2011 NFL – Divisional Playoff Picks, Saturday Edition

New Orleans (-3.5) @ San Francisco

Interesting Sub-Plot: Jim Harbaugh thinks Sean Payton sucks at running up the score! Remember when super-coach was the head-man for the Stanford Cardinal? Harbaugh made quite a name for himself by “running it up” on several opponents. So much so that I believe he should be considered the master of “rubbing salt in the wound”, for example, he went for two up by 32 against USC late in the game, in Los Angeles no less (of course most of the “LA” crowd was already on to something bigger and better). Harbaugh had no excuse in that game other than the “EFF YOU, Petey, I would have still been throwing if we were up 100!” So you can see why Harbaugh laughs at the passive, aggressive Payton. Who began running up the score in week 12 against the Giants with seemingly no “eff-U” moments, but he had several excuses – 1. “We wanted Drew to get the record”; 2. We wanted Jimmy Graham to get the record; 3. “We were scared of Quarterback X or Team X and their ability to score”; and 4. “We wanted to screw the f*%$ face Colin Wynner, who consistently picked against us.” It’s safe to assume that if the 49ers are up 55-3, I will be rooting for an 80 yard touchdown pass from Smith to Vernon Davis as time expires.

Teenage girl logic:
Train’s song Save Me, San Francisco is one of my favorite songs, so I’ll say I’ve been high, I’ve been low, I’ve been yes and I’ve been oh hell no! Won’t you save me San Francisco! Who-Hoo! Plus, the Saints play in New Orleans and though I never been there, I hear that girls show their boobs on Bourbon Street for a beaded necklace!?! Seriously? I mean if I show my tatas to some old fart, he better give me something better than a beaded necklace. I could purchase that for .50! Yeah, New Orleans sucks!

Gambling Over-Thought: In week 10 the 49ers were favored by 3.5 over the Giants at home; in week 12 the Saints were favored by 7.5 over the Giants at home. Those two comparative spreads yield us a four point true ranking difference between these two teams, meaning that this game should have a point spread of Saints by one. Yet the number is 3.5! Or 2.5 points of value on the 49ers.

Popular Trend: The Saints are 0-4 ATS and SU on the road in the playoffs. Of course, that includes one game that was coached by Jim Mora Sr, who owns an 0-6 career playoff record (side note: I cannot wait to bet against Junior’s UCLA Bruins in their next bowl game, in fact even Junior’s presence on the sideline in the San Francisco Bowl was enough to get the cover for the Fighting Illini). Still, they have never won a road playoff game!

The Saints will cover if: Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles win their match-ups against NaVarro Bowman and Patrick Willis. It’s pretty simple – Graham and Sproles have been going nuts over the past few weeks but they haven’t faced a duo like Bowman and Willis. If those win are successful, the Saints will have their way with the 49ers.

The 49ers will cover if: Alex Smith plays like Alex Smith the quarterback and not Alex Smith the Tight End. The Saints defense is below average at best and Jim Harbuagh undoubtedly will put Smith in position to make plays, the question is – can he make them? The 49ers playoff lives depend on Smith making plays in the passing game. We know the 49ers will be able to run the ball.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: Top play of the week, the 49ers, straight-up! Look I promised myself not to let my hatred for Sean Payton’s “Vote for Brees for MVP” campaign to end the season influence my picks in the playoffs, but I can’t help it, I hate that bastard, in fact during their week 17 game against the Panthers I told my buddy, “if I ever see Sean Payton, we’re dropping gloves” (Some quick odds on that fight: Colin -255 to end fight in less than 30 seconds by knockout, +10000 Payton lands a lucky punch that staggers Colin enough for Payton to run away, -1200 Colin beats Payton like a Florida A&M drum major during hazing).

But, believe it or not, this isn’t a biased pick or based on my white hot hatred of Saints. Nope, this is a logic/feel pick, you see, I have good friend is who a huge 49ers fan who tipped me off to something this week. Most weeks when I ask him about the 49ers, he kind of sheepishly shrugs and tells me, “Yeah, it was a good win, but we can’t win in the playoffs with Alex Smith as our quarterback.” So this week, I figured he would be more fidgety than Luther from 48 Hrs, but he was surprisingly clam. I wrote it off thinking he probably thought the Saints were a terrible match-up for the 49ers and they were guaranteed losers, but I asked him anyway, “Hey, how you feeling about this week?” “Great! We got it!”, he replied. “Really? I mean not a doubt in your mind?” I asked. “None at all. Easy win.”, he emphatically responded. That nailed it for me – a reasonable guy with his finger on the pulse of his team is like having insider telling me a company is about to go belly-up because of a significant lawsuit, allowing me to short the piss out of the stock. Hey, you know what, don’t tell the SEC, but you can use this information as well!

San Francisco 24 New Orleans 20

Denver @ New England (-13.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: Uh, say hello to Captain Obvious! CO tells us that the most interesting sub-plot is the fact that the Patriots brought Josh McDaniels back this week. Part of me feels like he wants to stick it to the Broncos badly, but there is a also a part that thinks he wouldn’t mind seeing a close game where his picks, Tebow and Demaryius Thomas, do well. Yeah, that doesn’t make sense, does it – he definitiely wants to stick it to Elway and Company.

Teenage girl logic:
Tom Brady is sooooo hot! I mean Tebow is hot too, but Tebow is a guy you want to marry, while Brady, well Brady, is the guy I want to meet on Spring Break after a few too many drinks, where I can let my inhibitions run wild. Yeah, he’s hot like that! Oh my, I hope my dad isn’t reading this!

Gambling Over-Thought: I get not over-reacting to games scores and fluctuating outcomes each week. But how is it possible that the Saints can move two points in favor of them based on “running up the score”, yet this game is basically where it should be? Remember when these teams played in week 15 in Denver, the Pats favored by 7, which equates to 13 in Foxboro (3 point standard home field). But we forget that in week 15, “Tebow-Mania” was in full-force, which the betting market was adjusting for because of the Broncos bettors. The Pats won that game by 18 points and the Broncos proceeded to lay back-to-back eggs in weeks 16 and 17. And that they beat a shell of the Steelers last week, so how is it that we have not seen an adjustment that would move this number closer to 15 or 16?

I will tell you why the books want no part of the two touchdown action on Tebow. Plus, they realize that they will get plenty of Tebow action at 13.5, so give up the value to the chalk side and make it easier for themselves.

Popular Trend: Did you know the Patriots have lost their last six playoff games against the spread? The great Belichick? No Way, right? Can you say “due”? I bet you can!

The Broncos will cover if: Jesus descends on the field and plays quarterback. Imagine the scene, especially in Boston, where the mere mention of Jesus makes hair of the backs of the intellectuals stand straight, when all of a sudden Jesus throws an 80 yard pass that hovers 30 feet above the end zone as Demeryius Thomas long jumps an unheard of 100 feet to make the catch in the right corner of the end zone. Or, Jesus as a 160 lb defensive repeatedly sacks Brady because he knows exactly when the snap of the ball will occur.

Of course, at the end of the day, Jesus being Jesus will lay down in this game thus giving the Patriots the win (and cover). In short, I give the Broncos no chance to win this game!

The Patriots will cover if: Tom Brady makes it to the stadium, dresses and takes every snap. Look the difference at quarterback between what the Broncos faced last week (that so-called version of Ben Roethlisberger) and this week is like the difference between the McRib and a full slab of baby backs at Famous Dave’s. Both items have “rib” in their title, but that’s where the similarities end.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: I was on the Patriots the second Dereryius Thomas crossed the goal-line with the winning touchdown in overtime, but then the following happen to further solidify my pick – 1. The Broncos have 0% chance of winning this game, and that’s not a rounded down .49% number or something, that’s 0.00000000% chance in this game and though the spread is prohibitive, I cannot in good conscience take the Broncos knowing that they have zero chance to win #playoffrules; 2. I heard former Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson on the radio talking himself into the Broncos having a chance to win. His logic – “you know last time the game was decided in the last six minutes of the second quarter, take that away and the game would have been different” (really, Thomas? My guess is you could take six minutes away from most every game and come out with a different result); and this barely coherent statement “I figure the Patriots will get seven possessions (7? Is there a prop bet on that? Hello, early retirement! Do not worry, even if I was retired, I will still write the weekly NFL picks column), the Broncos need to stop them twice, in the remaining five scoring drives, they cannot all be touchdowns, two must be field goals, which would give the Patriots, uh, let’s see, uh, twenty, uh, twenty-seven or so points. The Broncos only need to score 30 to win.” Now that was funny!; and 3. The public betting is on Denver pretty heavily.

New England 38 Denver 13

I am holding off on the Sunday picks until Saturday after the games because Sunday’s picks are dependent on the Saturday games. For example, had I done this last week, I would have switched from Pittsburgh to Denver, based on Detroit failing to cover. Don’t ask me to explain – just trust me it has nothing to do with how is better, it has everything to do with the cyclical nature of the NFL.

Good luck this weekend!

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