Bodog Nation - 4 And Out!
Jan 4th, 2008
By Mike Halford and Jason Brough
Bodog Nation Contributing Writers
Each week, we break down four trends to help
bettors make more informed NFL betting picks.
The following are for the wildcard playoff weekend:
The Jaguars should run all over the Heinz Field mystique.
Seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers as three-point
underdogs in a playoff home game is truly a sight
to behold. After all, Mike Tomlin's charges went
7-1 at Heinz Field this year and are widely regarded
as having the best home fan support in the NFL.
That one loss, however, came at the hands of
their wildcard opponent this weekend - the Jacksonville
Jaguars. Back in Week 15, the Jags rolled into
Pittsburgh and handled the Steelers to the tune
of 29-22, led by 216 combined rushing yards from
Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. It was a
remarkable feat considering Pittsburgh - who
finished third against the run in the regular
season, holding opponents to 89.9 rushing yards
per game - never gets sliced and diced
in front of their home fans like that.
But things have changed. Aside from missing
starting RB Willie Parker (broken leg), the Steelers
have been absolutely decimated on the defensive
side of the football.
Pro Bowl DE Aaron Smith is out with a torn biceps
injury. Backup cornerback Bryant McFadden reinjured
his ankle in a Week 17 loss to the Ravens. All-world
safety Troy Polamalu has been hobbled all year
with a knee injury, Deshea Townsend is limited
with an injured foot and linebacker Clint Kriewaldt
has been placed on IR. These injuries have lessened
the Heinz Field mystique, especially when a power
running team like Jacksonville comes to town.
The last team to travel to Pittsburgh for a
playoff game after beating the Steelers on the
road during the regular season is the 2001 Baltimore
Ravens, who were 13-10 winners at Heinz Field
during the regular campaign and dropped a 27-10
decision at Heinz Field in an AFC Divisional
Should the Jaguars do the business that the
2001 Ravens couldn't, they'll move into elite
company and be a serious threat to either New
England or Indianapolis the following week.
The Collins magic might run out for Washington this weekend.
With all due respect to Todd Collins
- the 13-year veteran has been magnificent
in relief of Jason Campbell - he's on shaky
ground heading into Seattle this weekend.
Yes, Collins' numbers suggest otherwise.
Leaving out the Giants game, played in
crosswinds that gusted to 50 mph, Collins
has completed 59 of 80 passes (73.8 percent)
for 722 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
His passer ratings in the last three games
have been 144.6, 124.8 and 104.8. But there
are mitigating factors in the Pacific Northwest
that suggest such efficiency won't come
as easily this weekend.
First, the ballyhooed Qwest
Field 12th man will be in full force.
The raucous Seahawk crowd keeps a running
count of how many false start penalties
they've "caused" and seems to believe
it can actually fire up the defense.
The 12th man might be right.
In eight home games during the regular
season, the Seahawks produced 29 of their
45 sacks and 23 of their 34 turnovers.
Seattle lost just one game at home this
year and held opponents to single digit
scoring four times (six points against
Tampa in Week 1; six points against St.
Louis in Week 7; a shutout of San Francisco
in Week 10 and six points against Baltimore
in Week 16).
People will talk about the decline of
Shaun Alexander and how the Seahawks will
struggle with his ineffectiveness running
the football, but fear not. During the
2006 playoff game vs. Washington (won by
Seattle 20-10), Alexander was knocked out
with a concussion and finished with nine
yards. Matt Hasselbeck then went out and
hit six different receivers for 215 yards
and a TD to seal the deal.
Free NFL Playoff Picks Against
Bodog Nation Staff Selections
All eyes will be on Brandon Jacobs in Tampa Bay.
In a game heavy on defense and light on
offensive stars, the one guy who'll draw
the most attention is No. 27 for the New
At 6 feet 4 inches and 264 pounds, Brandon
Jacobs not only is one of the biggest running
backs in the NFL, he's comparable in size
to some of Tampa Bay's defensive linemen,
which means he should be seeing his fair
share of carries on Sunday afternoon.
The key for Jacobs and the Giants is to
keep Eli Manning out of long and unmanageable
third-down situations. The Buccaneers'
defense ranked No. 1 against the pass during
the regular season and had a plus-15 turnover
ratio, fourth best in the league. And their
270-point yield was third lowest behind
Indianapolis (262) and Pittsburgh (269).
But the real key is the Tampa Two defense.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin plays
two safeties deep to prevent long plays
- the same long plays he tries to goad
teams into making on third down. This is
why stopping Jacobs on first and second
will be so crucial. The Buccaneers want
to force Manning into making passing decisions
given his woeful playoff past.
Jacobs has been good-yet-erratic while
dealing with injuries for most of 2007.
If he can put it together for one solid
week, the Giants should cover the three
points and move on to play another day.
The Bodog Nation golden playoff rule: Stay away from QBs making their
The last two postseasons have followed this
mantra to a "T." In January of 2006, Tampa
Bay's Chris Simms, New York's Eli Manning and
Cincinnati's Carson Palmer all lost in their
Last season, it was Dallas' Tony Romo and
San Diego's Philip Rivers.
This year? Unfortunately, it looks like it'll
be Vince Young.
Already hobbled with a nagging hamstring injury,
Young will be hard-pressed to muster much offense
against the Chargers' stout run defense and
steadily improving secondary. Antonio Cromartie
- who picked off Young during San Diego's 23-17
overtime win against Tennessee in Week 14 -
set a franchise record with 10 interceptions
on the year. The rest of the usual San Diego
suspects - Shaun Phillips, Shawne Merriman
and Luis Castillo - will be in charge of containing
Young, collapsing pockets when he goes back
to throw and extending them should VY try to
make a play with his feet.
San Diego's last playoff victory came in 1994.
Since LaDainian Tomlinson joined the Chargers
in 2001 they are 0-2 in playoffs, with a 20-17
loss to the New York Jets in 2004, and a 24-21
loss to New England last season. LDT will be
looking to avenge what many are calling the
lone black mark on an otherwise fantastic career.
Take the Chargers plus the points and start
salivating about a rematch with the Colts next
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