For the purposes of these picks, I am using the Las Vegas Hilton lines as of Friday morning. I am doing this because I actually won money once on the only game I have ever put down a real bet on, and it was at the Hilton.
Game #1 - NY Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals
These teams played last week, but only one of them was playing for something, so the domination by the Jets should be completely disregardd. The Bengals have all the emotion on their side in this one, having dealt with two deaths close to the team this year (the Defensive Coordinator's wife early in season and WR Chris Henry just a few weeks ago). Professional football is an emotional game, and playoff football only intensifies that. Add to that the fact that the Bengals are at home, which will mean something in this game because...
The Jets start rookie QB Mark Sanchez, who was ok this year, but is clearly the worst QB in the playoffs this year. The Jets only hope is to run the ball a lot and shorten the game, because if they ask Sanchez to win it for them, they are cooked. The Bengals know this and will make it impossible for the Jets to run. Once the Jets get behind and are forced to start throwing the ball, look for this game to get out of hand.
I am taking the Bengals -2.5, all the way to the bank. Bengals 28, Jets 10
Game #2 - Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
Eagles coach Andy Reid is 7-0 all time in the first game they play in the playoffs. Wad Phillips and Tony Romo have never won a playoff game for any team. Everyone hates the Cowboys all the time, because they have one of the richest owners, and most of their fans are really annoying. Any team that calls itself "America's Team" should be disbanded on general principle alone. Plus, these Cowboys are classic underachievers.
So of course, I am taking the Cowboys. There's no way that Reid can continue his playoff coaching streak. And these teams played just last week, with the Cowboys winning 24-0. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise, the Eagles DID want to win that game. Had they won, they would have been the #2 seed in the NFC, gotten a bye and a home game in the playoffs. Instead they fall to #6 and find themselves in the first ever playoff game in the new Cowboys stadium. The Eagles have more injuries than can even be listed in this space, including key injuries on the offensive line (playoff football often comes down to who can protect their QB better). In spite of all the factors listed above, the Cowboys are just the better team, and the better team usually wins these games.
I am taking the Cowboys -3.5; Dallas 31, Philadelphia 17
Game #3 - Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Like everyone else in America (even some people from Boston), I am sick of Boston teams. I am sick of Tom Brady (hot wife, illegitimate child, lame haircut). I am sick of Bill Belichek. I am sick of Boston getting all of Minnesota's good players (David Ortiz, Randy Moss, Kevin Garnett). They are just thoroughly unlikeable in so many ways. But beyond that, they just aren't that great this year. With the loss of Wes Welker last week, the Baltimore Defense will be able to focus on containing Moss, leaving it up to Fred Taylor to carry the load for the offense, and this isn't 2001 anymore, so I'm not buying it.
The Ravens were much better than their record would indicate. They lost at least 4 should have won games (including the game against the Vikings). They have a young QB in Joe Flacco, but they made it to the AFC title game last year, and this team is better. Ray Rice is as good a young, all-purpose RB as you will find. And Willis "The Father of America" McGahee is just a stud. This is not the same Baltimore Defense of years past, but they are still getting it done, and I don't think the Patriots can protect Brady long enough for him to do anything. Patriots fans know that this isn't their year.
I'm taking the Ravens +3.5. Ravens 24, Patriots 17
Game #4 - Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals
We all know the league is going to do anything it can to get one more Packers/Vikings game this year (and you KNOW the Packer fans would love to have one more crack at Favre, especially in the playoffs). The Cardinals surprised everyone last year with their Super Bowl run, and I don't think I can live in a world where the Arizona Cardinals go to the Super Bowl two years in a row. The Packers are a much better team than they were earlier in the year, and are healthy on the offensive line, which the Cardinals are not. The only word of warning here relates to Kurt Warner. If he starts to party like it's 1999, all bets are off. Also, if man-child Superhero Larry Fitzgerald has a game like he had in any of last year's playoff games, the Packers could be in trouble.
I'm taking the Packers +1. Green Bay 38, Arizona 34
So there you have it. With this information there are two things that are certain:
- At least one of these picks will be wrong. Probably more than one. So tread carefully.
- Years from now someone will stumble on this blog and wonder why someone would have a blog with only 2 posts in the past 4 months.