You’re better off going into the playoffs with a win under your belt. The Bungles and the Beagles weren’t given the privilege of a subtle reminder on that subject. The Jets and Cowboys put an exclamation point on that rule of thumb and both Cincy and Philly were one and done.
The Jets had everything to play for and needed a win to get into the money games in Week 17. The Bengals didn’t really need the game. The Bengals had sealed their divisional championship. Marvin Lewis got behind early at home and decided to take a knee, escaping in the money games on a healthy note.
The Jets on the other hand played their engines off and blew the Bengals away. The Jets’ engines raced with momentum as they came back and blew them away again in the first round at Cincinnati.
The Eagles needed a big win in Week 17 to win the NFC east. The Cowboys also needed the same game for the same prized trophy. Dallas smacked the Eagles on the last day of the regular season and came back last weekend to do some more smoking.
Proof once again, that there’s nothing like hooking up with a great friend like old Mo Momentum for the playoffs. He’s a helluva guy. You definitely need him on your team if the Super Bowl is your final destination.
Denny The Dog nailed three out of the four games last weekend. Let’s see if we can keep old Mo on our team again this weekend!
Cards + 6 ½ at Saints: If you followed this column for any number of years you know I have to keep it simple. That’s just my style and I’m not that smart to begin with. So here we go in the first game Saturday and were handed a dog coming off an offensive fireworks display that shot off 51 points! The problem is Arizona’s defense! They gave up 45 points! I’m sorry, but I lost any respect I had for the Cards’ defense after witnessing Green Bay’s 4 consecutive TDs drives and allowing an opponent to come back from a 31-10 deficit. The Cards weren’t a super road team down the stretch, losing to the Titans and being blown out by the Niners. Arizona did manage to beat Detroit by 7 in their last road game but I’m throwing that win out the window since it was the QB-less and defense-less Lions.
I’m going against my momentum theory by siding with the Saints in this game. But once in awhile you have to roll with the punches. Picking NFL games against the point spread is a little like playing cards. You have to know when to hold on to certain trends and theories and know when to fold them. And I’m going to throw Old Mo right out the window here. The Saints lost their last 3 games of the regular season. New Orleans won their first 13 games of the regular season before running into the Cowboys’ red hot poker on week 15. The Saints proceeded to drop their last two games versus Tampa Bay and Carolina.
So the Saints have zero momentum. But the hype of hosting a playoff game in New Orleans cannot be overlooked. I think the Saints will be ready to tear down Bourbon Street and Mr. 5 TD, Kurt Warner. Drew Brees will limit the turnovers. The Cards scored 20 points off Packers’ miscues last Sunday. It’s not going to happen this Saturday. The Saints have all the offensive weapons to match the Cards’ firepower. The big difference in this game will be the Saints defense. They’ve had two weeks to rest up and reflect on efforts that declined the last month of the season. I think Sean Payton will have them fired up and so will the fans in the house. I’m looking for the Saints’ D to come up big. SAINTS.
Ravens +6½ at Colts: Last weekend I sided with the momentum. This weekend it looks like a momentum shift. The Colts gave up on old Mo to not risk injury to their starters. The Bills kicked the Colts tails the last week of the regular season as Indy rested everyone. The week prior the Colts pulled Peyton Manning and the proverbial plug on any chance of an undefeated season. Basically, the Colts let the Jets have their way with Painter and the second-string in the second half. So it’s the Ravens that have the hot team. Baltimore won 3 of their last 4 regular season games and should have beaten Pittsburgh. The Ravens destroyed the Patriots last Sunday. Ray Rice ran wild as Denny The Dog predicted. The Ravens’ defense has not allowed a 100 yard rusher in 11 straight playoff games. Enough said. You have to take the dog right?
No way. I’m taking Peyton Manning over Joe Flacco. I think the Colts can take away most of the rushing attack Baltimore flashed at New England. And when they do, the load will fall on Flacco’s shoulders. He doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of weapons stockpiled as Manning. No contest. I know the Colts only won by 2 in Week 11, 17-15. But it’s a different time of the year and there will be a much different outcome. COLTS.
Cowboys +3 at Vikings: Now here’s a hungry dawg! Wade Phillips is on a one game playoff streak. After losing his first 4 money games, Wade has now run off one in a row and is looking to stay hot! There’s not too much I don’t like about the way Dallas is performing. It all started week 14 when the Cowboys gave the Chargers all they could handle in a 20-17 loss. Dallas came back the following week and dominated the Saints 24-17 on national TV. The Cowboys put an exclamation point on the end of the regular season with back-to-back shut-outs over the Skins and Eagles. Tony Romo had been flawless for a couple of months and continued last weekend, tossing 23 of 35 for 244 yards and 2 TDs. I also like the way the Cowboys are running the rock with Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and Marion Barber. After shutting the Eagles down in Week 17 they came right back the next weekend in the money games and dominated again. Dallas made 27 first downs compared to Philly’s 17. But it was the first half that was the tell tale sign, 21 first downs to 5 before half-time.
The Vikes, on the other hand, come limping into the playoffs. The Vikings lost to the Panthers and Bears in Week 15 and 16. They did come back on the last day of the regular season and trounced the G-men. But who didn’t give the G-men a beat down this season? I think the Cowboys are peaking at the right time to pull off a road upset. COWBOYS.
Jets +8 at Chargers: I suppose I shouldn’t be falling in love with a fat, loud-mouthed, rookie coach and a rookie QB. But I think I am. I hope it doesn’t cost me a parlay. The Chargers have won 11 straight. They have a more experienced coach and a better QB. But maybe the Jets will have the better team on Sunday. Hmmm. Rex hasn’t exactly said that in quite some time. But where have I heard that before? There is definitely one thing Rex Ryan keeps saying that I agree with completely. The Jets may not go all the way. And they might very well go out this Sunday. But as Rex likes to say, "We’re going to be one tough out!"
The Jets D has a knack for disrupting the timing of the QB. And, they’ve been rushing the ball nicely with Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones. Sanchez has benefited from the balanced rushing attack but he’s got some game of his own for sure.
But here’s something you should know before you spend this month’s mortgage on the Chargers and lay the points. It’s my number one reason you should give the Jets some consideration as a live dawg. The Chargers have only covered an 8 point spread in 4 of those 11 consecutive wins. I don’t know if that makes Norv nervous. But it sure would make me nervous if I was going to bet a bundle of cash on the Bolts this Sunday. JETS.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Dennis Ball