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Old 01-12-2007, 04:40 AM   #18
Anthony
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Cool Anthony's Divisional Playoff Picks

7

Last week: 2-2. Postseason totals, 2-2, Pct. .500. Best Bets: 1-0, Pct. .1.000.

Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.


SATURDAY

BALTIMORE 24, Indianapolis 13 (+3 1/2) - The debate has already started as to which team is better - this year's Ravens or the Super Bowl champions of 2000? Well it's a debate that should not even exist because the answer isn't even close: Not only is the current team more balanced in its distribution of talent between offense and defense, but also more balanced within each of those units as well. Peyton Manning does have one cold-weather win in the playoffs under his belt, but it came on a beautiful, sunny, unseasonably warm afternoon, three years ago, versus an opponent (Kansas City) which, amazingly, had never covered the spread in a home playoff game in its entire history (and still hasn't). By contrast, rain and high winds are in the apparent offing for Baltimore this weekend (although the temperature is not expected to be overly cold), and it's difficult to see the Colts thriving in such conditions, especially with leading rusher Joseph Addai nursing what has been characterized as a bruised sternum. And to think that as recently as four months ago Brian Billick was on almost everyone's endangered head coaches list.

Philadelphia 30 (+4 1/2), NEW ORLEANS 27 - When the Saints edged the Eagles at home on a last-second field goal back in October, Philadelphia was without ex-New Orleans wide receiver - and deep threat extraordinaire - Donte' Stallworth, who reportedly didn't get along with Sean Payton in training camp, leading to a late-August trade; and there is serious concern as to how well the Saint secondary stacks up against Stallworth and Reggie Brown, who has benefitted greatly from all the attention drawn to the other side by Stallworth. Having been there before is a huge advantage in the playoffs - and that advantage accrues to the Eagles, who came through in a big way in a similar situation five years ago with a double-digit win at Chicago in the same playoff round; meanwhile, Drew Brees was a home loser in his lone postseason tilt with San Diego. The return of Koy Detmer as the placekick holder seems to have made David Akers a lot more comfortable, so don't be surprised if Akers makes it back-to-back walk-off field goals to keep Philly's improbable run alive.

SUNDAY

CHICAGO 16, Seattle 13 (+8 1/2) - Matt Hasselbeck registered his third career playoff win last week, giving him three more than Rex Grossman - like Brees a loser at home in his only prior postseason try; and the Seahawks have actually been carrying the mail of late in unfavorable weather, with a 10-point win over Green Bay in a rare Seattle snowstorm this season and a 42-0 piano-wiring of the Eagles in a blizzard at Philadelphia last year. Seattle survived a major scare when Shaun Alexander needed to be helped off the field in the final possession of last week's game, but is good to go here - and it certainly doesn't hurt that the Hawks have owned the overall series, going 6-2 against the Bears, with one of the two losses coming as a first-year expansion team in 1976. Neither team finished the regular season well, but if anything Chicago was even shakier, particularly at the all-important quarterback position. Despite the five-game playoff road losing streak Seattle brings into this affair, it could go either way, making the touchdown-plus number impossible to spot.

New England 27 (+4 1/2), SAN DIEGO 17 - Bill Belichick is 11-2 lifetime in the "dash for the cash" while Marty Schottenheimer is 5-12, and Tom Brady has ten career playoff victories to Philip Rivers' el zippo; and worse yet, LaDainian Tomlinson does not match up well at all against New England's 3-4 defense, so it may very well fall squarely on Rivers' inexperienced shoulders. This almost looks too easy: Not only do the Patriots look like an awesome take plus four and a half points, but they figure to win the game outright, and quite possibly even comfortably. This is the divisional weekend's safest investment, and by the widest of margins.

BEST BET: NEW ENGLAND

Last edited by Anthony; 01-13-2007 at 03:37 AM.
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