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“Shorestein Says” 2019 NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

Shoresteinsays.com “MoneyZone” has the Vikings and Seahawks.  The Moneyzone was 2-0 last week.

Minnesota +7 @ San Francisco:   The Vikings shocked the world last week.  Another year, another gutless performance by the Saints in front of their disappointed fans.  I honestly thought that the Saints were far more effective with Taysum Hill at quarterback… I digress.

I think the Vikings are exactly the type of team that could give the 49ers problems.  For much of the season, the Niners defense thrived when opposing offenses came into San Francisco and tried to throw.  The Niners pass defense was probably the league’s best from week 1 on (despite what the numbers say about the Patriots).  However, I think San Francisco was exposed by the run occasionally.  They ranked just 23rd in the NFL in terms of yards allowed per carry.  The Vikings were one of the most effective and prolific rushing attacks in the season this year.  Only the Ravens and the 49ers had more rushing attempts per game than the Vikings at 30.40.  If you look at 2 out of the 3 losses for San Francisco, the Seahawks and Ravens were able to control the game by rushing for over 150 yards.  I think the 49ers would be better off facing a high octane offense like the Chiefs as opposed to a conservative running team.  Dalvin Cook looked to be 100% healthy against the Saints aggressive defense, and I think he will have opportunities this weekend.  The Vikings are a deadly screen team.  They have crushed teams with various screen plays this year, and will likely try to capitalize on that in San Francisco.

To me, these teams are identical in how they approach their offensive game plans.  Both look to run early and often, and have their best passing plays off of play-action.  The winner will almost certainly come down to which quarterback takes better care of the ball.  Cousins has been ridiculed for his turnovers in big time games, but Garoppolo was a little too loose with the ball himself as he threw 13 picks and lost 3 fumbles this year.

These playoff games have been tight, and I feel more comfortable taking the significant underdog with a strong running game.

Seattle +4 @ Green Bay:  I think the Packers offense has wildly underachieved all year.  While Aaron Jones has had a great season, Rodgers has looked awful at times.  Seattle’s offense has been the better unit for the majority of the season.

I think Seattle should be able to move the ball all day on this Green Bay defense.  Green Bay has used its great defensive ends to take advantage of quarterbacks all year, but I just don’t see that materializing against Russell Wilson.  Seattle, like Minnesota, is a conservative running offense, but Russell Wilson’s deep ball passing gives them an element that most teams can’t defend.  I’ve seen the Green Bay defense get exposed in losses against the Chargers, 49ers, and Eagles.  They were even exposed in large parts of their wins against Detroit (twice!) and Oakland.  I just don’t think this is a championship level defense even though they’ve made some major strides this season.  Green Bay is also vulnerable against the run, and the Seahawks should be able to exploit it despite having major injuries at the position.

Wilson’s underdog track record is far too strong to ignore in a game that features two very evenly matched teams.

Houston @ Kansas City -9.5: Aside from Baltimore, I don’t think there was a hotter team in the league coming into the playoffs.  The Chiefs pass defense got immeasurably better as the season progressed, and they have clearly adjusted to Steve Spagnolo’s system.  The same just can’t be said about the Texans who squeaked by the Josh Allen led Bills in a game they had no business winning.  I really see two completely different teams than what we saw early on in the season when the Texans won at Arrowhead.

I honestly am not sure what you can say the Texans do well on defense?  They get gashed on the ground, have no pass rush, and have major problems in the secondary.  Kansas City has been excellent at generating blitz pressure, forcing turnovers, and capitalizing on opponent mistakes.  I think their offense is now fully healthy and they should be hitting at all cylinders and fly through to the championship.

Tennessee +9.5 @ Baltimore: The Ravens have certainly been the best team in football since they dismantled the Patriots early on in the season.  However, I think this week is a dangerous week to bet them.  I’m not sure how they will react to being the prohibitive Super Bowl favorite, and they are playing a scrappy Titans team that isn’t afraid to let it all loose.  The Ravens are the far superior team on both sides of the ball, but I honestly just think they could come out tight and have trouble covering the large spread.  The Titans have a devastating run game and could hang around.  I fully expect Baltimore to close it out in the end and setup an epic AFC Championship with Kansas City, but I am not crazy about laying this many points to a physical, grind-it-out Tennessee team.

Good Luck!

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