Saturday, January 3, 2009

Wild Card Weekend

For my own amusement, I'll bankroll myself 100 Electros to wager on the NFL playoffs. The rules that I'm making up include a min $10/max $50 bet, and I have to pick every game. I'll use the lines from Yahoo, as they are listed first. The current lines:
Atlanta +1.5 @ Arizona; O/U 51
Indianapolis -1 @ San Diego; 49.5
Baltimore -3.5 @ Miami; 38
Philadelphia -3 @ Minnesota; 41
First off, amazing that all 4 road teams are favored. Can't imagine that happens with any frequency, indeed, if ever.
[edit -- miscopied the Atlanta-Arizona line. Course, since I picked Atlanta, going from giving 1.5 to getting 1.5 doesn't change my bet... although it does make my previous statement incorrect]
I'll take Atlanta over Arizona, for 25. 6 of Arizona's 9 victories were in their division, against opponents with a combined record of 13-35. Their only win over a playoff team was week 2 against Miami, and that Miami team is a far cry from what the Dolphins have turned into. Atlanta, on the other hand, is balanced on offense -- both RB Michael Turner and WR Roddy White were top 5 performers at their positions, and Matt Ryan is a solid QB. Atlanta has won 5 of their last 6, including a home victory over Carolina and road victories over the Chargers and Vikings. I don't think this game will be close.

Nor, for that matter, do I think the Indianapolis game will be all that close, so I'll take 40 bits on the Colts. They've won 9 in a row, and have looked good doing it. They have the best QB (Manning) and coach (Dungy) in the AFC playoffs and are my pick to reach the Super Bowl. Also note that the Colts have largely gotten healthier as the season has gone on, while both Tomlinson and Gates are game-time decisions for the Chargers. The San Diego defense that knocked the Colts out last year is a shadow of its former self.

Baltimore at Miami is a tough one. All five of Baltimore's losses this year were against other playoff teams, while Miami has won 9 of its last 10. These teams met up in week 7 and the Ravens trounced the Fins, 27-13. I've always thought that Pennington is a damn good QB, and I think his ability to avoid INTs is a huge plus against an opportunistic Ravens D. But, Miami's schedule was very soft this year, and they haven't faced many teams that run as well as the Ravens. I won't be surprised at all if Miami wins, so I'll kinda hedge my bet and only put 10 dineros on the Ravens.

I'm similarly confused by the Eagles-Vikings match-up, as both teams are quite capable of just absolutely sucking. Would you be surprised if Tavaras Jackson threw four INTs? Nope. Would you be surprised if Peterson ran for 200 yards and three scores? Nope. Likewise, McNabb can be brilliant or he can drill the ball into the ground 5 yards in front of his receiver on every play. Further, both coaches suck. My gut says there's a good chance this is an ugly game with a lot of three-and-outs, so I'll put 20 Scovells on the under.