Head-to-Head: NFL Divisional Playoffs
By Jordan Adams and Drew Mangione of Doc's Sports Predictions
Each week two of Doc's Sports gambling aficionados will give their alternating perspectives on the key games and interesting issues in the game at both the college and professional levels. You may not agree, they may not agree, but it should be interesting!
Here are this week's topics:
Philadelphia (+5) at New Orleans (8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13)
Drew: Donovan's mother said what many were thinking, but Philly fans have gone off the deep end if they think this team is better off without McNabb. I've cheered for the Eagles as my NFC team since the Randall/Buddy Ryan Era and will continue to do so. However, I can't picture Jeremiah Trotter chasing down anything faster than a rolling donut, let alone Reggie Bush and Deuce after Tiki gained 137 last week. The Eagles are 1-10-1 against the spread after surrendering 150 yards on the ground.
Prediction: Saints 26, Eagles 21
Jordan: The law of gravity: anything that goes up must come down. We saw spaceship Tony Romo plummet after his fast start and this is the weekend Jeff Garcia hits the reality wall. The Saints don't have a dominating defense but they will outscore you in a heartbeat, especially against a Philly defense that is susceptible against the run. This playoff game atmosphere in the dome is going make that MNF game back in September look like Friday Night Lights. The hometown Saints move forward.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, Philadelphia 20
Seattle (+9) at Chicago (1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14)
Drew: I'm going against the team I want to win -- again. Conventional wisdom says Grossman is awful, but the Bears D is great. I'm resisting the impulses I had in regard to the KC/Indy game last week and going out on a limb: this will be a shootout. Why not? I went 3-1 straight up last week but 0-4 ATS. It sobers a gambler to be wrong, even when you're right. Sometimes it takes throwing everything out to regain your composure.
Prediction: Bears 38, Seattle 31
Jordan: After Rex Grossman's season-ending performance, I don't know what to think of my Bears. Not only did his play make me want to throw up but I was glad to hear he was so excited about New Year's and whatever plans where much larger than beating a divisional rival. The Bears defense is banged up but nothing like what Seattle's wounded secondary is facing. Seriously, they played a guy who was working as a loan officer the previous week. What's next, a security guard from Best Buy? Simply put, if Sexy Rexy throws the ball less than 25 times, we'll win.
Prediction: Chicago 26, Seattle 17
What's the biggest sports or gambling story no one is talking about right now?
Drew: I tend to be loyal to coaches. For instance, I think Pete Carroll's NFL reputation is unfairly tarnished and don't want to see him play my Jets twice a year. However, as a suffering Nets fan, I have no loyalty to Lawrence Frank. This man took over an underachieving team and righted the ship, but since then he has underachieved. Byron Scott and assistant Eddie Jordan took less talent to the finals and all I'm looking for is 50 wins. There is no excuse for this team being sub .500. Sure, injuries have crept in, but this is the deepest bench he's ever had and he still loses.
Prediction: The Nets win the division with 42 wins and Frank undeservingly keeps his job. It may not be the biggest story, but it's the one that matters most to me.
Jordan: The biggest sports story that is being overlooked is the comeback of Amare Stoudemire. Two years ago 'Stat' dominated the Association to the tune of 26 points and nine rebounds a night, blossoming into one of league's best players. In 2005 he played just three games and underwent microfracture surgery and was not fully healthy until the end of this past summer. If you aren't familiar with how dangerous this type of injury is to one's career, go ask Penny Hardaway, Allan Houston and Chris Webber how their respective careers went after this operation. Amare has been playing in the starting five for the 25-8 Phoenix Suns and is a big reason why they are in line for serious title contention (18 ppg, 9 rpg). At only 24, a healthy Stoudemire is a scary sight for opposing teams and truly a great success story for such a talented player to see comeback in less than one year.
Prediction: The Suns rise to the top of the NBA, winning the championship in June. Amare is the playoff MVP.
Indianapolis (+4) at Baltimore (4:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13)
Drew: All is right in Indy! What run defense problem? If Corey Simon comes back and plays along Booger McFarland with Freeney and Mathis on the outside, Indy's run defense will be much improved. The problem is that Simon is on IR, so it'll have to wait until next year. Steve McNair is a well-rested winner and the Ravens are 8-2 ATS at home in their last 10 and 7-1 SU, while Indy is a .500 SU road team.
Prediction: Ravens 26, Colts 23
Jordan: It's fine to take care of business at home against Trent Green, who looked like a high school quarterback last Saturday, but it's a whole new task to come in to Baltimore and push around their 'immovable object.' Peyton's road playoff woes are well known and this Ravens defense is better than any of the Patriots' units that dominated him over the year. But who could blame you for taking that Colts offense and the points? It's so rare they are this large of a dog. The difference maker will be Steve McNair, the one who has been to the Super Bowl.
Prediction: Baltimore 23, Indianapolis 20
New England (+5) at San Diego (4:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14)
Drew: Brady is unbeatable and Marty is sure to screw things up. That's the skinny on this game, but maybe, just maybe, this is the year. If everyone expects you to screw up, then the pressure's off. Still, the AFC is befuddling. There are three teams I can't see losing and what can you do when two of them play each other? I'm beginning to think the Super Bowl winner may come out of this game.
Prediction: Chargers 27, Patriots 24
Jordan: Not so much impressed with what the Pats did last week. They beat a team that was an underdog by nine points and had a very shaky offense that could not run the ball. Now it's time for the big boys. Philip Rivers gets his first playoff game but he has stepped up for every other challenge. Note to Bill Belichick: you're not going to contain LT. Mr. "I Love To Wear Sweatshirts" has no business winning this game.
Prediction: San Diego 31, New England 23
Jordan and Drew will be going Head-to-Head every Thursday. If you have any comments or questions for them, or any topics that you'd like discussed, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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