Playoff wk 1, Wild Card

Welcome and congratulations to our eleven Cheddar Playoff finalists.

Owing to changes in the bowl scheduling, the scoring will be different that what is outlined on the rules page. It will go like this:
1. Wild Card Week: 3 points per NFL game, 6 points for the college game (the FCS game is NOT in play), 5 additional points for essay (23 pts max);
2. Divisional Week: 5 points per game, 5 points for essay (25 pts max);
3. Championship Week: 10 points per game, 5 points for essay (25 pts max);
4. Super Bowl: 12 point essay.

Your picks are to be submitted via email to Frowns and me no less than one hour prior to kickoff.

Here are the lines.  

Download (PDF, Unknown)


I always look for an interesting picture for the ‘featured image’ of each post.  Long story short, here’s the 1944 NFL Championship program featuring a matchup we’ll be seeing again on Sunday.

Let’s see… that’s a medieval mace, sandals look to date back to the Akkadian Empire on 2300 BC, and I don’t know quite what’s going on with the off-the-should leopard skin frock except that we may have found the inspiration for Wilma’s dress style and Fred’s tunic pattern in The Flintstones. HISTORY!

  • trashycamaro
    Essay Raiders +3.5 over Texans

    Seahawks -8 over Lions

    Dolphins +10 over Steelers

    Packers -4.5 over Giants

    Bama -6.5 over Clemson

    For the playoffs I decided to make myself some new analytics to evaluate the games by. I think especially for the mess of games we have this weeks with 3 backup QBs getting starts and one of the other starters having a significant injury (Stafford). Of course this would be quite a bit easier if each game had one good QB and one backup/injured QB. Sadly, it did not come out that way.

    So I looked at 2 different metrics that I thought could help with this issue. The first is an adjusted number of blue chip players playing in the game. The second compares the teams over the three phases of the game to see where teams are good and unaffected and also measures the variance of the teams.

    The single most surprising thing I came across was this: the giants are the team with the least amount of variance in the NFL. If you were to look back across my picks over just about the entire time I have been participating, you will see me not picking the Giants game or reluctantly doing so because of Eli’s inconsistency. Well, that’s apparently not the case this year.

    I have the Raiders over the Texans, pretty substantially. They beat the Texans in every category, except variance. The Texans are very consistent in who they and rank number 5 in the NFL. Lack of variance is not correlated with being a good team. Even adjusting for the QB change for the Raiders, they still win every other metric I put together.

    Aside from that, my numbers tend to match with the spreads pretty closely. The Seahawks have a massive advantage over the Lions, and it really looks enough to justify an 8 point spread.

    The Steelers have a large advantage over the Dolphins, although the Steelers have the largest variance of any team in the league (I ascribe this to the Ben injury and too early return more than anything else). Of course, the Dolphins have the second largest variance of any team. I ascribe this to them not being a very good team. Also, the Dolphins have improved quite a bit recently, but the Steelers have improved more. 10 points is still really big though, despite the fact that the Dolphins lose in every phase of the matchup (slight lead in special teams, but small enough to be a wash.)

  • GRR
    Oakland (+3.5) over Houston – The hand-wringing over Connor Cook is really funny to me. Are we all trying to pretend that Cook has not played in bigger games than the annual Saturday afternoon Wild Card kickoff in Houston?

    Detroit (+8) over Seattle – I think Stafford is one of the most unappreciated players of this generation. A win in Seattle Saturday night will be a big deal for him.

    Miami (+10) over Pittsburgh – I went back and forth on this all week but I will go with the team that is built for 15 degree weather which of course is Miami.

    Green Bay (-4.5) over NY Giants – Maybe if Coughlin was still in charge I would like the Giants here.

    Essay Pick

    Your chance was last year.

    Do you really think that you are going to put 550 yards on Alabama again?

    Do you really think that you will score 40 again?

    I firmly believe that the only team that could beat Alabama was Washington. Washington had a very good game plan. They put themselves in a position until Saban probably took the headset from Lane and just turned the horses loose and stopped being cute. So…while Lane is busy getting FAU ready for a playoff run (one of my favorite comments of all time) Sark will understand that if he wants to be around next year he will keep things very simple. It’s not that Clemson does not have good players. They do. Watson is a truly special college QB. Sorry…had to get that in there. Don’t even think about it Hue or Sashi.

    The bottom line is that Alabama is a soulless joyless machine that crushes everything in its way. They slept walked through a down SEC and was ready to go when the lights came on for Florida and Washington.

    This is the type of game that without commercials would barely get to two and a half hours. Alabama stops being cute and goes full street fight with Clemson.

    Alabama (-6.5) over Clemson

  • JMacdaddio
    This is a strange place for the ‘Macdaddios. No All Play to worry about. Except for the five games I have to make picks on. I have to submit my picks by email instead of trying to remember if I logged on to the board with Disqus or Twitter or Snapchat and messing with the comments and form.

    No matter the sport, if playoffs are involved, it’s a good idea to stick to the routine that got you there. As a result, it’s Friday night, all is settled down, the easy chair is activated, the fireplace is going, and the last Scotch is poured. I’m using a text editor on my Chromebook, which can handle 90% of computing needs for most people at a very low price. Perhaps next season I’ll be writing my Cheddar essays on a Surface.

    Giants +4.5 Perhaps some loyalty coming through, although realistically I expect them to just cover. This team is underestimated and could pull it out. McAdoo’s response to the party boat non-scandal was classic.
    Steelers -10 Miami has too many questions at QB, one of the more important positions in all of football.
    Seahawks -8 Detroit did not look good at home vs. the Packers last week and didn’t win the home game. Second prize is a set of steaknives.
    Raiders +3.5 (Essay) At this juncture of the Cheddar season the way to make up ground is to identify an upset and take a chance. The Raiders are limping in to the playoffs despite an overall strong season in a strong division. The Texans barely won a crap division. The Raiders have a chip on their shoulder after losing Derek Carr. The Texans have shown zero confidence in their $72 million dollar investment and didn’t end the season strong, winning games in an unconvincing manner against weak opponents. The Raiders should have enough pieces in place to give Connor Cook a chance to pilot to a cover. Besides, he was the QB When Michigan State Was Good. Similar to another rookie who was the QB When Mississippi State Was Good, and is now resting up for next week.

    Last Mandatory NCAA pick of the season: Clemson +6.5. History repeats. They made Ohio State look like a D-2 school. Alabama has too much nonsense going on with the Lane Kiffin circus. Clemson should cover at the very least.

  • Bnasty99
    Seahawks -8 Lions in the decline and Seattle is a tough place to play.
    Raiders +3.5 Connor cook isn’t good, but shit Brock Assweiler isn’t either.
    Packers -4.5 Giants D has been solid lately But Rodgers has been just filthy good. RELAX!!!
    Steelers -10 Dolphins haven’t been good on the road and I think steelers offense is just too much.

    Essay: Clemson +6.5
    After watching both of the games on New Year’s Eve I was extremely impressed with Clemson while I was a little underwhelmed by Alabama. They didn’t look very impressive on Offense and with them changing their OC 9 days before the championship game, it seems to be a little worrisome. I think Clemson has become a much more complete team as the season has come along, and I think they are a better team than last year when they were the runner up. I could see Clemson actually coming out on top in this game and I just don’t see alabama’s offense scoring enough points to actually put the tigers away. Alabama hasn’t faced a true dual threat QB all year, which leaves me with a solid bit of confidence with this pick. I hope this is a competitive game like last year and hopefully Dabo pulls it off this year. Never thought I’d be risking 11 total points, but hell, it’s the playoffs and no risk, no reward. Give me Clemson +6.5 and Dabo and I can show off some sick dance moves while we party all night. I’ll be saying a few prayers this weekend.

  • cwonder
    Packers -4.5
    Raiders +3.5
    Dolphins +10
    Seahawks -8
    Essay: Clemson +6.5

    This is a well coached and talented Clemson team out for revenge against the Alabama “Empire” with its own Darth Vader (Saban) at the helm. Vader decided to dispose of one of his main coordinators at an awkward time. While I don’t expect Sark to deviate too much from the plan, there will be differences that will show this Monday. Bama didn’t look nearly as sharp on either side last week. I expect Bama to try and run the ball early to establish a pace and Clemson has a top 10 defense that has proven it can stop the run. Making Jalen Hurts throw in this game will prove to be the secret to success for the Tigers. Deshaun Watson will have his going away party and I actually think Clemson wins the game so give me the points. Clemson 24 – Bama 17. Good luck everyone!

  • Pate
    Raiders +3.5
    Lions +8
    Green Bay -4.5
    Clemson +6.5
    *** Dolphins +10
    I get excited when teams come together like the Dolphins and the Raiders have this year.
    In looking at Gase in his first season as an NFL head coach, he has already done something mentor Nick Saban couldn’t: take the Dolphins to the playoffs. He seems to understand his players, he’s created a culture of young players in a competitive environment.
    Miami needs to get Jay Ajayi in rhythm early and force a couple key turnovers on defense.
    Wake and Suh have been known to change games with their play. Getting Rothlisberger antsy early could lead to an upset victory for the Dolphins. It will be up to Wake and Suh to set the tone quickly and give the Dolphins a chance.

  • TSB
    Texans -3.5
    Seahawks -8 Essay
    Dolphins +10
    Giants +4.5
    Bama -6.5

    Luckily for me this is a football picks contest with a writing element, and not a writing contest with a football element. As evidenced by my road-side work last cheddar week, I don’t exactly write well under pressure. And believe me my fellow cheddar brethren and sistren, the pressure is on!

    I decided to fade the Lions as a public road dog for my pick of the week. Seattle is the type of team that can get up for a big game, especially at home where they are 7-1 this season. There still seems to be a segment of the population that thinks the Lions have a potent high-scoring offense – that simply isn’t the case. After week 1 against the Colts, a 39-35 shootout win, the Lions reached 30 points just one other time, a 31-28 week 6 win against the Rams. Even without Earl Thomas, the Hawks have the much better defense, and should be able to stop a one-dimensional Lions attack, whose “one-dimension” has a dislocated middle finger. The Seahawks haven’t been playing well and have a terrible offensive line, but the Lions are pretenders who don’t belong in the playoffs. Seattle’s been here before. Eight is a lot to give up, but I think Seattle covers and wins easily.

    Good luck to all the playoff participants!

  • LucyLaw
    Hey guys! Thanks again for all that you do to make this contest so much fun! Excited to be in the playoffs for the first time!

    1. PITT -10
    2. NYG +4.5
    3. HOU -3.5
    4. CLEM +6.5
    5. Essay: DET

    Let me clarify that there are a few things that scare me about this pick: 1. Weather/6th man crowd 2. Detroit could not go into this game on a worse skid. As we all know, home field for Seattle is more than the usual 3 pts due to the amazing fans and unpredictable weather. These factors could turn out to be a disaster for the dome-loving, middle finger glove wearing Stafford. That being said I don’t think Seattle should be giving 8 points to any team right now. Ever since Earl Thomas went down, their defense has not been the same. Since his injury they lost to GB by 28, beat LA by 21 (LA is a joke so throw this one out), lost to ARI by 3, and beat the horrible 49ers by 2. I believe Stafford and the Lions offense will be able to put up points and Seattle will struggle to pull away by more than a TD. Zenner has been a nice diamond in the rough, having some success which has helped fill the void of Riddick’s absence. Tate/Boldin/Jones Jr are a nice trio of wide receivers to compliment Stafford. Hopefully Stafford looks like the MVP candidate he has shown flashes off throughout the season and a cover should follow!

  • dwhalen
    hey guys, thanks for everything this season. It’s been fun, and this is my first playoff run. Essaying the Steelers, with some commentary on the rest.

    RAIDERS +3.5. As long as Brock Osweiler is playing quarterback in the playoffs for an NFL team, I have the right to be bitter about the way my NFL cup of coffee ended. Six out of seven days of the week, my bitterness is long gone. On Sundays, with teams oozing poor QB play hour after hour, I hit a tipping point most weeks that leaves me shaking my head. I realize the Texans’ defense is the tops in football and Oakland’s ummm, isn’t, but I think it’s a close game with bad quarterback play on both sides, decided by a play or two. Who wins, idk.

    LIONS +8. Not sure what happened to the Lions defense over the past two weeks (probably that they played some freakshow offenses), but I feel like they are equipped to handle the Seahawks offense in their current state. I want to see a great Matt Stafford-because I know he’s capable and he’s a guy I want to see succeed. At the end of the day Russ gets this win, but the Lions keep it respectable and make a late run to cover.

    $$$$$ STEELERS -10. $$$$$ Pittsburgh’s best strength is also Miami’s greatest weakness. The running game. Miami’s defense is 30th against the run. The only two squads worse are the ones at the top of the NFL draft this spring. LeVeon Bell deserves the MVP award this season if I had a vote. And while Jay Ajayi ate the Steelers D alive last time, he’s only rushed for 100 or more once in the last eight games. Anomaly right? Right? Never know, and you don’t have to deal with Tannehill or his athleticism in the heat of Miami. Pittsburgh is at home, it’s gonna be cold as hell, and they’ve been here quite a few times before. Plus, I feel like Tomlin isn’t done feeding Terry Bradshaw his medicine just yet. Steelers by 3 touchdowns.

    PACKERS -4.5. The Giants D is for real. Their offense, gahhhh. They haven’t scored 30 points in any single game this season. Not once. It’s interesting that they haven’t had to, considering they are 2nd in the NFL in scoring D. But in the playoffs, things are different. You need both sides of the ball. Especially in the frozen tundra. Giants have had the Packers’ number at Lambeau over the past few playoff opportunities there, but the third time is in fact, the charm. And Aaron Rodgers has his Packers in playoff form with six straight wins – five coming by at least seven points.

    A statement was made on New Years Eve in Arizona, and I’m super pumped that it came at the expense of the Buckeyes. And I really love that this spread is at 6.5 instead of 7 because it creates opportunities for those of us at the bottom rung of the playoff ladder. I hate Roll Tide nearly as much as I hate THE Ohio State, so it gives me great pleasure to take CLEMSON +6.5.

    • Chris P.


  • Hawkaholic
    Here goes nothing:

    Raiders +3.5
    Seahawks -8
    Fins +10
    Packers -4.5
    Bama -6.5

    What a game this should be, I certainly did not expect Clemson to blow the doors off Ohio State last week like they did. Clemson ran the ball at Will but don’t expect that Monday night. Saban will have the defensive unit ready and I don’t think Watson can repeat his performance in last years title game where he shredded the Alabama D. Alabama’s defense in my opinion is better and they have a much more mobile quarterback and their rushing attack is still top notch. I think I saw a stat somewhere that said Alabama is holding top 10 ranked opponents to an average of 10 points a game although I don’t recall how long that dates back to. Regardless, an impressive number, Clemson wasn’t too far behind either at 18 points per if I remember correctly.

    My biggest concern with taking Bama and the points is the switch from Kiffin to Sark. But at the end of the day the players know the offense and I am sure Sark will have his hand held throughout the night but still concerning for me. Hopefully he can lay off the sauce for 4 hours.

    I don’t believe we will see 85 points scored again this year and I like Bama’s D too much. 27-17 Bama. Roll Tide.

  • Thatsfine
    Raiders +3.5
    Seahawks -8
    Dolphins +10
    Giants +4.5
    Alabama -6.5 Essay

    Putting all my eggs in one basket here with an 11 point pick. I think this is an overreaction to Clemson’s demolition of OSU. In hindsight (for some of us), the Buckeyes had issues on offense. They had a few insane dominating performances during the season. But, they struggled to pull out wins against Northwestern and Michigan State. Michigan got screwed on that 4th down call in OT. The offense just looked incapable several times this year, never more so than against Clemson last week. The Big Ten, for all the accolades this year, pissed its pants in notable bowl games this season. Alabama just got done chewing up a Washington team that would probably beat both Clemson and OSU. These guys are on a different level, the coach is on a different level. I don’t care if Lane Kiffin is out and the Bama players don’t care either. This isn’t Sarkisian’s first time on the sideline, it’s not like Pat Shurmur is taking over. And really it’s all about the defense which may have 4-5 guys picked in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. This kind of sums up where Bama is right now: one of their offensive analysts, the backup to their offensive coordinator, used to be the coach at USC and Washington. At this point I’m not picking against Alabama laying less than a TD. Good luck to everyone picking this week.

  • If anyone wants to keep playing if only for grins, have at it here in the thread.

    As for me, I’ve got: Texans, Lions, Giants, Bama, essay-Dolphins.
    Gonna parlay the shit out of this and moneyline the fins.

    Law of averages for this season dictates that I lose no games for balance of season.

  • Brian

    Good Stuff

  • Chris P.

    Good luck everyone!

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