Sunday, January 20, 2013

Championship Sunday: Playing the "Home" Teams

San Francisco at Atlanta (+4.5)
Last weekend in the GB/SF game, I was so unsure of which way to lean that you'll recall I "flipped a coin". That game also proved to be the only game last weekend I hit ATS. Someone get me a quarter.

Speaking of flipping, if you read my brilliant piece on the difference between winners and losers in the NFL, you'll know that I wanted to jettison the Falcons from this post season party, following their embarrassing 4th quarter meltdown to Seattle. However, I never imagined the upstart Colin Kaepernick led 49ers would come into town as 4.5 point favorites. And after 6 days of thinking it through, and 7 days removed from what might've been the biggest choke job in NFL post season history (if Atlanta had lost), I just cannot help myself from jumping all over a 1 seed, catching 4 and a hook at home in the NFC Championship Game.

Short of the final 17 minutes and 11 seconds of last weekend's Divisional game, the Falcons did beat the piss out of Seattle. I'm not sure what part of that 27-7 lead with 2:11 to go in the 3rd that Vegas and the general public didn't see, because today's current line at one point, was all the way up to SF (-5). But in any case, the meltdown that was, that wasn't, that still kind of was, is absolutely influencing this number today.

As is Kid Kaepernick, and his dynamic performance last Saturday night against the Pack. 263 yards through the air, and 181 yards on the ground by the tattooed wonder. As big as my eyes are looking at this home dog catching points, I have to consider this kid and what he did to the Pack, and apply that to what happened to the Falcons last weekend, per the very similar Russell Wilson.

Last weekend's win against Seattle, regardless of how stressful it was, is going to be a big factor today with regard to how Atlanta and especially Matty Ice plays. I think getting that monkey off their back, coupled with what I feel is almost a free roll situation, by getting disrespected by the odds makers, is going to allow them to just go out there and play.

The disrespected Falcons are still 8-1 SU at home this year- again, with just that one loss coming in the final regular season (meaningless) tilt against Tampa. The Niners did post a winning (5-3) road record this year, but they were only 1-2 SU in domes. Also, the Niners are 0-4 ATS the last 4 games following a game in which they gave up 30 points or more. I'll take Matty Ice and his post season experience, especially since he's finally notched a 'W' in his belt, over the kid whose been elevated to Superman status pre-maturely in my opinion. And again, I just think there is entirely too much value here getting a 1 seed at home catching points. 24-19 Falcons.

Baltimore at New England (-8)
The limo ride is over for Ray-Ray and the Ray-vens. I obviously swung and missed on them last week, as I thought the Broncos were going to absolutely house what I thought was a very blah Ravens team in their win against Indy. But to their credit, they overcame two Special Teams touchdowns and a 7 point deficit late in the 4th quarter, and prevailed against the interception throwing/kneeling Peyton Manning.

Fast forward to this week, Raven fan, to a team who is going to force your hand and require you to score 30+ points in consecutive weeks. The reason being; New England is a scoring machine. The league leaders in points scored, have stayed true to form all season. In fact, over the last 8 weeks, they bettered their season average, and have scored 37 points/per.

Defensively, I also think New England has the advantage. Take a look at New England over the final month and a half of the season. Short of their home beat down they got from Frisco, they have been very stingy on defense. Even last week's game against Houston, they had held the Texans to just 13 points into the 4th quarter and quite frankly gave up garbage touchdowns late. Prior to that, New England yielded 0 points (Miami), 16 points (Jax), 14 points (Houston), 16 points (Miami) and 19 points (NYJets). 

And again, lets not forget about Baltimore's final 6 weeks of the regular season, which was nothing to write home about. They lost 4 of 5, and really should've been 5 of 6 if you consider the miracle win in San Diego. I just think the Patriots have too much fire power, and I think the Patriots' defense is entering this contest a little under the radar. In fact, I don't think Baltimore scores more than 17 points in this contest.

The Ravens are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 after scoring 30 points or more. New England has covered 4 of their last 5 at home. Not a good Sunday for the Harbaugh family. 39-16 Patriots.

Last Week                        1-3 ATS
Barking Dogs YTD      18-20 ATS
Totals YTD                   8-5-1 ATS

YTD                           45-43-2 ATS
Since 2010               120-84-9 ATS

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