2016 NFL Playoff Picks

Courtesy of profootballguru.com

Courtesy of profootballguru.com

2016 NFL Playoff Picks

We did it!

Fellow football aficionados we have made it through an interesting regular season.

For 38% of you, there is still work to be done. For an even smaller 13% of you, this is the week to bite your nails in anticipation of the Divisional Round. For 22% of you, you don’t know who will be coaching your team next season! And for a sad 3% of you, you still root for the Cleveland Browns.

Of course between Week 17 and the nitty gritty scouting combine, we have the playoffs. I’m going to walk you through game by game and provide my expert analysis to shed some light on your viewing plans.

 

Wild Card Round

 

  1. Undoubtedly, the most watchable game this weekend is the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Cincinnati Bengals. First of all, this is a division rivalry that has a history but in the recent future has really heated up. Since Vontaze Burfict hit Le’Veon Bell all the way to injured reserve, the Steelers and Bengals have been going at it. Whether it is Andy Dalton or AJ McCarron at QB for Cincy, they are going to put up an offensive showing for sure. With Tyler Eifert back to near full strength, the Steelers must be wary of the many options Cincinnati as offensively. When it comes down to it, I like Big Ben and the Pittsburgh offense to compensate for an average defense and move on Round 2. Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 24
  2. The next best game for viewership is Green Bay at Washington. I had Green Bay winning the Super Bowl back in early August and now they have me wanting a time machine. Aaron Rodgers in the first few weeks reminded me why I love football so much. He was a wizard on the field and had complete control of the offense. Recently, however, A-Rod and I have had a bit of a falling out has he has struggled to operate this former juggernaut. Losing to Arizona and Minnesota back-to-back was rough but this is a team that can really stir things up in January. On the contrary…. Washington has been a bit of a surprise. Jordan Reed has been immense for the offense. Washington has figured out how to get a lead and maintain it against mediocre opponents. Green Bay will falter in the run game and the Skins can take advantage. Yes Kirk Cousins, I do like that. Washington 26, Green Bay 17
  3. Narrowly in third behind the Redskins game is the matchup of Seattle and Minnesota. I’m almost certain you have heard about the potentially record low temperatures Minneapolis is going to have? That shouldn’t be a big problem unless you are a Seahawks fan. Russell Wilson has been so hot and it’ll be a shame if he doesn’t get a healthy amount of opportunities to pass. With Marshawn Lynch possibly coming back the offense may run more often than in recent games. For the Vikings, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t really been anything special so the limited passing opportunities due to weather shouldn’t hurt him too much. Luckily, the offense flows through Adrian Peterson. Unluckily, he is facing the same Seattle defense that crushed Arizona in Week 17. Congrats on winning the NFC North Minnesota and better luck next year! Seattle 17, Minnesota 9
  4. Lastly, Alabama versus Clemson for the title of… wait, what? Oh, well I guess this is just for NFL games so Kansas City-Houston is by default number four. Kansas City hasn’t been fun to watch but they have been good at winning. Houston hasn’t been fun to watch but they are on national television so what choice do we have? As far as the AFC South goes, Jacksonville was the most fun and has the most potential, Indy was the team we all kinda wanted to do well with Hasselbeck but was a major letdown, Tennessee met expectations ending the season 3-13, and Houston made the playoffs (Sorry Gang Green). Fortunately, the Chiefs offense isn’t a team that should put 40 on you. Marcus Peters wins Defensive Rookie of the Year, Brandon Weeden somehow clings to a job, and the Chiefs move on to the Divisional Round. Kansas City 20, Houston 10
(Courtesy of youtube.com)

Can Ben Roethlisberger take Pittsburgh to another Super Bowl? (Courtesy of youtube.com)

Until the next round is solidified, I’m not going to go through every potential matchup so here are my picks.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos – PIT 28, DEN 24

Kansas City Chiefs vs New England Patriots – KC 22, NE 21

Washington Redskins vs Arizona Cardinals – ARZ 38, WAS 24

Seattle Seahawks vs Carolina Panthers – SEA 30, CAR 24 (OT)

 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs – PIT 21, KC 16

Seattle Seahawks vs Arizona Cardinals – ARZ 27, SEA 21

 

Finally, the Super Bowl.

Before I get to that, I would like to point out the blown opportunity in using Super Bowl 50 and ditching the Roman Numerals. Sure Super Bowl L looks dorky but why not Super BowL?! The L is at the end waiting (just like you, the reader).

Koch’s Super Bowl Pick

In a game that I picked before realizing the rematch potential, I have:

Arizona Cardinals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Feel free to ask me whatever you please in regards to my playoff picks. Call me out if you disagree using the Koch’s Corner Forum, the NFL Forum, or my personal favorite the Twitterverse (@CoachKochman).

Watch Them While You Can

Denver Broncos v Dallas Cowboys

(Peyton Manning will be missed by many when he’s gone, Courtesy Getty Images)

I’ve started to notice the emotion that players are feeling as they approach the end of their times playing for fans. Eric Weddle has been a notable example. With San Diego rumored to relocate, Weddle has been outwardly emotional with fans and the organization. He has stayed after to sign autographs and just spend more time at Qualcomm.

Charles Woodson is one of those players who I’ve noticed has become more sentimental as the season progresses. One of the best players from my generation, Woodson is finishing his career where it all began in Oakland, California. As a legendary Raider and Packer, Woodson has been one of the best defensive players of all time. This season, news organizations all over have paid close attention to the swan song season of his.

So now I’m thinking. This is the first time it has dawned on me that some guys that have been playing for the entirety of my NFL fandom are starting to retire or decline. Some of these guys I am more emotionally attached to than others.

Sure I’ve seen all-time greats retire before like Brett Favre, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Terrell Owens. I’ve seen guys who may not be the best ever but who will always stick in my mind. Guys like Brian Urlacher, Torry Holt, Bob Sanders, and Tedy Bruschi. I can name loads more but that list will expand.

Sure us younger sportswriters may not have seen Joe Montana or Lawrence Taylor in their careers but every era has its household names.

There are plenty of guys still in the NFL as of the 2015 regular season, that will have be remembered for at least the next few years. I’d like to take a look at some of them and what they have meant to me.

The Quarterbacks:

There is a whole slew of quarterbacks playing in the NFL right now who will slowly, one after the other be leaving the league.

The obvious first one is Peyton Manning who has followed the sad decline that we have seen with Tiger Woods in the world of golf. Manning has one Super Bowl ring on his hand when he beat the Chicago Bears in 2007. Peyton helped to create legendary receivers in Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. He has been a face of the league since the late 90’s.

Peyton Manning will be in the conversation for top 5 quarterback all time for years to come but truthfully, he needs to leave. He has never been a particularly thrilling quarterback off the field and is more noticeably advertised in recent years with Papa John’s and Nationwide. As for his on-field abilities, he has cozied up to Denver’s fans but Brock Osweiler is sneaking in to become the short-term franchise guy.

Following Manning will be the cluster that I have adored for so long. Drew Brees. Tom Brady. Tony Romo. Carson Palmer….

Fortunately these guys have been playing at such a high level, they may be around longer than we expect. There is a distinct difference between these four and the Matt Hasselbecks and Ryan Fitzpatricks who we have seen for the last decade or so but are not in the elite category that houses the big guys.

Carson Palmer is playing lights-out and arguably better this year than he ever did with Cincinnati (even ’05).

Tony Romo had a short season due to injury this year but has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks of the last decade.

He has gotten media flak for most of his career. Given the attention his buddy Terrell Owens got for the duration of his time in Dallas (and really everywhere), I’m confused how Romo was so hated. He still has a few years left in him but it’s a name that has always been there and was never given enough credit. When he’s gone you might not notice for a while, but it’ll be odd not hearing his name.

Drew Brees is a guy who I really respect and was one of the players that brought me into football. As I have mentioned a few times, I am a Saints fan and I started getting into football around 2004/2005 which was the end of the Aaron Brooks era in New Orleans. Brees was one of the first passers to consistently post huge passing yard numbers and has also won the Super Bowl once in his career (against Peyton’s Colts no less).

Watching Drew Brees play has been truly a gift and hopefully he keeps his word and continues to produce when he says he can play until he’s 45.

Lastly, Tom Terrific. I am stunned that Marvel Comics hasn’t made a series dedicated to the man who I believe currently stands as the best quarterback, maybe best player, of all time.

He has played with dozens of rotations of offensive skill players. From the best of the best in Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski to the reception magnets of Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, Tom Brady has been the guy to beat throughout his entire career.

Four Super Bowl victories and 12 playoff appearances help Brady’s continued success in the NFL. Tom Brady holds the record for most wins with a single team with 172 and has dozens of accolades to his name throughout his football career.

One of the most interesting things about Tom Brady is the way he is vilified by the media. He has hit a point of success that is unmatched and thus the New England Patriots have been under a microscope for years. If Tom Brady ever slips up everyone is all over him. He has achieved stardom that is up there with any other icon.

When Brady retires, we can only hope another quarterback will rise up and run the NFL in a similar manner, but boy are those tough shoes to fill.

The Innovators

Enough about quarterbacks. I apologize if this article is too quarterback heavy but those are the big name guys. Here are a few that I think deserve to be brought up because of what they have given fans in their careers.

The ground-and-pound running back has always been a viable asset to good offenses in football. In recent times, however, the dual-threat back has seen a rise in value with guys who can run and catch.

However, in his lower 30s and maybe gone before we know it is one of the premier triple-threat running backs. Darren Sproles has been a bit of a journeyman in his career and never was a featured back.

He began in San Diego where he played in the backfield with LT. He then went to New Orleans to fill the gap left by Reggie Bush. Now Sproles is part of a confusing committee in Philadelphia.

Throughout his career, he has represented a pass-catching back that offers a returning threat as well. If he plays for one more team before he retires, that’ll give that fan base the opportunity to experience the unique talent that is, Darren Sproles.

Offense wins games, defense wins championships. What does special teams do? Well Special teams can make or break a game.

When you think of the best return man of all time, there is a good chance two names come up. One of those is defensive superstar and return legend Deion Sanders. The other is 21st century return specialist who doubled as a wide receiver… Devin Hester.

Hester played most of his career with the Chicago Bears. He was a kick returner, punt returner, and wide receiver for the Bears for many seasons before recently becoming a Falcon.

His best season came in 2007 when he had 6 return touchdowns and caught his first career offensive TD. Hester was a very important role in the Bears aforementioned Super Bowl run. Hester also holds many NFL and franchise records in all sorts of return category.

Devin Hester has been one of the best special teams players of all time and although he is in Atlanta, Chicago locals along with NFL fans will surely miss 23 when he retires.

Another guy who has done wonders for the special teams unit in his time is Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri scored the winning points in Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII with the Patriots becoming the first player to ever do so. He also holds many postseason points and field goal records.

Vinatieri brought attention the kicker position after his continued Super Bowl successes with the Pats and Colts. He represented an X factor that was often forgotten when comparing opposing teams.

The Honorable Mentions

Finally, a couple of guys I remember watching growing up that I’m not going to go into too much detail on because they weren’t quite as revolutionary..

Dwight Freeney- Defensive lineman for the Colts and an anchor of their defense through the mid-2000s

Antonio Gates- Chargers tight end who was one of the first breakout tight ends of the 21st century

Greg Jennings- Packers wide receiver through the Favre and Rodgers eras.

DeAngelo Williams- Panthers running back who never really seemed to slow down

 

Have any players that are hitting the tail end of their careers and you want to reminisce on? Feel free to contact me in the forums or on Twitter @CoachKochman.

 

Daily Fantasy Journal

(Courtesy of fox6now.com)

(Courtesy of fox6now.com)

Daily Fantasy Sports Journal

 

Koch’s Log. 1215.09. Sports, the final frontier. With new ways to play, it is my mission to boldly go where no man has gone before. As I delve further into the world of Daily Fantasy Sports, I am realizing some trends in the way that people play and how to integrate information from one fantasy format to another.

It’s been near a month since I first wrote about Daily Fantasy for the first time. I have had my fair share of fun-filled victories and nail-biting finishes. I’ve also learned a little bit about different strategies to employ when playing fantasy.

First of all, I believe it is in the gamblers best interest to diversify their entries. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. DraftKings and FanDuel offer different time periods of games and different competition types. My favorites are Head to Head and [preferably 10 team] Leagues. I personally enjoy mixing up time spots as well. You can play all 16 games, just Sunday games, just early games… Try them all!

Secondly, it should be noted that when it comes to traditional fantasy it is important to extrapolate information from a bunch of different sources. I frequently compare ESPN, CBS, NFL, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report, and more for my own glance at the world of experts. Now DFS sites can be added to the mix. More often than not, the most coveted players each week will be valued higher. So use those sources when setting traditional lineups as well.

Lastly, I’ve learned than many players follow the same trend when setting lineups. Here are a few of the trends I’ve noticed.

 

  • Stacks: Stack quarterbacks with their star receivers. A 40-yard TD from one to the other counts for 15.6 points for your team.
  • Avoiding the studs: Picking one or two maximum for your team leaves a lot of cap space to get consistently good players across the board rather than one superstar.
  • Pass-Catching RBs: James White, Theo Riddick, Buck Allen, Darren Sproles, and the like. They get you plenty of targets, snaps, and especially on DraftKings PPR, they are highly valuable.

 

Need any advice or have any questions? Tweet me @CoachKochman for any sort of sports talk!

The Lists: Week 10 Edition

(Tom Brady leads this list of MVP’s because well…he’s Tom Brady. Courtesy of, washingtonpost.com)

 

Now everybody loves analysis. That’s why the so- called experts are so expert. But sometimes quantity is better than quality.

Being a full- time college student and a writer for Below Mendoza can be a big workload. So instead of boring you with lengthy explanations for what I believe, I present to you…. The Lists!

The way this will work is I will give you a brief insight into my brains. Prepare yourselves for a set of brief lists that are open for discussion (@CoachKochman or using the GH

forums).

For this edition of The Lists, I’ll hand out some of the most coveted awards in football to studs and sleepers alike. Let’s go!

Most Valuable Player (MVP):

The Studs:

1. Tom Brady à 2015 Tom Brady is putting past Tom Brady’s to shame. We’ll see how the loss of Dion Lewis affects the offense, but with a new and young offensive line. Outside of Sebastian Vollmer, no offensive lineman has more than five years of experience and two of them are rookies.

2. Andy Dalton à The Bengals have for sure surprised me this season. They are 9-0 and I had them going 8- 8 this year. The Red Rifle has done a fantastic job integrating all of the offensive weapons Cincy has to offer rather than just throwing to AJ Green. Jeremy Hill has struggled this season and Dalton has effectively picked upthe slack.

3. Cam Newton à The last of the starting quarterbacks for an undefeated team, Newton follows the trend. He lost Kelvin Benjamin preseason and has found a way to use Devin Funchess, Corey Brown, and Jericho Cotcheryto win games.

The Sleepers:

If you eliminated everyone in MVP contention, these are some guys that could win the next level of MVP and deserve more credit

1. Devonta Freeman à Freeman earned his starting job when Tevin Coleman got hurt early in the season. Since then he has been a huge reason for the Falcons leading the wild card charge in the NFC. He can run the ball and catch the ball and leads the league in both rushing touchdowns and all purpose touchdowns.

2. Antonio Brown à Antonio Brown has had to help out the Steelers to stay competitive in light of the Le’Veon Bell injury. Some may argue that Julio Jones has been better but Antonio Brown has 27 fewer yards receiving with THREE DIFFERENT QUARTERBACKS! It’s difficult to stay elite when you have some combination of Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, and Mike Vick throughout the season

3. Derek Carr à Derek Carr has revitalized the Oakland Raiders organization and made a name for himself at the same time. Using guys like Clive Walford and Seth Roberts, Carr has a stat line to put himself in the conversation for elite quarterbacks. Derek Carr has time to grow as a player too and it helps being on a young and successful team.

Most Likely to Win the Super Bowl:

No explanation necessary

  1. New England Patriots- The best team in football and maybe all-time

  2. Cincinnati Bengals – From top to bottom this team is good, how long can Dalton stay hot?

  3. Green Bay Packers- When they are on, this team is near unstoppable. They just have to prove that they can beat a good team

  4. Denver Broncos- Amazing on defense and shaky on offense. We will get a good look when they place Cincy and the Pats later this season

  5. Carolina Panthers- I still don’t trust the offense but the defense has been big. They need to learn to protect leads better (Colts, Packers)

  6. New York Jets- Sleeper pick! The Jets have a great receiver tandem, running back, and a good defense to back it up

  7. Arizona Cardinals- The Cards started so hot and trounced many opponents. They have the talent on both sides of the ball to compete with anyone

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Todd Gurley- There aren’t many running backs that carry their team and make a defense worried. Gurley has become one of those guys even after coming off of injury

  2. Amari Cooper- Cooper has been the best rookie wide receiver and has shown long- term potential. He’s proven that he can compete with anyone in the league

  3. Jordan Hicks– Hicks is 4th among rookies in tackles and has five turnovers to his name including a pick six

  4. Marcus Peters- Three interceptions including a touchdown makes Peters a nice tool for a Kansas City defense that already has Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, and Justin Houston

  5. Stephone Anthony- The two- headed monster of Anthony and fellow rookie Hau’oli Kikaha has combined for over 100 tackles and 5 sacks. Anthony leads all rookies in tackles

  6. Marcus Mariota- Finally a quarterback, Mariota has had many brilliant games this season but also struggled at times. He needs to continue to get better if he wants to keep his starting job in Tennessee

Scandal of the Year:

Anything that has happened this calendar year that has become notorious. Ranked from most despicable to least despicable.

  1. Greg Hardy –Greg Hardy should not be playing in the NFL right now. He is a good player but a hothead on and off the field. Jerry Jones has managed to draw unnecessary negative attention to the Cowboys in a season where that is the last thing they need

  2. Geno Smith vs. IK Enemkpali –This was kind of harmless at the time, but both players were kinda in the wrong. It wasn’t hard for Geno to just show up to the event or pay back the $600 but then you don’t go and break the QBs jaw. Props to Rex Ryan for rekindling the rivalry with the promotion on Thursday Night Football.

  3. Color Rush –Following the debut of TNF’s Color Rush jerseys, there has been quite some drama. The millions of Americans who suffer from red- green colorblindness were vocal about the impossibility of distinguishing the Buffalo Bills (all red jerseys) from the New York Jets (all green jerseys). Also, the Jaguars color for next Thursday is anything but appealing to the eye.

  4. Running the Ball in the Super Bowl –I did say calendar year so let us just remember the decision that was made in Super Bowl XLIX that resulted in a Patriots victory. This left plenty of Seahawks fans outraged, including Marshawn Lynch’s mom.

  5. Daily Fantasy Sports –DFS has become one of the most popular formats of fantasy football today. Unfortunately, states are arguing that this is a form of illegal gambling. There will be more to come on this issue as the New York situation develops.

  6. DeflateGate –Surprise! Yea, yea, the point of this section was kind of to show the harmless of the media circus that was DeflateGate. The only aftershock we’ve seen is Angry Tom Brady running through the NFL like they were Pop Warner. Thanks Goodell!

Well, that’s all for this issue. Have a list you want me to make? Have some questions about my rankings? Contact me directly on Twitter or the Forums.