If you have been following our NFL playoff predictions, you will know that we are somewhere between Whistler and Bora Bora when it comes to planning a vacation with our earnings.
We had a solid week in the Divisional Round, going 3-1 straight up and 3-1 against the spread.
That gives us a 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS record during the playoffs.
Hopefully we run the table this week with our picks.
Sunday, 12 p.m. 49ers at Eagles (-2.5)
Both of these teams love to dominate the line of scrimmage and particularly so with the Eagles, who are 12-0 this season when they rush for 100 yards or more. The difference I see between these two teams is red zone efficiency on offense. The Eagles ranked 3rd in the NFL, scoring touchdowns 68.7% of the time when they got inside their opponent’s 20-yard line. The 49ers were 20th with a 52.7% touchdown percentage.
When it’s all said and done, I’d rather have Jalen Hurts than Brock Purdy trying to win a big game for my team. Purdy, by the way, will be the fifth rookie quarterback to start a conference championship game. The other four quarterbacks – Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Shaun King – all failed in their attempt to get to the Super Bowl.
Eagles win and cover.
Sunday, 3:30 p.m. Bengals at Chiefs (-1)
I think the Bengals are living rent-free inside the head of just about every member of the Chiefs organization. Cincinnati has won the last three meetings between these two teams by a field goal on each occasion. It’s bad enough losing by a field goal each time out but what adds to the drama is that the Bengals came back from 7-, 18- and 14-point deficits to do so.
Much has been said about the Bengals offensive line but it wasn’t an issue last week as the they got the ball out of Joe Burrow’s hands quickly. One disadvantage for the Bengals is the that the Chiefs pass rush won’t be slowed down by poor field conditions as Buffalo’s was last week. The big concern for the Chiefs is Patrick Mahomes’ wonky ankle and how it might impact his play. When it comes to red zone defense, the Chiefs ranked last in the NFL. It’s why I’m leaning towards the Bengals in this one.
Bengals win and cover.
I couldn’t wrap up today’s column without weighing in on the Canucks re-signing of forward Andrei Kuzmenko to a two-year extension with a cap hit of $5.5 million per season.
It’s a fair contract for both sides but it’s not what’s in the best interests for this franchise at this time.
As we pointed out in our column on Dec. 6, this organization needs to accrue draft picks and free up cap space if it wants to eventually contend for a Stanley Cup.
They went oh-for-two in that department with the Kuzmenko signing.
On pace for a 30-goal, 70-point season, it is rumored that trading Kuzmenko could have fetched the Canucks a first-round draft pick.
The math is simple.
Would you rather have Kuzmenko under contract for the next two years at $5.5 mil? Or would you rather have a first-round draft choice AND $5.5 mil to use on another player?
It’s not too complicated if you are committed to a rebuild but as we know, that’s a big ‘if’ when it comes to the Canuck organization.
During a recent press conference, Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford stated that he would prefer to go after players on entry-level deals than draft picks in an effort to ‘re-tool’ his team.
“My preference is when we make these deals it’s not necessarily for draft picks that may come in and help the team four years from now, five years from now. I’d prefer to get younger NHL players that maybe didn’t work out in their entry-level contract and, you know, bring them in and give them a second chance. We’ll still look to acquire draft picks but we have to go about this in a way that is not a long-term rebuild and I think we can do that,” said Rutherford.
It’s great plan in theory but ask yourself which NHL team is willing to part with top-six forwards or top-four defensemen on entry level deals?
If you’re lucky, you acquire a Sven Baertschi, rejuvenate the player and he becomes a serviceable player.
But for every Baertschi, you’re churning through the Nikolay Goldobins, Derrick Pouliots and Adam Clendenings of the hockey world.
Until the Canucks organization makes an all-out commitment to a rebuild, they’ll be stuck in this quagmire where they’re not good enough to compete for a Stanley Cup and not bad enough to land foundational players through the NHL Entry Draft.
Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.