Saturday, January 14, 2012

divisional round picks

Last Week SU: 3-1
Last Week ATS: 2-2

The Quick Divisional Round Picks:

* at 49ers (+4) 30, Saints 27. As someone who still somewhat longs for the glory days of the early to mid 1990s ... how awesome is it to see the 49ers hosting a divisional round game? It’s been awhile.

The last two home playoff games the 49ers have hosted ... are amongst the ten greatest games in NFL history. Nine years ago, the 49ers hosted the Giants in a wildcard game following the 2002 season ... and promptly fell behind 38-14 as the third quarter rapidly drew to a close.

Then ... magic happened, as the 49ers scored 25 unanswered points, survived a last second botched field goal, and emerged as a one point winner in one of the wackiest wildcard games every played.

But as wacky as that one was? Is how epic the previous one was, four years earlier, on my 22nd birthday. 49ers. Packers. To this day, if I am asked “Stevo, what’s the greatest NFL game you’ve ever watched”, that is instantly my answer. Don Starkey with the perfect call. “ Owens! Owens! He caught it! He caught it!” How else do you describe a play like that, other than stating the obvious?

I don’t expect as great a game this afternoon as either of those two were ... but I expect a really good contest that the home team finds a way to survive. Barely.

* at Packers (-7 ½) 41, Giants 20. I don’t get the love for the Giants in this one. For starters, this isn’t four years ago. The Packers don’t have a turnover machine under center, it’s not going to be 15 below zero at kickoff, and the Giants aren’t as good (and the Packers are more talented) than those 2007 squads were.

I expect a solid Packers victory Sunday afternoon. I don’t know why anyone else doesn’t.

* at Ravens 13, Texans (+7 ½) 10. The toughest game on the board to predict. It’s hard to believe, given how successful they have been, that this is John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco’s first postseason home game. It is not hard to believe, given how crappy they have been, that this is the Texans first ever postseason road game.

I’m really looking forward to watching these two defenses go at it. I’m not looking forward to watching these two offenses go at it. If this game was at Reliant, I’d probably pick Houston to win. Since it’s in Baltimore, I’ll take the Ravens on a late field goal ... although I’m not sold on it, and I’ll be rooting for Houston.

Finally ...

* tebows (+13 ½) 44, at Patriots 41. For five reasons:

1. I rewatched the Pats at denver game last night, thanks to a (really bad) stretch of blackjack at Ameristar, and them having the NFL Network on. Here’s what I took from that game: denver was competitive. Two huge plays swung that game – tebow’s fumble (that I thought was an incomplete pass), and the fumbled punt with :03 left in the half. It gave the Pats 11 free points. They won by 18, and denver was driving when tebow fumbled. In essense, if those two plays don’t occur? Overtime. (Which is what I project this game to end with.)

2. Its the Saturday Night prime time game! Wacky shit ALWAYS happens in this slot! At the risk of rehashing history, we’re entering year 11 of prime time playoff football, and every year, at least one game in the prime time slots (there’s three total) delivers a “wait, what?!?!” performance. Unless you think next week’s NFC Title Game is that game ... this is your nominee.

3. The Patriots haven’t won a playoff game since “Deadbeat Ex Roommate” was still in good standing with me and DJ. Let that one sink in – we were still three months away from forcibly evicting Ben the last time the Patriots won a playoff game. Senator Clinton was still the presumptive Democratic nominee the last time the Patriots won a playoff game. (OK, let’s pretend the entire 2008 primary never occurred. It’s been four years, and I am still in denial. And yes, I know I am long overdue with a “Stevo looks at the Republican field” post. We’re ten days away from (depending on who opposes him: hopefully) President Obama’s final State of the Union address. I’d probably better get on that “look at the potential opponents” post ...)

Point being, this ain’t your little brother’s Patriots team anymore. They’re beatable. Especially at home, where they’re 0 for their last 2 over the last two seasons.

4. If tebow can throw for 316 yards against (statistically) the BEST pass defense in the NFL last week, uum, how to put this delicately ... what do you think he can do against (statistically) the WORST pass defense in the NFL tonight?

Conversely ...

5. Why doesn’t this have the making of a shootout all over it? It’s not like denver’s defense is the second coming of Gunther’s mid-1990s Chiefs squads.

It all adds up in my brain. Two red hot quarterbacks. Wacky Saturday night slot. Two brilliant defensive head coaches with no idea how to stop the other team’s unconventional offense.

I’m betting on the tebows. Plus, admit it – deep down, even if you hate the tebows as much as I do ... you really, really, really want to see the tebows face Ray Lewis next week. Good versus evil in the purest form of each word. A word of advice timmy – if Ray offers you a ride in a limo to the game, pass on the offer. On second thought, you are a bronco. Accept that offer champ, accept away ...

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