Thursday, January 19, 2012

Handicapping the Championship Games

Through the first two rounds I went 5-3 in the Wild Card games and 5-3 in the Divisional Round games, so at least I'm consistent.

I'm actually 7-1 ATS, I've just been horribly wrong (3-5 record) when betting against the Over/Under, which is why I've only won three parlays out of eight bets.  This is on MyBookie not real, actual money.  Gambling is illegal, dontcha know.

On to the picks.  Home team in CAPS...

NEW ENGLAND (-7) over Hated Ravens:

When this line opened at 7.5, I was decided that I was going to take Baltimore and not look back.  My thinking was that the Patriots weren't going to win this game by more than a touchdown.  Then it dropped to 7.  Now, if New England wins by a touchdown, it's a push.  I'd rather take a loss than a push because I'm an idiot, so I'm now prepared to go big or go home.

I originally predicted that the hated Ravens were going to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVI, even going so far as to state that they could beat the Patriots in Foxborough.  Time and sanity have made me reconsider that position.

Baltimore doesn't have the personnel to match up against Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, though I think their cornerbacks are physical enough to at least slow Wes Welker down.  I don't think they can get consistent pressure on Tom Brady with just four guys -- they weren't able to against Houston and Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil weren't able to get to Brady in the Denver game -- which means he'll have enough time to scan the field and throw the ball to the tight end that's most open.  New England has gotten better at protecting the football as the season has progressed and the hated Ravens will need to force at least three turnovers to win this game.

I am also taking the over.  That's a pretty bold move, considering Baltimore has a great defense and the total points is 50.  I think that the hated Ravens -- especially Ray Rice catching balls out of the backfield -- will be able to score points on this craptastic Patriots defense, but I don't think they'll be able to do enough. 

This Baltimore team isn't built to win shoot-outs and I think that's what this game will turn into.  New England is built to win shoot-outs and that's exactly what they want this game to turn into.  They're at home, they're playing well, they're feeling confident, and they're just far enough removed from their last Super Bowl appearance (and disappointment) to be hungry to return.

On top of that, they've won nine straight and only fail to cover a total points of 50 in one of those games (34-3 win over Kansas City where they took their foot off the gas).  They're also 6-1-2 against a seven point spread in their last nine.

SAN FRANCISCO (-2.5) over NY Giants:

This opened at 49ers by 2.5 with an O/U of 42 and it hasn't moved.  I think it's just right.  Either you believe the Niners will cover or the Giants will win.  Either you think it's going to be a fairly high scoring game or you think it's going to be a snooze fest.  I happen to think San Francisco wins by at least a field goal and I'm taking the Over.

I picked against New York twice already this postseason and I was wrong twice.  The first time I overvalued the Falcons and the second time they were playing the freaking Packers.  I'll admit that I'm not as sold on the Giants as the rest of the world.  I'll admit that I'm probably too enamored with the 49ers.  I know that New York is playing better football than they were in November (when they lost at San Francisco 27-20).

Here's the thing: The 49ers are also playing better football than they were in November.  They've proved they can put up points.  They've proved they can win shoot-outs in pressure situations (like they did against the Saints last week).  Alex Smith has shown that he can carry this team -- for brief periods of time -- if need be.  They also force a lot of turnovers, run the ball well, and stop the run on defense.  They can get to the quarterback and they can play man or zone.  This is a very versatile team and I think they're good enough to beat the streaking Giants.

Also, I watched that game in November.  The final score is misleading.  San Francisco controlled the game on both sides of the ball, but entered the fourth quarter trailing 13-12.  If they dominate the Giants like they did in the regular season, then they'll be the ones in the lead heading into the final quarter. 

Even if the defense unravels like they did against the Saints, the offense has shown that it can keep up and score points late in games.  As much as I'd love to see another Giants-Patriots Super Bowl (with Eli Manning again shattering Tom Brady's dreams), I don't see it happening. 


  1. I can see the 49ers winning as I can also see th Patriots winning. However this Ravens team has swept a division that sent 3 teams to the playoffs and undefeated against teams with winning records this year, while the Patriots have yet to beat a team with a winning record. I think the Ravens do have the personnel to slow down the Patriots O. Looking at last week we put pressure on Yates it just doesn't show in the stats as far as sacks. Ravens win 24-20

  2. Well, dude, I was wrong. Doesn't make the loss any less heartbreaking for you. Hope you're doing OK.

  3. Yeah disappointed but what'cha gonna do. I was happy to see Flacco play like he did. As it was all season I was our recievers didn't drop so many passes. Never thought Cundiff would miss a chip shot. Oh well, time to get ready for next season.