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 – Week 17, “Fantasy Teams, Part II” Edition

Part two of the 2012 fantasy teams, this part is the positive side of fantasy football, better known as the players who showed up this season or the “Anti-Eli Manning,” which also works.

Before I get to the teams, I wanted to take a minute to detail the reasons why I won’t be playing fantasy football next. In my opinion, fantasy football has become a commercialized joke.

In the simplest form, there are two personality types of people in the world – Type A and Type B. Type A personality traits include being overly competitive, goal oriented and achievement-driven. Given those traits, it’s obvious that a Type-A personality would measure success in fantasy football by winning rather than enjoyment. On the flip side, Type-B personalities, “do not mind losing and simply enjoy the playing game.” It’s clear which personality type is better suited playing a random game of luck.

To illustrate this, let’s say a Type-A and Type-B engage in a game of flip the coin. Probability tells us that it is likely that each person in this classic duel we will half of the flips. But let’s say the Type-A person goes on an incredible streak of calling the coin correctly ten consecutive times. Type-B guy is like, “Wow, that is impressive . Well done.” Type-A guy isn’t focused on what has happened, they are focused on continuing the streak. Now we all know, that whether Type-A guy has called the coin correctly 100 times in a row, the next call is 50/50. And if thrown enough, Type-A guy will regress to the mean, with streaks of brilliance mixed in. Each “streak of brilliance” is a killer for Type-A because he knows what can be. Whereas, Type-B, is smiling and enjoying watching the coin do a multiple flips in air.

Moreover, Type-B personalities love fantasy football for what it really is, entertainment. It keeps them interested in the game, after their teams are eliminated from the playoffs. I can imagine a Type-Ber giggling, like child watching Sponge Bob turn himself into various household items, when they sign into the league website on Tuesday morning to find out they won. I also think the Type-B guys put very little into the game like, “oh, shucks I missed free agents again this week” or “oh, my guy is on IR, maybe I should pick up his backup.” It’s the social aspect, not results, that keeps them coming back. They love getting together at the draft, maybe running a bit of smack talk during the season, and maybe, if everything breaks right for them they have a shot at a championship, but if not, “oh well, great season, see you all in August!”

I maintain both Type-A and Type-B people are the same when they start playing fantasy football, but any taste of success will drive the Type-A to reach higher levels of success. Soon, winning a division isn’t an accomplishment unless they win a playoff game, and so on. Remember the coin flip example from above. Once they’ve won ten in row, they want the 11th and if they lose the 11th, the other 10 don’t matter.

And that’s the rub, it’s in a Type-A’s DNA to be hyper-competitive and want to win, but once fantasy football has become essentially a coin flip and the losses mount, the Type-A goes crazy and eventually burns out. That’s when you find them holed up in their house buried under hundreds of fantasy football magazines.

But fantasy football has not always been a “coin flip.” In fact, back in the day (defining day – a time before fantasy football was engorged with zillions of fantasy experts, who actually make a living giving make believe advice for a make believe world), a Type-Aer had a huge advantage over “happy-go-lucky, winning doesn’t matter, just likes being part of something” fantasy player, he could out-work him for players in both the draft and the during the season. Those days are long gone, when every fantasy player has access to a version of the “weekly waiver wire recommendations.” There are no longer players that can be defined as sleepers, because once Matthew Berry announces them as a sleeper, guess what, they are no longer a sleeper. And these “fantasy sites” begin their fantasy football year so early and have so much time to fill, that they literally mention every player who might have a shot a scoring a tenth of a fantasy point in the coming year.

Now it’s a coin flip, essentially a lottery ticket where everyone shows up to the draft with a freshly printed draft cheat sheet that tells them who to draft, when to draft them and when to crack a joke about a guy being drafted to soon. These seasons could literally be played out with auto-draft on, for everyone, and then it’s a matter of avoiding injuries and getting the right mix of guys. A lottery draw!

That randomness is what will ultimately drive all Type-A players out of the game, because they know they have less control. I agree that there is randomness is virtually every facet of our lives and that shouldn’t be any different in fantasy football, but I ask you would you be happy if promotions given out by pulling a name out of a bingo machine? Exactly.

Therefore, the question becomes – can fantasy football be fixed? Can we mitigate the randomness and bring the Type-A back into the fold? Sure, I think it’s possible to fix this mess, while allowing some randomness for the Type-B’s. How? Glad you asked, here are some ideas:

  • Snake drafts should be Audi-5000’d immediately. All drafts should be auction style. Sure, it’s harder but they are far less “fantasy experts” willing to venture into the scary world of auction drafts, so it leaves room for an owner who does their homework, prepares a strategy and budget to have an advantage. An auction draft is a lot harder than crossing names off a list and drafting the next available player. Advantage: Huge to Type-A player
  • With snake drafts out of play, it would be easier to convert each league to a keeper league, with a significant amount of keepers, say five or so. When a player is acquired in the auction, the dollar amount becomes his number and to keep that player the amount rises each year. With that keeper amount rising each year, an owner cannot hang on to a rookie like Doug Martin until they have gone from the equivalent of A-List Vegas escort to waitressing the midnight shift in Laughlin (yeah, it happens that quick). This also opens up a bevy of trading options that otherwise would not be available, since at any point an owner may decide to scrap talent and build for next year. To avoid that getting out of hand, rosters are managed by a cap on player salaries. But those type of deals are what would keep a Type-A player motivated season to season, even in the face of losing. Advantage: Slight Type-A player, only slight because Type-A will likely throw in the towel way to early
  • Something has to be done to mitigate week-to-week randomness, whether it’s what I mentioned in Part I about carry over points or an all roster play or a percentage of bench points getting added to the final score. Putting something like this in play, kills two birds with a sinlge stone, as it will penalize the stagnant owner with a roster full of players on IR, but rewards the owner building the strong roster from top to bottom. Advantage: Slight Type-A player
  • Defensive teams should not be part of any fantasy league ever again. In my leagues where a defense was required this season, I witnessed a game that swung close to 50 points this season. And there were several games where the swing was at least 30 points. That is ridiculously random. There is no other position with that kind of swing, even quarterback if you were forced to start that worthless sack of dog crap Eli Manning. With defensive teams out, I would add in IDP and a return position to the weekly lineup. It works like this – one DL, one LB and one DB starts every week and gets points for defensive things – like forced fumbles, sacks, tackles, penalties,etc. The returner position can be any NFL player, but they only get points for returns, however, all returns are included – interceptions, fumble, punt, kickoff and blocked kicks. This gives an advantage to players willing to do some work, since, not surprisingly, most fantasy experts do not give fantasy advice on IDP. Advantage: Type-A player
  • Finally, I would implement something like the presidential veto where a player can potentially eliminate one of his opponents players score. There was an old Sports Illustrated/Athlon game called Paydirt, where each team had a play sheet with outcomes based on actual statistics from the previous season. One of the rules of the game was, when on defense, you had the ability to “key” on one offensive play. If the offense called that play, the result was an automatc no gain, if they didn’t the offensive outcome was taking with no regard to defensive adjustment. My idea would give owners the opportunity to “key” on one of the opponents player. If that player was the high scorer for your opponent, his score would be reduced by some percentage. But if that player was not the high scorer, points are added to your opponent for that week. Advantage: Wash, Type-B player will forget to use this more often than not, while Type-A player will over think and screw it up more often than not.

Don’t be surprised if I come back after a year off with a radical new league that mirrors the above ideas.

Ok, enough about me, let’s get back to the exciting conclusion of the 2012 fantasy teams.

To start off the “Anti-Eli Manning” side let’s introduce the “All-Rookie” team. This season seemed like there was an unprecedented number of rookies who played a major part in not only their teams success, but also their owners fantasy success.

There is an old fantasy football adage that states, “You can’t win the league with your draft, but you can lose it.” You see, most fantasy football championship are won with a fair amount of free agents comprising the winning lineups. Therefore it makes sense to recognize the top free agents pick-ups of 2012, with the “All-Waiver” team.


And without further ado, here are the “All-Fantasy” teams. These are the creme de la creme of fantasy players for 2012. Beginning with the 2nd team, players who were crazy good, but not quite the top.

And the fantasy superstars – the “All-Fantasy” 1st team:

NFL 2012 – Week 14, “Yay Fantasy” edition

Note: I use the LVH Lines from vegasinsider.com.

The “Super Contest” Picks

Buffalo (-3.0) over St. Louis – I love the 2012 Rams! I love that in a year where my favorite teams have crapped the bed across the board, the Rams have provided me with a loss-less year against the hated, rot-in-hell 49ers. To quote Jesse Pinkman, “1-0-1, bitch!”

Everything comes with a price though, right? It sure does and the price of the Rams taking care of their divisional rivals (4-0-1 in division play) is that they barely show up to play non-divisional opponents and against the non-conference games, fuhgeddaboudit! However, it’s a smart move by Jeff Fisher, who probably realized about hour two of taking over the job that the Rams were talent depleted and had little to no chance of completely turning this thing around this year. So Fisher did the next best thing in year one, take care of the division. Every division game has become the Rams “Super Bowl” this season. And this in a markedly improved division.

You can pencil this in for next year – the Rams will be in the playoffs with at least nine wins. And Chris Givens will be a top 10 WR in fantasy football. Yay fantasy.

But as for this game, it’s the week after the Rams sold out in the five quarter performance against the 49ers. We’ve been here before, three weeks ago after a knockdown, drag out five quarter fight against the 49ers the clearly superior Rams came home to play the over-matched Jets. The result, Jets 27-13. Look for a similar result this weekend in Buffalo.

Cleveland (-6.5) over Kansas City – Get this – the Browns have been a 6.5 point favorite or more in just 21 games since 1989. Since 2003 they have been in this situation just four times. Four! But, guess what, I don’t care this Browns team is a young, feisty version of those once great Baltimore Ravens teams that could D-UP and run the ball. You have to love the Browns defense this week in a sneaky play that might make the difference in the fantasy playoffs. Yay fantasy.

Let’s also not forget that the Chiefs had a tremendous tragedy last week and while they were emotional prepared to play against the Panthers, it feels a little bit like this week the weight of the tragedy will hit them and with the, on the road this has the makings of a mail in game for them.

And I have mention the Bob Costas commentary on “guns arrrrre bad” last Sunday night. Essentially Costas took to the stage to tell America that in the wake of this tragedy we need stricter gun control laws. I agree that guns, in general, can have a net effect that is largely undesirable, especially when the gun is easily accessible in the heat of the moment. But when I heard that Javon Belcher shot his girlfriend nine times, I think that goes past the “I lost my mind and pulled the trigger” area and falls straight into “he was going to kill her even if he had to strangle the life out of her with his bare hands” It’s pretty simple, dude was deeply disturbed and, in this case the absence of a gun, would have meant the results would have involved a knife, rope and sturdy beam. This is a very sad tale indeed.

Still, I don’t watch Sunday night football to hear political agendas and my guess neither do you. Save it Costas!

Chicago (-3.0) over Minnesota – Vikings QB Christian Ponder got engaged this past week. Oh, that’s sweet! Let’s hope his bride to be isn’t marrying him for because he is the quarterback of the Vikings. I am thinking that is about to end very soon as he is horrible.

I have to admit this line feels very much like a trap to me. First off, outside of AP, the Vikings have zero offense. Zero! When Percy Harvin went down with an injury apparently the Vikings lost the ability to throw the ball. Now there offense is “hope AP breaks a long TD run” or “hope we can ride AP into the red zone for a field goal.” Moreover, the Bears defense even minus Urlacher is tough, so how exactly are the Vikings going to be in this game.

Throw in the reality that their rookie kicker is in the tank and quite literally, the Vikings only offense is AP. I don’t think that will be enough for the Vikings to win the game but several billion fantasy owners will be rejoicing when AP has the “no effing way” game for them – 200 combined yards and 2 TDs. Yay fantasy.

Cincinnati (-3.0) over Dallas – Just three weeks remain until I am officially fatnasy foorball free. I cannot wait. A game like this one is a big part of why I have grown to hate fantasy. Ask any fantasy player about who they like in this game and the likely answer will be the Cowboys, because they are playing “really good football right now.” Um, ok, so two weeks ago the Redskins strolled into Cowboys stadium and laid the smack down on the Cowboys, but in the process of trying to rally back, Romo and Bryant put up huge fantasy numbers.

Last week the Cowboys barely pulled one out against, quite possibly, the worst team in the NFL, but again Romo and Bryant put up huge fantasy numbers. Translation – the Cowboys suck, but the fantasy disease has infected so much that a majority of people actually think the Boys are playing well just based on fantasy numbers. Ugh!

In terms of this game, here is how it will go – after a pick-6 the Bengals take a 34-10 lead heading into the 4th quarter, DUH-DUH-DUH-TA-DA, here comes “Super Fantasy Man” and his sidekick, “Super Fantasy Boy” to save the day for some poor fantasy chump, who is the process of negotiating with themselves about “just give me one touchdown to Dez.” Done. Cowboys rally comes up short, but Romo and Bryant once again are positional high scorers for the week, and the fantasy community praises the “really playing great football” Cowboys. Yay fantasy!

Detroit (+7.0) over Green Bay – This game is the classic matchup of “the moveable object versus the resistible force.” The Lions are having trouble finishing a dump, while the Packers consistently leave the backdoor open in hopes that no one wanders in to steal their brand new Panasonic VT30 65 inch 3D TV.

It’s hard to make a case that the Packers cover this spread considering they will be without their two best defenders Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, their best running back (Starks) and one of their top receivers (Nelson).

The case for the Lions is much more palatable – (a). after getting called out by an anonymous teammate this week, Suh will likely play his best game of the year in hopes that said teammate will apologize so Suh can stomp him; (b). The Lions are getting seven points, remember they can’t finish, but they can keep it close; and (c). It’s Calvin Johnson and it’s Sunday night, just imagine the number fantasy games that will flip when Calvin catches that garbage time TD that also happens to cover the spread for the Lions. Yay, fantasy!

The “Rest of the Picks” Picks

Philadelphia (+7.5) over Tampa Bay – This Eagles team has something going with Foles and Bryce Brown. Ten years from now Bryce Brown’s finish to the season will be known as the 2012 version of Maurice Jones-Drew’s 2006 season. Yay fantasy.

Baltimore (+2.5) over Washington – That was truly a gutless performance by the Ravens last week, but out of something bad comes, hopefully, something good and maybe the Ravens will begin utilizing their best player – Ray Rice. Just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Yay fantasy.

Carolina (+3.5) over Atlanta – It’ great to see Cam Newton finally piling up fantasy points like his rookie season. He’s also piling up the losses but who cares fantasy shmuck thinks Cam is “playing great football.” Yay fantasy.

NY Jets (-3.0) over Jacksonville – I have it on good authority that there “is no way the Jets lose this game.” Plus, I they’re my fantasy defense, so I have to pick them. Yay fantasy.

Tennessee (+5.0) over Indianapolis – It’s just time for the Colts, their number is up. Look you can’t be 8-4 ATS, have a soft number this week (should be 6+) and expect them to cover, plus Andrew Luck is hitting the rookie wall. Too bad for those trusting him as their only fantasy quarterback in the fantasy playoffs. Yay fantasy.

San Diego (+8.0) over Pittsburgh – I know Roethlisberger is back this week, but after watching Charlie Batch crying after beating the Ravens last week it makes me think this team will be spent and be lucky to survive the abysmal Chargers this week. Look, I get it Charlie, the Ravens cost me an entry in a 24K survivor pool, I was crying as well, but at the end of the day it was just one game you cannot bawl like an newborn who just became disconnected from the mama boob. Oh, and don’t even think of starting Roethlisberger this weekend. Yay fantasy.

San Francisco (-11.0) over Miami – Seriously, this the 49ers “flex their muscles” game. One of these weeks I am going to be right on them. Oh, by the way Colin, catchy name, Kaepernick should be in all fantasy starting lineups this week. Yay fantasy.

Arizona (+10) over Seattle – John Skelton is back and no, he shouldn’t be anywhere near a fantasy starting lineup this week. Yay fantasy.

NY Giants (-4.5) over New Orleans – I am closing out the picks with the two games that will likely impact the most fantasy matchups this weekend. This game is a late afternoon Sunday game with probably at least ten fantasy starters – Manning, Brees, Graham, Colston, Moore, Sproles, Cruz, Tynes, Bennett and Bradshaw. I am sure a few fantasy games will swing on the outcome of this game, which probably means it will end up being a 17-10 dud with Henry Hynoski scoring both touchdowns on short runs for the Giants and the Saints getting a defensive touchdown. Hey wait, I forgot to list Hakeem Nicks. No, actually it is a purposeful omission as Nicks is nicked up again. Seriously fantasy freaks, when will you learn that you cannot trust that guy to stay healthy? Yay fantasy.

New England (-3.5) over Houston – Statement game for the Patriots. No way I see them losing this game, so I merely have to hope that they really want to whack the Texans to send a strong pre-playoff message to them.

As for the fantasy starters, several leagues will come down to the wire to see which team advance in the playoffs on the backs of the following: Brady, Schuab (should be starting), Ridley, Foster, Welker, Hernandez, A. Johnson, O. Daniels, Lloyd, Graham, Gostkowski, Pats D, Texans D, Walter, Vereen and Tate. Yup, I can see now – Ben Tate stealing the show on Monday night, throwing up a nice little 80 and 2 TDs in a 17 point loss and swinging all of a handful of games to a guy who hasn’t changed his lineup in over two months. Yay fantasy.

Best of luck this week.

2011 NFL – Super Bowl Prop Edition

Super Bowl props are little like fantasy football in that they can enhance the excitement of the game and in a lot cases even make a boring game worth watching. On the flip side, just like the typical fantasy football Sunday, one might be in a situation where they want team A to win, but need player X to score a touchdown but definitely cannot have player Y get more than 20 yards on the drive. It’s the stuff that brings on early stages of dementia!

Yup, things can get out of control quickly. And with 12 pages worth of prop bets, a hard core prop bettor could easily be overwhelmed trying to calculate Michael Boley tackles, Rob Gronkowski’s receptions, LeBron James’ points+rebounds+assists and Tom Brady attempts. Whew! To help cope with the hysteria, I offer a few tips on prop betting:

  1. Play the game out in your mind; then write down every stat, for every player before you every see a prop. This is a huge help in determining if you’re figuring the stats too high or too low. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen fantasy projections, from well known fantasy sites, for a week look completely ridiculous – let’s use the Giants as an example of the “projections” I’ve seen – Nicks 25.0 FP, Cruz 21.0 FP, Manningham 18 FP and Bradshaaw 18.0 FP. Hmmm, that’s like every guy at least scoring and hitting 100 yards. With Nicks and Cruz both adding either a second touchdown or 60 yards. So, if you add up just those guys we get something like 450 yards and 5 TDs. Geesh, what do these guys think that every team is coached by Sean Payton and every opponent is Kansas? It’s okay if you think the Giants are going to throw all over the Pats just be careful not to have each receiver over 150 yards.
  2. Look at most recent meeting. Luckily the Giants and Pats played this season, which gives us a glimpse of what we might see in the Super Bowl. Though coaches will change the game plan, you can bet the things that worked in the previous meeting will be in new game plan.
  3. Do fear the juice. Odds-makers are not stupid, if they’re placing a premium on a play there is a good reason. Don’t get sucked into the “plus” money bets unless there is value.

OK, time to unveil Colin’s winning Super Bowl XLVI props:

Note: I called the game 28-24 Giants – that’s what these numbers are based on.

Longest Touchdown of the Game: Under 49.5 (-115)

The Pats don’t have a deep threat nor do they have a player who can take a short pass to the house. In fact, the previous meeting between these two teams, the longest play was just 30 yards by the Giants. The Pats longest play was a paltry 28 yards. Sure, the Giants have Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, players who have a history of taking a short passes a long, long way. But let’s to be fair, Nicks did it against the Falcons with James Sanders taking a terrible angle and Cruz did it against the Jets, nuff said! Both of those defenses have serious speed challenges. Still I feel fairly confident that we will not see an offensive touchdown over 49.5.

However, my biggest fear – a defensive or special team touchdown. Still that is unlikely, given that neither team is overly potent in return game and both offenses will play it close to the vest trying to avoid a devastating turnover.

Number of Times the camera flashes a shot of Peyton Manning (first three quarters only): Over 1.5

I am trying to find out if this is a legit prop or not. But at 1.5, goodness, hello early retirement – this will be over by the middle of the first quarter. Especially if Peyton tries to highjack the Super Bowl, a la Alex Rodriguez, with some breaking announcement. Sure it would be classless, but hey if the Giants fall down big early it’s a great PR move by Peyton and the Manning family.

Will either team score three straight times:
No (+140)

This is.500 in the last 10 Super Bowls, so I get the value (+140 opposed to -115) on the inflated number. Plus, since I believe the game will a close game, with mostly touchdowns, I have to play the “No”. The obvious hedge would be to take the Largest Lead of the Game Over 13.5, except those sneaky odds-makers put that number at -160, meaning that while you certainly have a middle opportunity, you have to hit that middle to make money. I will stick with the “No”.

Total Field Goals by both teams:
Under 3.5 (-170)

I have pay significant juice here, but these are not grind it out, “three yards and a cloud of dust” teams. Both coaches are smart enough to know they need touchdowns to win this game, so I doubt we will see too many attempts outside of 45 yards and that obviously will help convert this prop into cash.

Total Sacks by Both Teams:
Under 4 -105

For several reasons – neither quarterback is sacked very often, both quarterbacks get rid of the ball in a hurry, the hype on the defensive line of the Giants which is virtually expected to be in the Pats backfield all day and the prediction that the running games will be what the defense gives up, so expect more running than anticipated. Oh and this nugget – the previous meeting featured two sacks.

Total Kickoff Returns by Both Teams:
Under 6.5 -160

Here is one where the juice is making the call for us. First off, even if this game goes over by a wide margin, there is no guarantee that there will be any kickoff return. But because I am only predicting eight score plus the two kickoffs to start each half, there will be 10 kickoffs, in perfect conditions – translation – there will be plenty of drives starting on the 20.

Will the game be decided by exactly three points:
No -450

This might be the biggest sucker of all sucker bets! And sure it is certainly a possibility that this game ends on three points but that juicy number of +325 is nothing more than a temptress waiting to lure you in the pit of hell, man!

Let’s look at the 2011 where roughly 14% of the games landed on three points or 1 out of every 7. And it’s widely publicized that this is the margin of victory that occurs most frequently, so I guess that gives the odds-makers free reign to gang rape the bettor.

In order to make money at +325, the Yes would have to hit a little over 19% of the time. Now I am no mathematician, but I believe 14 < 19 = “Will Work For Food, lost a bad bet”. Of course, I would hate to have my win potential on these props killed by the fact I laid -450, so it’s probably a no play.

Will Victor Cruz break every receiving record known to man if Julian Edelman is covering him the entire game?
Yes -100,000

If Edelman plays a significant role in the defensive backfield for the Patriots this game, look for Eli Manning to crack that strangle-hold Kurt Warner has on the individual game Super Bowl passing yardage rankings (currently Warner holds positions 1,2 and 3). Offensive coordinator Kevin Gillbride should have an over-ride call that is always available to Manning and is based on whomever Edelman is covering. Yeah, I don’t think Edelman can cover JC wide receiver, let alone a top thirty wide receiver in the NFL.

Total Number of Different Giants to have a rushing attempt:
Over 3.5 (-260)

Ouch, I have to pay some serious “bookie” juice here. But again the juice gives me comfort that the books are enticing the betting public with that tasty +230 and the reality that only Jacobs, Bradshaw and Manning are locks to get carries. Of course, those same bettors will shat themselves when the Giants give Henry Hynoski a third and short fullback dive carry.

Total Number of Different Patriots to have a rushing attempt:
Under 5 (-120)

OK, so it takes six different players have to have a rushing attempt for me to lose this prop – hmm, I think that’s an “OK” like what a group of sharks would think when a scientist decides to jump into open waters to do some “research” or like what Anquan Boldin was saying last week when he saw Julian Edelman covering him, like “really? OK!” Brady, BJGE, Woodhead and Hernandez re locks to get rushes. Beyond that who carries the ball? Ridley and Vereen likely will be inactive. Welker? Maybe, but that is a stretch to think both he and Hernandez get a carry. The only way this doesn’t push at the very worst is if BGJE gets hurt and one of Ridley or Vereen is active.

Player Props:

Ahmad Bradshaw, Over 62.5 Yards Rushing (-115)

I think the Pats will protect themselves against the potential passing barrage of the Giants, so there will be more running lanes for Bradshaw. As long as those running lanes don’t produce a 63 yard touchdown we’re good!

Henry Hynoski, Over 4.5 yards from scrimmage (-130)

Henry Hynoski, who the hell is Henry Hynoski? Look, I admit, I am a sucker for Polish fullbacks playing in the Super Bowl who only need to muster 5 yards to make me money! Five yards, I crap more than that! One swing pass to my main man Double H and we have a winner!

Mario Manningham,
All props – Over 3.5 Receptions (+140), Over 45.5 Yards (-115), Yes, he score a touchdown (+170) and gets a BJ offer from Madonna (-800)

I got a feeling Mr. Edelman will be on Manningham, cha-ching! And goodness sake, Mario, please decline the offer from Madonna!

Kenny PhillipsOver 5 Tackles (Even)

Hmmm, not sure why this number is this low since Phillips recorded 8 tackles in the November game between these two teams. But whatever the reason, I will take the free mon. . . uh, hang on there is no such thing as free money! Well, I am banking on a couple things here – 1. The odds-makers put this prop up to throw a bone to well liked “sharps”; and 2. That Kenny attended a James Laurinaitis, “Get Rich by jumping on the pile” seminar.

Plus, I have never had any money on a defensive player and I imagine it has to be one of the more exciting props. Imagine late in the game, with Phillips sitting on 5 tackles in a game that is already decided, the Super Bowl party lacks excitement until Brady swings a pass to Woodhead who is tackled by Phillips which leads to you erupting like you won the Lotto or you’ve been depraved sex for a month. The party would go silent trying to figure out what why you were cheering! See the fantasy parallel

Tom BradyUnder 39.5 Pass attempts (-115)

I am already on record that I believe the Pats will run more than normal, so this is a no-brainer. Throw the fact that Brady threw 40 or more passes three times in his last 13 games and we have a winner!

Danny WoodheadOver 23.5 yards rushing (-115) and Over 12.5 Yards receiving (-115)

Just a hunch but I think Woodhead is in for a big game. Side tangent – how does one get the name Woodhead? Is that ancient “trash talk”? It has to be, right? The “Woodheads” originated from England set of carpenters that were too stupid to be carpenters, thus the name Wood, as in no brain, head, came to be.

Deion BranchWill he score a touchdown? Hell, YES he will! (175)

I would have thought I could have gotten better odds from this prop, but the odds-makers must be thinking along the lines that Deion will turn back the clock to 2004, at least for a single reception in the back of the end zone. I just want to be “that” guy at the party who is wearing the Hakeem Nicks jersey who is otherwise a passionate Giants fan, but when Branch scores screams like a teenage girl when she finds out there is a sale at American Eagle.

Touchdown passesEli Manning +.5 over Tom Brady

Working within my prediction, I’ve got an extra touchdown to work with – 4-3, plus I get the hook. Let’s take a minute to remember something that we have all forgotten – Eli was the number one overall pick, while Brady was drafted during most teams piss break. Sure Brady has been great and most, if not all, male Patriots fans would fellatiate on command but take away the tuck rule game and I will post odds that Brady is bagging groceries right now at even money! Eli is a blue blood, man!

Most Rushing YardsDanny Woodhead +10.5 over Brandon Jacobs

I suppose I could hedge this bet with Jacobs over 30.5 but why throw money way when I think Woodhead is going over 23.5 and Jacobs isn’t.

Most Receiving YardsMario Manningham -5.5 over Deion Branch

So, you give me the #3 target for the Giants over the fifth option for the Patriots and I only have to lay 5.5 yards? OhhhKay! Plus, I am pretty sure that Ramses Barden won’t be covering Branch at any point during this game. Yeah, that’s another shot at the reality that the Patriots rely on a guy who is listed as a wide receiver to cover other wide receivers.

Tom Brady +63.5 Passing Yards over 2/5/2012 Big Ten Team points

Have you seen the scores of the Big Ten games? 42-41, 50-49, 55-51. . . Ugly, really ugly. There are three games on Sunday – Michigan @ Michigan State, Minnesota @ Nebraska and Northwestern @ Illinois. The sum of posted totals for those games is 379, minus the 63.5 yields 315.5. Brady’s “total passing yards” prop is 320.5, so I get an extra five yards and the bonus that these three games might barely muster 100 each (or lower), in which case I will only need 240 or so from Brady. OhhhKay!

Enjoy the game and best of luck to each of you!

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!