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Straight Cash’s Divisional Playoff Picks

There are some juicy, juicy matchups this weekend. Lots of top defenses showcased, a wild gun show on display in the South, and a good old NFC East hatefest. Let’s get it on.

Do the dance, Ray, do the dance.

Do the dance, Ray, do the dance.

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 01/10/09, 4:30pm EST, CBS
Line/Total: TEN -3, o/u 34

The Pick: BAL +3

Everyone’s saying that a rookie QB like Flacco will fold against Tennessee’s punishing front, but New Guy Joe gets to see this type of “D” everyday in practice. The Titans won back in Week 5 (13-10) in a grind it out, defensive battle, but I think the difference this time is the improved play and confidence of Flacco and the growth of Le’Ron McClain as a legitimate back to pair with Willis McGahee. Kerry Collins, LenDale White and Chris Johnson are stabling forces for the Titans, but the loss of Kevin Mawae under center will play a big role at the line. To me, it just seems like the Ravens D is jacked entering the postseason, led by All-world hawk Ed Reed. No doubt, Tennessee is still one of the top 3 defenses in the league, I just don’t think they have enough weapons offensively to put up points. The Ravens will keep it close and may win outright — lots of penalties, trash talking and clock running in this one.

My name is not pronounced Del-Homey

My name is not pronounced Del-Homey

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers, 01/10/09, 8:15pm EST, FOX
Line/Total: CAR -10, o/u 49

The Pick: Over 49

I’m riding the Arizona “over” train until it falls off the tracks. This team cannot cover anyone and Kurt Warner must try to outgun each opponent they face. And why not? with both NFC Pro Bowl WR starters at his disposal in Boldin and Fitzgerald, could you blame him. Carolina has found gold in their backfield tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. And of course, Steve Smith is a game changer. Need some numbers? The two teams combined for 50 in a 27-23 Panthers win in Week 8. The over is 7-2 in Arizona’s and Carolina’s last 9 games. Carolina has given up an average of 25 points in that span, and Arizona 29.5. It’s Jake Delhomme’s 33rd birthday Saturday and his wish of a Carolina win will come to fruition, just not sure it’s by the 10 points Vegas is projecting them by. So take the over, sit back on the Lazy Boy and watch some fireworks in the Bank of America Dome.

Don't do the dance, Donovan, don't do the dance.

Don't do the dance, Donovan, don't do the dance.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, 01/11/09, 1:00pm EST FOX
Line/Total: NYG -4, o/u 38

The Pick: NYG -4

The Eagles are playing excellent ball at the right time. The Donovan McNabb Hall of Fame talk has resurfaced. Philly’s defense has been dynamic with Johnson at the helm. I’m still taking the Giants to win and cover. A few reasons why: 1) They’re at home. 2) Eli has more weapons to pass to than Donovan. 3) Brandon “Frankenstein” Jacobs is at full force. 4) The 3-headed monster that is Jacobs-Ward-Bradshaw is more effective than a nicked up Westbrook and Buckhalter. 5) The Meadowlands field will be slick and there’s a 90% chance of snowfall/rain, which bodes well for the Giants ground attack. 6) The Giants have been there, done that, and coach Coughlin has had an extra week to prep the troops. And finally, 7) Those two “MENSA” candidates Andy Reid and McNabb will find a way to implode on the big stage. ‘Nuff said.

Now if I could just "PLAY like a champion" on Sunday.

Now if I could just "PLAY like a champion" on Sunday.

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers, 01/11/09, 4:45pm EST, CBS
Line/Total: PIT -6, o/u 37.5

The Pick: PIT -6

I still don’t believe in Philip Rivers. While everyone waxes poetic about his natural ability and competitiveness, I still think he’s just a gunslinger who lacks the leadership quality (charisma) to inspire his team. That said, the Steelers will bring the pressure in waves at the Chargers, and Rivers will have to get rid of the ball quicker than he’s used to. Darren Sproles has to be ready to catch short dinks from the backfield ala LaDainian Tomlinson, while Gates must push hard off the line for SD to be effective. Now, what concerns me for Pittsburgh is the offensive side of the ball. Big Ben is holding on to the ball longer than he should be, resulting in multiple sack games, while the deep threat in Santonio Holmes has been nullified throughout the year. Look for the Steelers to give the Chargers a big dose of Fast Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore. The -6 points from Vegas is pretty steep, but the Steelers have gotten all the breaks of late and it’ll be a game-changing turnover (maybe by the wavy-haired Samoan) that’ll put the Steelers over the top. Also, that same competitiveness that Rivers is lauded for will be his undoing as he’ll attempt some unnecessary deep throws into the Pittsburgh’s secondary. The only thing that worries me is Big Ben’s bell being rung to the tune of another concussion.

Went 3-1 in last weekend’s Wild Card matchups. Let’s keep up the good vibes.

2009 record: 5-2.

Straight Cash … Homey!

January 10, 2009 Posted by | General, NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Straight Cash’s Wild Card Weekend Picks

This NFL Wild Card weekend will have dirty birds, rookie QBs, MVPs, All-Days, Burners, Bolts and Colts. It also features all 4 home teams as underdogs — first time I’ve ever seen that. Let’s get to the picks. Short and sweet.

Dreaming of days with Martz and Faulk

Dreaming of days with Martz and Faulk

Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals, 4:30pm EST, NBC
Line/Total: ATL -2, o/u 51

The pick: Over 51

It’ll be a shootout in the desert. The Falcons will score points because the Cardinals are 0-6 against teams who were in the top 10 in rushing (the Falcons are ranked #2 behind the Giants). Then, after a steady diet of Mike Turner and Jerious Norwood, Matt Ryan will open up the field against Arizona’s 22nd ranked pass D. On the other side, Arizona will take to the air because they are dead last in rushing, and so we’ll see the Kurt Warner show against Atlanta’s very shaky secondary. This game may also get messy with the presence of John Abraham and his 16.5 sacks. Though a lot of things point to an Atlanta win, you cannot count out Captain Kurt at home. He will go down chucking the ball to his talented trio of receivers, and if he misses, well that’s just better field position for the dirty birds. One big stat: the over is 9-1 in Arizona’s last 10 home games.

Will Peyton take it lying down?

Will Peyton take it lying down?

Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers, 8:00pm EST, NBC
Line/Total: IND -1, o/u 50

The pick: IND -1

The Chargers may be on a roll with 4 wins in a row to close the season, but if you look closely they were against the doormat Chiefs, lowly Raiders, and self-destructing Broncos and Bucs teams. The Colts are riding a 9-win wave themselves with quality victories over the Steelers, Patriots and a 23-20 Week 12 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm. In this matchup of two premier QBs, I’ll take Indy’s 6th ranked pass D over the 31st ranked San Diego pass D (only the Seahawks were worse). It will be close throughout, but look for the Colts to slow this game down, and finish with a vintage Peyton Manning, long, drawn-out, antsy, multi-audible, drive.

Will Ed Reed touch the ball more than Ricky Williams?

Will Ed Reed touch the ball more than Ricky Williams?

Baltimore Orioles at Miami Dolphins, 1:00pm EST, CBS
Line/Total: BAL -3, o/u 38

The pick: BAL -3

Baltimore’s D will be too much for Pennington and Miami. In their 27-13 Week 7 win over the Dolphins, the Ravens stopped the vaunted Wildcat offense allowing only 71 rush yards and forcing a pick 6 courtesy of Terrell Suggs. Look for Baltimore to bring the same defensive gameplan and challenge Pennington to go deep (not his strength) where my pick for Defensive Player of the Year, Mr. Ed Reed (and his 9 INTs), will be waiting. All rookie QB Joe Flacco has to do is his best Kerry Collins imitation and take care of the ball and make simple, low risk plays, and leave the rest to Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Suggs and company. The Dolphins’ and Pennington’s comeback story has been inspiring this year, but it ends this weekend.

A little help on "O" please

A little help on "O" please

Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings, 4:30pm EST, FOX
Line/Total: PHI -2, o/u 41

The pick: PHI -2

If the Eagles were facing any other NFC playoff team, I might think twice about picking them because of their inconsistency and much too frequent brain farts. But against the one-dimensional Vikes, it makes it easy for D-guru Jim Johnson to scheme up ways to stop Adrian Peterson and expose the Vikings passing game. Yes, Minnesota has the top-ranked rush defense, but Philadelphia isn’t too shabby at #5. The difference is that Philly has a very efficient McNabb, who’s making the right reads of late. Also, the Eagles 3rd ranked pass defense will feast on Minny’s 25th ranked pass offense. Nothing else here other than the Eagles secondary has been swarming, and if any bit of the intensity brought against Dallas shows up, it’ll be a long day for Tavaris Jackson. Hopefully, we don’t get any of this on the sidelines.

USC’s KO of Penn State started the year off right. Straight Cash record for 2009: 1-0

Good Luck everyone.

January 3, 2009 Posted by | General, NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments