Implied Dissent

Sunday, January 09, 2011

NFL Playoffs

I know I'm posting this a day late, but you'll see by my performance in Saturday's picks that I'm obviously not lying about what I thought going into both games.

First a review of previous years:
2010: 5-6 picking the winner, 4-7 against the spread
2009: 7-4, 6-4-1
2008: 6-5, 3-7-1
2007: 7-4, 6-5
2006: 5-6, 5-6
2005: 8-3, 7-4
2004: 5-6, 2-8-1
2003: 8-3, 4-7
Totals: 51-37 picking winners (58%), 37-48-3 against the spread (44%). Impressive, right?

Onto the Round 1 games:
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks, Saints favored by 10.5. I figured the Seahawks could win this game by winning the turnover battle (an ongoing issue for both teams), and by having the Saints over blitz and Hasselbeck beating the blitz; the Saints would win in almost any other scenario. Well, I was right about the blitz part of that, they did it too much and the Seahawks made them pay for it, but it turns out they didn't need to win the TO battle (it was even). A highly entertaining game, as it looked like the Saints would run away with it early, Seattle has a great stretch to go up by 14, the Saints come back and it looks like Seattle is done for (even with lead), and then one of the worst onside kicks I've ever seen pretty much seals it. I had it pegged at Saints 30-20, with about a 40% chance of Saints covering, and a 20% chance of Seattle winning; it was Seahawks 41-36. So that's one against the spread, but (like everyone I'm sure) I got the winner wrong. My only complaint about the game is that it makes it less likely that the NFL will institute a rule requiring teams to have a winning (or at least non-losing) record to make the playoffs.

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts, Colts favored by 2.5. I had a hard time decided which team to root for. In the end, I figure the Jets are less of a threat to the Pats, and I wanted to see Manning lose points in the Brady rivalry, so rooted for the Colts to lose. Anyway, my pick was largely based on the history of Peyton Manning and Rex Ryan matching up, with Manning winning 5 times, and Rex's only victory coming when Peyton only played about half the game. I also figured neither team would be able to mount much of a comeback, as a lead would allow Manning to leisurely pick apart the Jets D, while a Jets lead would force the Colts to commit to defending the run and they aren't good/deep enough right now to do that and also do a decent job against the pass. Colts 23, Jets 17 was the call; got the Jets 17 right, but Colts only managed 16, so hurray for the Colts losing, but I got it wrong both ways.

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs, Ravens favored by 3. The Chiefs are a decent team, but they also benefited from a pretty easy schedule; I don't see any quality wins looking over their 16 games. There's some question also about Charlie Weis about how committed he is to the team now that he's leaving; dissension in the coaching ranks is never a good thing. They do have a significant home field advantage, and Jamaal Charles is kind of ridiculous, avering 6.4 yards per carry. However, I think highly of the Ravens, and expect that they'll be able to go in there and out-physical them and push them around a bit. I doubt we'll see a blowout, but it'll probably appear to be a closer game in the final score than it actually turns out to be. Ravens 23, Chiefs 16.

Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles, Eagles favored by 2.5. I could see this game going almost any way, except for a low-scoring slugfest. Green Bay is probably the best team in the NFC, but I wouldn't give them a big edge over the Eagles, if both teams are at 100%. However, there's a good chance that Vick is hurt enough that it will affect his effectiveness. Like I said, it's unlikely this game will surprise, just because I'm prepared for so many outcomes, but I'll call it for GB. Packers 27, Eagles 24.

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