Round TWO!: Sunday Conference-Semi Game Previews

The Captain Morgan Playoff Challenge continues and below is a Sunday’s Coneference Semi-Finals preview brought to you by InGamer co-Founder and fantasy sports expert Nic Sulsky. Enjoy the read and come try the coolest new sports game around at http://football.ingamer.sportsnet.ca

HOU @ BAL

Arian Foster or Ray Rice. Pick your poison. This will be a game with two offenses focusing on getting the ball into their best player’s hands as often as possible, and that means 25+ touches for each starting running back. They are as talented running between the tackles and outside of them as they are catching passes out of the backfield. Because they will be the focal point of both offenses, the starting MLB’s and SS’s will be the focal point of each defense. While each team plays a 3-4, usually diluting the effective of a single MLB, Brian Cushing and Ray Lewis are clear favorites to post 8+ tackles. The guy I really like this week on the defense side of the ball is Bernard Pollard. The Ravens SS and former Texan starter has an axe to grind and a prime opportunity to do so.

Neither team wants to rely on their passing game to win this match-up. Baltimore has the more experienced QB in Joe Flacco who isn’t exactly described as explosive while TJ Yates has looked comfortable in recent weeks, but he is still not someone who can take a team on his shoulders, so to speak. While Andre Johnson is the games best wideout, Anquan Boldin & Torrey Smith offer more hope through the air. If shutdown corner Jonathan Joseph is stapled to Boldin, Torrey Smith could have a big game. Don’t forget about TE’s Owen Daniels (HOU) and Ed Dickson who will be used in play action to keep these two aggressive defenses honest.

This 1st quarter may involve two very long, very run heavy drives, so look to start your game with a very un-sexy combination of runners & tacklers. As the game progresses at least one offense will likely be forced to open it up, the question is who?

My Starting 6:
Captain: Ray Rice - RB, BAL
Bernard Pollard - DB, BAL
Ed Dickson - TE, BAL
Brian Cushing- LB, HOU
Arian Foster - RB, HOU
Ray Lewis - LB, BAL


Keep an eye on: Terrell Suggs, Torrey Smith, Billy Cundiff, JJ Watt

NYG @ GB

I can’t think of anything I’m looking forward to more this weekend than seeing how the Packers deal with the 3-headed NYG D-Line monster. If the Giants can get to Aaron Rodgers and make him uncomfortable, the Giants will win. That simple. The Giants offense is good enough to score against a mediocre Packers D, so the question is: will Aaron Rodgers throw for 350+ and 4 scores? I think that’s what he’ll need to do in this game...and i think Osi, Tuck and the otherworldly Jason Pierre-Paul will make that a bigger challenge than Rodgers has had all year.

On the Packers side of the ball, you know the big 3: Greg Jennings (now healthy), Jordy Nelson and Jerimichael Finley. They could all have huge games, the question is who and when? James Jones and Donald Driver also could merit consideration as we see how the Giants decide to deal with the ‘Big Three’. Running-wise, James Starks is coming back, but who cares? I don’t. Ryan Grant, even less. Aaron Rodgers will get more rushing yards than either of those guys; you heard it here first. For the Giants D, you can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned big 3, but don’t sleep on tweener OLB Mathias Kiwunuka. SS Kenny Philips might be the best Giants defender to use if you’d like to roll with some consistent pts. JPP, Tuck & Osi may provide the grand-slam pts, but sometimes in InGamer, singles work too.

The Giants are going to use the run to set up the big play ability of their 3 main WR targets: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and, yes folks, Mario Manningham. Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Charles Woodson have the skill and speed to match up well, but they are all ball-hawks who like to gamble. There is a lot to lose this game. Eli is a slow starter and the 1st quarter will likely find Tom Coughlin trying to establish Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, but Eli loves to take his shots down field so you never know. Clay Matthews Jr. will have a hard time finding rushing lanes with the way the Giants O-line is playing, so look to LB Desmond Bishop and SS Morgan Burnett to put up some solid second level tackle numbers.

A sleeper this game: Randall Cobb. He’s the return man and has seen an increased number of offensive snaps with Jenning’s recent injury.

My Starting 6:
Captain: Jordy Nelson - WR, GB
Aaron Rodgers - QB, GB
Desmond Bishop - LB, GB
Jason Pierre-Paul - DE, NYG
Ahmad Bradshaw - RB, NYG
Randall Cobb - WR/KR, GB (No kidding, you watch!)

Keep your eye on: Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Kenny Phillips

Good Luck Everyone and see you in the games!!

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