Jan. 09, 2017
"The Stack" 1-6-17
The Stack is back on this first Football Friday of the NFL Playoffs. Four games to preview for this week. Apologies to Columbus Blue Jackets fans for not covering the streak more. Their 16 game win streak ended last night in Washington where they lost to the Capitals 5-0. Quite impressive. That’s the second longest win streak of all time. We missed talking about Grayson Allen’s return to the lineup for Duke and Butler taking down number one Villanova not to mention Gonzaga staying unbeaten. I promise we will get to more college basketball and other sports topics next week. Now though let’s get right to it and preview the NFL Wild Card round in “the stack” for today, Friday, January 6th:
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans 4:35 PM ET ABC & ESPN (Saturday)
Don’t you just feel bad for the Oakland Raiders and their fans? This season was going so well until Derek Carr got injured. Even backup quarterback Matt McGloin couldn’t stay healthy. Now they have to turn to rookie Connor Cook. He didn’t look terrible in the little that he played against Denver last week, but that is a far cry from playing a full game in the playoffs. If the Raiders want to win, they must play lights out defense and run the ball…a lot. Fortunately, they get to go against Brock Osweiler who sucks. Apparently he and head coach Bill O’Brien got into a shouting match last week in their game at Tennessee at the half. Osweiler played better after that. Was going to pick the Raiders all week, but then I heard a stat that the number one defense has never lost in the opening round of the postseason. The Texans surprisingly have the number one defense. Can’t pick against that especially going against the rookie Cook.
Prediction: Texans 20 Raiders 12
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks 8:15 PM ET NBC (Saturday)
While Richard Sherman continues with his “boycott” against the media (by the way, I am really sick of this guy. He needs to change his attitude or go away), it was his defensive teammate Michael Bennett who made headlines with his praise of Lions running back Zach Zenner and how he is the best white running back in the NFL right now. I see where Bennett is coming from, but it’s still a little ridiculous to say. Even so, Zenner is going to have to have a huge day to beat the Seahawks in Seattle. The Lions aren’t the same since Matthew Stafford effed up his middle finger on his throwing hand. There is something off about the Seahawks too this year apart from their terrible offensive line, inability to run and number of injuries. Still, I will take them in Seattle though I hope the former Jackrabbit Zenner runs wild. After all, I am a South Dakota State alum.
Prediction: Seahawks 27 Lions 16
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers 1:05 PM ET CBS (Sunday)
The Dolphins are forced to start Matt Moore at quarterback on Sunday. They better hope running back Jay Ajayi can rush for over 200 yards like he did against the Steelers when these two teams met earlier this season. Both teams have gotten better since then. The Dolphins defense is better, but they will have a hard time stopping Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. I expect big things from the Steelers this postseason. It starts with a win on Sunday.
Prediction: Steelers 31 Dolphins 17
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers 4:40 PM ET FOX (Sunday)
This is the game of the weekend and also the most difficult one to pick. It’s no secret that the Giants have had success in Green Bay. Remember that really cold game in the NFC Championship in which Brett Favre threw an interception? Aaron Rodgers made good on his word of running the table, but did he just mean the regular season? No one is playing better football right now than Rodgers. The Giants defense came to play when they faced off against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. They will need a similar effort in this one. Eli Manning always seems to find some postseason magic and he will need it once again on Sunday if the Giants want to beat the Packers. Fortunately the Packers secondary is pretty awful so Odell Beckham Jr. should have a big day. Hopefully that trip he and some of his teammates took to Miami after last Sunday’s win doesn’t have any ill-effect. This is extremely tough to pick, but I have to go with the team that has the hotter quarterback though to pull an old Stacken adage, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team I don’t pick wins.
Prediction: Packers 34 Giants 31
Coming up Monday: NFL Wild Card reaction plus college football national championship game preview and prediction
Listen to this week's "The Sports Block" podcast here.
Quick shoutout to my mom whose birthday is today. Happy birthday mom!