Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NFL Conference Picks

First things first: if you happen to be the kind of person who gambles on the outcome of football games (the horror!), there is no better place for your business, or more comprehensive source for Super Bowl Odds, than So let's get right to it, shall we?

Jets at COLTS (-7.5)

Something that the world seems to be missing in all of the runaway Jets Love: the Colts have not lost this year in a game where they played their starters. They will also, in this game, use the smartest QB in the game, who will negate CB Darelle Revis with quick reads away from his area. The Colts will also hand the ball to running backs that are not fossils, and if the road team comes in with four first downs in the first two quarters, they will trail by more than one play. Finally, one has to assume that a Jets opponent will eventually connect on a field goal. Oh for five is downright spooky, really, even in this year of Kicking Badly.

(Oh, and a side point for Theoretical Patriot Fan Who Stopped Watching All NFL Games After Ray Rice's first carry of the Ravens-Pats game. No one cares that this is your Nightmare Game since either your division rival or Tom Brady's superior is going to go to the Super Bowl, and that no one is tearing Brad Childress a similar spare orifice to what they did to Coach Belicheat for running up the score on the Cowboys. That's because running up the score on the Cowboys is something that America approves of, and we all hate you and your team much more than you care about it. Moving on.)

The smart money is, we are told, taking the points and counting on the Jets to cover, if not win. That kind of thing goes against my grain because if I'm going to take a road dog, I've got to think that, on some level, they have a real shot at winning this game... and try as I might,. I just can't see the Jets getting there. They aren't facing a breathtaking choke artist coach, in an open air grass stadium, and a QB that for all of his good moments, has never gotten to a Super Bowl. They also have been getting good and lucky (Revis's pinball pick off the receiver's leg and the five missed field goals being the tip of the iceberg), and while RBs Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene are good and well-served by the best offensive line in football... well, that's just not how this era of football is played.

Can the Jets cover? Of course. Colts QB Peyton Manning likes to work out long drives, and the Colts are not world-beaters at stopping the run; both of those factors point to a tight game and relatively low score. The Jet defense is better than any still playing in the league, and their special teams don't seem to be giving up field position, let alone turnovers. PK Jay Feely may be the only one of his kind in the playoffs to not disgrace himself.

But there's also this: for the first time in these playoffs, the Jets are not going to be free and easy, because being 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl will have that effect on a man. I think it translates into a first half turnover, some overly heroic defensive gambles that Manning will pick apart, and a significant early Colts lead that will lead the Jet brain trust to try something more demanding than the body blow running shots that eventually take down the man. Against Manning, in his house with his complement of weapons (and don't forget that TE Antonio Gates had good numbers against Gang Green last week, and that TE Dallas Clark might just be better than him, at least in the hands department)... they are going to have to swing harder and higher.

And when they do, turnovers will follow, and defeat.

Colts 27, Jets 17

Vikings at SAINTS (-4.5)

On the merits and on the lines, this is a high line. And if this was your Super Bowl matchup, on a neutral field, I'd be very tempted to go with the road dog. But it just ain't that way. Consider, if you will, the Vikings last three games on the road this year, all of which were important to them, and all of which saw them play their starters:

Week 13 at Arizona: 30-17 Cardinals

Week 15 at Carolina: 26-7 Panthers

Week 16 at Chicago: 36-30 Bears

Of the four Viking road wins this year, three were against Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis; only the Green Bay win, against a Packer OL that at the time was a transvestite short of a MASH unit, was the only game of quality. Now take that record and put it in the loudest home dome in the league, against a fan base that has never been to these heights before. You like those odds? I don't.

The Vikings do have a theoretical advantage in putting RB Adrian Peterson against the poor Saints run defense, but Peterson hasn't done that much against anyone for far too long now, due to the struggles of his offensive line. If you can get him the ball in space -- and note that they have been trying to do more of that, despite the strong production of third-down back Chester Taylor -- he's still the same old ball of terror, but three times out of four with this line right now, he's taking contact in the backfield. And there isn't a RB alive that looks all that good when he does that.

I'm looking for the Saints to score early, with Coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees using their big brains and ridiculous accuracy to find a mismatch or six. Maybe it's TE Jeremy Shockey against one of the poor Viking safeties. Or WR Lance Moore against a nickel back, or WR Marques Colston on possession routes, or WR Devery Henderson with the long ball, or RB Reggie Bush looking like his old college self.

But the biggest issue is that if Vikings coach Brad Childress has to play from behind, or QB Brett Favre for that matter, I'm not loving their chances for the comeback. For all of Favre's records and history, big comebacks are not part of the repertoire; when it goes bad for him, it goes very bad indeed. Somewhere in that purple uniform is the guy that has thrown 317 career picks, and against a Saints secondary that looked good and ballhawky last week against the Cardinals, that number will grow.

Note also that the Vikings have poor special teams coverage units, and Bush might just do them again. He has in the past. Finally, if DE Ray Edwards remains sidelined or limited, the Viking pass rush will not get to Brees often enough. Don't believe the hype about DE Jared Allen; he can be contained, and will be in this game.

Saints 34, Vikings 27

Last week: 1-3

Year to date: 124-133-6


poker affiliate said...

Every prediction I have seen predicts a double-digit victory by the Colts and then a 7 point or less victory by the Saints. The experts have been wrong about the majority of the games to this point. Who thought the Vikings were gonna win by 31 points last week or the Jets would beat the Chargers?

LDUTheCoach said...

The majority of people are taking the Colts to kill the Jets this week but you have to consider how well New York matches up against Indy. Indy has the worst running game in the league, and is ALL Peyton. The Jets have the #1 pass-defence and if they can put the clamps on Peyton early… it could very well be a Jets win. TheCoach isn’t calling a J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS win but they will cover the spread. I know Indy shut down Baltimore’s running game last week but the Jets strive on being quick and elusive.. something Ray Rice isn’t…

Minnesota and New Orleans is going to be such a good game. I was hoping all season long these two would meet up in the NFC Championship and honestly.. either team could team this game. The Saints are -3.0 favourites and historically home team get given three points for the home-field advantage… so basically this game is a pick-em and there is ONE thing that I like about the Saints and its that home-field advantage. Last week Warner and Romo combined for 7 sacks and 4 fumbles largely in part to not being able to communicate with their offence. The SuperDome is NUTS and I don’t care how much experience Favre has, the crowd can help a team and also hurt the other so much.

Feel free to check out my picks with scores (and of course cheerleader pictures) @

Best of luck to all this week,

DMtShooter said...

Ray Rice isn't quick or elusive? Really?

If you want to make the point of the Jets being able to run on Indy, it's a reasonable point -- but it would be from Mssrs. Woody, Mangold and Faneca being better than Oher and Co., not the backs.

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