Friday, January 13, 2012

The Divisional Round Picks

Vegas is flat out daring you to take the home teams this weekend.  You think the 49ers' defense can slow down Drew Brees?  Fine, I dare you to bet that Alex Smith can stay within 3.5 points of him.  You think the Broncos were a fluke last weekend?  Fine, I dare you to lay 13.5 and take a team that's lost it's last two playoff games at home and is playing a team of destiny with nothing to lose.  You think the Ravens defense is going to make life tough on T.J. Yates?  Fine, I dare you to give 7.5 with a quarterback who has blown the last two covers at home by throwing careless picks in the 4th quarter.  (I swear I heard Flacco yell "UP FOR GRABS" before that pass he threw against the Colts).  You think the Packers can keep the Giants pass rush off of Aaron Rodgers?  Fine, but I dare you to give Eli Manning 7.5 in a game that could come down to who has the ball last.

You know what?  I'll take a few of those dares.

New Orleans by 3.5 over San Francisco:  The Pick - Saints

Don't mess with the Breesonator 2000.  It
will kick your ass in Chutes and Ladders.
This game seemed like a no-brainer until I took a look at the Saints schedule and found that they've only played one game outside of a dome since Week 6 and that was a 22-17 win at Tennessee that they pulled-out in the 4th quarter at a time when they were rolling everyone else.  Since that game they've scored 42, 45, 45 and 45 points against crappy defenses.  What does it all mean?  (No seriously, what does it all mean because I'm trying to find a reason to justify the tight spread but I keep coming back to the fact that it's Drew Brees versus Alex Smith).

I'm not buying that the 49ers' defense is elite.  They played three good quarterbacks this year (Romo, Stafford and Manning) who averaged over 300 yards and two touchdown passes against them.  When you adjust those stats up by running them through the Breesonator 2000, you get 425 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Tack on a couple of field goals and . . . Saints - 27, 49ers - 17.                      

New England by 13.5 over Denver:  The Pick - Broncos

So Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas were hanging-out at the Beacon Hill Pub last night (they convinced him that it had the best Bible study group in Boston) and up sauntered Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski wearing sunglasses and Uggs.

"That's right Golden Boy.  I am religious!"
Brady:  "You figured it out yet?"

Tebow:  "What's that?"

Brady:  "Who's the best quarterback."

Tebow:  "Jesus will figure that out."

Brady:  "I heard that about you . . . you like Jesus."

Gronkowski:  "You're lucky.  First the division and then you slide into the Steelers' spot."

Thomas:  "We didn't slide into the Steelers' spot.  The spot was ours alright."

Gronkowski:  "Some quarterbacks wait their whole career to make the second round of the playoffs.  Lucky and famous?"

Brady:  "You mean notorious.  See you later."

Tebow:  "Count on it."

Alas, Brady takes the Top Gun trophy this week but then shits the bed like Iceman against the Russians (Ravens) . . . Patriots - 34, Broncos - 20.

Baltimore by 7.5 over Houston:  The Pick - Ravens

The NFL did the Ravens a big favor with the 1:00 start time because the crowd should be able to fight-off its alcohol induced coma until at least 4:30 and stay in the game if it's tight in the 4th quarter.  (I don't have a wide perspective on this but it seems like Ravens' fans and Eagles' fans lead the league in synchronizing their blackouts with the final whistle and this gets completely thrown off at night games).  I have a feeling, however, that this one is going to be over by the end of the 3rd.

"Arian, I have a feeling we're
not in Texas any more."
The Texans have not beaten a good team since Pittsburgh in Week 4 and that was before their quarterbacks started spontaneously combusting like Spinal Tap drummers.  Since Week 4, they've won eight games and all of them have been against bad or very suspect teams,  (Jags (2), Bengals (2), Browns, Falcons, Bucs and Titans).  Admittedly, the Falcons and the Bengals went to the playoffs but then they promptly lost by a combined score of 55-12.  Meanwhile, the Ravens have lost one home game in the last two seasons and that was a 13-10 mess against a Steeler team with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison playing at the height of their powers.  The Texans defense is good, but it ain't that good.

Finally, you have the team that is happy to be here versus the team with much to prove.  The pressure is on the Ravens but they've had seven playoff games in the last three years.  Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have had two weeks to get healthy and there is simply nothing T.J. Yates can do to prepare for a game in Baltimore where you can feel the venom flowing from the stands toward the opposing players as the crowd treats them like they've come to take their football team away from them again.  (Not to mention the creepiness factor of seeing members of the marching band in the end zone stands trying to set worms on fire with magnifying glasses).  Ravens - 27, Texans - 13.     

Green Bay by 7.5 over the N.Y. Giants:  The Pick - Packers

This Giants team reminds me of a kid learning to ride a bike.  Peddle, peddle, peddle, crash, peddle, peddle, peddle, crash.  Twice this season they looked like they had it figured out with three game winning streaks before losing to a team they should have beaten.  The second time was a full blown flight over the handle bars that resulted in a three game losing streak including a 17-10 stinker against Vince Young's Eagles.  Then they regrouped against the Cowboys and followed that momentum starter with a 23-10 knee scraper against the Redskins.  This is a long convoluted way of saying, I don't trust them. 
Just a man with a mind for victory
and an arm like a fucking cannon.

Meanwhile (I need a new segue word), despite having a statistically superior season, leading his team to more wins and beating him straight-up, Aaron Rodgers has had to listen to this Drew Brees MVP crap for three weeks.  (Are the people who vote for the MVP really so easily distracted by shiny objects?)  Let's not discount the guy who just had the greatest season in the history of the position.  Add in the fact that no one throws the ball better with a chip on his shoulder than Rodgers (except maybe Kenny Powers) and you get . . . Packers - 31, Giants - 17.

Playoff Record:  3-1