A New Year Brings Opportunity and Week 1 of the NFL Playoffs
A new year should never be looked at as a bad thing. It should be seen as an opportunity. You can finally stop whining and crying about the ex-girlfriend who broke your heart because things could be looking up for you this year. You can make like the rest of America and start going to the gym as your New Year’s resolution to build a body that The Situation would be proud of. You can start planning a summer share or even jump on board with BroBible on Spring Break if you can’t wait till’ summer to see broads in bikinis. Hell, even Tiger Woods has four majors he can win to make everyone forget he raw-dogged an Applebees waitress in the janitor’s closet during her smoke break. (Although I’m not sure he can recover from a gay sex escapade.) Welcome to 2010.
As the NFL rolls into 2010, football fans get to enjoy one of the best months on the calendar. The playoffs present an opportunity as well. The last five years a team has advanced from the Wild Card round to the Super Bowl (Pittsburgh in ’04-05, Indianapolis in ’05-06, Pittsburgh in ’06-07, Giants in ’07-08, Cardinals in ’08-09). Usually those teams are playing well as the regular season is ending and they’re able to carry their momentum into the playoffs. This year shouldn’t be much different. The Saints and Vikings have shown major deficiencies in recent weeks, showing they’re no sure things in the NFC. While the Chargers continue to run people over like a Mack truck, the Colts have been known to come up short in the playoffs after resting players late in the season.
So who are the teams that could make things happen? The NFC is wide open. Either Dallas, Green Bay, or Philadelphia has a chance to make the Super Bowl with the way they’ve been playing recently. Sure, everyone’s gonna tell you that the Cardinals were at this same stationary state before the playoffs last year, but I’m not buying that’s going to happen two years in a row. The AFC seems like a simpler picture. The Colts and Chargers are the dominant forces, while all the other teams seem incredibly flawed. Before we get to this week’s picks, let’s take a look at the Super Bowl odds with some commentary:
- Indianapolis (+250): They’re likely going to have to go through the Chargers, a team they’ve historically struggled with.
- San Diego (+350): Their defense and running game still raises question marks for me. That’s how you win in the playoffs, right?
- New Orleans (+400): They haven’t played a quality game since beating New England. Bet this and be afraid.
- Minnesota (+600): Old man Favre is lucky he’ll play every game indoors.
- Dallas (+1200): Playing as well as any NFC team right now. Not a bad value play.
- New England (+1200): Only this high because of Brady and Bellichick. Their WR depth and defense will be exposed.
- Philadelphia (+2000): Had they beaten Dallas, they would’ve been the #2 seed, so don’t forget about them either.
- Green Bay (+2200): A nice thought, but realistically their defense is a lot of smoke and mirrors.
- Baltimore (+2500): Flacco hasn’t turned the corner enough to make you think he can lead them.
- Arizona (+2500): The defense is too banged up to give the offense any help.
- Cincinnati (+4000): They’ve lost three of their last four, so their price is justified.
- N.Y. Jets (+5000): Rex Ryan and the Jersey Sports Fan are the only ones that thinks they’re winning the Super Bowl.
Lock of the Week:
Green Bay (+1) over ARIZONA
Arizona has three major injuries on defense. Calais Campbell, Antrel Rolle, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are all banged up and even if they all play, none will be at 100%. Factor in that Anquan Boldin is typically injured as well, and the doctors in Arizona will be the busiest they’ve been since reconstructing Tiger Woods’ face. Green Bay has fixed their early season offensive line issues and will likely put the heat on Kurt Warner throughout the entire game. Warner’s living on borrowed time and he certainly doesn’t have the energy of Australian koalas. The Packers also have the best ATS record in the league this year at 11-4-1.
Rest of the Picks:
CINCINNATI (-2) over N.Y. Jets
I’ve read this book before. The Jets fans start to ride a wave of positive emotion and then get their hopes crushed. They dominated Cincinnati last week. Their coach is making wild declarations about his team’s ability. The fans are believing their team will crush the Bengals. It’s only a matter of time before the rug gets pulled out from under them. The bulletin board material is prepared for the Bengals. Also, are you really going to back Mark Sanchez on the road? Really? You’re telling me he’s not going have to make a couple big throws? I’m not buying it and neither should you. Sanchez will have plenty of time to find an offseason hottie who has better moves on the pole than this girl.
Philadelphia (+4) over DALLAS
I struggled with this pick because in reality I don’t want either team to win. The Eagles fans cried for respect and their team laid two eggs in a row against the number. All the NFL experts on TV are telling people that the Cowboys are a better team, but apparently the public doesn’t want to listen: 57% are backing the Eagles. Call me the sucker that’s falling on that side too, but I think this game is decided by three points or less.
NEW ENGLAND (-3.5) over Baltimore
People have a misguided idea of the Ravens. The perception is that they still have a dominant defense. The Ravens, however, have shown the ability to give up points this season. They gave up 27 to New England the first time they played, 33 to Minnesota, and 27 to Green Bay. What do all three of these games have in common? The Ravens were on the road in all these games. While Wes Welker’s injury will impact the Patriots’ ability to score, the Ravens are banged up enough in the secondary where Julian Edelman should be able to do enough. The Patriots are also 8-0 at home this year. “