NFL 2012 – Divisional Playoff Predictions, “Saturday” Edition

The Colin Wynner express was rolling toward the 11-0 holy land when out of the blue it was sent caroming into the desert roughage by what I will call the “Joe Webb experience.” And to think, I actually made this comment regarding Webb, “I still love the Vikings with Webb, their game plan doesn’t change with him – play defense and get the ball to Peterson, but now they add the element of the zone read two hours before kickoff.” We all know how that worked out. Maybe Christian Ponder is worth three points.

The “Joe Webb experience” gave me a strong desire to hurl myself off a 700 story building into a pit of fire (the pit of fire is the fallback, just in case the 700 story plunge doesn’t do the trick). But I resisted and rebounded Sunday with a perfect 2-0 record. But the primary reason I refrained, was so I can bring you the 2012 NFL playoffs divisional round winners.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:

Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 103-83-5

Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 36-30-2
Championship Round: 19-15
Super Bowl: 8-7-2

Playoff Best: 7-3-1 (2001)

Please note that these picks are made based on several years of experience in handicapping the playoff games, in fact I have developed a list of playoff rules to live by that you can read here.
Note: I use the Las Vegas Hilton Lines from

Baltimore @ Denver (-9.5)

Interesting Sub-Plot: Peyton Manning playoff stats in this situation are quite interesting. First, his career record with the temperature below 35 degrees is 0-3, with losses to the Jets and Patriots twice. Game time temperature in Denver – 18 degrees! In fact, at 18 degrees this will be the coldest playoff game Manning has ever started. Of course, many a Denver fan will point out two facts – 1. Manning has never lost a home playoff game where the temperature was below 35 degrees; and 2. Manning played exceptional in two cold weather home games late in the year. Fair enough, Donkey fan, but I will point out that Manning has never won a home playoff game in those frigid conditions and that the final two games of the season were against Cleveland and Kansas City, good luck with that logic. And for the record, the temp was 51 and 35 for those games so – EAAAHHHHH, sorry wrong answer!

Secondly, Manning is just 1-3 in the playoffs when coming off a bye. Guess what? The Broncos had a bye last week. And lastly, it appears that Manning will don a glove on his throwing hand to mitigate the cold weather. Hmmm, very interesting, I guess there will be no glove lost in this game.

Teenage girl logic: I love Colorado, it’s a great place to visit and a better place to live. Yeah, I’ve only been there once but I can tell it’s a perfect place with perfect people. Go Broncos!

Trending: Teams that covered a regular season matchup by 10 or more points are just 4-9 ATS in the playoff matchup.

The Ravens will cover if: Anquan Boldin takes this game over like he did last week against the Colts. “Q” might be at the beginning of a 2008 Fitzgeraldian run through the 2012 playoffs.

The Broncos will cover if: They don’t let the Ravens hang around. The Ravens are a “keep it close, steal it at the end” team. The Donks absolutely cannot let the Ravens jump out to any sort of lead in this game. just ask the Titans about that (2000 and 2008). On the flip side, if the Broncos put up two quick touchdowns, the Ravens are done!

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: The was a day where you could drop a double digit number in the divisional playoff round and sip on Courvoisier while watching a 44-3 blowout. That doesn’t happen in the current NFL, well unless the team double digit dog is quarterbacked by Tim Tebow coming off a incredibly emotional Wildcard round win (see how I did that). The history of what I will call the “NFL – parity edition” tells us to take the points in these situations. Sure we are roughly 10 years into this edition, but the days of the of #1/#2 seeds laying the hammer in the divisional round is long gone.

So you’ve got that and the following: 1. It’s likely that the week off truncated the momentum for a Broncos team riding an 11 game winning streak; 2. The glove! The glove gives us litany of literary play on words, like the promiscuous young lady telling her boyfriend, “No glove, no love!” Or my personal favorite from the Naked Gun 45: Nordberg found innocent of murder, “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!” Well, here is one for this game, “with glove on hand for support, the Broncos shit their shorts!”; 3. The Ravens are in much better shape for the rematch, from the offensive line to the defense; 4. The emotion of Ray Lewis and the corresponding influence on the rest of the Ravens; it can’t hurt, but, I agree, the angle itself is weak, since it was obvious Ray left it on the field last week. Still if the Ravens keep it close, Ray-Ray might make a huge play somewhere late in this game that has a major impact on the outcome or at least the spread; 5. The Broncos have to be looking ahead to the showdown with the Patriots, right? and 6. It bears mentioning again – it’s too many points.

And, yes, I know this is the blueprint for playoff disaster by going against probably the single biggest playoff rule, “never back a shaky quarterback in the playoffs, especially on the road”, in the history of the playoffs or rules. Furthermore, there is a better than average that after this week, I will be bitching about not follow my own rules, along with updating the “rules” with this new one called the “never bet against NFL” rule. Yeah, it’s probably only me and like four other guys who know that the NFL would love to see a Brady and Manning matchup up for the AFC championship, in primetime no less. Eff-it all, give me the Ravens and the points

Denver 26 Baltimore 21 (3 Stars out of 5 possible)

Green Bay @ San Francisco (-3.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: The fact that this is the “all-in” moment for Jim Harbuagh with his decision to hand the starting QB job to Colin Kaepernick. In week one, former starting quarterback, Alex Smith played about as well as one could play in leading the 49ers to a victory in Lambeau. If the 49ers lose this game with Kaepernick playing a key role in the loss, will that become the second strike against Harbuagh? What’s the first strike, you ask? Harbaugh’s charmingly self – yeah, he is so obstinate and generally unlikable that I believe he will start every job with 0-1 count, a little bit like it seems Carl Crawford does every at-bat.

Teenage girl logic: I had no idea that those gaudy “cheesehead” things were so popular, but apparently in addition to the normal “cheesehead” you can get a cheese sombrero, a cheese fireman’s hat, a cheese tie, a cheese cowboy hat, etc. etc. Yikes, with all that crazy cheesehead crap donning the rather large humans in Packer-land , a home game in Green Bay must rival a tattoo convention and most nights on Bourbon street for biggest “freak show” ever. And my goodness, they have cheese earrings as well. How tacky! But I see can totally see this girl named Sarah wearing them. Uh, she is such a slut! I can imagine that guys would be all like, “Oh, Sarah how cute, you have cheesehead earrings.” ARGH, I can’t stand her, she is so ugly and the only reason guys like her is because she is a total whore! ARGH! Oh wait, this is where I am supposed to make a pick, right? OK, OK, enough about sluts, I think the 49ers are going to win the Super Bowl, so DUH, they are going to win this game!

Trending: Home playoffs teams favored by 3 or less points are just 7-13 ATS since 2002.

The Packers will cover if: If, “the most worthless piece of shit in the world” (as a fantasy buddy of mine calls him) a.k.a. Jermichael Finley, shows up ready to be the difference. Look it seems almost impossible for Finley to be a non-factor given that he is 6-4, 240, runs a 4.4 40, posesses amazing balance and athletic giftedness but somehow he does. Yup, most games Finley is invisible. And when not invisible he can be found dropping key third down passes or pointing first down when coming up a half yard short or tweeting “YOTTO.” YOTTO (“Year Of The TakeOver”), is an acronym coined by Finley after his breakout year. Interestingly, I coined the YAYWIGFAL to describe his play the year after his YOTTO year (“Year After YOTTO When I Got Fat And Lazy”). He can be difference in this game for the Packers, if 1. he shows up ready to play; and 2. Rodgers and McCarthy have enough trust left in him.

The 49ers will cover if: Colin Kaepernick plays less like Colin Wynner and more like Colin Kaepernick. I’m not going to lie with me at quarterback in this game, the number is probably close to Packers -7.5, so Kaepernick is worth close to 11 points more than me, but the junior Colin has the potential to lay an egg here, or in other words – there is massive pressure on this kid. So far he has handled the pressure in every spot, but this is the biggest, brightest stage of his career, and one where the 49ers are expected to win.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: This is tough, really tough, man! On one hand you have the “Lindsay Lohan doing porn” inevitable factors, like Rodgers is going to be harassed all day long by that 49er defense line and David Akers will miss a bushel of field goals, while Billy Cundiff sticks pins in an Akers voo-doo doll. Those are the gimmies, but that’s not going to get me the much sought after W. I firmly believe to have a winning week this week, I need this game. Sure when I interviewed before the game, I will tell the world, “they all count the same in the standings.” But this game, this game is a game I need, a game I want badly.

Therefore, I have to dig deeper for this one. Truth be told I loved the Packers from the start of the week. But that’s three parts of “the public would be all over 49ers” (thus giving me the playoff rule “it’s never a bad idea to be on the same side as the house”) and one part “revenge for week one.” The revenge card is an over-played, never truly works like you think it will.  Plus, from my rudimentary “bet metrics” the money appears to be fairly well divided, therefore, we can totally throw out the “it’s never a bad idea to side with the house” rule.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures, so I went go to the biggest 49er fan I know “Da Carz”, who has always had an unrealistic view of his team. So, I asked him how nervous he was on a scale of 1=already booked my flights to New Orleans to 10=I am wearing Depends just to be safe. His response, “I am about a five. I believe in my team, but Aaron Rodgers is the wildcard. If they did not have a good quarterback, I would not be worried.” Hmm, a five, huh? Thanks for nothing!

Despite his middling response, he gave me exactly what I needed. Here is the deal – last year in a similar spot “Da Carz” told me that the 49ers were about to visit “Lock” city against the Saints, so reading his comments this year, he’s not a five, he’s a 9.9999, meaning he’s probably played the game out in his mind which caused him to shart himself.

So here we go, I jumping off the building here holding my balls and screaming “Geronimo” (wait, is that insensitive?). I think Kaepernick is shaky, at least shaky enough that if the Packers put up the first points of this game the pressure will go from, in terms of the aforementioned Lohan, “if this B-Movie, and my over-acting, work for me, I might be able to claw my way back into fringe blockbuster movies, plus I will be able to continue pay rent, always a bonus” to “only one option left – hard-core porn. And rent is now a 50/50 prop each month.” I also am not buying that Justin Smith is back to anywhere near 100%, something the Packers will figure out on the first series and make adjustments to aid their one liability in this game, the offensive line.

Bottom line – the Packers have been there, done that in hostile road playoff game environments. The 49ers needed five turnovers and two miracle drives from their backup quarterback to pull off a win against a “good quarterback” last year. All cheese, all the time!

Green Bay 24 San Francisco 20 (2 Stars)

Coming up – the Sunday divisional round picks!

Good luck this weekend!

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!