Friday, January 09, 2009

NFL Playoff Picks -- Week 2

I freely admit it -- I used to be Waffles.

Not literally, much to everyone's chagrin. But with the way I picked sporting events. You could fade my picks in just about any sport and make a pretty consistent profit doing so. But not lately. Over the past year or so, I have had a much better run at picking sports than at any other time in my life. Historically I have been so bad at this that I am quite sure it's only a matter of time before I return to the mean and post some really awful sports picks, but until that happens I'm gonna keep on keepin on and post my picks for the four NFL playoff games this coming weekend.

First, at 4:30pm ET on Saturday, the defense-heavy Ravens travel to the NFL's overall #1 seeded Tennessee Titans. The Titans are favored by 3 points, and I like the Ravens. 3 points is a small line for sure, but frankly I don't see Tennessee winning by a big margin at all, and there is a substantial likelihood IMO of the Ravens winning this game outright. With the addition of the three points, I really like the Ravens in this game.

The 8:15pm ET game on Saturday pits the NFL offense-leading Arizona Cardinals at the well-balanced Carolina Panthers, and this comes down as the only true expected blowout of the weekend. Right now the line stands at Carolina -10 points, and I understand that a lot of people are tempted to take the Cards and the points, especially given how they've been able to run up the score on most teams they've played this year. But I'm not one of those people. I like the Cardinals and have a lot of faith in what they can do on the offensive side of the ball. But the Panthers have a deceptively strong defense, one I expect to be able to hold the Cards at least somewhat in check. And the Panthers offense, playing at home where the team is 8-0 this season, should be able to plow through the Cardinals' relatively weak defensive front, with the potential for another big game out of Carolina runningback DeAngelo Williams. While I don't love giving the 10 points, I lean towards Carolina in this one, as they ought to win the game by double digits. Anquan Boldin of the Cardinals is also questionable to play in the game after straining a hammy last weekend, so that only helps my thought that the Panthers will cover.

On Sunday, the big game of the weekend will see my Eagles travel to New Jersey to play the defending superbowl champion New York Giants at 1pm ET in a rematch of last month when the Eagles went into Giants stadium and beat up on Eli Manning et al. This turns out to be the only playoff game this weekend where the line moved more than half a point from where it opened, as this line opened at Giants -5 and is now down to Giants -4. So people are liking the Eagles' chances here. I actually think the Giants win this game, as they are the superior team, they are at home, and the thought of the Eagles winning two huge games at New York in the same season is unheard of to me. That said, even giving 4 points I think the Eagles are the better side of this bet. The Philly D is perhaps the hottest in football right now, and ever since getting benched in a drubbing by the Ravens in mid-November, Donovan McNabb has been playing brilliant quarterback for the Eagles. I continue to like the Giants straight-up in this game, but I'll take my chances on the Eagles plus 4 points. A last-second field goal wouldn't shock me in the least if that's what ends up deciding this game between two geographically close, totally hateful rivals.

The last game of the weekend will see the upstart Chargers travel to Pittsburgh at 4:45pm ET. The Chargers are arguably the hottest overall team in the league, winning their last five games including crushing the Broncos in Week 17 in what was for all intents and purposes a playoff game for both teams, and then coming from behind to beat the Colts in OT in the wildcard round last weekend as well. And the Steelers are reeling a little bit after their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a concussion near the end of their Week 17 game. That said, Ben Roth says he is ready to go, and the one aspect of the Steelers that simply cannot be overlooked is their absolutely overpowering defense. Troy Polamalu has had "superbowl MVP" written all over him since about the midpoint of the regular season the way I see it, and I just cannot see the Chargers stepping up enough to win this game. The line is really pushing it at Steelers minus 6 points, but I saw enough of Phillip Rivers over the past two weeks to say that, while he is an obvious young talent in the league, he also makes a lot of mistakes for a quarterback in a huge game. And I guarantee the Steelers defense will be there to make him pay for those mistakes, far more than Indy or Denver or any other team the Chargers have faced this year. I'll take Pittsburgh and give the 6 in another close one.

Have a great weekend everyone. If your team is in it, I hope they win. Except if you like the Giants, then I hope you and they break their legs.

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Blogger Gargamello said...

I'm a Vegas resident and I'm taking the other side in 3 of the 4 games you call.

I think the Giants are far better than the Eagles - how are the Eagles going to win if they can't score consistently? I think your team allegiance is clouding your judgement there.

The Titans are a much better overall team than the Ravens and they will win by at least a touchdown, getting 3 points is not enough. The Titans took it easy the last couple games of the season because they were inconsequential. They weren't even really trying. This weekend they will bring their A game.

I like the points on the Cardinals against the Panthers. Ten points is a lot to be giving up in any NFL game, especially in light of how the Cards manhandled the Falcons last weekend. The Panthers have not particularly impressed me this season, I think their offense and coaching is uninspired and if they're ahead by 7 points in the last ten minutes of the game they will sit on the ball.

I do like your Steelers over Chargers pick. The Chargers are sloppy and inconsistent and that could be a blowout.

All that said, everyone is free to pick a side and it is only a game, so good luck with your picks.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Riggstad said...

Far better? I think thats overstating it a bit.

From what I see the Giants have been winning with smoke and mirrors the last two years.

Because they have won, you gotta give them credit, but how they do it with Eli amazes me.

No doubt their running attack is better, and far more consistant, but the Eagles defense is playing with abandoned recklessness.

If they can keep Eli on his heels, and the running game in check, anything can happen. No matter what this certainly won't be a blow out.

I don't expect the Eagles to run away with it, nor do I expect them to win. But they certaily have more than their fair share of chances.

If they do win, it won't be because of luck or even the Giants giving it away. It wil be purely based on who wants it more.

12:32 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Drama bubble has already broken. You should have bet on that.

1:54 AM  

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