NFL Divisional Round Value Picks
There are no locks at quarterback in the Divisional Round with strong pass defenses and questionable starts. The weak link in pass defense for the weekend is Pittsburgh. They have one of the weakest pass defenses in the league, and have only made it this far with their explosive offense (mostly just the Big Ben and Antonio Brown connection).
However, there are question marks on the other side of the ball as well. Peyton Manning has won back his starting job this game but if things go south for him, an early substitution could be made. I personally have faith in the sheriff, he wants to leave the league on a high note and with this favorable matchup, he may be one of the best picks this week. He comes at a bargain too as the cheapest quarterback for the week (Landry Jones and Brock Osweiller come cheaper if either of them end up starting). However, there is the possibility Roethlisberger plays minimal minutes and in the hands of Jones, the Steelers don’t stand a chance. If this ends up being a blowout early it could mean a lot of carries for Anderson and Hilman and Mannings numbers paying the price.
Although Roethlisberger was able to deconstruct this defense last time around in the regular season, his health is in question and it is not guaranteed he will even start. We have seen the huge numbers Big Ben can put up against any defense, but I don’t think this will be his week.
The next chance for a shootout is Packers and Cardinals. Vegas has this one rated as the highest scoring with an Over Under of 50, -7 point win the Cardinals favor. An argument could be made either way on this one. Aaron Rodgers has been here before and knows what he needs to do. Plus the Packers looked great last weekend against the Redskins. However, the Cardinals are not the Redskins, and we have not seen the Packer’s perform very well this year against a sound defense.
The playoff experience of Rodgers is exactly what Palmer is missing. He has played one playoff game in his career (two if you count the quarter he played before leaving the game with a shoulder injury). My take on it, experience is overrated, football is football. If this were the Super Bowl then experience may take a role, but in this round, I think Palmer will continue to perform as he has all season—Very Well.
The other two matchups have the potential to go either way. The top ranked matchup between Seattle and Carolina could be a high scoring shootout or a defensive battle, the only thing you can bet it won’t be is a blowout in either direction. Marshawn Lynch is set to make his return this week (although that was the word last week as well). With his questionable health and the matchup, I think you avoid Seattle running backs completely. The same can be said about Jonathan Stewart, although drastically different in running style, if Adrian Peterson can’t get any yardage against the Seahawks, I don’t expect anyone to.
Like I mentioned earlier, CJ Anderson should get plenty of carries. I think he is the best pick of the weekend. James White also should be a good value as well. Tom Brady and the Patriots won’t make the same mistakes as the Texans last week.
The top picks at receiver should be Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders no matter who is playing at quarterback. They will pay the price as well though if Denver gets ahead early and focuses on the running game. Both of these receivers however have great synergy with both Manning and Osweiller and last time against the Steelers DT had 2 touchdowns while Sanders had well over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals receiver squad should be able to generate some good value this weekend as well. In the playoffs it will be all Larry Fitzgerald who brings the experience that Palmer lacks. In his 2008 playoff run he averaged 130 receiving yards per game in the 4 playoff games and had 7 receiving touchdowns. That has to be on par with the most impressive individual postseason performance of all time.