Friday, January 11, 2008

NFL divisional playoff picks

A couple of things.

One is my performance in round 1. I was wrong on 3 of the 4, which is far more like my expected performance standard than what I managed this year.

The second is this. History suggests that the home teams will win. It also suggests that at least one of them will lose. I don't see any of the home teams losing. I think that Dallas is the most likely home team to lose, followed by Green Bay, followed by, I suppose, New England. That's not because I think that the Colts are better than the Patriots, but because I think that the Jaguars are much better, and much better coached, than the Chargers. I don't see either AFC home team losing, and will be very surprised if the AFC Championship game is not Indianapolis at New England.

Now, on to the picks...

Seattle(+8) at Green Bay - I was more impressed with the Seahawk defense last week than I expected to be. That said, if a Seahawk had touched the ball on the kickoff that the Redskins ran in to the end-zone, they'd have lost. Washington would have been up by eight, and the game would have been very different. I still think that the Seahawks are overrated, and I don't see them winning this game. But I do think that they keep it close.

Pick: Green Bay 27 - Seattle 21

Jacksonville at New England (-13) - The Jaguars and Patriots had four common opponents this year. Against Indianapolis, San Diego, Buffalo and Indianapolis (including the post-season), Jacksonville was 4-2, scoring 25.3 points per game and allowing 23.2. The Patriots were 5-0, scoring 38.0 points per game and allowing 12.8. There's going to be a huge national audience for this one, and a lot of people rooting for Jacksonville to knock off the Patriots. The Jaguars are a trendy pick in some places. The fact is, New England is a better team than Jacksonville, playing at home, play-off and pressure-tested, and well-equipped to take advantage of Jacksonville's weakness in pass defense. This may be close for a half, but it won't ever be in doubt.

Pick: New England 35 - Jacksonville 17

San Diego at Indianapolis (-8.5) - The Chargers did, in fact, beat the Colts this year. In a game in which the Colts were adjusting to the absence of Dwight Freeney, Peyton Manning threw six (6!) interceptions, and Adam Vinatieri missed a chip-shot game-winning field goal at the end. In San Diego. This one will be in Indianapolis, with the Chargers probably missing (or playing with a significantly hobbled) Antonio Gates. Kick-off will come at about 1:05 Sunday afternoon, any hope for a San Diego victory will be gone by 1:35.

Pick: Indianapolis 34 - San Diego 13

NY Giants (+7.5) at Dallas - My exhaustive scientific* evaluation of the football punditocracy has revealed that the Giants are the chic pick of the weekend. It is obvious** that Tony Romo is distracted by his relationship with Jessica Simpson***. Eli Manning has finally settled in to becoming a first-rate QB****. And the Giants are going to go into Dallas and shock the world*****. I'm thinking, just possibly, not. Yes, the Cowboys haven't played well the past few weeks. Yes, the Giants have played their two best games of the season the past two weeks. I'm still not buying. The Giants keep it close, but their magic carpet ride comes to an end.

Pick: Dallas 29 - New York 24

* - Evaluation was neither scientific nor exhaustive, consisting mainly of something I thought I heard someone say as I was changing radio stations.
** - There is no actual evidence available to anyone that demonstrates that Tony Romo is distracted by his relationship with Jessica Simpson.
*** - Who is Jessica Simpson? How did she become a celebrity?
**** - Eli Manning's played two (2) good games in a row. Make of it what you will - I suspect that many are making far, far too much of it.
***** - Although, as I say, the world won't actually be shocked by a Giants victory. Many people will actually be more shocked if the favored Cowboys win.

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