Friday, January 15, 2010

Divisional Playoff Picks

Last week my picks were 2-2. I was right on the Cowboys and Ravens, wrong on the Bengals and Packers. All I can say is that the Bengals played like they were the crappy team, although I had to turn the game off because the annoucing crew was so awful. And the Packers game, well, I did say if 1999 Kurt Warner came to play, the Packers would be in trouble. Whichever team lost that game was going to be pissed because they both knew they had a chance to win. On to the games for this week - which is, as others have said, the best week of football all year.

Game #1 - Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints

The Saints didn't look very good down the stretch, but they had very little to play for, and remember, 2 months ago, after they destroyed the Patriots on Monday Night, they looked like one of the great teams of all-time. They are home, in front of what will be a very loud crowd. Drew Brees could have been league MVP this year. The defense creates a lot of turnovers. And the Cardinals gave up 45 points last week, and it looks like the Saints have an even more explosive offense than the Packers did.

Of course, I am picking the Cardinals. If the past two years have taught us anything, it's that Kurt Warner needs to be in discussion as one of the great Quaterbacks of the past 25 years. If he were to somehow get the Cardinals all the way to the Super Bowl this year, and even WIN it all, I think you would have to put him on a list of the greatest of all-time. Against the Packers he threw 5 passes that resulted in TDs. He threw FOUR passes that landed incomplete. That's just shocking. If you are gambling on this game, I just don't think you can put yourself in a position where you lose money because Warner had a huge day. You would feel stupid.

I am picking Cardinals +7, and I think they will win it outright: Cardinals 38, Saints 30

Game #2 - Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have lost in the playoffs at home after a bye 3 times in the past 10 years. They quit playing for keeps during the regular season, and that was about a month ago. Honestly, had they NOT won the Super Bowl a few years ago (which they DID win, I understand, but remember that Rex Grossman was prominently involved), they would be on a short list of biggest chokers in history.

The Ravens made it all the way to the AFC title game last year, and look even meaner than usual, especially last week against a crappy Patriots team. No, I don't like QB Flacco - he looked old last week and he's not old, so that's a bad sign. I think the Ravens will play with more emotion. Look out if the Colts D gets after Flacco too much, but I think the Ravens running game will keep that from happening. And let's face it, I don't think the Colts are too happy about playing the Ravens this week. The Colts won a lot of close games this year, and I think they will lose this one.

I am taking Ravens +6.5, and to win outright, 24-17

Game #3 - Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings

I haven't had this amount of anticipation about a game in a long time. It's almost more than I can handle. This game will come down to how well the Vikins offensive line plays against the Cowboys defensive line. If the Vikings can control that line of scrimmage, they'll be fine. If you see Favre running for his life and getting a lot of pressure, it will get real quiet in the Metrodome real fast. I think that having the extra week to prepare will be a big advantage for the Vikings in that regard.

On the other side of the ball, I am not scared of Romo. He's been ok recently, but he has been a choker in the past. If our defensive secondary can tackle, the Vikings will be fine. Fat Pat Williams and Kevin Williams will be important, too. As always, if Jared Allen has a big game, the Cowboys have no chance.

Vegas seems to like the Cowboys, only giving a customer 3 points to the road team. I don't htink it will be that close.

I am taking Vikings -3. Minnesota 35, Dallas 20

(There's nothing better than beating overconfident Cowboys. It's very satisfying to watch them cry as they leave the field).

Game #4 - NY Jets @ San Diego Chargers

Look, this is a VERY good Chargers team. This is the week that we see the Jets exposed as a very borderline playoff team. I don't see any way that the Chargers can be stopped - they are my pick to get to the Superbowl in the AFC right now. The Jets had a nice run, but their rookie QB isn't taking them any further, and the Chargers have too many passing weapons for the Jets to stop. This looks like a blowout.

I've got Chargers -7. San Diego 38, Jets 13

All you know now is that at least one of these predictions will be wrong. Proceed at your own risk!

Friday, January 8, 2010

First Round NFL Playoff Picks

Since I know you all care so much, it's time to release my picks for the first round of the NFL playoffs. We all know that the NFL playoffs are the best playoffs of any sport. I encourage all of you to devote yourselves fully and completely to the NFL playoffs - you will NOT be disappointed.

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:
  1. At least one of these picks will be wrong. Probably more than one. So tread carefully.
  2. 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.