Welcome to Against All Odds: NFL Wildcard/National Championship! From the opening weekend of the NCAA football season through Super Bowl LII, Mike Drakulich (PSN), the man behind Pittsburgh SportsNation, takes on his father, Michael J. Drakulich (MJD), in picking NCAA and NFL games against the Vegas spread.
Mike Drakulich covers both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Panthers during the season for NGSCSports.com!
To appease the taste buds of Pittsburgh’s local coverage area, Pitt, Penn State, and West Virginia, when they are playing, will always be on the docket among the NCAA games chosen, as will the Pittsburgh Steelers for NFL games.
Once Bowl Season arrives, we’ll bring you EVERY Bowl Game and then continue throughout the conclusion of the NFL Playoffs.
Itchy vs Scratchy. Black Spy vs White Spy. Cheers vs Gary’s Old Towne Tavern. History is full of rivalries, but none are better than father vs son! Who will rise above the other this season and become the 2018-19 Against All Odds Champion?
Like Rocky, my dad waited until the end of the fight to knock me into next year… for most of the season, we’ve been back and forth on who stood atop of the mountain, and as recent as the first week of Bowl Season, I once held a nice lead and was seven games over .500.
Then, like at the end of 2017-18, no matter who I picked in a Bowl decided to shaft me in every way possible.
Dad has been on a kick-ass tear, capping off our most recent picks by going 16-5. That raises his record to 92-78, which is good for a ten game lead over me, who now stands at a lousy 82-88.
So, I have 12 games to find a way over .500, which means I have to go no worse than 10-2 the rest of the NFL season.
We hope you all had a Happy New Year and have high expectations for 2019! On January 7th, the day of the National Championship, is our Serbian Orthodox Christmas, so to everyone that celebrates that day, I say, “Hristos Se Rodi!”
See yinz for the NFL Divisional Playoffs next week.
Lines as of 1/3/2019
Saturday, January 5th
#6 Indianapolis Colts (10-6) at #3 Houston Texans (11-5), 4:35 pm
Line: Houston -1.5
Pick: PSN: Indianapolis | MJD: Houston
Vegas is nervous with the home team, and I am all over this one with Indianapolis getting 1.5 here. The Colts have been on fire since starting 1-5, and they will find a way to keep their dream season alive for one more week with a win over an average Texans team.
‘It’s just another opportunity for myself and this whole team to be able to show what we’ve got and put in the work,” Houston QB Deshaun Watson said. ”I’ve played in a lot of big games before in college and stuff, but you can’t really pit college playoffs with the NFL. This is the hardest business, top-notch. It’s a whole new season, a whole new speed of game. So it’s going to be new for me (and) it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
#5 Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at #4 Dallas Cowboys (10-6), 8:15 pm
Line: Seattle -1.5
Pick: PSN: Dallas | MJD: Seattle
Not much confidence with the other home team either on Wildcard Saturday… Neither team is Super Bowl worthy, but Dallas and Dak Prescott is due to win a big game in the playoffs, and I think it happens right here. Seattle is here again due to an efficient Wilson, strong running game and playmaking defense.
“We’re feeling great,” Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott said. “I believe we have the best defense in football and a pretty good offense, a lot of weapons. I think we have the right recipe to make some noise.”
Sunday, January 6th
#5 LA Chargers (12-4) at #4 Baltimore Ravens (10-6), 1:05 pm
Line: Baltimore -2.5
Pick: PSN: LA Chargers | MJD: LA Chargers
Weird position for a 12-4 team to be in…that playing on the road. Baltimore is here thanks to a superb defense and the emergence of Lamar Jackson at quarterback. This could be the year for Chargers QB Phillip Rivers who is armed with a bevy of weapons, including RB Melvin Gordon. The Chargers go into Baltimore and take care of business.
#6 Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) at #3 Chicago Bears (12-4), 4:40 pm
Line: Chicago -5.5
Pick: PSN: Chicago | MJD: Chicago
The defending champions got here with a little luck, but here they are. They face a resurgent Bears team that is looking to make it’s mark. I can’t see the Eagles having enough offensive talent to break through against a very stout Bears defense.
Monday, January 7th
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA.
#2 Clemson Tigers (14-0) at #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (14-0), 8:00 pm
Line: Alabama -5.5
Pick: PSN: Clemson | MJD: Clemson
The match-up everyone has been waiting for. Alabama has been unchallenged for most of the season, until Georgia showed up. Clemson is better than Georgia in every face of the game.
In their last eight games of the season, Clemson won by an average of 38.25 points. In the semifinals, the Tigers buried #3 Notre Dame, winning 30-3 to set up round four with Alabama.
“Well, you know they’ve got a great program and great team and Dabo has done a great job there, and they’ve got a great program,” Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said. “So I’m sure it’ll be a real challenge for us, and I’m sure we’ll need to play better than we did today.”
The Tigers will be looking for a little payback for last season to boot. What better way than to win the National Championship?
“We got our butts beat last year. I’m just thankful that we got back and has a better result,” Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We make every game the biggest game of the year. We really do. … Our daily structure prepares us for this moment. I always tell them, we’re built for this.”
Expect one helluva game. This one will come down to the 4th quarter, but when the clock strikes 0:00, Clemson will be the ones standing tall.
MJD: Last Week: 16-5 | Bowls: 26-12 | Overall: 92-78 — .541
PSN: Last Week: 8-13 | Bowls: 16-22 | Overall: 82-88 -10 .482
2017 Champion: PSN
2016 Champion: MJD
2015 Champion: MJD
2014 Champion: PSN
2013 Champion: PSN
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL Football.
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