Friday, January 6, 2012

Hater J's NFC Picks

Like any other major American sport, the NFL playoffs provide men of all ages an excuse to yell at each other, drink tons of beer with our buddies while completely ignoring our significant others , act like we know something after four months of participating in Pick ‘Em Pools and Fantasy Leagues, and of course gamble. With that, here go my picks, thoughts, and probable wagers for this weekend, and an open invitation for Bottle to take his Tom Brady man love to new heights, M@d to make a weird reverse jinx pick, and Mr. D/Snoot/Bagels to figure out a different way we can all lose some money.

I’ll start with the NFC Picks.

Giants (- 3)
This team wouldn’t surprise anyone if they won the whole thing or lost on Sunday. Giants fans have seen them beat Brady, in Foxboro, on a 4th Quarter comeback. However, we have also seen them lose to Rex Grossman…twice.
They’re finally getting healthy, Eli is Manning is playing at the highest level of his career (that includes the Super Bowl run), the run game seems to have found balance, and with the emergence of Victor Cruz, people seem to have forgotten that Hakeem Nicks is a threat to go for six receptions and 100 yards on any given Sunday. The Giants secondary leaves a bunch to be desired, but as they showed this past Sunday, their front four is finally healthy and very capable of getting pressure. The Falcons have deep threats in White and Jones, but Matt Ryan tends to hold the ball for a bit (primed for a sack or three), has struggled on the road throughout his career, and doesn’t look so pretty in the playoffs either.
All of that said, the Giants can still lose this game in an all too familiar fashion. Giants fans across the world can envision a team that comes out flat, allows a 60 yard TD to Jones/White, have a quiet stadium, making a fluky play to get back in it, only to lose and break our hearts again.

Super Bowl Odds:
Atlanta (40/1) - I can’t see the Falcons beating the Packers/49ers/Saints/AFC that plays in the Super Bowl.
Giants (20/1) – They can play with any of the AFC teams. Their road to the Super Bowl would be Atlanta, at Green Bay (or San Fran, should the Saints lose to the Lions), then at San Fran (or at home against the Lions, should they make it that far). Those all sound like winnable games to me. Not that they’d be favored to win those, but all winnable.

Lions (+10.5)
Two dome teams built for speed and offense. None of them can stop anyone. The Saints are the better coached of the two (Sean Payton vs Jim Schwartz is a no contest) but the Lions have nothing to lose and the Saints have all the expectations in the world.

These two teams played to the tune of a 31-17 New Orleans win in a game that opened with the Saints up 17-0. Detroit is very good and accustomed to scoring late. I don’t expect them to win, but they should be able to compete. At the very least this Detroit team is good for some garbage time TD’s to make this close and get you your cover.

Super Bowl Odds:
Lions (50/1) – This young team does not play defense and is very raw. They may be able to be capable of winning a sloppy shoot out, but I can’t see them going very far.

Saints (9/2) – They’ve become a popular pick. Those odds suck for the risk you’re taking though. They have NEVER won a road playoff game. They would have to go out west after this track meet to play a 49ers team that can slow the game with their run/short passing game, and make things tough with their front seven. Then they would have to Green Bay (or host New York) where either team can give them a headache. Through the season, the Saints have only played 5 outdoor games with a loss to Green Bay and Tampa, and narrow wins over Jacksonville, Carolina, and Tennessee. That’s scary…

The BYE Weeks

Packers (8/5) – Pretty crap odds for a team with a banged up front line, a pretty ugly defense, and no real run game to speak of. I still like the Packers to win the whole thing. Having one of the largest home field advantages in all of sports along with the best QB in football with a number of weapons at his disposal will help mask their flaws, but there is no value in betting on them.

49ers (12/1) – They play great defense, they run the ball well, Alex Smith had only 5 picks in their ball control offense, they’re well coached, they have a bye, and they have a home game. What I don’t like about this team is that they’ll be playing against an offense (Green Bay/New Orleans/New York) that can score points and they may get behind by 7-10 points early. I don’t know that Smith can be trusted to bring a team back from that.

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