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Kibbles and Picks 2020/21 – Divisional Round Featured

January 12, 2021
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And we’re back in print!

For those unfamiliar with this feature, Kibbles and Picks is a web feature that we’ve been doing here at the Edge for the past eight years. Every year, I pick the winners of the entire season-long slate of NFL games. My dog Stella also picks the winners of these games.

She is better at it than I am.

This past season marked Stella’s sixth regular season victory out of the eight. My lone victories were in Year Two and last season, but to be clear, this isn’t because I am bad at picking games – I’m probably average or slightly above – but rather it is because Stella (who I remind you again is a dog) is actively good at it. Her season record of 167-88-1 gives her a success rate of over 65%. My 162-93-1 landed me at just over 63% - still good, just not good enough.

Anyway, so she beat me again this year, but as always, we reset the meter and start again when the postseason hits. I’ve had a fair degree more success with the playoffs – not least because Stella knows that the regular season title is what matters and nobody really cares about our playoff picks.

That said – I HOUSED her in Wild Card Weekend. I was a perfect 6-0, nailing every pick. Meanwhile, Stella was a mere 3-3, having misguidedly put her faith in Seattle, Tennessee and Pittsburgh.

(This is where Stella yawns, sighs and then very cutely points out that this is a single weekend with just six games – an extremely small sample size that offers very little real insight as to the prognosticative proclivities of an individual. I’d tell her to quit being a smartass, but she really is adorable.)

Now, I’m not going to gloat just yet, but the truth is that three games is a tough lead to surmount in the playoffs – there just aren’t that many games left. Still, that isn’t going to stop us from pushing forward.

The Divisional Round sees four matchups; Stella and I differ on half of them. We both feel very strongly that the Packers will have little trouble dispatching the Rams on Saturday; Aaron Rodgers looks like a world-beater right now and even if the Rams can generate some pressure on him, he’s got the weapons to work through it. Plus, we’re not even sure what the deal is going to be with the Rams at quarterback – Jared Goff got by against Seattle, but we’re not sure he can pull that off twice in a row, particularly against a Green Bay team that is going to score some points.

We’re also pretty confident that the Chiefs are going to have their way with the Browns. Don’t get us wrong – we loved watching what Cleveland was able to do in their first playoff game in basically a generation, but there’s a pretty big reality check coming courtesy of Patrick Mahomes and company. This K.C. squad is absolutely stacked, and while the Browns have a lot of talent, they just don’t have the personnel to properly handle this offense. Someone’s going to go off. Maybe it’s Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce, maybe it’s someone else, but SOMEONE is going to blow up.

And now, to the disputed games.

In the Baltimore/Buffalo tilt, I’m going with the Bills at home. Sure, Buffalo had some trouble against the Colts, but Indy’s a really good team. Josh Allen found a way to get it done there and he will here. He’s a dual threat (though not as dual-threatening as the guy on the other side). I’m expecting an absolute monster of a game from Stefon Diggs in this one; I don’t care if the Ravens triple-cover him, he’s going to get his. And while I’m not sure anyone is flat-out stopping Lamar Jackson, I think the Buffalo D has got a shot at minimizing his impact. Stella’s going with Baltimore precisely because she disagrees with the premise of that last sentence; she thinks Lamar is going to put forth a similar performance to his Wild Card romp, though she concedes that the Bills are far better on defense than the Titans were. She also thinks that Allen is going to make a few mistakes and that this Ravens crew is well-equipped to take advantage of any misfires.

I’ve got the road team in Tampa Bay versus New Orleans. Do I feel great about picking Tom Brady to make yet another conference championship game, only with a different team? Reader, I do not. However, when I look at the tea leaves, I see this Buccaneers squad simply blowing past an overmatched Saints defense. Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown – there are just too many dudes to cover. Stella agrees with my assessment; the only difference is that she thinks that the Saints offense will move through the Bucs just as easily. She’s pretty sure that the chatter around Drew Brees retiring is for real and thinks that the team will be particularly fired up to give their aging leader one last shot at the brass ring. She anticipates that Alvin Kamara will have another huge game and that the Saints will find a way to get multipurpose QB Taysom Hill into the end zone at least once. Another thing on which we agree? This one has a chance to be a real barn-burner.

And there we have it. Feeling good about being back in print. Feeling good about having a commanding lead. And feeling … less good about the fact that I was once again annihilated in the regular season. But hey – all in good fun, right?

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Saturday, Jan. 16

LA Rams at GREEN BAY

Baltimore at BUFFALO

Sunday, Jan. 17

Cleveland at KANSAS CITY

TAMPA BAY at New Orleans

Wild Card record: 6-0

Postseason record: 6-0

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STELLA’S PICKS

Saturday, Jan. 16

LA Rams at GREEN BAY

BALTIMORE at Buffalo

Sunday, Jan. 17

Cleveland at KANSAS CITY

Tampa Bay at NEW ORLEANS

Wild Card record: 3-3

Postseason record: 3-3

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 January 2021 13:45

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