Friday, January 13, 2012

NFL Playoffs 2012 - Divisional Weekend

This is the last weekend of the season with more than two games. I’m very excited about these games, the Saturday ones in particular. I want to take this time to note that I tried to use the Saturday games as an excuse to not paint my daughter’s (soon to be daughters’) room a delicious shade of yellow this weekend. It sounded so bad coming out of my mouth that I briefly considered not watching football as a penalty to myself. I mean, let’s be honest, all I do is move some furniture about two feet and then roll when my wife says, “ROLL!” I’m pretty sure that can be accomplished before the games start and I can start eating wings.

In case you hadn’t heard, I went 4-0 against the spread last week. Keep that in mind, and I recommend you at least consider doing the opposite of these picks.

Saints at 49ers - line is Saints -4
Much is being made of the Saints record indoors vs. outdoors this year (they’re good at home, not so good on the road, and played 11 games in domes this year). Since good weather is expected in SF this weekend, a bigger factor here will be the fact the Saints played a crappy schedule, and the 49ers defense is excellent. Remember that the Saints were down 14-10 at halftime last week and the Lions dropped two easy interceptions that could have easily turned the game around. The 49ers won’t make the same mistakes. Don’t take the points unless you think your team can win, and I always like the home underdog in the playoffs.

My pick: 49ers 27, Saints 20

Broncos at Patriots - line is Patriots -13.5
A few years ago I never would have believed that I would be cheering for Tebow. But when he threw the pass that beat the Steelers on the first play of overtime last weekend, I jumped out of my chair. Whatever you think about his faith, I don’t think anyone can deny that FAITH BEGETS CONFIDENCE. Tebow is supremely confident, and that can take you a long way. But it can’t take you all the way. The Patriots are too good, and they’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this one. That’s a lot of points to give, but they beat the Broncos in Denver 41-23 on December 18th. This one will be over early.

My pick: Patriots 41, Broncos 11

Texans at Ravens - line is Ravens -7.5
Joe Flacco’s career playoff record is 3-4. He’s thrown 4 playoff TDs and 7 playoff INTs. I’m no TJ Yates lover, but if you had the choice between betting on an unproven player, and a player who had proven to be not very good, what choice would you make? The Texans defense is too good for this to be a blowout. The Ravens will win a close one, but take the Texans and the points.

My pick: Ravens 16, Texans 14

Giants at Packers - line is Packers -7.5
Wow, I can’t believe how awesome these games are. This is the last game of the weekend, and it might be the best. But then I remembered that the Packers were 15-1 this year, and the Giants were 8-8. And now if you are a Packer fan you come face to face with the problem you have had all season: once the Packers seemed like they were really REALLY good, the only thing that would satisfy would be a Super Bowl victory. So unless they win the next three games, I daresay that you haven’t even really enjoyed the season all that much, especially after that painful loss in Kansas City. But at least for one more week, the dream lives on...

My pick: Packers 37, Giants 13

Here's some acoustic Bad Religion for you. Skyscraper is one of my top 10 favorite songs of all-time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

NFL Playoffs 2012 - Wild Card Weekend

The NFL playoffs are here, and I couldn’t be more excited. With apologies to March Madness, the World Series and the Olympics, the NFL Playoffs are the best collection of events in all of sport. There’s all the greatness of regular season football, with bad weather and more risk-taking added for our enjoyment. In the regular season, coaches rarely take the kind of risks they do in the playoffs, and it makes for some spectacular entertainment. Plus there are Saturday afternoon and evening games, which only increase the fun.

I like to make picks for the playoffs, if only to outline the specific things that WILL NOT happen when they actually play the games. Because if I predict something will happen, that almost guarantees that it will not happen. I am far more likely to go 0-11 during the playoffs than I am to go 11-0, so don’t do anything I wouldn’t do with the information below.

Bengals at Texans - line is Texans -3.5

This is the first ever playoff game for the Texans, so good for them. This is really the first playoff game for this iteration of the Bengals, since they’ve been so bad for so long. As long as TJ Yates starts for the Texans, this will be the first playoff game in the Super Bowl era to feature rookie starting QBs for each team. Since neither of these teams are really going to go anywhere, I won’t spend anymore time thinking about this one.

My pick: Texans 27, Bengals 14

Lions at Saints - line is Saints -10.5

The over/under on this one is 59, which is the highest total ever for a wild card playoff game. The Saints beat the Lions in New Orleans on 12/4 by a final of 31-17. The Lions last playoff game was after the 1999 season. The Saints won the Super Bowl two years ago and Drew Brees rules. That’s a lot of points to give up, but this Lions club is the kind of team that will get frustrated and quit if they get behind.

My pick: Saints 42, Lions 10 (and consider taking the under, 59 is just way too many points)

Falcons at Giants - line is Giants -3

The Falcons just aren’t that good. The Giants aren’t a whole lot better, but on defense they can rush the passer, and Atlanta’s QB Matt Ryan is terrible on the road. The Giants seem to think they can duplicate their run to the Super Bowl from a few years ago, and while that’s going a bit too far, I don’t think they’ll have any trouble with the Falcons.

My pick: Giants 29, Falcons 11

Steelers at Broncos - line is Steelers -8.5

Oh look, a home underdog in the playoffs! How exciting! While you’re reading this, take a minute to read why Ryan Clark is not playing for the Steelers. It’s a very interesting story. Look, I know Tebow is terrible, and a lot of people think the Steelers are going back to the Super Bowl this year. But Roethlisberger can barely walk right now. Denver plays tough at home, and every year something crazy happens in the playoffs. I’d heard some places were going as high as Steelers -10, which I would like more, but at the same time, 8.5 isn’t bad in what figures to be a low scoring game. I actually think the Broncos can win this one.

My pick: Broncos 16, Steelers 6

And here's something awesome from last year - one of the best runs you will ever see:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Reboot

If you didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas this year, well, too bad. There’s nothing I can do about that for you. What I CAN do is let you know I am rebooting this blog for 2012! I can hear your sarcastic cries of joy from here, so please stop. The blog is not for you, it’s for me. Read it if you want, I just don’t care.

So why bother? There are some good reasons to bother, and while many of them are probably not suitable for printing in public (there is always value in keeping SOME things to yourself, although it seems many people reject that concept in our current era), a few of them are. SO here goes:

  1. Tiny changes are easier to make than big ones. I recently read a Lifehacker article that basically said, “if you want to make changes this year, focus on a few small things to give yourself a chance to be more successful.” Writing one blog post a week is a small change that I think I can be successful at.
  2. There’s interesting things happening in everyone’s life, but I think a lot of people (myself included) miss some of those things for two main reasons: 1) People don’t actively look for the interesting experiences they are having all the time and 2) people are too shy and don’t actually think their experiences are interesting to others. This is a cause for loneliness and I think it is becoming a problem for more and more people. My goal is to look for the interesting experiences I am having, and then share those experiences with others. If nothing else I will be defining the interesting parts of my life.
Last year I used one of only a couple of blog entries made to list some resolutions for 2011. In total, I did very poorly in executing these resolutions. Many of them were just too big to really accomplish. I did watch the Big Lebowski, and I did drink a lot of beer. But other than that, most of the resolutions I blogged about last year were left on the wayside of the Internet before last year’s Super Bowl. But this year will be different. Seriously, it will be.

All the resolutions for this year are small (tiny changes) and quantifiable. Believe it or not, you CAN make changes to your life as long as you have a plan. The main item I want to share right now is that I have a goal to make at least one blog post every week this year. I’ve blocked out time at home to make it happen, and I am really looking forward to it. Aren’t you excited, too?

Lastly, all blog entries this year will end with some random (or not so random) picture or video. The first one for this year is a hint as to what I am most excited about this year: