Saturday, January 21, 2012

NFL Playoffs Week 3: Chalk Sunday

Baltimore at New England(-7)
Much of the general public, it seems, thinks the Ravens and the points are the way to go. We, on the otherhand, have looked at many angles handicapping this game, and we disagree.

For one, we think the talking point that "the Patriots defense is awful!" has become almost cliche, and its clouding people's judgement with regard to handicapping this game. Statistically, the Patriots finished 31st in the league, next to DFL. However....

Take a look at what New England did this year against the league's best offenses. The best 5 offenses they played this year were Philly (4th), San Diego (6th), NY Giants (8th), Oakland (9th), and Dallas (11th). In these games, the Patriots went 4-1 SU, and 3-2 ATS. And in the 4 games they won SU, their average margin of victory was 12 points.

Secondly, all this talk about how the Patriots haven't beaten anyone with a winning record. The "they haven't beaten anybody!" angle is my least favorite betting angle in any game I handicap. Bottomline, the Patriots don't make the schedule, and they can't control the records of the teams they play. I do know this, they went 13-3 this year, and they've won 9 games in a row.

Which brings me to my next point.

The Patriots current 9 game win streak is one for the ages. Lets discuss. They've scored 30 points or more in 8 of those 9 wins. They've scored 40 points or more in 3 of them. In fact, their average point total per game, during this 9 game win streak is 37.3 points per!

"WHA-WHA-WHAT?!?!?!", says the lady on South Park....

And yes, Ravens fan/devil's advocate, we realize the league's 3rd best defense is coming to town this weekend, but the Patriots have answered that call too during this streak. They blew out the Jets in New Jersey (5th best D), they pollaxed Philly in Philly (8th best D), and killed KC at home (11th best D).

Lastly, ego. Or in layman's terms, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Its our feeling that Tom Brady is playing like a man possessed right now, and nothing is going to get in his way as he strives for his 4th Super Bowl ring. Case in point- his rushing TD in Denver a month ago, and his Gronk like spike that followed. It was almost him telling the world, "Tebow sucks, I'm still here, and not only do I bang hot Victoria's Secret models, but I'm about to tie up another one of my fingers with some bling, bitches!"

And as far as Belichick and ego goes, do I need to say much? He's the dick in the hoodie. He's Spygate. He's no handshake guy. Rumor has it, the diabolical bastard signed Pontius Pilate to a one game contract, prior to New England's game with Denver last week. Bottomline, he's a winner.

And he and his ego haven't forgotten about the 33-14 butt thumping they took at home at the hands of the Ravens, in the first week of the 2009 Playoffs. Brady hasn't forgot either. He turned the ball over 3 times in the 1st quarter of that game, the Ravens converted points on all 3, and that was all she wrote.

Baltimore enters this game following a poor showing at home against Houston. And don't kid yourself, Ravens fan, your offense and Joe Flacco looked putrid. They had almost as many punts (9) as they did first downs (11). They were gift wrapped 10 points early, and actually, over the final 46 minutes of the game, only scored 3 more points. Houston destroyed them statistically, and with 1:58 to go, a 3rd string Quarterback was moving the ball towards sending that game to overtime.

And unlike the Patriots 9 game torch fest, the Ravens enter this contest not exactly getting it done. In fact, they've only covered the number once in their last 5 games. And looky, looky here...Week 15, Baltimore's roadie in San Diego...

Baltimore goes to San Diego to face one of the league's best offenses (6th), and they got absolutely boat raced. The Chargers posted 34 points, 415 yards of total offense, of which 145 came on the ground. So spare me the, "but what will New England's offense do when the Ravens scary 3rd ranked defense comes to town?" argument.

We like New England and we like them a lot. And we like them to cover fairly easily. The Ravens are not built for catch up, and we also like the fact that Belichick and his ego continue to pass and put up points, generally speaking, until the final whistle blows. Joe Flacco versus Tom Brady. Really? Patriots 31 Ravens 16.

New York Giants at San Francisco (-2)
We won't be as long winded here. The 49ers, in our humble 65% win percentage ATS for the year documented record, (clear throat sound) are the most well rounded team left of the 4 remaining teams. They run the ball well (Top 10), they play great defense (Top 5), and they create turnovers (1st). They were tied with the Packers for most turnovers created, but they stand alone at the Top in the all important +/- category, at (+28).

Like the Patriots, we feel Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers are on a mission, and that mission begins with the all important fact that they believe in themselves. And what a job this guy has done- taking a 6-10 team, and a Quarterback that virtually nobody believed in, and transforming them into a 13-3 monster. A monster who just took down what was arguably the hottest team going into the post season.

The Giants get props for the dismantling that was last week's win at Lambeau Field. The facts are, if Bill Leavy wasn't a horses' ass of a referee, the final score of that game could've been 37-13, but I digress into the NFL and their elephant in the room. (this year's officiating and the helmet to helmet rules that have and are ruining the game)

The Giants were 5:41 away from not even playing today. Yeah, Giants fan, lets go back to just over a month ago, when you pulled a rabbit out of your ass down in Dallas. I think its important to note this, as the general public has got all caught up in the recency effect of what NYG has done since week 17. They have played 3 straight games in which they dominated their opponent- Dallas, Atlanta, and last week in Green Bay, but slow down, Johnny.

The Giants did pull off a miracle in Dallas, and could easily be teeing it up right now with Tony Romo and Tiger Woods (Johnny: But if Dallas would've won, Yack, Romo would be playing this weekend. Me: No they wouldn't, dummy, as Romo would've figured out a way to lose to the Pack). They then followed that up by getting kicked in the teeth at home by the 5-11 Washington Redskins, not impressive. And lets not forget, they didn't get into the playoffs until the final game of the year, in a division that wasn't exactly stellar.

Lastly, you can't continue to win on the road in January. And I realize that they've only won once this year in that spot, last week in Green Bay. But I think the 2007-2008 campaign has crept into the mindset of general public gambler Johnny, and it seems to have become a foregone conclusion that they'll win on the road. That sheeot just doesn't continue to fly in the NFL folks, and its our belief that comes to an end today.

The 49ers already took care of business at home against NYG earlier this year, 27-20. And speaking of taking care of business at home, the before mentioned Alex Smith is now 17-1 ATS in his last 18 home games. That's a bit staggering. Lastly, the G-Men are a not so great 5-12 ATS in their last 17 on natural grass. Don't expect the (predicted) rainy/wet weather to pad that number.

Belichick will have another date with a Harbaugh brother, two weeks from now in Indianapolis. 24-19 49ers.

Last Week 0-4 ATS
YTD 41-22-4 ATS

Graves and Yack (minus Judge Patrick) got together Monday night for some Sportsyack Radio segments. Listen to what we had to say about these games here:

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