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Old 01-06-2013, 10:48 PM    (permalink
Eazy Picks
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Default Is there any way the Texans and Ravens can beat the Patriots and Broncos

Im struggling with this one. The general consensus is that neither team has a chance here, and that the Brady-Manning matchup is inevitable. Both teams are listed as overwhelming favorites at -10, which I feel like is way too high. The Packers were 9.5 favorites at home against the vikings, and we saw how one-sided that game was. I dont feel the gap b/w HOU-NE and DEN-BAL is nearly the same as GB-MIN.

Then again, these matchups have both happenned this year, and the Broncos blew out the Ravens in Baltimore, and the Patriots put a serious beating on the Texans. I think this has a lot to do with why the spreads are so high and people arent giving either team a chance. While I recognize the possibility that the Broncos and Patriots could win in blowout fashion, I would be surprised if thats how it went.

First, the Ravens-Broncos
I feel the Broncos defense is somewhat overrated. Yes, they have some great pieces. Von Miller is an elite player and one of the best pass-rushers, but I do think Michael Oher can hold his own against him. Dumervil is great, derek wolfe is a good rookie, Champ Bailey is still great. While they were a good run-defending team throughout the year if you look at the stats, I still feel like this is a defense susceptible to to a power running game. If you look at the Broncos, they are a very small team. Outside of Bailey, all their DBs are undersized, and they have smallish LBs as well. With Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, and Anquan Boldin, the Ravens have big targets in their passing game to move the chains with. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones both have good size and downfield speed, and could make some big plays downfield against a Bronco secondary that I believe is susceptible. Guys like Tony Carter and Chris Harris have made some big plays this year, but they are not really battle-tested in my mind. I dont think there is anyone on that roster that can match up with torrey smith (who was concussed in the BAL-DEN game this year).

And it could be tough to stop the Broncos offense, but I like the Ravens chances. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are better equipped than anyone in this game to play the chessmatch with Peyton Manning, and they will make sure the D keeps up with all the changes and formations and audibles. The Ravens D has been susceptible to the run, but with Willis McGahee out, the Broncos run attack isn't so strong, so they should be able to focus on stopping Peyton, who actually didnt have a great game against an undermanned Baltimore D earlier this year. It is a concern that the Ravens haven't been doing a great job rushing the passer and if they give Peyton too much time, he will burn them, but their pass-rush showed some signs of life this week. Kruger had a great game against Indy and could give RT orlando Franklin some problems. Suggs v Clady should be a great matchup.


OK, now the Texans-Pats

I saw the beatdown the Pats laid on em, but I think the Texans just didn't show up for that game. I think theyre very capable of winning this game, and they have a team that can win in the cold weather on the road. Schaub hasn't been playing great lately and wasn't very impressive in the Bengals game, but I think he could have a big game here. The Patriots pass-rush is decent, but I think the Texans' OL wins that matchup. The Patriots have been getting gashed in the passing game all year, and I think Schaub, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels could be in for big games. New England did a good job against the rush this year, but stopping Arian Foster is no easy task. The Pats have the 9th ranked run D, the Bengals 12th, and the Bengals got ripped by Arian.

As far as defending the Pats, I think the Texans can shut down the Pats run game. The Pats were running the ball great earlier in the season, but became one dimensional down the stretch. Bolden is out for the year and Ridleys production has been declining. The Texans have a great run D, and should control the trenches. With Watt, Smith, Reed, and Barwin all healthy, the Texans may be able to generate enough pressure on Brady to throw off their passing game. Im wondering if they will put Joseph on Welker or Lloyd, Im guessing Lloyd, and let Kareem Jackson mark welker. The Patriots depth at WR is not great, which means they probably wont spread the Texans out a lot. I think whether or not they can match up with the TEs, and whether or not those TEs are 100% is what may dictate these games. This is where the Cushing injury becomes huge. He would have been great for matching up with Gronk and Hernandez. Danieal Manning and Glover Quinn need to bring their A game.
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