Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NFL Playoffs: Championship Weekend Picks

With our beloved Green Bay Packers eliminated from the playoffs once again (two divisional round loss exits are crushing to deal with, even though there's 20 other franchises out there that will kill to go to the divisional round back to back years), we still have three more weekends of football to watch regardless. Unless you're the type of fan that doesn't watch football after the Packers lose, which would mean one of two things: You only like the Packers and don't really like football, or you are even a more bitter and troubled person than I am. Let's hope it's the former. For the 99.9 percent of us that will continue to watch the NFL regardless, it does fall under slightly different circumstances when you don't have a horse in the race. I've made sure that this will never happen again by joining an annual playoff fantasy football league (that's when you know you're a diehard, when you're cursing Shane Veeren because those touchdowns would have gone to Danny Woodhead if he didn't get injured) but I also get into laying a wager two down on the playoff matchups. 

Check out my predictions from last weekend, predictions that make me ready to play on the top US Casinos. I predicted that the Broncos/Ravens game would be close (it was, but I had Denver), I said the Packers would win by at least 7 (because I foolishly didn't see the Kaepernick phenomenon being created on Saturday), but I scored better with predicting that Atlanta would win on a last second FG (Believe me, that paid off handsomely), and saying the Patriots would win by at least 15 (curse those garbage time scores). I like to stay with playing the lines until the Super Bowl, then I go crazy on the prop bets.

Let's take a look at this weekend's games -

San Francisco 49ers (-4) at Atlanta Falcons

The road team is favored in the NFC Championship, and it's hard to bet against them. Atlanta tried their hardest to give away Sunday's game against Seattle, but somehow pulled out a victory in spite of coach Mike Smith. But Atlanta's inepititude aside, San Francisco is favored because they are the better team. They have the better defense, the better special teams, the better running game, and oh yeah, they have this kid named Colin Kaepernick. Maybe it was because he played a Packers defense that forgets how to plan against opponents when it comes playoff time, but Kaepernick looked like he completely changed the game of football when faced against Green Bay. This kid is the real deal, and I just don't know how you plan against him. All that being said, I latched on to Atlanta at the beginning of the postseason and I'm not wavering from that. There's too much talk about them being postseason chokers, and I think they'll respond to the test again this weekend. The number one see giving four points? I'll take that anyday. 

Prediction: Atlanta 34, San Francisco 29

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-10)

Baltimore was a huge underdog last weekend as well, and look what they were able to accomplish against Denver. But John Fox doesn't coach New England, and I think the Patriots are finally going to win another Super Bowl this year, so I stick with them. Ten points though is a lot. Especially with how close the game was between these two teams last year in the AFC Championship. It's surprising that the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since W.'s first term (give or take a month) considering how good the team has been since that span. They've lost two Super Bowls since, and those were two of the more heartbreaking ways in which you lose a Super Bowl. They'll overcome the Gronkowski injury, they'll get Danny Woodhead back (which only I care about), and Tom Brady will be on a mission. I see this game playing out the same way the game against Houston played out. New England takes a lead, Baltimore comes back by half, New England runs away in the second half. I'm taking New England, even with the ten points.

Prediction: New England 38, Baltimore 26

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