RotoWire Partners

Staff Picks: Handicapping the Divisional Playoffs

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

I don't have Stopa's picks in yet, but I put up the article with the other four and will add those later. It's possible Stopa sent them, and I can't find them, but I won't know for sure until tomorrow morning as it's late, and the dude lives on the east coast. But not even the Polar Vortex can stop the on-time publication of the staff picks.

DDD and Stopa went 2-1-1 last week, while Pianow, Jeff and I all went 0-3-1. This week, Pianow and Jeff are on opposite sides of the Pats-Colts game with their best bets.

Erickson Pianowski Liss Stopa Del Don
Saints +8 at Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Saints Saints
Colts +7 at Patriots Patriots Colts Colts Colts Colts
49ers -1 at Panthers 49ers Panthers Panthers 49ers 49ers
Chargers +9.5 at Broncos Chargers Chargers Chargers Broncos Chargers
Best Bet Patriots Colts Seahawks 49ers 49ers
Last Week's Record 0-3-1 0-3-1 0-3-1 2-1-1 2-1-1
Playoff Best Bet Record 0-1 0-1 0-1 1-0 0-1
Best Bet Record 9-7-1 5-12 9-8 9-8 6-11
Consensus Pick Record 23-29-3
2012 Playoff Record 4-6-1 5-5-1 6-4-1 4-6-1 8-2-1
2011 Playoff Record 8-3 5-6 9-2 6-5 7-4
2010 Playoff Record 6-5 5-6 5-6 7-4 8-3
2009 Playoff Record 5-6 4-7 1-10 6-5 5-6
2008 Playoff Record 6-5 5-6 5-6 8-3 4-7
2007 Playoff Record 8-3 3-8 6-5 N/A 2-9
2006 Playoff Record 7-4 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2005 Playoff Record 5-6 N/A 3-8 N/A N/A
2004 Playoff Record 6-5 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2003 Playoff Record 6-5 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2002 Playoff Record 6-5 7-4 5-6 N/A N/A
2001 Playoff Record 6-4-1 7-3-1 4-6-1 N/A N/A
2000 Playoff Record 6-5 7-4 6-5 N/A N/A
2013 Record 132-114-10 118-128-10 123-123-10 111-135-10 128-118-10
2012 Record 110-140-6 125-125-6 121-129-6 143-107-6 123-127-6
2011 Record 121-128-7 134-115-7 124-125-7 123-126-7 127-122-7
2010 Record 129-122-5 134-117-5 126-125-5 136-115-5 134-117-5
2009 Record 123-130-3 132-121-3 131-122-3 130-123-3 126-127-3
2008 Record 132-114-10 128-118-10 124-122-10 125-121-10 130-116-10
2007 Record 127-120 118-129 127-120 N/A 130-117
2006 Record 118-129 N/A 139-108 N/A N/A
2005 Record 121-126 N/A 127-120 N/A N/A
2004 Record 124-124 N/A 130-118 N/A N/A
2003 Record 121-126 118-129 124-123 N/A N/A
2002 Record 113-136 123-126 141-108 N/A N/A
2001 Record 124-113 117-120 118-119 N/A N/A
2000 Record 123-117 134-106 141-99 N/A N/A

Consensus Picks

This week we have no consensus picks. Last week we went 0-0-1.


Erickson I pretty much was wrong about everything last week, so take this with the appropriate metric ton of salt. I saw that the Pats have been favorites the last five times they've been bounced from the playoffs, significantly favored in many of those games. But in almost every instance, they've been beaten by a strong defensive team. The Colts are many things, but a strong defensive team they are not. So this feels more like a Tebow-led Broncos team heading into Foxboro on a Saturday night, rather than the Ravens or Giants beating up on their offensive line.... I wish I would have bankrolled the Niners in the SXM playoff draft that we did on-air last week rather than the Panthers. Not feeling good at all about that bankroll now... Especially after last week, I'm trying to avoid relying on previous matchups too much as guidance for the current picks. The Saints are a different team now than they were when they got squashed on Monday night. Pierre Thomas aside, they're healthier, for one. But I also think that the Seahawks are a better team, too - if they can protect Russell Wilson better than they did against the Cardinals, I think they just barely cover... I really struggled with Chargers-Broncos. The Chargers are dangerous - they're playing with house money, they're as confident as they can possibly be. It could be they scare the heck out of the Broncos - but it also could mean that they get a "we've already won by being here" vibe and check out if the Broncos get ahead early.
PianowskiI'm not expecting any upsets with the three heavy favorites, but history says that's a foolish call. I'd be most surprised if Denver lost; the earlier defeat to San Diego can probably be spun as a positive.
LissThe Seahawks should flex their muscles this week against a Saints team that is merely average on the road. I could see New England rolling or the Colts winning outright. But the Pats without Gronk are not a serious Super Bowl contender. The Broncos could steamroll the Chargers, but it's hard to see their defense holding San Diego's offense down. The 49ers look better than Carolina on paper, but they probably shouldn't be road favorites.
StopaThe Patriots are 3-4 in the playoffs since 2008 with the only wins against Tebow, Schaub and Flacco by three. They're also injury-riddled. I can easily see Indy winning outright, so I like the money line, too. I like SF even more though. Unless Cam is fantastic or Kaepernick is terrible, I don't see a recipe for the Panthers winning here. Good season, but they need more experience and more talent on offense to take that next step. The Broncos gave SD 10.5 a few weeks ago. I'm not convinced SD is any better now, so the value has to be with Denver at less than 10.
Del DonThe Saints appear the contrarian pick at first since they lost 34-7 the last time these teams met, but they are also fresh in bettors' minds coming off a big win, whereas Seattle actually looked a bit vulnerable to end the year. This matchup remains a shaky road team versus the best home-field team in football, but I expect it to be close... Among the three biggest favorites this week, I like New England to cover the most (and they are favored less than Denver and Seattle). But I'm going ugly with the dog here yet again... I'm a 49ers fan who was convinced they were going to lose in Green Bay last week and yet don't find it odd at all they are favorites on the road against a Carolina team to whom they lost previously at home. In other words, I suggest you fade me. But last time these teams met there was no Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis left early with a concussion, and it was Aldon Smith's first game back from rehab. San Francisco will be playing a 10 am home clock game and facing the NFL's best front seven, and I expect this game to be close... Denver just lost at home against San Diego one month ago, but they will have Wes Welker back and will be coming off a bye (the opposite of last time, when they played on a Thursday). Still, it's hard to doubt the Chargers' coaching at this point, so while I expect the Broncos to win, this should be another close contest.

The players:

Jeff Erickson: RotoWire Senior editor, 2001, 2008, 2013 Staff Picks Champ. Writes the Weekly Rankings. Covers and roots for the Bengals.

Scott Pianowski: Fantasy expert for Yahoo! Sports, and also contributes to 2009 and 2011 Staff Picks Champ. Roots for the Patriots.

Chris Liss: RotoWire Managing Editor, 2000, 2002, 2006 Staff Picks Champ, 2003, 2004 co-champ. Writes East Coast Offense, Beating the Book and the Survivor column in addition to Staff Picks. Covers and roots for the Giants.

Mark Stopa: Staff Writer, 2010, 2012 Staff Picks Champ, Writes Run 'N' Shoot. Roots for the Bills.

Dalton Del Don: Fantasy Expert for Yahoo! Sports, 2007 Staff Picks Champ. Roots for the 49ers.