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January 18, 2008

NFL Scorecard - Round 3 Predictions

Naturally, the only game I got wrong last week was the only one that I had any rooting interest in. I had the Colts in my playoff pool. And while I did not want to see them win the title again, we go against the spread, so there was hope for me to have my cake and eat it too. Instead, Billy Volek and Co. ruined the party, knocking off a surprisingly sloppy Indianapolis team off at home. If Tony Dungy retires, does he reputation go back to choking in the playoffs, or is his 9-9 record tempered by the fact he went 4-0 last year to win it all?

In other news, I may be the only person outside of Boston rooting for the Patriots at this point. Everybody is rising up against them, it seems. I'm not sure why. Sure, there's SpyGate, and their coach might be the biggest d-bag in the league, but aren't they fun to watch? I guess I'm just partial to history. I want them to go 19-0; I wanted Brady to get to 50 TD passes. It's just more fun that way. I was rooting for Manning to break Marino's record a few years ago and I don't even like him or the Colts. And of course, I've always had a special place in my heart for Randy Moss since he helped me win my fantasy football championship his rookie year.

Back in the NFC, I'm sure there are a lot of storylines to be had, but I'm not overly interested. Sure, everybody's favorite quarterback, Brett Favre, is a win away from returning to the Super Bowl. I guess I'm fine with that. I've heard some people say that they want the Packers to win because then the Bears can say they beat the world champs twice. Uh, I don't think that gets engraved on the trophy.

So with that, we move on to my picks. Based on the first two rounds, the worst I can do is go .500 for the playoffs, as I'm 3 games up with 3 to go. Obviously, I'm shooting for a little better than that. Last week, I thought all of those were easy picks. This week, I'm not so sure.

New England (-14) vs San Diego - I did well picking against the Patriots last week, as they've had their fair share of close games, and if anybody has the overall talent to hang close, it'd be the Chargers. But I still believe that Norv Turner is Norv Turner, and the Chargers just appear to be too banged up. If Tomlinson is limited, and Gates is limited, and Billy Volek is prominently involved, I'm worried for the Chargers. They managed to get by Indy, but can they do it two weeks in a row? Even if Philip Rivers plays, I don't feel comfortable picking him to cover for two straight playoff road games. They Chargers may have come together this season, but there were still plenty of ugly road games scattered among the victories. On the flip side, the Patriots offensive line will have to keep the pressure off of Brady, which they've managed to do all season. I think you'll see something similar to the Jaguars game from last week... it'll be close to start, but the Patriots will pull away as they start to find the holes in the Chargers' defense. Then a turnover or two at the end will make it seems the Patriots dominated more than they really did.

New York Giants (+7) at Green Bay - The game in Green Bay last week looked like two different games. The footage they showed from the opening kickoff compared to the footage from the 4th quarter reminded everybody how quickly the weather can change, and how easily it can affect a game. The Seahawks were not prepared for that matchup, as their running back has become a shell of his former self, leaving Hasselbeck to try to carry his team through that snowstorm. It's supposed to be cold yet again, and the wind could play a role, but the Giants are better constructed to compete in those elements than the Seahawks ever were. With their collection of running backs, the Giants should be able to control the game better than Seattle, looking to keep Favre and his assortment of weapons off the field. Of course, when Favre does find the field, I think he'll find plenty of holes in that New York secondary. I'm expecting a competitive, close contest. I still believe the Packers will win, but not by seven. This has a 4-5 point feel to me.

Last Week: 3-1
Playoffs: 5-2-1
Overall: 126-124-14

January 11, 2008

NFL Scorecard - Round 2 Predictions

When I first decided to start this blog, I figured it'd take me a little while to get into the habit of writing consistently, but eventually, I'd get to the point where I'd branch off into plenty of topics across a variety of sports, writing something every few days. And to some degree, that happened, just not officially. I didn't realize how easily it is for other things to get in the way. I knew work would continue to be work, but grad school applications have really limited the amount of time I've been able to commit to this page. And because of that, I have several half-started posts, ranging from the Cubs rise and inevitable collapse, the White Sox rise-free collapse, the resurgence of the Blackhawks, the implosion of the Bears and Bulls... Actually, looking back at it, it's probably better that I didn't write about all of that, because then I would have been even more depressed than I am from simply looking at my NFL picks...

Why am I sharing this now? Well, because with the number of games ever-reducing, it doesn't take me as long to make my football picks, meaning that I have more time - and more room - for other, random topics. And for this post, the topic is my lack of posts. I'm hoping as things wind down for me, I can start taking more time to just write for the shear pleasure of writing, instead of all these ancillary things I've been working on. Ah, to just focus on sports... what I life that would be.

Until that point, however, let's just get back to focusing on the NFL playoffs. Last week, I recovered slightly from my late-season collapse, only missing on the Giants. Not sure what I was thinking there. I even commented on how I didn't trust the Bucs... then went ahead and took the Bucs. This explains why I ended the season around .500.

This week, there are plenty of big spreads, as nothing is less than 7.5 points. This is supposed to be the round where the bye week helps, but that's a lot of points to be throwing around. Regardless, each game is making me think, so maybe Vegas knows what they're doing afterall...

Jacksonville (+13) at New England - I'm hearing more and more people falling in line behind the Jaguars as the team that can, and will, beat the Patriots. I still don't believe that's going to happen, as Jacksonville, even with David Garrard legs, can't maintain the firepower needed to roll with the Patriots. If the Willie Parker-less Steelers can score in bunches against this team, I'm wondering what the Patriots will do. So why am I going with the Jaguars to cover? Well, I've picked the Patriots nearly every week this season. It worked for the first 10 weeks or so, but the New England hasn't been covering these huge spreads of late. And you never know what the weather in Foxboro is going to be like either.

Indianapolis (-8.5) vs San Diego - Does anybody think that Peyton Manning has forgotten his 6-interception performance the last time the Colts met the Chargers? Neither do I. At home, in the playoffs, the Colts put the collective foot on the gas and roll right past the Chargers. Philip Rivers on the road in a playoff game... yeah, I'll lay the points.

Green Bay (-7.5) vs Seattle - At the beginning of the season, who would have predicted that the Packers were the team with the solid running game while the Seahawks would struggle. Shaun Alexander is a shell of his former self, and while I may be interested in this team next year (as I've seen Illini Rashard Mendenhall projected to Seattle in a couple mock drafts), I'm definitely not interested in them this season. Ryan Grant has the Packers rolling, and they should make it to the conference championship with ease.

New York Giants (+7.5) at Dallas - Is T.O. healthy? Is Romo focused? Those are the questions flying around before this game, but the real question is when two teams play for the 3rd time in a season, don't you expect it to be close? I mean, they pretty much know everything about each other at this point, don't they? It's not like if the Patriots played the Dolphins three time... these are two playoff teams going head-to-head. I see a close game for the right to play the Packers next week.

Last Week: 2-1-1
Overall: 123-123-14

January 04, 2008

NFL Scorecard - Round 1 Predictions

Well, that was slightly depressing... While I was in Pasadena watching my Illini get run over by USC (I swear, there was one moment where I thought we were coming back, but boy, did that escalate quickly...), my picks were getting similarly crushed in the final week of the regular season. I missed a couple games by that stupid half-point hook, dropping my overall season record to one game under .500. I was riding high after 14 weeks, only to come crashing down. Somewhere along the line, I must have flown too close to the sun...

But now, the playoffs are upon us, and depending how I do, I may or may not add this total to my previous record. Considering I didn't watch much football last week, I'm wondering how much that will affect my view of some of these teams, but fortunately, most teams decided to take the week off as well, so hopefully I didn't miss much.

In other news, my fantasy seasons both ended with disappointments. But the guy I drafted for using the default Yahoo list won the title, so that's fantastic... I did however win my confidence pool, which means I either work with equally inept prognosticators or I can at least pick winners, just not against the spread.

Seattle (-3.5) vs Washington - I realize that the Redskins are hot, but this is still Todd Collins we're talking about. I mean, there's a reason he wasn't a starter for ten years, right? Now he's in a hostile environment in the playoffs? True, the Redskins are a great story at this point, with everything that they've been through, but when you get down to football, Seattle is still the better team, and should take this one at home.

Jacksonville (-2) at Pittsburgh - The Jaguars dominated the Steelers in their last matchup, which sort of caught everybody off-guard. They won't be able to surprise this time, but their defense is solid and the one-two punch of Taylor and Jones-Drew can grind it out through the suddenly vulnerable Steelers defense. Willie Parker is out, which puts a lot of pressure on Najeh Davenport and Roethlisberger. Big Ben has been in this position before, but while I like Davenport, I don't think he can carry this team past the Jaguars.

Tampa Bay (-3) vs New York Giants - I still can't believe that the Bucs are hosting a playoff game. Who saw that coming? Oh well, it is what it is, and I think it'll be the difference in this game. The Giants, who valiantly played their starters for the entire game against the Patriots, are bound to suffer an emotional letdown this week. It's almost as if they knew that their only chance at greatness this season was knocking off the Patriots. Well, that didn't work, so now what? I'm thinking the offseason...

San Diego (-9) vs Tennessee - Well, this is why Norv Turner is here, right... to get the Chargers deeper into the playoffs than Marty Schottenheimer. That's a slightly scary thought, but they shouldn't have any problems with the Titans, who will either have an achy Vince Young or a Kerry Collins-esque Kerry Collins under center. After a slow start, the Chargers have started to put it together, finishing with an impressive 11-5 record against the spread. I see no reason they won't add to that this week.

Last Week: 5-10-1
Overall: 121-122-13