If you remember back to last week’s column, I did you all the favor of giving you my gambling picks for the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs. But, in all actuality, I hope you DON’T remember back to last week’s column . I went 2-6 on last week’s picks, including an embarrassingly pathetic 0-4 on the Sunday games and 0-4 on the over/unders. Listen folks, I’m not a psychic. Nor am I a genius. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure what I going to write about in order to fill the rest of this column, let alone how professional sporting events are going to play out. But if you think a weekend of bad picks is going to stop me from gambling, you obviously don’t know my gambling track record. (Believe it or not, I’ve always done pretty well picking games. It’s that damn Pai-Gow I can’t figure out how to beat.)
Despite last weeks poor results, I’m more than confident that I can fight my way back to a .500 winning percentage by the end of the Super Bowl. Here’s my picks for this weekend’s games. Picks are in bold, and my opinion is fact.
SAINTS (-4) and OVER 47.5
Before the season began, I predicted the Saints would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Don’t get too excited; I also predicted the San Diego Chargers would win the Super Bowl, so my radar was a little off point (as always, I’ll blame it on the lockout). The Saints are now my pick to win it all, and should have no trouble in beating the 49’ers.
A lot of talk is being made of New Orleans having to go on the road and play outdoors, considering they played in only five outdoor games this season, and four of those were played within the first six weeks of the season. Don’t buy into it, folks. This game features two quarterbacks that are complete polar-opposites of each other. Alex Smith is a quarterback that will kinda/sorta “manage” the football game, will probably not lose it for you, and will do just enough to let a stellar defense win the game for him. Drew Brees, on the other hand, will win you games. Hell, he’ll win you championship(s). Despite his team having an average-at-best defense, Brees lead the Saints to a 13-3 record while also shattering the all-time single-season record for passing yards. He is that much better than any defense can be right now, including that of San Fransisco’s.
BOTTOM LINE: Drew Brees is that good. The Saints lost three games this season: Week 1 against an obviously talented Green Bay team, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay. That’s right, the Saints lost to the Rams and the Buccaneers. They might sleep on the weak teams, but they get up for the big games. And it doesn’t get bigger than the playoffs.
PATRIOTS (-14) and OVER 50.5
Gimme a second. I’m still chewing on that fat piece of crow from last Sunday’s Denver victory. I gotta give it to the kid; Tim Tebow played a great game. Tim Tebow won himself a playoff game and lost myself a significant amount of money at the same time. Tebow’s rise is a fun story, it’s a nice story, but it’s also a fake story. Tebow is not that good, period. He threw for 316 yards, but on 10-21 passing. Even against a weak New England pass defense, you can’t expect to succeed when completing less than 50% of your passes. And you can’t honestly expect to average 31 yards per completion in every single game.
Look, betting money on Tim Tebow is probably a lot like doing meth: It might be kinda fun and work out for you the first couple of times you try it, but if you make a habit of it, you’re going to lose your house.
BOTTOM LINE: Bill Belichick wants this game. I promise you he’s been doing nothing but watching film and watching Tim Tebow’s post-game interview for the last 12 days. I picture him doing both of these things while sitting in a giant, Dr. Evil-style swivel chair in an underground lair, smirking evilly every time Tebow makes some comment about God loving his teammates. (What? Is that really just me that pictures Bill like that?!) His team will be focused, ready, but most importantly: The New England Patriots have been there before.
TEXANS (+9) and UNDER 36
There is something about this Texans team that I really like. I liked them a little more with Matt Schaub at quarterback, but T.J. Yates is a decent quarterback. He’s a lot like Alex Smith: he won’t win the game for you, but he probably won’t lose it (and it didn’t take him seven seasons to become that “good”, either). Houston’s defense has been stellar all season (2nd overall in the NFL), and with Arian Foster and a healthy Andre Johnson, it really doesn’t matter who’s throwing the ball. As long as it’s not Jake Delhomme.
BOTTOM LINE: I’m not necessarily saying the Texans are going to win this game, but I don’t seeing them losing by more than a touchdown. If they can keep Baltimore’s defense and special teams out of the end zone, I really like the Texans plus the points.
PACKERS (-9) and OVER 53
Ugh. Without question, this is the one I had the hardest time picking. It seems like a no-brainer, but the no-brainers are normally the ones I spend the most time thinking about. Go figure.
Here it is: The Giants win the games they shouldn’t and lose the games they should. They’re a veteran squad with a lot of talent at nearly all of the skill positions. They are playing at a higher-than-they-normally-do level and appear to be hitting their stride at the right time. Having said that…
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have their first 40 plays of this game already picked, practiced, and perfected to an art form. As horrible as their defense has been, the Pack offense has been nothing short of incredible. With Brees, Rodgers, and Brady all in or entering their primes, these 2011 NFL playoffs might feature three of the greatest quarterbacks of all time by the time they’re through playing. Granted, these 2011 NFL playoffs also feature T.J. Yates, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, and Tim Tebow, so it does balance itself out. But it’s just plain fun to think of all the talent there is at the quarterback position at this moment in the NFL. And to think, the best quarterback of this generation didn’t play a single snap this season.
BOTTOM LINE: The Packers should be completely poised and in control of this game. I don’t expect it to be a cake walk, but I also don’t expect the Giants to keep it close like many people have suggested they will. Also, look for Eli Manning to be responsible for a game-changing turnover somewhere late in the third quarter. You can (almost) bet on it.