Saturday, January 21, 2017


NFL PLAYOFFS - AFC and NFC Championship Games Preview

Here we go football fans.
The AFC and NFC Championship games take place on Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl 51 on the line.
Once again, the New England Patriots are there as they make a record sixth consecutive appearance when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC match. The early game will be the NFC title tilt between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons in the last game being played in the Georgia Dome.
All in all, it looks to be a great day of football ahead as quarterbacks Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan lead the way in these games.
The Packers have been rolling, winning eight straight games heading into this one. The Falcons beat Green Bay, 33-32 back in Week Eight in Atlanta.
Both teams can score tons of points to go along with suspect defenses, so look for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Falcons Matt Ryan to spread the football around and the scoreboard to light up as these two teams go back and forth in what should be a high scoring affair.
Meanwhile, in the AFC game that follows up, the Patriots rate a slight edge simply because they are so tough to beat at home. The Steelers offense has to perform better than last weekend when they couldn't put the ball in the end zone in a victory at Kansas City.
New England can score and of course, QB Tom Brady had another monster season (28 TD passes with just two interceptions) and did that without his favorite target Rob Gronkowski, who is out for the season after going on IR after playing roughly half the season.
The Patriots defense led the NFL in scoring 'D', giving up just 250 points in the regular season. The Steelers defense has been steadily improving as the playoffs approached and has given up only 28 points in two post-season games.
This game might not be as high scoring as most "experts" might think even with Brady and Ben Roethlisberger leading the two dynamic offenses.

Heftyinfo predictions -  Green Bay 35, Atlanta 31
                                       New England 24, Pittsburgh 17

Last Week's Record:  2-2
Playoffs Record:  5-3

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thank You President Barack Obama

AMERICA, THIS is what a President looks like . . .  

Thank you sir, it has been a great run.

Monday, January 16, 2017

NFL PLAYOFFS - Packers, Steelers Get Road Wins To Advance

The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers both won on the road on Sunday to advance to conference title games next weekend.
The Packers won a thriller in Dallas, defeating the Cowboys, 34-31 as Mason Crosby made a 51-yard field goal as time ran out. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 18-16 as kicker Chris Boswell made six field goals, which set an NFL playoff record.
The Packers will travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons next Sunday while the Steelers will face the Patriots in New England.

The Steelers held off the Chiefs as Boswell was the hero with the six field goals. Kansas City managed to score two touchdowns, including the one-yard run by Spencer Ware with just under three
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell set a record in win.
minutes remaining in regulation to get the game to 18-16.
However, the two-point conversion was a problem as a holding call negated the successful pass from quarterback Alex Smith to wide receiver Demetrius Harris. The follow up attempt was incomplete and following the kickoff, the Steelers were able to get a first down and run out the clock to advance to New England next weekend.
For the game, the Steelers defense limited the Chiefs to just 227 total yardage in offense, including only 61 yards rushing. Kansas City QB Alex Smith passed for 172 yards with a touchdown and one interception.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell ran for 170 yards (30 carries) and top receiver Antonio Brown had six receptions for 108 yards.

The game of the year took place earlier in the day in Dallas where the Packers held on for the 34-31 win as Mason Crosby kicked the winning 51-yard field goal as time expired.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers celebrates win with Crosby.
The Cowboys mounted a furious fourth quarter rally to eventually tie the game at 31-31 with just 35 seconds remaining when Dan Bailey drilled a 52-yard field goal. Just before that, Crosby nailed a 56-yarder to put Green Bay ahead 31-28 with 1:33 remaining.
The Packers held a 28-13 lead heading to the fourth quarter as QB Aaron Rodgers (356 passing yards with two TD and one INT) sliced and diced the Dallas secondary all day long. The Packers trailed 3-0 but then reeled off 21 unanswered points on a touchdown pass and two rushing touchdowns from Ty Montgomery.
The Cowboys trimmed the halftime deficit to 21-13 as QB Dak Prescott (302 pass yards, three TD, one INT) hooked up with WR Dez Bryant on a 40-yard touchdown pass play. Bryant had nine receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Bailey added a 33-yard field goal just before the half.
The only score in the third quarter was a three-yard TD pass from Rodgers to tight end Jared Cook, (pictured right) who would later haul in the clutch 36-yard reception while straddling the sidelines to set up Crosby's game winning field goal.
In the fourth quarter, Prescott connected with TE Jason Witten (six-yard TD pass) and Bryant from seven yards to get the 'Pokes to within 28-26 with 4:08 left in the game. Prescott scored on a run for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28.
For the game, Green Bay amassed 414 yards compared to 429 for Dallas (291 passing, 138 rushing) as Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott ran for 125 yards on 22 attempts.
The win was the eighth straight for the Packers dating back to Week Twelve in November.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

NFL PLAYOFFS - Home Cooking Continues As Falcons, Patriots Roll

After a four-game sweep in last week's Wild Card round, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots won their home playoff games yesterday as the host teams won for the sixth consecutive time in the NFL Playoffs.
The Falcons blasted the Seattle Seahawks, 36-20 as they battered one of the league's best defenses to the tune of 422 total yards in offense as quarterback Matt Ryan had three touchdown passes to lead the way. Ryan connected with eight different teammates while completing 26 of 37 pass attempts for 338 yards.
The Falcons defense intercepted Seattle QB Russell Wilson twice and had three sacks while limiting Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls to just 34 yards.
The game seemed to take a huge turn in the second quarter when Seattle kick returner Devin Hester's big punt return was called back because of a holding penalty. The 84-yard difference bottled Seattle up inside their own 10-yard line rather than having the ball inside the Atlanta 20-yard line while holding a 10-7 lead as well.
Two plays later, Wilson tripped when the center stepped on his foot as he took the snap and the result was a safety for the Falcons defense to make it a 10-9 ball game. From there, the Falcons scored the next 17 points to gain an insurmountable lead.
The Falcons now wait and see whether they will have to travel to Dallas or host the Green Bay Packers next week in the NFC Championship Game.

The New England Patriots jumped out to a quick lead last night as they eventually won 34-16 against the Houston Texans to advance to their NFL record sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game.
New England held a 14-3 lead after the first quarter as running back Dion Lewis returned from the injured list to score three touchdowns on a 13-yard pass from QB Tom Brady (287 passing yards with two TD and two interceptions) and a 98-yard kickoff return.
In fact, Lewis became the first player ever in NFL history to score three touchdowns via a run, reception and kick return in a playoff game. Lewis would score on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots a 15-point lead.
The Texans made a run late in the first half as they trimmed the New England lead to 14-13 following a fumbled kickoff return by Lewis that resulted in a ten-yard scoring pass from QB Brock Osweiler (three interceptions thrown) to tight end C.J. Feidorowicz.
The Patriots got a late Stephen Gostkowski 19-yard field goal to close the first half ahead by a 17-13 count. In the second half, the Patriots defense took over as they twice picked off Osweiler, one time deep in Pats' territory to help seal the win.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

NFL PLAYOFFS - Divisional Round Preview

The NFL Playoffs move forward this weekend as the Divisional Round gets going today with the Atlanta Falcons hosting the Seattle Seahawks. Tonight, the Houston Texans take on the New England Patriots, the team that posted the NFL's best record this season.
On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers travel to face the Dallas Cowboys, the top seed in the NFC while the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs will do battle in Kansas City on Sunday night. The game was moved back from an early afternoon start because of severe ice storms sweeping across the Midwest.

The following offers a closer look at the four games on tap with the Heftyinfo picks following afterward.

Saturday, January 14

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons - These two teams met back in Week Six in Seattle (Seahawks won 26-24) and this time the game is in Atlanta, where the Falcons went 5-3 in the regular season.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan will be looking to improve upon a 1-4 record as a starter in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl title under his belt.
The key to the game will be the Seahawks defense, one of the best in the NFL once again this season, limiting the Falcons offense. Atlanta had the highest scoring offense in the NFL this season.
Seattle will need to have a big day from the running game again this week. Last week, RB Thomas Rawls went off against the Detroit Lions to help the 'Hawks advance. Atlanta's defense is suspect at best.
The Falcons will look to jump ahead of the Seahawks as Ryan has multiple weapons to spread the ball around to. Wide receiver Julio Jones is among the best wide receivers in the league. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are a two-headed monster for the Falcons.

Houston Texans at New England Patriots - The Patriots are a huge favorite in the game tonight at Gillette Stadium. Look for QB Tom Brady (pictured right) and company to get a quick lead and let the defense do the rest against a less than stellar Texans offense, led by QB Brock Osweiler, who suffered through a horrible regular season.
The New England defense allowed 250 points during the regular season and led the NFL in scoring defense, giving up an average of just under 16 points per game. In addition, the Pats shut out the Texans 27-0 back in Week Three with their third string QB Jacoby Brissett starting the game in place of suspended Tom Brady and injured backup Jimmy Garoppolo.
Meanwhile, the Texans bring the best overall defense in the league, led by Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. They will look to slow down the Patriots offense, which was third best in the NFL in scoring this season.
The Patriots are without All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, out for the season with injuries but haven't missed a beat. In fact, they finished the season on a seven-game winning streak to finish at 14-2 while earning the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
As long as they avoid any costly turnovers and the defense takes away Houston offensive weapons (running back) Lamar Miller and (wide receiver) DeAndre Hopkins, the Patriots should roll to a pretty easy win in  this one.

Sunday, January 15

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys - This one has the makings of a classic playoff game on paper with these high powered offensive teams going at it.
The Cowboys are led by a pair of rookies in QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing yardage (1,651 yards for a 5.1 ypc average and 15 rushing TD) while making a very strong case for the Rookie of the Year Award. Plus, the passing game has veterans tight end Jason Witten and WR Dez Bryant for Prescott to throw the ball to, along with WR Cole Beasley (75 receptions to lead the team) and Elliott, who made 32 receptions out of the backfield.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is the hottest NFL QB going.
Not to be outdone, the Packers offense is among the hottest in pro football, led by QB Aaron
Rodgers, who led the NFL with 40 TD passes (with only seven interceptions) in the regular season. He torched the New York Giants top flight defense for an impressive four scoring strikes last week in a 38-13 rout in the Wild Card game in Lambeau Field.
The Packers have won seven straight games and will look to continue to "run the table" as Rodgers said they could do back in November when the team was mired at 4-6 while going through a four-game losing streak. Since then, Rodgers and company have been averaging nearly 32 points per game.
One big negative for the Packers will be not having WR Jordy Nelson (97 receptions for 1,257 yards and 14 TD in regular season) for the game. Nelson suffered fractured ribs injury in last week's win over the Giants. However, wide receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb (three TD catches last week), along with TE Jared Cook, give Rodgers plenty of options in the green and gold attack.
Both of these teams' defenses have been doing an adequate job in the second half of the season and when they met back in October in Green Bay, Dallas won rather easily 30-16 when the Packers were struggling.
Don't expect the defenses to dominate this one as both offenses should light up the scoreboard. The final outcome could come down to which team has the ball last.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs - The game was moved back from an early afternoon start (12 PM CT) to a "prime time" game on Sunday night due to severe winter weather in the Midwest as ice storms have been wreaking havoc in many areas this weekend.
The Steelers will be looking to duplicate a 43-14 blowout win against the Chiefs (played in  Pittsburgh) back in early October.
Both teams are on a roll coming into this one as the Steelers have won eight in a row while the Chiefs have won five of their last six games to gain the number-two seed in the AFC playoffs.
Pittsburgh rates the edge on offense with their "Big Three" of QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown going off last weekend against Miami in a 30-12 win in the Wild Card game.
The Chiefs have a solid defense, but will have their hands full against the Steelers offense. They will need to limit Bell on the ground and get pressure on Roehtlisberger, who appeared to tweak his ankle late in the game against the Dolphins.
The Chiefs have shown they can score as well as they rang up 70 points in their final two games combined against Denver and San Diego (both wins) with multi-purpose player Tyreek Bell making big plays, including a 95-yard punt return for a score against the Chargers in the final game of the season.
Kansas City QB Alex Smith has always been labeled a "game manager" throughout his 12-year career and whether he deserves it or not, all he seems to do is win under Head Coach Andy Reid's system.
The Chiefs will look to Smith to spread the ball around against a resurgent Pittsburgh defense, which has been allowing just 16.5 points per game during their eight-game winning streak.
Tight End Travis Kelce (85 receptions in regular season) is the primary target for Kansas City, along with Hill (61 catches and six TD) and running back Spencer Ware (921 rushing yards) who will look to move the ball against the Steelers defense.
As long as the Chiefs can maintain a ball control style offense and keep the Steelers potent attack off the field, they can stay in the game for sure. If not, look for Big Ben and company to attack as they did in the prior meeting when he had five TD passes in the easy win.

The Heftyinfo predictions for the Divisional Playoffs  (Home teams are listed in bold)

Seattle over Atlanta
New England over Houston
Dallas over Green Bay
Pittsburgh over Kansas City

Last Week's Record:  3-1