Saturday, January 3, 2009

NFL Picks: Playoff edition

26-21-4 on the season in my first year of making consistent picks. I'm happy I was above .500, but my last two weeks ruined what could have been a much nicer record.

However, I love these picks for wild card weekend.

Just like the regular season, I'll pick my three best picks for the week. I'll pick three again next week, then both championship games and finally the Super Bowl, so I have nine chances to pad my record.

So let's start with my first lock of the new year.

Arizona over Atlanta
I liked this spread then the Cards were underdogs. Now they're favorites by 1.5, but I'm not worried. Arizona will win this game through the arm of Kurt Warner and the abilities of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston. Unless John Abraham has a big game rushing the quarterback, Warner will have all day to pick on a weak crop of Falcon cornerbacks. Worst rushing team in the NFL? Who cares when you have those weapons in the friendly confines of home. Matt Ryan and the Falcons are just 4-4 on the road, while the Cardinals are 6-2 at home. As bad as Arizona has been down the stretch, they match up well with the Falcons and will win this game.
Cardinals 34, Falcons 24

Indianapolis over San Diego
Another game with a virtual pick'em spread. This is completely unfair to Indianapolis. I've wanted to knock the Colts all year after their early struggles, but they won their last nine games. I don't want to hear that the Chargers are on fire. They are an 8-8 team, and their great stretch run was against Oakland, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Denver. All of those teams folded up shop. Peyton Manning will not do that. The injuries to LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates will limit the Chargers offensively, and the San Diego pass defense has been weak all season. Indy won their first matchup 23-20 on the road, and I expect them to win again this week.
Colts 28, Chargers 19

Baltimore -3.5 over Miami
I hate the Baltimore Ravens. But in the playoffs, the name of the game is dominating the line of scrimmage. Baltimore does that on both sides of the football. The knock on Chad Pennington as a Jet was that he could be a playoff quarterback, but not a Super Bowl quarterback. This is the type of defense that typically can stop him, and while Pennington put up pretty good numbers in the first game, the Ravens won 27-13 in Miami. Miami will want to run the ball and stop the run, too, but Baltimore is just better at each aspect. Going from 1-15 to 11-5 is a momentous accomplishment, but the dream dies here for the Dolphins.
Ravens 24, Dolphins 10

In the other wild card game, I lean towards Minnesota and the points at home against Philadelphia. People underrate the Vikings because of Tarvaris Jackson, but I think he's a better option than Gus Frerotte, and the Vikings' defensive line can disrupt opposing offenses. The Eagles looked great against Dallas, but one week earlier they lost to the Redskins in what appeared to be a must-win game, so let's not get too high on Philadelphia just yet. They put far too much pressure on Donovan McNabb's arm, and if he's not throwing the ball great, they struggle.

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