NFL 2012 – Week 20, “Conference Championship” Edition

I love being on the opposite end of a two point game where I am laying 2.5 points, it really warms my heart.

Here is the back of the Colin Wynner, Handicapper player card update with 2012 stats:
Career Playoff Record (1995-2012): 105-85-5
Wildcard Round: 40-31-1
Divisional Round: 38-32-2
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 vegasinsider.com.

Baltimore @ New England (-8.0)

Interesting Sub-Plot: The possibility of God intervening on behalf of the Ravens. As Ray Lewis himself told the freezing, “get me the eff out of here” Solomon Wilcots after the Ravens victory over the Broncos, “No weapon forged against you shall prosper. . .” {hugs Peyton Manning}, “No weapon, no weapon, God is amazing and when believe in Him, man believes in possible, God believes in the impossible. . .” I guess, loosely translated, that means that no one thought it was possible for the Ravens to win in Denver and God showed them!

All kidding aside, there might be something to this divine intervention theory. Think about what had to happen for the Ravens to escape with a victory – a. the oldest defense in the NFL playing on short rest and approaching close to a combined 200 plays in two weeks, yet somehow made several key stops in overtime; b. how many times to do see a defensive back with deep responsibility take such a poor route to the ball and then mis-time his jump? Never or rarely. It’s almost as if the ball changed paths at the last second and Rahim Moore got a slight push in the back as he leaped, hmmm; (c.) the fire-able move by John Fox to take a knee with 31 seconds and two timeouts left, as if his mind was suddenly frozen, hmmm; and (d.) the pick by Manning, where the entire left side of the field was vacated, yet P-dog choose to run into the defensive penetration and then throw a pass that in comparison to a throw by an 8-years girl, would have made the girl’s pass look like it was fired by Tom Brady.

Is God on Ray Lewis’ side? Maybe. But I think the better question would be – Is God against the opponent of Ray Lewis? Right, remember “no weapon forged against you will prevail . . .” Maybe God punished the citizens of the Colorado by having their beloved Broncos lose, for their egregious decision to legalize marijuana. And we know that those radical New Englanders have passed many of laws that might not have in alignment with the Big Man upstairs. Advantage Rayvens!

Teenage girl logic: I love the way people from Boston talk. So, in my best Boston accent, here is how I see this game playing out – “Look, ya bastaards, it’s going to be a real pissah for ya come the marnang, when you wake up with banger to find out ya beloved Paats got tha wicked shit kicked out of ’em.”

Trending: The Patriots are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games when playing a team after losing the previous matchup.

The Ravens will cover if: Their defense has enough left in the tank to play a full four quarters. This is the first time since 1991 that a team will play a game after facing 87 or more plays on consecutive weeks.

The Patriots will cover if: They show up, right, I mean this is the greatest team in the history of the world, with the greatest quarterback on Earth and coached by the best coach, field general since the inception of time. They just need to make it to the field on time.

Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner:  We were two plays away from an exhilarating, infinitely more enjoyable conference championship Sunday. Come on, admit it, Manning v. Brady, Broncos v. Patriots was “can’t miss” football. Throw in the intrigue of the Seahawks v. 49ers III and it was a “honey, I don’t think I am going to make it to the kids soccer game” kind of day. Thanks to the divine intervention play and the Seahawks celebrating a little early we now are facing possibly the worst conference championship Sunday since 2005. That year featured the Steelers v. Broncos, a game that had all the excitement of a Lance Armstrong interview, and the Seahawks v. Panthers, a game where the Panthers ran out gas, and were promptly run out of the Qwest field.

I can see this game being a lot like that 2005 Seahawks/Panthers tilt. The 2012 Ravens are a mirror image of those 2005 Panthers in a bunch of ways. Both faltered down the stretch, thus limping into the playoffs, yet both got hot by winning a couple of playoff games, including a huge road upset in the divisional round. If you remember, Steve Smith was un-coverable for those first two playoff games, amassing 4 touchdowns and 22 receptions for 306 yards. While the Ravens have not had a Steve Smith, they have had a receiver step up in each game, against the Colts Anquan Boldin put the team on his shoulders, while Torrey Smith was virtually un-coverable by the ghost of Champ Bailey last weekend.

What’s it all mean? Well, that 2005 Panthers literally ran out of gas against the Seahawks, a rested, focused bunch. The Patriots are in a similar situation as they barely broke a sweat last week in dispatching the over-matched, over-rated, under-achieving Texans.

And guess what? The world is on the Ravens, forcing the odds-makers top drop the line to from 9.5 to 8; that movement is laughable as a drop from 9.5 to 8 is statistically unlikely to factor into the outcome of this game, as just two of out 264 games played in 2012 season ended on a nine point margin. An eight point margin has a slightly higher probability of hitting with 11 games such games ending there. Still, there is less than a 1% chance that getting 9.5 is going to be the difference between cashing or not and just over a 4% chance that an investors will avoid the dreaded push. No that movement is all to get into psyche of the sports investor. I’ve mentioned it before that while all sports investors primary motivation is to win, a secondary motivation is to be on the “sharp” side. This movement reeks of “sharps” hammering the Ravens and the investor doing whatever they can, including but limited to the following blood doping, HGH, testosterone, to get to the top of the “sharp” mountain. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the so-called “sharps” are pumping the Ravens early and often in hopes to get a better number to lay on the Patriots. Unless, of course, you believe and trust everything that comes out of a “sharp.”

With the world on the Ravens, let’s look at the case for the Pats – 1. the aforementioned 174 plays by the Baltimore defense over the last two weeks, that could equate to almost three regular season games. In addition, a high percentage of those plays are high leverage. Oh and have I mentioned that the Ravens defense is one of the oldest in the NFL?; 2. Everyone points to last year’s game as the reason the Ravens will be close, with a chance to pull off the upset in this game. Remember thought that the Ravens had a bye last year and won a home game before traveling to Foxboro. In fact, the last time the Ravens were in this situation was in 2008, they were beaten soundly by the Steelers, a game where the Ravens defense four years younger.; 3. The Pats up tempo offense is tough to stop, and Brady is awesome, but the Pats key to rolling in this game is dynamic duo of Verren and Ridley . Those guys play every play like they are competing for more playing time, and can’t you see Belichick telling each of them, “Well, we will just have to see how things play out today” in terms of their playing time. By kickoff each guy is like a rabid dog; and 4. Flacco is now at “elite” status because Boldin took over the Colts game and he completed three hail-mary passes against the Broncos. Uh, ok. In my book, still shaky, on the road, remember my rules. . .

New England 34 Baltimore 23

San Francisco (-4.0) @ Atlanta

Interesting Sub-Plot: What will Mike Smith do next? Dude looks, and acts, like he is in way over his head. Let’s totally forget about the pathetic, “playing not lose” play-calling late in that game and strictly focus of three egregiously bad decisions. First off, why did Smith choose to kick the extra point not once, but twice with very little time remaining the third quarter? The Seahawks jumped offside twice, which means the Falcons could have tried a two point attempt from the half yard line. I guess Smith adheres to the old adage,”Don’t go for two, until the 4th quarter.” Goodness that type of thinking is so Musbergerian.

The second flub by Mr. Smith was then he decides to burn his final timeout with 13 seconds left, which in and of itself would have been fine if the Falcons were not going to attempt a field goal on the next play, therefore, why leave 13 seconds on the clock? So the Seahawks can run a couple of plays? Great thinking there Mensa boy. The most humorous part of this was the way Smith sprinted down the sideline to get the timeout, he even breathed a sigh of relief, like “whew, I got there, I got the timeout.”

Finally, the onside/squib kick that gave the Seahawks the ball at their own 46 yard line with enough time for two plays. Too bad the Seahawks lost their kicker, Steven Hauschka to a strained calf a week earlier, because he has the leg to connect from well beyond 55. This might not have been Smith’s fault but really isn’t every play ultimately the coach’s responsibility.

Teenage girl logic: San Francisco seems like a cool city, it’s in California, so it has to be somewhat cool, right? Whereas, Atlanta seems really boring to me. Where is Atlanta? In Georgia? Where is Georgia? Is that even in America? I learned about Georgia in world geography class and I think it’s in Eurasia or something. Why on earth would they play this game in Eurasia? That’s just stupid. Anyway, I picked the 49ers to win the Super Bowl before the playoffs began, so duh, this is an easy win for them!

Trending: The team winning the high scoring divisional round game is 1-12-1 ATS in the conference championship game.

The 49ers will cover if: They don’t dig a deep hole like the Seahawks did a week ago. The 49ers are a team built to play from ahead or at least within a score of their opponent. And even though they have been very explosive under Kaepernick, they are not good catch-up team on either side of the ball.

The Falcons will cover if: They get out to a fast start, get the crowd involved and then keep their foot on the pedal. Despite the comeback last week, this team’s psyche is still fragile as is their fans, believe me the first sign of trouble for them and the Georgia Dome will be as silent as Manti Te’o has been this week amid rumors that he concocted a fake girl friend.


Colin Wynner, Handicapper! Calls the winner: The “sharps” are selling the idea that this is just too much “value” to pass on the Falcons. Ok, but you know what else is an extremely good value? The three week old bread rack at your local supermarket. That’s great value for a loaf of bread, in fact, practically free, but good luck choking it down without slathering on the butter mask the moldy, stale taste. But once you’ve used an excess of butter, the value is sucked out. Again this might be another case of the “sharps” either attempting a very tempting middle -3 on SF and +4.5 on Atlanta.

I so agree that the public is over-valuing the 49ers. It’s not all that close either, case in point the Falcons closed last week as 2.5 point favorites, after opening around a point to a point in a half favorites. If we use the low end opening number for a comparison of the Falcons and Seahawks, we would get the Seahawks graded two points better than Atlanta. After the Seahawks took the lead last Sunday, a bookmaker posted their NFC Championship game line at the 49ers -4 over Seattle. Meaning the 49ers grade out a roughly a point better than the ‘Hawks and three points better than Atlanta. That should put this line at a “pick.” Granted, the margin of error in this example is significant, but not four points worth. So, yes, there is great value on the Falcons.

But you go ahead and back the Falcons. And then sit back watching the following – 1. Mike Smith looking constipated. Believe me is hard enough to coach in the NFL playoffs when you’re regular; 2. Matty Ice being Matty Ice. He completed two desperation passes when the Seahawks essentially were thinking about the big celebration they were about to have in the locker room. Sorry, that game was only close because he and Smithy-poo got tight late. So, yeah, he hasn’t proved anything to me yet.; and 3. 70,000 fans thinking, and waiting for, something to go wrong. Let’s face this Atlanta bunch is somewhat apathetic to begin with, but put them through the Braves repeated playoff failures, the Michael Vick fiasco, the Petrino fiasco, the 2008 playoffs (game turned on a Michael Turner fumble that was returned for a touchdown), the 2010 playoffs (the Packers obliterated them with a lasting memory the Tramon Williams pick-6 off a Matty Ice, back footed, weak out pass) and the 2011 playoffs (where they failed a zillion times on fourth and one and were rung up by the Giants) and this group is more uptight, fidgety and pessimistic than Jesse Pinkman. Tell me you couldn’t show up at the Georgia Dome Sunday afternoon to successfully study for the MCAT test if the 49ers take the opening possession for a touchdown, followed by a Falcons three and out that includes a short armed, bounced ball to a wide open receiver by Ryan, then tack on three more points on an another 49ers scoring drive and then top it off with a tipped pass that is picked and returned for six points. 17-0 49ers, Falcons fans will be finding their “happy place.”

San Francisco 27 Atlanta 20
I just threw on my “Joe Public” sweater vest, yup, I am a square! Good luck this weekend!

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 vegasinsider.com.


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!