Friday, January 18, 2008

Conference Championship Game weekend

I had a heck of a regular season picking the games. The playoffs, on the other hand...

There were four games last weekend. I got one (1) right against the spread. I got two winners. In none of the four games was I right both straight up and against the spread.

The good news is that this week, I've only got two games to get wrong.

San Diego at New England (-14) - Yes, the Chargers have played better over the last half of the season than they did in the first half. Yes, they've been even better than New England over their last 8 games. Before squeaking by Tennessee in the first round, however, that six game winning streak over the last half of the season was against bad teams. Oakland, Kansas City, Denver, Detroit. Overtime against Tennessee in a game where Vince Young got hurt. If you look at games against playoff teams, the Patriots and Chargers are each 3-0 since mid-November, and the Patriots have played better. And that's with everyone playing New England at a playoff level of intensity. We can, I suppose, throw out the first San Diego-New England game from this season. But the Patriots are, and have been, a much better team than San Diego, and when you look at the ancillary stuff (the weather, the injuries, the fact that San Diego will fly further on Saturday than the Patriots have in the last two months combined), there's no reason not to expect this to be a Patriots win. Which I do expect.

Pick: New England 38 - San Diego 17

NY Giants at Green Bay (-7) - Like the Chargers, the Giants have momentum. But let's be honest here - how much of a momentum advantage can either team have when you're in a Conference Championship Game? The Packers weather advantage would be greater against a warm weather team than it is against this one. Here's the deciding factor in this game for me - any quarterback (I'm looking at you, Eli Manning) can play a couple of great games in a row. What separates the greats from the "any quarterbacks" is the ability to do it consistently, over and over again. Could Eli have another great game this week? Yup, he sure could. And the Giants could go in to Green Bay and win. But that's not the way that I'm betting.

Pick: Green Bay 27 - New York 17

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