Friday, January 15, 2010

NFL Playoffs: Week 2

Although we don’t have any cool stories for you about whom we caddied for this week at Bel Air Country Club, nor do we have any ‘nuggets’ regarding Tiger Woods, but at least we can pick NFL football winners.

7-2 ATS over the past three weeks, and 2-0 last week, including calling an out right winner with Baltimore, and you would’ve thought we could’ve gotten some free pub courtesy of 1067 The Fan’s Sports Junkies But as Papa Lurch told us, Bret Oliverio-the king of all anti-payola producers, gave Lurchy the Heisman to our request, and the ‘Yack’ got wacked.

Arizona +7 at New Orleans
The Saints have been struggling ever since Washington Post Live’s Ivan Carter made a Hurricane Katrina reference the week of the Redskins/Saints game.

Hurricane Ivan must’ve packed a punch with his words, or maybe he simply jinxed them, because the last 6 weeks for the team formerly rooted for by paper bag wearing, unintelligible drunks, has been a total nightmare.

Beginning with that game in Washington- in which the Saints were completely outplayed and somehow escaped with a victory, against arguably one of the worst teams in the league, things have gotten progressively worse. They followed that with a 3-point victory against an average Atlanta team. They then got their asses handed to them in prime time, at home against Dallas. Followed that monstrosity, with a home loss against the lowly Bucs, in a game in which the Saints starters all played, and finally lost at Carolina, in which the confidence needing starters rode the pine.

All told, the Saints lost three straight to end the regular season, 5 straight ATS, and have only covered twice in their last 10 games played. Not to mention they finished the last month of the season only scoring 22.5 per, after a season average that was in the upper thirties. Defensively-as much credit as the newly bloated defensive coordinator Gregg Williams gets, they were only ranked 25th overall.

Arizona and Kurt Warner have stepped up all year. Although they may have gotten complacent last week, as the fact is, they were up 24-7 at one point and 31-10 at another, most certainly coming out with guns a blazing- in what we believe could’ve been a rout had Larry Fitzgerald not coughed up the football, as Zona was about to apply the death grip to The Pack's throat.

The Cardinals to us seem to be able to turn it on and off at moment’s notice. And when the stakes are high, they usually come up aces. They were 6-2 on the road, including tough road wins at NYGiants and Chicago. They simply blistered Minnesota at home about a month ago, and Kurt Warner is just the man in these situations.

ATS, if you throw out the Week 17 game against Green Bay, in which Arizona rested most of their starters, they’ve covered 7 of 9 coming in. We like the value of getting a full touchdown and extra point- something you won’t get next week, even if the Saints were to pull this game out. Expect a replay of the GB/ARZ game from last week, and lay your money with Warner and 7. We’re not as high on this game if the line drops between now and kickoff, but we’re also not in the business of excuse making. Cardinals.

Dallas/Minnesota Over 45.5
Dallas has been tighter than a drum defensively. Over the last month, they’re only giving up an average of 10 points per contest, throwing two shutouts during that same time span. Over their last 10 games, they’ve only played in 2 overs. We’re playing the over here because of the due factor with the Cowboys, with regard to their totals, and the fact that they're drawing a pretty explosive team in this spot with Minnesota.

Minnesota is 8-0 at home this year. They are also scoring lights out when in the friendly confines of that dome. Take a look at Minnesota’s point totals- just in their last 4 home games; 35, 36, 30, and 44. Over the course of the season, they’re averaging almost 32 points scored in games played in the Metrodome. That’s pretty good.

Favre will get his, with his arsenal of talent, and Romo will answer, against a pass defense that was only ranked 19th.

Baltimore at Indy-6.5
We will acknowledge up front that we are simply picking this game based on a prediction we made three weeks ago, after Jim Caldwell and the Colts pulled their starters in a game they eventually lost. The Sportsyack War Room was a flutter with talk about how we’d hate to draw the Colts in the divisional round, following the public scrutiny they took.

We have not wavered on that ‘gut feeling’, and we still feel this game is going to be a class 1 boat race.

For starters, Baltimore’s bread and butter over the last two months of the season has been their run game. The Colts are only one of two teams to contain them to less than 100 yards rushing(98), in the 17-15 victory they had in Baltimore back in mid November.

We were somewhat impressed with the Ravens victory last weekend, although we did see it coming. New England was a pretender. This week Joe Flacco is going to have to throw the ball for more than 34 yards to beat Peyton Manning, and we’re not in the business of investing hard earned green on Joe Flacco, when the QB on the other side of the ball is Peyton Friggin Manning.

One other thing to dissect and think about with regard to this contest ATS, is that the Colts were 14-0 at one point. Fourteen and Oh. As in 14 wins, zero losses. They might’ve been 16-0 entering this contest, if they so chose to go for perfection. But they were 14-0. Did we tell you that this team was 14-0 at one point?

Baltimore snuck into the playoffs at 9-7, be it a much harder schedule, but nevertheless, 9-7. Our value minds at work here, and you’re telling us that we can get Peyton Manning at home, with a team who was 14-0, laying less than a touchdown and extra point, against a team who entered the playoffs by the skin of their teeth at 9-7?

Where’s the nearest McDonalds drive thru, because we’d like to super size this meal? Colts will answer all of their critics’ questions soundly.

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