2011 NFL Picks – Conference Championship Edition

The 2011 NFL Playoffs have been a real “sister kisser” thus far as I have posted an unprofitable 4-4 record. But you know what I feel good about it, not the kissing my sister part, but the fact that after a regular season where I dropped pass after pass, missed several opportunities and had trouble getting out of my own way, I am .500 with a chance to post a winning playoffs. Baby steps, man, baby steps!

Baltimore @ New England (-7.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: What could possibly be more interesting than the Ed Reed outburst on Joe Flacco after the Texans game last week? Nothing, that’s what, and for the record Flacco claimed it to be “no big deal”. Well, maybe that’s because he doesn’t have an expert translator to interpret the comments for him like I do. Here is a quote by quote breakdown of Reed’s comments with corresponding interpretation:

  • “I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit” – Translation, “Joe is a pussy!”
  • “(The Texans) had a lot of guys in the box on him. And, I mean, they were getting to him.” – Translation, “Joe has about as much mental toughness and willpower as an overweight man standing before a plate of pastries. It won’t end well”
  • “I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense.” – Translation, “Joe is dumb!”
  • “He can’t play like that.” – Translation, “With Joe at quarterback, we’re screwed.”
  • “I can see that sitting on the sideline or sitting in the stands. You don’t know what someone else is seeing.” – Translation, “In addition to being dumb, Joe is blind and is more anxious than Vinnie from Jersey Shore.”

Teenage girl logic:
The Ravens let me down big time last week. I proclaimed their nickname cool, figuring that they would kill the Houston simply because “Texans” was such a thoughtless nickname. I guess I lost that game because the Ravens only won by 7 and they needed to win by 7.5. I am like, “how can they win by 7.5?” Really, that doesn’t make any sense, so I just gave myself the win anyway. But this week I cannot go against my main man and my future Jamaican vacation one-night stand guy, Tom Brady. If Brady’s not available to me, maybe I can get the guy on the Patriots logo. His square jaw just melts me!

Gambling Over-Thought: Thanks to the Broncos horrific effort, gamblers were treated to an extra couple of points on this game. You see the public will over-react to a flogging on national TV like Pavlov dogs react to a bell or Andy Reid reacts to the smell of bacon. And that’s exactly what the Pats did to the Broncos, flogged them. So instead of having to decide if 5 points is too many or just right, Ravens supporters get the luxury of knowing the Pats have to win by more than 7 to record an ATS win.

Popular Trend: The Ravens are 1-6 SU and just 2-5 ATS all-time against the Patriots. But the one win came in New England in the 2009 wildcard round.

The Ravens will cover if: They can pressure Brady. Yup, it’s that simple, if they pressure Brady, he gets out of rhythm and the game is close. And no, I am not at all worried about Flacco or the Ravens offense. The reality is not enough credit is being given the Texans defense for playing a great game last week. For Flacco, this week the Patriots defense will seem like going from a coal miner job to a security guard, where you make six figures to make sure a football field doesn’t get stolen.

The Patriots will cover if: If the Patriots defense can rattle Flacco early in the game. Belichick always does a great job taking away what an opposing team does best. So likely this week the Pats will take Ray Rice away, which will leave the game in the hands of Flacco. Now I believe Joe can make plays, but with all the hoopla this week, if the Pats can force a few early bad throws or an interception the rout will be on.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: In order to pick the Ravens, I have to believe they can win this game out-right, as 46 of the last 52 winners of a conference championship game have also covered the spread. I do believe they can win this game. I’m just not picking them to win the game. Yup, I am going against the trend and taking the Ravens to cover while losing the game straight up. The reasons are simple – 1. The Pats offense is un-stoppable, but the last decent defense they played was the Dolphins (yeah, that’s how bad it’s been in terms of defenses for the Pats) in week 16, who held them to 27 points. The Ravens represent the best defense the Pats will have faced the entire season; 2. The Pats defense is a joke, and no, I am a believer because of what they did to the Broncos last week. Bottom line, the Broncos were so spent after the emotional win over the Steelers, that they mailed that game in early and often. The Ravens can score enough points on this Pats defense; 3. The Ravens are a supremely confident team, especially considering they went to Foxboro and buried the Pats two years ago; and 4. According one sportsbook director, “Ticket count is 8/1 in favor of the Patriots”. And yet, given that, the number on this has gone from 7.5 to 7. Down to 7, serves to entice more Patriots public action. And since we are down to three games left, I am not sure I want to be on the same side as the public here. That would be a little like being a quarterback with Adam Goldberg protecting your blind side – AKA – “Look Out, Behind You!”

New England 24 Baltimore 20

NY Giants @ San Francisco (-2.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: Eli Manning as an elite quarterback. Huh? Yeah, it is news to me as well, in fact, it seems like just yesterday I joked about the best gift the gambling gods could give us would be if the Manning brothers, Eli and Peyton, each had three sons as did their dad. And if their three sons followed the Manning family pattern, with two of the three playing quarterback in the NFL, then my children would have four Manning’s to bet against the in the playoffs. And so on, until my great-great grand children would have half the league quarterbacked by a Manning or the sign that sportsbooks far and wide would be closing up shop.

But 2006 (Peyton won the Super Bowl) happened, then 2007 (Eli and the Giants) and now fast forward to 2011, where Eli is a not only a covering machine but is a cold blooded killer in the mold of Tom Brady. So, yeah, even though it it’s crazy, Eli is at an elite level.

Teenage girl logic:
While I was researching this game, I found it interesting that San Francisco has a team called the Giants as well. Only they’re a baseball team. As I dug a little deeper, I found out this San Francisco Giants team used to be the New York Giants. So wait, you mean New York had two teams called the “Giants”? How is that possible? And here I thought New York was the capital of the world and yet, they couldn’t even come up with a different nickname for their baseball and football teams. On the other hand, San Francisco stole New York’s baseball team, so I guess you can say the Giants owe them one.

Gambling Over-Thought: In the last 26 years of conference championship games, home teams have been favored 44 times, but never by less than a field goal. It’s interesting that the odds-makers would settle on two points, when they could easily have made it a standard field goal spread. Here’s my thinking – Giants backers figure the Giants are winning out-right, therefore getting any points is a bonus; the bettor liking the 49ers loves the -2, since the figure the ‘9ers merely need to win to cover. It’s the undecided that the odds-makers are focused on this week and by posting the 49ers at essentially “pick the winner” they will gain the desired 49ers action to even the numbers.

What’s it all mean? That this game is a toss-up and the odds-makers are comfortable raking the juice off of it.

Popular Trend: Three weak trends for you to clean out bank accounts in order to get money down on this game – 1. Since 1998, the team that won the highest scoring game in the divisional round is just 1-11-1 ATS in the conference championship; 2. Home teams that were underdogs in the divisional round, but covered and are favored in the conference championship are just 3-5 ATS; and 3. The last time both underdogs covered the spread in the conference championship was 2007, Patriots winning SU not covering and Giants. Hmmm.

The Giants will cover if: Eli continues to play at the level he has over the last three weeks. That is likely to happen but this week is going to feel more like climbing into the ring against Evander Holyfield as opposed to last week’s Richard Simmons bitch-slap level of resistance from Packers defense.

The 49ers will cover if: They stick to who they are – a power football team that excels on special teams and defense. If the 49ers come out trying to pick up where they left off last week, they will be in big trouble.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: The game is a toss-up, but I am playing the Giants because of the following: (a). If one of these teams is going to come out flat, it will be the 49ers especially after that emotional, euphoric victory over the Saints; (b). the 49ers might be a little “glad to be here”, after all they are relatively young and coached by a rookie NFL coach; (c). a lot is being made of the wet weather favoring the 49ers, but this Giants team is resilient, plus weather factor is always built into the spread anyway. If it was really an advantage this number would be a field goal; (d). Though I hate to overvalue playoff experience, it’s hard to overlook that the Giants have been there and done that, on the road no less; (e.) The Giants got gang-raped by the officials last week, so if anything they’re likely to get a few calls go their way this week. Think about it – if that gives Justin Tuck or Osi a free shot on Alex Smith, that might make the difference; and (f.) the 49ers won the turnover battle last week by 4, yet had to have a miraculous drive to win the game. It’s fair to say that they got lucky last week. If luck falls neutral this week they lose.

NY Giants 21 San Francisco 16

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