Monday, January 2, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Playoffs

I have been very quietly putting my gambling empire back together this December. My unstoppable (and probably soon to be trademarked) Impossible To Lose Bowl Game Gambling System has paid off handsomely. (See the Defend Cleveland Show website for details.) I now am in a position to go absolutely wild on the NFL Playoffs. This is absolutely foolhardy behavior as these games are analyzed with more intensity than the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination. There is no edge to be had, but I will not let that stop me. I will confidently walk into this fire storm throwing money at everything, and in the end, I will be proven right.

Or not.

The Playoffs are especially interesting this year as every one of these teams has some legitimate concerns. Even though the Packers are 15-1, doesn’t it seem odd that they can’t seem to stop anyone? Can New England stop anyone? The Saints? Can Pittsburgh score? How about San Francisco? Let’s break it down, shall we? The teams can be divided into two groups. Let’s call the first group “They might actually win this thing!”.

The AFC has two of those teams, New England and Pittsburgh. The Patriots are an offensive juggernaut that can’t play a lick of defense. For all the play Belichick gets for being a defensive guru, has anyone else noticed he hasn’t had a good defense up there in about six years? There is one sure fire way to beat New England. You have to hit Brady, and hit him early. When Brady gets hit, he stops being the All Pro Wonder Boy that broadcast teams like to all but fellate during gamecasts. He kinda turns into Kelly Holcomb. However, most teams don’t hit Brady. In fact, most teams get penalized 15 yards for even glancing in his general direction. If James Harrison had hit Brady the way he hit Colt McCoy, he would be doing 15 years in solitary at Riker’s Island. Still, Harrison would probably take that tradeoff. That is why Pittsburgh is the only other team in the AFC that might win it all.

Pittsburgh can’t score. They have no running game to speak of, and their best running back is now hurt. Roethlesberger is playing on one leg throwing the ball to a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of. The team plays the way they usually do. They grind. They hang around. They stop the other team. They don’t do anything when they get the ball. Then Polamalu makes a big play with three minutes left, and they win 13-10. It’s why you have to take them seriously, even though they will have to win all their games on the road.

Houston, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Denver are teams we can put in the “No Fucking Chance” category. Baltimore is the most interesting of these teams. Since they will host at least one game, you have to like their chances to get to the AFC Championship game. But can you actually see those guys put together three wins in a row over quality opponents? I can’t. Despite all the play Joe Flacco gets as being an “elite” quarterback, I think of him as Kevin Kolb on a pretty good team. Joe Flacco is not going to take a game over and win the thing for you. He is going to miss open receivers, throw a costly INT, and talk at the postgame press conference about “building on this next year and making the next step”.

The other three are just opening round fodder. Houston v Cincinnati is meaningless. Houston will have to decide to play next week with TJ Yates and his separated shoulder or Jake Delomme under center. All experts agree that Yates would be the better option even if his non-throwing arm needs to be amputated early this week. On the other sideline, Cincinnati hasn’t had a win over a good team all year, and they sure as hell aren’t going on the road and doing that now. Denver just plain blows. I think Denver is the 4th best team in the AFC West right now. Have you seen them play lately? I believe the NFL has “solved” Tim Tebow. It is safe to say Pittsburgh’s defense might shut down Tebow and Company after New England, Buffalo and Kansas City shut them down in successive weeks. Quick, which game would be higher scoring? The Pirates v Rockies or Steelers vs. Broncos?

The NFC has three “They Just Might Win This Thing” teams in Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Francisco. I think we can all agree that Green Bay and New Orleans are good teams. Can they stop anyone? Does it matter? New Orleans has not only won eight in a row, but also covered all eight. The over/under for the Detroit v New Orleans is 58.5, the highest total in Vegas history. I think it will go over. Didn’t Green Bay just drop something like 67 points on Detroit with Flynn at QB? How is Detroit going to stop Brees on turf inside?

San Francisco is the sleeper. No one takes them seriously because of Alex Smith. Hey, I get it. But that defense is a monster, and it will keep them in any game. In the NFL Playoffs, I love the defensive teams. They aren’t the sexy pick because everyone loves high scoring highlight reels. But I’ll tell you this; New Orleans doesn’t want anything to do with going out to a drizzly muddy Candlestick and playing those guys. If San Francisco can get lucky with the weather, I’ll take them against anyone.

Detroit, Giants, and Atlanta are hard to believe in. Detroit is going to get outclassed by New Orleans. That’s all there is to that. Atlanta is a pretty good little team, but they just always seem to be a play away don’t they? Matt Ryan, a.k.a. Joe Flacco 2, will hold the same press conference Flacco does but with a better stat line. The Giants can beat anyone. Unfortunately, they can also lose to anyone. They’ll probably win at home this week. Or maybe they’ll lose by 20. Who the hell knows with those guys? Like Baltimore, there’s no way in hell they win three games in a row against big time teams.

The current odds to win the Super Bowl are as follows:

Green Bay 3-2
New England 3 ½ -1
New Orleans 5-1
Baltimore 6-1
Pittsburgh 10-1
San Francisco 12-1
New York Giants 20-1
Houston 35-1
Atlanta 40-1
Detroit 50-1
Denver 60-1
Cincinnati 70-1

I think the play is to take an aggressive stance on New Orleans at 5-1 and cover that with Green Bay. If you want to get really wild, take a flier on San Fran and Pitt. Besides the nice payday, it would be great to swagger around all next year talking about how you “had the fucker the whole way”. Let's get all in on this thing...


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