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edge staff writer


Kibbles and Picks 2016/17 – Wild Card Round

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And with the postseason comes one more chance to salvage my self-respect and cling to the final shreds of my football-picking dignity.

For the third time in the last four years, the NFL regular season has seen my dog Stella prove more adept at picking winners than myself. It wasn’t as big a margin of victory as it has been in past years – in the end, she beat me by just four games – but it was no less thorough a thrashing. Even when I managed a stretch of good-to-great weeks at season’s end, she kept pace and kept me from ever really having any hope.

But that’s in the past. Everybody is back to zero. It’s playoff time.

Stella and I are in definite agreement on two of the weekend’s four contests. We both believe that Seattle will have little difficulty defeating a smoke-and-mirrors Lions squad that hasn’t beaten a playoff team all year. Stella thinks it’ll be a close game, but I’m guessing the Seahawks win by at least two scores. Regardless, we both see Seattle advancing.

And anyone who has seen the Miami Dolphins play this year has to admit that there’s a “happy to be here” vibe emanating from them. Even with big play from Jay Ajayi, Miami won’t be able to overcome the loss of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Particularly when you look at a Steelers team that’s got top-tier talent all over the offense – the Dolphins don’t have an answer for guys like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger. We’re both calling a blowout.

As for the game’s on which we differ, well…let’s just say I’m rolling the dice.

In the Oakland/Houston matchup, the smart play – and the play Stella made – is on Houston. Both teams are dealing with massive issues at quarterback, but the Raiders have far bigger problems than the Texans. It’s a purely gut call – and one that I don’t feel great about – but I think the Raiders, even with unheralded Connor Cook at QB, might just be able to pull this off. Their offense might sputter, but Khalil Mack is a force of nature – if the defense takes advantage of the opportunities presented by Houston’s dysfunctional offense.

Stella is actually in agreement with me on a lot of this stuff. However, she refuses to look past the fact that Cook is a desperately inexperienced rookie who’s not even close to ready for this; she thinks the Texans defense will absolutely take the Raiders apart. She sees Cook getting rattled early and Houston forcing him into a ton of bad decisions. Sure, they’re saddled with Brock Osweiler, but hey – at least he’s not Connor Cook. She’s calling for Houston to win a low-scoring slugfest.

In what will almost certainly be the game of the weekend, I’ve got the Giants going into Green Bay and pulling off the upset of the Packers. I think that the New York defense is the kind of unit designed to be even more effective in the playoffs; that D will combine with a patented inexplicable stretch of Eli Manning excellence and at least one ridiculous play out of Odell Beckham to result in a close win for the Giants in Lambeau – one quite likely decided in the final minutes.

Stella’s not buying it. She’s an Aaron Rodgers proponent, and while she acknowledges the quality of the NY defense, she doesn’t think they’ll be able to shut Rodgers down. As much as the loathes the notion of “intangibles,” she begrudgingly admits that if they matter in the least, Aaron Rodgers has them. The running game and/or the defense might struggle, but Stella’s convinced that the Green Bay quarterback will find a way to win and expects the entire Packers team to feed on frenzied fan energy on their way to that victory.

Wish me luck folks – I’m trying to save a little face here after my regular season loss, but I’ve got a sinking feelings that it’s only going to get worse from here.

(winners in caps)



Saturday, Jan. 7

OAKLAND at Houston

Detroit at SEATTLE

Sunday, Jan. 8


NY GIANTS at Green Bay

Regular season record: 152-102-2



Saturday, Jan. 7

Oakland at HOUSTON

Detroit at SEATTLE

Sunday, Jan. 8


NY Giants at GREEN BAY

Regular season record: 156-98-2


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