina +8
WINNER
  • Pittsburgh +3
WINNER

Total = 

2 - 0
 
HD's v Opp-Turf

 

  • CINCY
Loser

Total = 

0 - 1
   

Closing Lines and Final Scores

 
The Skinny

Legend is available below.

 

NFL WEEK Wildcard

SATURDAY JANUARY 7, 2006

Potential BPR Plays in Bold

EST

Line

BPR

Play If

Notes – Trends ATS (Against The Spread)

201 Wash. Redskins

4:30

37

 

+6

10-6 SU / 10-5-1 / 5-0 + SU / 4-4 R/ 8-8 O-U / 3-0 O-U/ 22.4 PF – 18.3 PA / Gibbs 16-5 Playoffs / 4-1 v Tampa / 7-3 RD Playoffs / 3 CB ?

202 Tampa Bay Bucs

2.5

-2

+2

11-5 SU / 7-7-2 / 6-2 H / 6-10 O-U / 18.8 PF – 17.1 PA / Gruden 5-1-1 Playoffs / Tampa 3-2 H Playoffs / 3-1-1 /

SS, OG ?, WR Clayton Doubtful /

203 Jacksonville Jags

8:00

37.5

 

+5

12-4 SU / 10-5-1 / 10-5-1 O-U / 6-2 R / 7-3 v Conf / 6-2 O-U R / 22.6 PF – 16.8 PA / 2-3 RD Playoffs / QB Leftwich to start / 2 DE, CB, LB, OG ? /

204 New England Pats

8

-1

+3

10-6 SU / 8-8 / 10-6 O-U / 5-3 H / 23.7 PF – 21.1 PA / Belichick 10-1 SU but 5-5-1 ATS Playoffs / NT, TE, CB, WR, RB, LB Bruschi ? /

 

SUNDAY JANUARY 8, 2006

205 Carolina Panthers

1:00

43

 

+5.5

11-5 SU / 9-6-1 / 6-2 R / 9-7 O-U / 5-1 v Giants / 24.4 PF – 16.2 PA / 3-1 RD Playoffs / Fox 4-0 Playoffs/ RB Davis OUT, LB Morgan ? /

206 New York Giants

2.5

-1.5

+2.5

11-5 SU / 10-5-1 / 8-7-1 O-U / 7-2 H / 1-5 O-U H / 5-1 O-U v Carol / 26.4 PF – 19.6 PA / 7-2 H Playoffs / Coughlin 4-4 Playoffs / Cluster injuries at LB, DL /

207 Pittsburgh Steelers

4:30

3

 

+4

11-5 SU / 9-7 / 6-2 R / 8-6-2 O-U / 4-0 R v Cincy / 1-7 O-U R / 4-2 v Cincy / 24.3 PF – 16.1 PA / 5-4 R Playoffs / Cowher 7-9-1 Playoffs / DE, LB ? /

208 Cincy Bengals

46

-1

+4

11-5 SU / 8-7-1 / 5-3 H / 7-8-1 O-U / 5-2 O-U / 0-4 O-U H v Pitt / 26.3 PF – 21.9 PA / 5-1 H Playoffs/ Cincy 1st Playoffs since 1990 / 2 CB, 2 Dl, OT, LB /

             

 

 

 

 

NFC Post Mortem

Arizona Cardinals

Denny Green has failed to deliver in the desert. He has tried to rebuild this roster, but the players he brought in have failed. No running game. The defense is a joke and still no solid QB.

Atlanta Falcons

This team is a bunch of gutless frontrunners lead by #7 Michael Vick. They finished the season 2-6 SU and laid down like dogs in the final game. Jim Mora better turn it around quick.

Dallas Cowboys

Tuna brought in Drew Bledsoe and he got what he deserved, no playoffs. Bledsoe can’t play on the road and crumbles under pressure. Team is still a couple of players away. Will Tuna stay?

Detroit Lions

Looking for new coach and Matt Millen still in charge. Lions have fairly good skill players on offense, except QB. Need to bolster O-line. Defense is adequate. Who will be new QB and coach?

Green Bay Packers

Sherman was let go and management is quietly hoping Favre leaves with him. This team was devastated by injuries on O and needs a total rebuild not old man Brett. Defense decent.

Minnesota Vikings

Tice is finally gone, but what will happen to QB Culpepper? Brad Johnson filled in nicely, but is not the long term answer. Defense improved, but team wilted against superior foes.

New Orleans Saints

Haslett got his walking papers and he’s happy about it. This team never had a chance after the hurricane. QB Brooks will be cut. Saints will start from scratch. Coach has to be crazy to take job.

Philly Eagles

Eagles will remove cancerous T.O. Owens screwed this team and he got what he deserved in return. What an ass. McNabb will be back from injury. Good Coach will rebuild on the fly.

St. Louis Rams

Martz is gone. Rams are a shell of their former selves. Defense is terrible and offense just can’t make up for the shortcomings. New Coach will decide which way to take this team.

San Fran Niners

Nolan didn’t have much to work with and Niners were also hit by injures. There were several signs of improvement. Jury still out on new QB. Need more bodies, especially RB.

 

 

Information Purposes Only - Not Intended For Anyone Under 21 Years of Age

The Legend

ATS – Against Spread

aft - after

bfr - before

[BPR] - Ben’s Power Rating

B2B – Back To Back

BOUNCE – Opp. result

D – Dog

Def - defense

DDD – Double Digit Dog

DDF - Double Digit Favorite

DIV - Division

F – Favorite

L - Loss

SAND - Sandwich game

 

H – Home

HD – Home Dog

HF – Home Favorite

HOME TEAM – In Capitals

LW – Last Week

LY – Last Year

N-DIV - Non Division

O/U – Over /Under

OFF – Offense

R – Road

REV – Revenge

SU – Straight Up

V - Versus

W - Win