If the playoffs started today (NFL, not fantasy), three out of the four games on Wildcard Weekend would have the visiting team favored.
For the NFC, No. 5 New Orleans would travel to No. 4 St. Louis.
For the AFC, No. 6 Pittsburgh would travel to No. 3 Kansas City and No. 5 New England would travel to No. 4 Jacksonville.
Through all of this, should division winners be guaranteed a home playoff game, just for the sake of finishing ahead of the other three teams in their conference, or should the NFL go to a ratings game where the top 8 teams — regardless of finishing placement — get their playoff bid?
I would still tune in but am I going to be locked on the fact that the defending Super Bowl Champions are taking on a below .500 team? Not quite. And don’t tell me the ratings for that game wouldn’t be below recent years’ averages.
If the record-basis for determining playoff matchups were in play, they would be as followed:
AFC: No. 6 Jacksonville would travel to No. 3 Baltimore while No. 5 Kansas City would travel to No. 4 Pittsburgh
NFC: No. 6 St. Louis would travel to No. 3 New Orleans (worse divisional record than Chicago) while No. 5 New York would travel to No. 4 Philadelphia.
As you can see there wouldn’t be a drastic change, but St. Louis would get what, with I think they deserve: a road game.
Start’em in Week 13
Kevin Boss (vs. Washington)
Who’s the Boss? Well, uh, ‘Boss’ is. Three touchdowns in the past four games and he faces the 29th ranked pass defense this week at home in the Redskins. I like him until Smith and Nicks return, then it’s all bets are off.
Derrick Mason (vs. Pittsburgh)
Averaging a pedestrian 52 yards per game so far this season, Mason has a terrific track record in recent years against Pittsburgh. In his past three games he’s totaled 20 catches for 219 yards and a TD and while the Steelers are near-impossible to run against, they rank 22nd in the league against the pass.
Mike Williams (vs. Atlanta)
Four catches for 89 yards and a score in his last game against the Falcons, Atlanta still continues to struggle against the pass (27th in the NFL).
Sam Bradford (@ Arizona)
10 touchdowns and only one interception in the past five games, Bradford has a good matchup against 25th ranked Arizona.
Steven Jackson (@ Arizona)
Did you see what Brian Westbrook did to the Cardinals?
Mike Tolbert (vs. Oakland)
The Raiders are 28th against the run and Tolbert is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games.
Eli Manning (vs. Washington)
Leading the league in touchdown passes (23) should extend that mark against a porous Redskins’ secondary.
The Vikings’ Backfield (vs. Buffalo)
Even if Peterson plays, I like Gerhart.
Marshawn Lynch (vs. Carolina)
Deep, deep sleeper here in Lynch considering the Seahawks don’t run the ball well at all, but if it’s one thing that Carolina struggles with, it’s the run and Lynch gets the goal line carries.
Mario Manningham (vs. Washington)
Manning’s No. 1 wideout, yet again this week.
Mike Goodson (@ Seattle)
Goodson has done a great job of taking advantage of struggling rush defenses. Seattle fits that mold this week.
Brian Hartline/Davone Bess (vs. Cleveland)
There’s something about them this week. Call it a feeling and call the 19th ranked pass defense an indication that strengthens that feeling.
Outside of the negative two points they put up against the offensive-minded Giants, the Seahawks’ single game fantasy totals at home this year are 19, 15, 16 and 8.
Sit’em in Week 13
Jon Kitna (@ Indianapolis)
As bad as the Colts offensive line is playing, it’s their defensive line that has been stepping it up.
Carson Palmer (vs. New Orleans)
The Saints are No. 2 against the pass and Palmer’s offensive line has given up 10 sacks in the past four games. (One of those games Palmer wasn’t sacked at all.)
The Dolphins’ Backfield (vs. Cleveland)
Pick a Dolphin, any Dolphin.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. New York Jets)
I can see the ‘Lawfirm’ getting a goal line score, but his overall numbers won’t be pretty
Ray Rice (vs. Pittsburgh)
No running on the Steelers. You should know this by now.
Anquan Boldin (vs. Pittsburgh)
You can throw on the Steelers, but when it comes to the No.1 receivers against them, they’re very sharp. Same case goes for facing the Jets, Raiders, etc.
Hines Ward (@ Baltimore)
Hasn’t had a TD against the Ravens since ’04
Tennessee D/ST (vs. Jacksonville)
Single-digit fantasy totals in four-straight contests, with the Titans’ struggling offense constantly going three-and-out, their defense has been on the field a lot more than they’re used to.
Brandon Marshall (vs. Cleveland)
I’m still not sold on him yet — with his injury and lack of chemistry with Tyler Thigpen
About the Author
Written by Al Buzzelli