Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Wild Card Weekend

Wild Card Weekend of the NFL Playoffs is really a perfect weekend. It’s early in the New Year, no one goes out, so the band is always off. No responsibilities. I go into Full Bunker Mode by purchasing supplies, cooking pulled pork, and inviting over my biggest gambling degenerate friends for an orgy of drunken good times. (For the record, I’m going with a 24 oz Boris the Crusher stout, a six of Pilsner Urquell, and a six of Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA. That should cover whatever disasters strike during the games.)

The always overrated New York Jets travel to Cincinnati today to take on the nose diving Bengals at 4:00. The Jets ripped the scrotums off the Bengals last weekend in a totally meaningless game for Cincy, but still it would have been nice to see more life from the AFC North champs. The general public has (of course) overreacted to that game by pushing the line from Cincy-4 to Cincy -1 . So what do we need to know?

The Bengals are 9-0 in their last 9 at home vs underdogs, and they’ve won their last 5 at home outright. The problem comes in when you notice that the Bengals have not covered in 6 of their last 7 games, while the Jets have covered in 5 of 6. Meanwhile the Jets have won outright 8 of the last 10 times these teams have played. The other big factor is that Cincinnati has completely gone down the shitter down the stretch. This “down the shitter” factor is the one I am really paying attention to this afternoon. These are two teams going in opposite directions. Cincinnati can’t seem to throw the ball. Or stop the other team from throwing the ball. Or running the ball for that matter. I see the Jets running the ball early and often and winning a low scoring game. I’m going with the Jets money line. If you are feeling gutsy, take the under. With it at 33.5, you really have to sack up though.

The Dallas/Philadelphia game is the third time these teams have played each other with Dallas convincingly winning the other two games. Conventional wisdom says the following: “There is no fucking way in hell an NFL team can beat another NFL team three times in one season!”. That’s all I’ve heard all week from every so called “football expert”. (Note: These are the same experts that said Mangini would be fired from the Browns, and JaMarcus Russell was a sure thing QB.)

Let me run this by you. Let’s say you get cornered by the school bully and he beats the crap out of you once. Now you walk into the Boys Room at an inopportune moment and find that same school bully. He beats the crap out of you again. So, why is it exactly you are going to win the third rematch?

In reality, in the NFL Playoffs since 1970, the 2-0 teams are 11-7 in a third matchup. Not exactly a “sure thing”, but it sure does dispel the ironclad notion of winning three in a row as likely as my basset hound building a moon rocket out of old dog kibble bags.

Dallas held Philadelphia to 88 yards rushing the first time these two teams played. Last week with the NFC East on the line, Philadelphia rushed for 37 yards. Meanwhile, Dallas ran for 182 yards last week. You win the playoffs with defense and running the football. Dallas plays great defense and can run better than Philadelpha. Dallas wins the game. But do they cover?

The underdog is 8-3 ATS when these teams play. The Eagles are 10-4 ATS in Dallas. The Eagles are also 7-0 against the spread when a 3.5-7.0 point underdog. Oh yeah, Dallas is 5-11 in their last 16 vs the NFC East. That really says you have to either take Philadelphia +4 or Cowboys -190 if your risk tolerance is strong enough. I’m going Dallas money line.


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