By The Numbers: Divisional Round 2016

bythenumbers

What a relief. The first quarter of last Sunday’s Wild Card game had me cursing whatever has been ailing the Green Bay Packers’ offense. Down 11-0, having given up a safety and not getting going on offense was making all of our nightmares through the last half of the season culminate into a sudden death, poor effort outing in Washington. Suddenly, in the second quarter, the offense came alive. The Defense was arguably good for the whole game, producing one turnover and getting a handful of sacks, along with holding the Redskins to 18 points. The offense has been our crutch for a while, and this time they got it done. However, Washington was likely the worst team to make the post season, Kirk Cousins doesn’t have big game experience, and their defense was ranked 22nd or so, which means Green Bay’s efforts are already being talked down by analysts all over the Internet. Having to go to Arizona doesn’t bode well either, after the trouncing they handed the Packers in week 16, but it’s not so likely that a rematch will go exactly the same way. I still believe in my team, and think they can pull out the win. They were in similar positions back in 2010/11 when they made their last Super Bowl run, though they had a much better passing offense at the time. Here’s the current framework for the remaining playoff games:

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Kansas City vs. New England

The Chiefs put a stomping on the Texans, putting up 30 points and not allowing any. Hoyer put on the worst performance by a playoff QB over the weekend, hell it might be the worst playoff performance by a QB ever. Kansas City’s reward? Heading to Foxborough to face the Patriots, who despite being human and losing a couple games during the regular season are still the team to beat in the AFC; the defending Super Bowl Champions with one of the best QB’s in the league. Kansas City looked strong, but the Texans aren’t much of a threat. As much as I’d like to see Alex Smith get another win and see the Pats go down in flames, I don’t see it happening. Patriots 31, Chiefs 24

Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals

This is a tough call. My loyalty to the Packers means I want them to win. They faced similarly difficult odds and were the underdogs through the 2010 playoffs that culminated with them winning the Super Bowl, so I know that they can win big, tough games. However, in games where they should have won in previous post seasons (like last year’s NFC Championship game) they had dropped the ball. Arizona whipped them good a few weeks ago. Arizona is the #1 offense and top ten defense in the league. The numbers don’t lie, but anything can happen on any given Sunday. I’m going to pick the Packers anyway, and put my faith in their ability to win. Packers 24, Cardinals 21

Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers

This could go either way. Honestly I don’t really care. The Seahawks should have won last weekend, but the wide kick from Blair Walsh had other plans. I’d much rather see the Seahawks out of the playoffs sooner than later, so I’m calling Carolina to win it. Panthers 35, Seahawks 24

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

Another game that could arguably go either way. Denver lucked into the #1 seed, and it appears that they are going to start Peyton Manning, which is probably a mistake. Not to say that Manning isn’t a great QB, but he’s sunsetting, and his play was so bad that he was benched earlier in the season, along with being injured. He’s also terrible in the post season, outside of that one Super Bowl win. I would have went with Osweiler personally. Provided Big Ben isn’t as seriously injured as was first believed, I think the Steelers take the game. Steelers 27, Broncos 19

We’ll see how things shake up. It’s likely that some of these will be wrong, as I scored 4 for 4 last weekend, and all four road teams won which has never happened before in playoff history. I don’t see myself being that lucky again, but it’s always a possibility. See ya next week.

By The Numbers: Wildcard Weekend 2016

bythenumbers

Normally I’d go into a rant about what happened last weekend, but that was the end of the regular season, and the playoffs start this Saturday. I’m not interested in making excuses, talking shit on refs or any of that, because I already did that sort of thing on social media, and because I’m looking forward to the playoffs. Let’s take a look at the bracket as it stands now:

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The Wildcard round consists of four games, two from the AFC and two from the NFC. I’m sure most people have enough knowledge about the game to know what comes next. Games are played in sudden death elimination mode, so if you lose you go home until next season. Green Bay travels to Washington to face the Redskins. Seattle hits the road to face the Vikings. The Steelers are facing the Bengals, and the Chiefs head to Houston to take on the Texans. Seeding is tricky, but ultimately the winners of each set of games heads to the next team on the list, those who have the first round bye — Denver, New England, Carolina and Arizona. There are bunch of scenarios and ways things can go, but here’s how I see Wildcard weekend shaking up:

Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins

Green Bay dropped the last two games of the season. Arizona convincingly stomped them, and The Vikings game came down to one shitty holding call that lead to a fumble-6 on the very next play (which shouldn’t have happened). There were still opportunities to come back but the team couldn’t pull it together. The offense has been playing like shit for most of the season (outside of those first 6 games), so this isn’t anything new. The defense has been doing great things, but they can’t exactly win the game by themselves. I don’t think we’re the weakest team in the NFC playoffs though, and I believe we can at least win this game against the Redskins, despite them doing fairly well this season. Time will tell, but I’m calling it Packers 21, Redskins 13.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings

I don’t see the Vikings being able to win this one. They were trounced by Seattle earlier in the year, and though they beat us last week, it wasn’t convincing. Adrian Peterson may have won the rushing title for the year, but he is able to be contained, as the Packers proved twice this season (40 something and 60 something yards in each game). Seattle’s defense is usually pretty good against the run too. Russell Wilson has managed to get his team into the playoffs, and no one wants to face them right now. It’s likely that they will have a harder time against Carolina (if they win this weekend) but I don’t see them losing even on the road. Seahawks 28, Vikings 14.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Steelers barely squeeked into the playoffs, thanks to the Bills handing the Jets another loss in week 17. Apparently they’re sort of hot, but the Bengals have been doing well all season. It’s yet to be seen if Andy Dalton or his backup will be starting, but either way I have little faith in the Bengals winning a playoff game. They’ve been to the playoffs several years in a row and haven’t won yet. Maybe they have a better chance with their backup? I’m not sure, but I’m going with the Steelers on this one. Steelers 31, Bengals 24

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans

The Texans being in the playoffs isn’t new, but they aren’t impressive. They still don’t have “the man” at the helm, but they did manage to lean on their defense and got into the playoffs. I still don’t have high hopes either way. Kansas City is on a 10 game winning streak, which outside of a couple of other teams is one of the best streaks this year. They’ve been hot and I’d like to see Alex Smith get some credit for that… he deserves to win some playoff games after playing for the shitty ass 49ers for so many years. Chiefs 27, Texans 17

If these games play out the way I’ve picked them, the following weekend will feature these divisional games: Green Bay vs. Arizona, Seattle vs. Carolina, Pittsburgh vs. Denver and Kansas City vs. New England. But I could be wrong and they could end up different. Time will tell. I’ll see you next week.

Thoughts on the NALCS Quarterfinals

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I had the idea to make my picks for this weekend’s pro LCS games, but the thought came to me too late. I had already witnessed Team Impulse wreck Team Dignitas, so it wouldn’t have been very fair to say “I totally picked Team Impulse to win” after they already won. Still, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. But here’s why.

I’ve been watching the pros play League of Legends for a couple of years now. Back when I first got into ranked play, the concept of the professional gamer intrigued me. Of course, like anyone else who would want to get paid to play games that they love, I had aspirations to do the same. Finding out that most pro players aren’t over 25 and most don’t play for more than three or four years derailed my line of thinking. It also doesn’t help that I can’t seem to get out of Bronze league this year, but I’m close to Silver at this point so I know I’ll at least make it there, though my goal was to make it to Gold this time around (I was in Silver in season 3 and didn’t play ranked at all during season 4). Anyway, I started watching the pros play during the summer split of season 3, which would have been back in 2013. I played the game for a couple of years before that, but wasn’t quite as invested.

This year I was fully invested in the game, playing ranked and whatever seasonal stuff came up, along with watching the spring split. When the summer split came along, I got involved in playing fantasy LoL, which is the game’s equivalent to fantasy football. You draft players, tweak your lineup and pit your team against others. You can read up on my performance during that experience by heading over to the ongoing series page up top. As I notated in the final recap after the season ended, Team Impulse (of which I had ever member but the support at one time or another) performed very well for me. Watching the epic final game between Impulse and Team Liquid solidified my love for the team. To that point I didn’t really care about teams, who won or who lost, but over the years I have come to know the ins and outs of teams and their players and I have finally picked a team for which to root. Unfortunately, LCS teams aren’t like traditional sports teams, in that they change. Sometimes the name changes. Sometimes the roster changes. Sometimes they fall out of favor and aren’t able to play during a split. Some teams have managed to have a presence every year, but others seem to weave in and out of the collective consciousness of the game. So I guess I should say, Team Impulse is my team, for now.

The North American region has received criticism of late, for having so many imports the last couple of years. It used to be solely populated by North American natives, but has since seen the import of both European and Asian players. Some people would criticize me for loving Impulse, because three of its members are from Korea (four, if you count the fact that Xiaoweixiao was suspended and his replacement Gate is also Korean). On the same token, people criticize Team Solomid for having two former European players in Santorin and Bjergsen. The way I look at it is that America is a land of immigrants, so what does it matter? Sure, Xiao, Impact and Rush have seen the Worlds stage while playing for Korean teams, but who cares? They might bring a slightly different playstyle to the game, but really it’s beneficial to the rest of NA. Why? Because NA has struggled when it comes to international play, and this is effectively bringing some of the international scene back home. Meaning NA teams can get a leg up and maybe we’ll see a NA Worlds champion finally, rather than watching that go to Koreans or Chinese year after year. NA needed to become competitive, and this should help. And besides, basically every team has these imports, so it’s theoretically fair. The European scene is starting to look pretty weak due to a lack of diversity in their teams. Sure, Fnatic posted the first ever perfect season, but is that due to superiority or merely playing in a weak division? How do you think the New England Patriots consistently win their division? It’s because they get free wins from Buffalo, the Jets and the Dolphins year after year. This isn’t rocket science people.

So my picks this weekend were for Impulse to beat out Team Dignitas, and for TSM to beat out Gravity. Nothing against Gravity, but they were starting to skid at the end of the split, and TSM simply has too much playoff experience to lose to a team that doesn’t have its shit together. These were the exact outcomes. TiP managed a 3-0 sweep over DIG, though the last game came down to the wire and was almost thrown. TSM dropped one game to Gravity, but still came out with a 3-1 victory. The games were really exciting to watch, and I’d implore those of you with even a passing in the game to check out the VODs for the games. This really is the best time to watch, if you’re not that invested. Just like playoff action in any sport brings out the best competition, this is no exception. You can watch the video replays over here.

Next weekend sees TiP advance to play Counter Logic Gaming, which should be nothing short of a phenomenal watching experience. TiP has one of the best AD carries in the league in Apollo, who has been consistent all year. Their jungler Rush is always making plays, though sometimes gets a little ahead of himself, which is something CLG might be able to capitalize on better than DIG could. The main weak point for Impulse right now is Gate, who was subbed in for Xiao because of the suspension. He played one game as support while TiP were scouting around for another player to take the role, and has only played a handful of games as mid for the team. Adrian stayed as support probably so the boat wouldn’t be rocked too much, and so far they’ve worked pretty well as a unit. CLG on the other hand has another one of the best ADCs in Doublelift, but doesn’t really have star players otherwise in my opinion. They are a solid unit that typically stumbled towards the end of splits or in playoff scenarios. As a result, I’m picking Impulse to take the series, though I think it will take all five games for that to happen.

The other matchup coming this weekend is TSM versus Team Liquid, and this one is a much harder decision to make. TSM were commanding in their victory over Gravity, and GV held first place for much of the season. However, TL did fantastically towards the end of the split, leading them to defeat TiP putting them into a tie for first with CLG, and they also took away the win in the tiebreaker. So I’m hard pressed to say that TSM just take it outright, even with the depth of experience in the playoffs. TL aren’t to be taken as slouches either, as they have a world champion ADC in Piglet, along with experienced players around the board. Quas can be a beast. Xspecial used to play for TSM. Fenix has been beast mode in the past. There are a lot of variables here. Still, I’m going to give TSM the benefit of the doubt, and say that they take it with a win in game five.

Will I be right? Who knows. But I’ll be watching next weekend. Will you?

#leagueoflegends #NALCS #playoffs

By The Numbers: The Divisional Round

bythenumbers

Looking back at my picks for wildcard weekend, I only got 50% of the picks right. That percentage would have dropped even lower, had the Cowboys lost their game against the Lions, which should have happened, but didn’t due to horrible officiating. We all saw the terrible pass interference call that would have given the Lions a critical first down in Cowboys’ territory, and would have probably resulted in a touchdown, which would have negated the boys taking a lead in the 4th quarter that they managed to hang onto for the win. Still, these things happen, and as mad as I was about another poor call during the Packers-Seahawks game a few years back (the Fail Mary), I’m over it now and realize that there’s nothing to be done about it.

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So with the wildcard round complete, we’re heading into Divisional weekend, where the top two seeds from each conference will play for the first time after having a bye week. The Packers will be hosting the Cowboys, and from what I’ve been reading, professional analysts are picking the Cowboys for the upset win. Their reasoning is that since the Packers Super Bowl win a few years ago, they have lost in the divisional round each year, a couple of times at home. They also believe that the Cowboys’ offense and defense are superior, despite all year long having said that the Packers look like the best team in the NFC. So whatever, they can say what they want, I still believe in my team and have no doubts about them being triumphant. We have a 3 game winning streak against the boys, and with their performance against the Lions last week, I see the Packers dominating. After all, we out-played the Lions in the week prior, and I don’t see us having the same issues of falling apart late in the game. If anything, we usually have comeback wins, not humiliating 4th quarter losses.

Otherwise, it’s the Panthers heading to Seattle, where I really want to hope for an upset win, but don’t see it happening. If the Panthers were able to eliminate the ‘hawks, they would come to Lambeau next weekend provided the packers won. That would be good for everyone, because I think the Panthers would be an easy win. But we’ll see what happens this weekend first.

In the AFC, the Ravens head to Foxborough, and that should be a good game, with two recent Superbowl caliber teams vying for a win. There’s also the Denver-Indy game, where Luck will look to upset the Manning with less rings than his little brother. They should both be good games, but I’m less concerned about AFC stuff until the SuperBowl. Here’s my picks for the weekend:

Packers 27, Cowboys 21
Seahawks 17, Panthers 10
Patriots 28, Ravens 20
Broncos 31, Colts 27

#NFL #picks #bythenumbers #playoffs

By The Numbers: Wildcard Weekend

bythenumbers

By securing the number 2 seed in the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers are getting this weekend off so that Aaron Rodgers can rehabilitate that sore calf, and preparations can begin for whomever we will be playing next weekend in the Divisional round. The last time we had a bye, the 49ers came to Lambeau and beat us, so at least we know they aren’t in the playoffs. Before that it was the Giants, and they too aren’t in the post season. Right now, the potential matchups are Detroit, Arizona, Carolina or Dallas, but the most likely scenario is for Dallas to visit Lambeau, and that feels like a sure win situation. The only playoff team I’m scared of in the NFC is the Seahawks, just because they seem to be back to their championship form, and the only way for us to see them in the post season is for the NFC Championship game, in which we would have to travel to Seattle, and that didn’t end well back in week 1. However, we have a better team now, and I think it might be enough to change our fortunes when it comes to that matchup. I’m not really fearful of any of the AFC teams, because we’ve already beaten the Patriots, and they’re one of the most likely teams to end up in the Super Bowl. Regardless, this week is Wildcard weekend, and there will be a few good games sprinkled in there. Here are my picks for Wildcard weekend:

Steelers 27, Ravens 21
Colts 31, Bengals 24
Cowboys 28, Lions 20
Cards 24, Panthers 13

Were this to come true, the Cardinals would be heading to Seattle, and the Cowboys would come to Green Bay. I feel that any of the lower seeded teams would be an easy win for the Packers, but it’s likely that the Cowboys will put up the best fight, though I think Green Bay in January might skew things in our favor. The Cardinals might pull an upset on the Seahawks, as they have already played there once this season, but since they’re starting a third string QB, it’s likely that the Championship game will be Seattle vs. Green Bay in Seattle. We’ll see how things shake up and go over the scenarios again next week. Until then.

#football #nfl #picks #wildcard #playoffs