Deep Thoughts - NFL Playoffs & Fantasy Football
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The 2010-11 NFL playoffs are perhaps the most wide-open we’ve seen. Even the favored Patriots bring a vulnerable defense to the table while the defending Super Bowl champ Saints are just a fifth seed this season. Let’s take a look at all the teams and what we can expect if you’re in a fantasy playoff league.
The Pats are considered the clear favorite by many this year, and with home field advantage and the way they’ve played to end the year – why not. That means Tom Brady and BenJarvus Green-Ellis and perhaps even Wes Welker and Dieon Branch become attractive players to draft for the longterm, or save for as late as possible if you’re in a suicide pool.
The Steelers are on pace to see the highest-seeded team when they host a game for round two, but who that is is anyone’s guess at this point. Pittsburgh has looked good against just about everyone, expect for New England, but won’t have to worry about them for a few weeks. The Steelers pass defense has been an area where they can be beat, so a matchup with Indy could be very interesting. That same matchup would be just as good for Pitt RB Rashard Mendenhall, who could light up a Colts rushing defense. No matter who it is, it’s hard to imagine Pittsburgh not winning at home next weekend…
The Colts aren’t exactly riding high coming into this year’s playoffs. They struggled for the last few weeks before somewhat backing into the playoffs, thanks to a Jags loss in Week 17. They don’t get an easy matchup against a tough Jets defense and rushing attack, which matches up very well. The Colts have struggled against the Jets before and are primed to be upset in this one. As a result, Colt players who are normally top-notch picks every year could be guys to stay away from this time around. However, a win would mean a trip to Pitt against a beatable secondary and passing defense.
Week 1 Key Matchup – Indy’s 25th rated rushing defense against the Jets 4th-best rushing offense.
The Chiefs will host the Ravens to open up the playoffs in a game that could go either way. The Ravens have given up yards on the ground this year (remember Peyton Hillis) and that means potential good news for Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. But, Baltimore’s rushing D still finished 5th-best in the league. So, while it’s far from a lock for Baltimore, keep in mind the Chiefs are very good (7-1) at home, which could give them the edge. However, I like Baltimore a little bit more in this matchup, which means it could be one-and-done for KC players.
Week 1 Key Matchup – The league’s top rushing offense in KC goes against the 5th-best rushing defense in the Ravens.
The Chiefs rushing and passing defenses rank in the middle of the pack, and that could be the edge the Ravens need to pull off this road win. Baltimore has one thing going for it, the 5th-best rushing defense in the league against a team that led the league in rushing thanks to Charles and Jones. The Ravens could very well get two playoff games this year and so guys like Ray Rice and Joe Flacco are more appealing to me than KC players.
Week 1 Key Matchup – The Ravnes allow only about 93 yards a game on the ground while KC’s running attack tends to average about 164 yards a game.
The Jets backed into the playoffs this year, but that won’t bother the ego of Rex Ryan and company. They actually may have a favorable matchup against the third-seeded Colts, who haven’t looked themselves lately. The Colts rushing D is ranked just 25th in the league, so expect NY to take full advantage of this with RBs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson. I think Jet players have a great chance to advance a game before looking for revenge in New England.
Week 1 Key Matchup – The Jets rush for over 148 yards a game while Indy allows 127 yards a contest on the ground.