Divisional Round Preview: Read Our Picks And Go The Other Way

January 12, 2007 – 6:14 pm by McD

Anyone can see that we’re nearly always dead wrong when we pick spreads in NFL games. However, the intelligent gambler sees past that and notices that since we’re nearly always wrong, picking the opposite of our picks means that they’ll be right nearly all the time. It’s the closest to a perfect gambling formula one can get. So go ahead, make your money off of our incompetence. We’ll get it right soon and you’ll all be sorry. You’ll see.

Indianapolis Colts (13-4) at Baltimore Ravens (13-3) (-4)
Move along folks, nothing to see here. Just a shaky quarterback and defense who’s convinced just enough people that they might be able to stop some one this week, which is all that kept the line closer than six. That and everyone’s total distrust of Jamal Lewis’s reanimated corpse. All week the stories the hacks have been pushing is “will Joseph Addai get 50 yards?” against Baltimore’s supercalifragilisticexpialibadass defense. The real story is whether Peyton Manning will throw two interceptions or five. He needs to be absolutely perfect in this game for the Colts to win. As in no mistakes, shoulder shrugs, or Manning-faces of any kind. Because there’s no way Joseph Addai is getting 50 yards. It’s amazing that story actually lasted for three days to begin with.

The Ravens just need to do what they do to win. Efficient offense and a few plays on defense should be enough to contain the Colts. Any mistakes of any kind, however, will be mercilessly exploited by Manning and the Colts. The Baltimore offense is actually a decent matchup for the Colts, relatively speaking. The Ravens aren’t a great running team and the Colts stop the pass fairly well. It’s just enough of a matchup that some people have been suckered into taking Indy in this game. It’s the “hey, the Colts D and Peyton Manning can make a couple of plays and stay in this thing!” rationale. But when picking playoff games, never ignore history. This is still the worst D in the league and Peyton Manning playing a road playoff game. Ravens cover.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-6) at New Orleans Saints (10-6) (-5.5)
This is definitely the second-most intriguing game of the weekend. It’s also probably the game with the least chance of being picked correctly by anyone, even though there are only four real options when betting the spread. Brian Westbrook has developed into one of the best all-around backs in the league. In true Marshall Faulk fashion, he’s made plays for the Eagles again and again since McNabb’s injury. The question is whether Andy Reid will be able to tolerate the 50/50 split between run and pass plays the Eagles have been using since he gave up playcalling duties. It’s entirely possible that he’ll come over ostensibly to give OC Marty Mornhinweg a pat on the back, then hit him with a metal folding chair and take over calling the plays. What, it could happen.

It all comes down to whether you think the Saints will keep playing amazingly well on offense and defense or not. It’s debateable whether the Eagles will be able to rush Drew Brees effectively since Jevon Kearse is on IR. Jim Johnson loves to call blitzes, but Brees is enough of a vet at this point to take advantage of some of those aggressive defensive calls. Sean Payton is also a good enough coach that we think he’ll be able to come up with some plays that will keep the Eagles on their heels and thinking instead of running and tackling. If Reggie and Deuce make some plays, and there’s no reason to think they won’t, then the Saints will keep everyone believing for another week. They’re a great story this year. But we hope they lose because we really don’t want the Chargers to be the bad guys IF they both make the Super Bowl.

Seattle Seahawks (10-7) at Chicago Bears (13-3) (-9)

A lot has changed since the Bears destroyed the Seahawks 37-6 in week four. The Seahawks didn’t have Alexander, so all the Bears had to do was stop Hasselbeck and the passing game. Now, everyone’s healthy and the Bears are probably the worst 13-3 team ever. Yes, Seattle only won last week because of what was essentially a miracle, but Chicago is very beatable. If the Seahawks can revive some of last year’s chutzpah, then there’s no reason to believe the Bears can win this game. Chicago is too depleted by injuries and Rex Grossman at this point.

Whether Rex throws a lot of interceptions and looks bad is immaterial at this point. The Bears can’t make any plays in the passing game so all Seattle has to do is stay over the top of the receivers and load up on the run. Seattle shouldn’t take the Bears O lightly because Rex could pull a good game out of nowhere any time now. But we wonder about his intelligence at this point because not only did he not prepare for the Bears’ final game against the Packers, he admitted as much to the press. Exactly how dumb is this guy? Maybe he’ll get it together down the road, but this year, if Seattle shows up at all, this is the easiest choice ever. Seahawks beat the spread. And for the sake of tradition and the hope this isn’t the last game Seattle plays this year, there’s two things we love. Combining the two, well, that might be too perfect.

New England Patriots (13-4) at San Diego Chargers (14-2) (-5)
Remember when we said “never ignore history” when picking playoff games? Yeah, screw that. Marty can’t win in the playoffs. Phillip Rivers is a first-year starter against Bill Belichick’s defense. Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. The Pats will find a way to stop Tomlinson. It goes on and on.

Since we’re Chargers fans, we’re just not going to pick this game at all. The matchups are just too even all the way around the field. The game could go either way and could hinge on a sports blog tilting the karma New England’s way by picking their favorite team. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. We’d hate to have a LIGHTNING BOLT strike us for messing with fate and COVER us with burns. Go Chargers. Say “CHOWDAH.”

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