TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the New York Jets and NFL after Divisional Weekend
I hope everyone didn’t give up on me after a so-so regular season, because just like Joe Flacco and Eli Manning I turned from a crappy regular season player into a superstar once the playoffs began! I hit games, over/unders, and player props to the tune of 12-4 total and a surprising 5-0 on my “best bets”. I’m not patting myself on the back just yet, though (ok maybe just a little), because there is still plenty of work to be done. I’m looking to carry last week’s success into this week, and just like the aforementioned quarterbacks, soon everyone will be calling me elite for no reason whatsoever. Ok, probably not, but still…. Continue reading “NFL Gambling Guide to the Divisional Playoffs”
Joe Caporoso with a 12 pack of NFL and New York Jets thoughts heading into divisional weekend
Justin with a breakdown of the Patriots/Broncos divisional round match-up for TOJ
While everyone from Denver settles themselves in as the sun goes down, Patriots fans are having some serious inner dialogue. What is he going to do? Are they going to play this one conservative? Is Tim Tebow saving the final act for the field where playoff hopes go to die for the home team? What if he starts airing it out all over the place, with the occasional QB draw once he finally gets his 2 deep look?
The problem for the Patriots is not the Broncos defense. It’s the Broncos offensive playcalling, which NO ONE CAN EXPLAIN. Seriously, did anyone think the Broncos were gonna average 31.6 yard per pass? Nope. Not even New England tried that against the Steelers. It was all dink and dunk over the middle, couple of comeback routes and the occasional power run to keep everything close. No one is ready for what the Broncos are going to unleash tonight. Least of all the Patriots secondary. Sure the Pats are going to try some 2 deep zone looks to try and keep things in front of them, but Tebow will bring them closer, if for nothing else but to see if there are still pupils in his eyes.
I keep looking over the sheets of notes I made here, with the name Stevan Ridley popping out at me. That’s what terrifies me most about the Patriots. They can change the pace of a game WHENEVER THEY WANT. They have Green-Ellis to just run up the middle and get blasted a few times for 3 yards a clip. Then there’s the two strangest x factor backs most people have never even heard of. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen may in fact turn this Patriots running game into a strange troika of smoke-screening, with Danny Woodhead ready for a jumbo formation counter play when Brady checks out of the spread as the safeties of Denver begin to have a very serious dilemma. What happens when the 4 wide set is Danny Woodhead, Wes Welker, Deon Branch, and Rob Gronkowski? Suddenly Woodhead motions in, and Gronkowski slides left into a bunch formation. Decisions need to be made. Quickly.
Let’s be clear. This isn’t about revenge for Tom Brady. He got his revenge by owning the Jets twice this year. This is about respect. Everyone knows that a playoff loss at home to Tim Tebow is going to set this team back about two years, when everyone was unanimously picking them for at least an AFC championship game appearance. That hasn’t happened in over 4 years, and despite the fact that his supporting cast has become great and awful simultaneously, Brady and Belichick know there are only two faces that will appear on the back of the Boston Herald.
Counterpoint: What may in fact be worse for the rest of the league is that a loss to the Broncos is going to cause a dramatic shift for the Patriots in terms of draft and free agent ideology. As of now, the Patriots have two first round picks, two second round picks, and two third round picks. Which leaves this doomsday scenario. Patriots move up about ten spots in the first round, and move up in the second, while cutting the fat of a few older players with some draft day trades. Two legitimate first round picks on defense, and two more second rounders, one defense and maybe another receiver. There will be serious problems if the Patriots get a pass rush anything near the Giants, and if they have a secondary that can at least be adequate in man coverage, teams are going to have a serious issue on their hands when you’re trying to force the ball down the field because Tom Brady just put up 28 on you in less than 15 minutes.
And what if the Broncos win? ESPN executives will begin to hemorrhage and contemplate a running banner of Tim Tebow tweets from now until the Super Bowl. There will be no escape. Giant slayers. Holy rollers. Brady beaters. No one wants to mention the fact that Mark Sanchez beat Manning and Brady back to back on the road last year, because that’s last year, and it’s been established by his own defense that Mark Sanchez sucks.
Tim Tebow winning in Foxborough will change things. That’s why it won’t happen. Even Ochocinco admitted that Tom Brady has turned into the Tom Brady everyone despises outside of Boston. The guy whose main focus is to put up enough points so that he can sit down in the third quarter and let Ryan Mallet humiliate the Broncos defense to the tune of 51 points. John Elway will be grinning either way. This is modern day football. Have no faith in miracles.
Justin breaks down the Saints/49ers match-up for TOJ
What may be the most diametrically opposed concepts of football is going to be taking place in San Francisco, a city that ruined my psyche with it’s plethora of drugs, bums, and general aimlessness. This weekend will not be aimless. It has already been lamely compared to “objects in motion stay in motion until they hit immovable forces”, blah blah blah. OK. Here’s what this all breaks down to. Alex Smith not getting his head removed from his shoulders. Why in God’s name would Greg Williams have any respect for Alex Smith, or the big boi on slow legs Frank Gore? Sure the Saints might get beat down the middle a few times, but the Saints know for a fact that they can turn around and put up 14 before anyone knows what happened. You’ll see.
You’ll go out to smoke a cigarette, Alex Smith marching down the field with some counters, a little play action, and even a few comebacks out of the spread, ball is on the 30. Then what happens? Saints score 10 points. Huh? Yep. Alex Smith gets sacked on the Saints 20, Drew Brees runs a draw for 20 yards and all of the sudden Jimmy Graham gets loose down the seam because the two linebackers are trying to spy over the middle. Easy stuff.
Where this game may get interesting is when Brees gets into 3rd and long, which will happen less than 5 times the entire game. Mark my words. The Saints are going to keep things interesting, two tight end sets, play action, shovel passes to Sproles, and the occasional power run set. The Saints don’t want to overpower the 49ers, they want to outsmart them. The Saints are fencing and the 49ers want a street fight. You don’t get points for punching in fencing.
If Mark Ingram was in this game, it’s not even close. The Saints would stuff it until someone gets knocked backwards, and then the play action is at it’s deadliest. But he’s not in, and Pierre Thomas isn’t going to try to run into Aldon Smith on a regular basis.
What I fear, and what will probably happen, is that if the Saints get desperate and it’s a low scoring game, then the first down hail mary will rear its ugly head and the Saints will somehow gain 60 yards without a completion. It’s the ace in the hole for Sean Payton, and Sean Payton likes poker. Will it make 49ers fans fume with rage for the next week and a half?
I really don’t know if San Francisco, as a city, cares about this game. I’ve been there. I spent a week and didn’t see a single jersey. Given, it wasn’t football season, but I have a hard time envisioning the Castro aglow with red jerseys and vicious drunks. Which is why the team should be permanently moved to Alcatraz and people should have to swim for their lives to see the game if they don’t want to pay the price of admission. Sure, a few people wouldn’t make it, but those who do would make even Raiders fans weep tears of joy.
Jesus, where have I gone with this. Too many nights spent staring at swirling patterns on my hotel room bunk bed, 18 year old street fights, and general madness. I know I wrote about the breakdown of Alex Smith, and he may in fact sneak out of here alive, but there’s only one chance for that, and it’s turnovers. Multiple turnovers. The 49ers can’t slow the Saints down to a crawl, no one can. They’re gonna have to do a job of disguising plays that makes Rex Ryan’s last playoff scheme against the Patriots look like 3 box play calling in Madden. Screw Gameflow. I’m rooting for the 49ers, and I’d like to see the NFC West raise themselves from the murk and get interesting. And I like linebackers, just not Jonathan Vilma. Because he, like many others, proved the Jets are inept at keeping talent. So there it is, I like the mud of the 49ers and I’m still trying to find reasons to not give up on the Jets for good. I got rid of the Knicks a week ago, and I’m on Step 7 of recovery.
TOJ with his divisional round picks
Wild Card Weekend: 2-2
TOJ Divisional Round Picks
New Orleans (-4.5) vs. San Francisco – Thoroughly exhausted of hearing about this game being outside. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow and unless a rain storm hits, I am more confident in the Saints taking care of business than the inexperienced 49ers pulling the upset in their first playoff game under John Harbaugh. New Orleans has enough of a running game to keep a balanced approach against a tough 49ers defense and San Francisco’s offense simply won’t make enough big plays to win this game.
Denver (+13.5) vs. New England – New England has a way of being disappointing in home playoff games as of late. Can Tebow really win this game? I’m not sure but he will do enough to keep this under the massive 13.5 point spread.
Baltimore (-7.5) vs. Houston – Sometimes these games get over-analyzed when things should come down to something simple like: do you think rookie T.J. Yates is going into Baltimore, where the Ravens were 8-0 this year, and doing enough to beat that defense? I certainly don’t.
Green Bay (-7.5) vs. Giants – This has been a week filled with everybody comparing this Giants team to the 2007 team, talking up the Giants as the only team who can knock off the Packers, Jason Pierre-Paul making guarantees, Antrel Rolle yapping as usual…and not much chatter coming from the defending champions who went 15-1 this year. This is Aaron Rodgers, having one of the best years in NFL history, not Brett Favre. Green Bay isn’t blowing this game.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Bill Belichick completely out-coached in his own building by Rex Ryan. “The genius’ making idiotic challenges and fake punt calls.
Tom Brady completely confused by the Jets defense and cursing out himself and teammates on the sideline. Mark Sanchez outplaying him in his own building. Please, continue to say Sanchez is the reason the Jets can’t win a Super Bowl and isn’t a good NFL quarterback…he just beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the playoffs, back to back…in his second year.
Braylon Edwards dragging “Pro-Bowlers” Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty into the end-zone.
Santonio Holmes making a ridiculous catch in the corner of the end-zone for a touchdown.
Jerricho Cotchery coming up tremendously clutch as always with nearly 100 yards receiving and a momentum swinging 58 yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Shonn Greene putting the game on ice and the entire Jets team, including Rex Ryan, celebrating in the end-zone.
Wes Welker nearly getting his head taken off by Eric Smith a couple of times. I don’t think we’ll hear him running his mouth anytime soon…because his season is over, which is just a beautiful thing. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the rest of the overrated New England Patriots who the mainstream media had a love affair with are done…they are done because the team you love to hate, beat them up in their own building and backed up their big talk.
Bring on the Steelers…
In no particular order…
1. A special teams or defensive play that either directly results in points or sets up easy points. I am looking at you Antonio Cromartie.
2. A big play on offense that directly results in points or sets up easy points. I am looking at you Shonn Greene, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes.
3. Mark Sanchez needs to play one of the best, if not, the best game of his young NFL career. Yes, obviously looking at you Mark Sanchez.
4. The Jets need to force a turnover on defense. I am looking at you Jason Taylor, Calvin Pace, and David Harris.
5. The backup Jets defensive backs, James Ihedigbo, Kyle Wilson, Marquice Cole, Dwight Lowery, and starting safeties Eric Smith and Brodney Pool all need strong games. Secondary, you are supposed to be the strength of this team, stand up.
6. Nick Folk can’t miss any kicks under 45 yards. Shayne Graham needs to shank one. Yes, looking at you at #2…and expecting that choke from you Graham.
7. They can’t fall behind by more than one-possession at any point in the game. Everybody.
8. The running game must lead the way and allow the Jets to control the time of possession. Offensive Line, Backup tight ends, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Green, Tony Richardson…ground and pound.
9. Danny Woodhead can’t be covered by Bart Scott, David Harris or any linebacker for that matter and certainly not Mike DeVito. Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan, common sense here.
10. Zero turnovers. Offense but mostly Mark Sanchez.
Let’s Get That Upset
Another week of Jets football means another 12 pack of predictions. TOJ actually fared well with his wild-card picks, going 3-1 on the games against the spread. In terms of my specific picks for Jets/Colts…eh, it was very hit or miss. Let’s see how we fare this week –
1. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will combine for 40 carries as the Jets attempt to control the clock and shorten the game. They will the run ball with some success but neither will crack the 100 yard mark individually.
2. Mark Sanchez will manage the game effectively. The Jets will be conservative with their playcalling, especially in the passing game. Sanchez will have at least one turnover but will also hit one big play down the field off play action when given the chance to go deep.
3. Tom Brady isn’t going to turn the football over.
4. The Jets will get one big play from their special teams, whether it is a return from Antonio Cromartie (who will be deep on kicks), a fake punt, or a surprise onsides kick. This play will help keep the game close into the fourth quarter.
5. The Jets defense will dare New England to run the ball to beat them and won’t stack the box. You will see plenty of Marquice Cole, Kyle Wilson, James Ihedigbo, and Dwight Lowery on the field and less of Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will run for at least 65 yards and Danny Woodhead will add 65 total yards of offense.
6. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will both have big games working against the Jets safeties. One of them will score a touchdown and they will combine for at least 90 yards receiving.
7. Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards are going to beat Kyle Arrington for a touchdown on a long pass off play action.
8. Dustin Keller is going to have at least 6 receptions and be Mark Sanchez’s favorite target on third downs.
9. The Jets won’t attempt a field goal over 45 yards with Nick Folk, instead opting to go for it or punt on fourth down. Shayne Graham is going to miss at least one field goal attempt.
10. Brad Smith or LaDainian Tomlinson is going to throw a pass for the Jets.
11. There is going to be at least 3 or 4 scrums after the whistle and a personal foul or two in the first half alone.
12. My heart wants to pick the Jets, but in a lame attempt to be somewhat objective I have to admit the logical pick is New England. I do think the Jets will play them tight into the fourth quarter and ultimately lose something like 27-20. However, if the Jets can get the big special teams play I mentioned, and a signature performance from Mark Sanchez, and catch a break on defense with a tipped pass turned into an interception or a timely forced fumble, I wouldn’t be stunned if they stole the game late…I know those are a ton of ifs but this is the NFL and on any given Sunday…anything can happen.
Divisional Round Picks
Jets (+8.5) at New England
Baltimore (+3) at Pittsburgh – Wow, am I excited for this game. You know you could almost take a low-scoring game decided by 3 points or less to the bank. Baltimore is due to knock Pittsburgh out and I think this is the year for them to do it. The Steelers have problems on the offensive line and will miss Aaron Smith on defense. I expect the Ravens to steal a close one in the final seconds of what should be a great game.
Green Bay (+2.5) at Atlanta – I know everybody is on the Green Bay bandwagon, but guess what? So am I. Aaron Rodgers is going to be the best player on the field Saturday night and now that it looks like Green Bay found a running game, they will be balanced enough on offense to steal a tight, high-scoring game.
Seattle (+10) at Chicago – This line just feels too high after watching Seattle last week and knowing Jay Cutler is under center. This is going to be a close one and I wouldn’t be shocked if Seattle won the game, however in the end I do think Chicago will do enough to escape with a victory.