Friday, January 21

NFL Picks: Conference Championships

Well, wouldn't you know it, there's my favorite team in the AFC Championship game. Again. I'm not going to try to quantify the toll the steelers take on my enjoyment of professional football, but it's excessively large. As for their opponent, I think most people were surprised that that Jets managed to topple the top-seeded Patriots, and now they're humanity's last line of defense before the Super Bowl. Let's hope it turns out the way their previous meeting this season did.

The NFC Championship is an interesting meeting of some storied Midwestern franchises in the Bears and suddenly-hot Packers. Would it be too much to ask of the Sporting Gods to drop some snow on Soldier Field for this one?

I said I'd go back and see how our crew performed on 4-against-1 situations throughout the year - I swear Bucko was like 85% when he was a one-man wolfpack against the rest of us. I tallied it up quickly - when one of us went against the other four, the lonely guy hit on 48.8% of his picks. In other words, one different outcome would have evened up the rebel pick with the 80% consensus pick. The message: be bold! Your rogue pick is just as likely to pan out as the popular pick. Unless you're Bucko, of course.

Last week was a mixed bag for our crew as overall we made 50% of our picks. Every game was a 3-2 split decision for us in the Divisional Round - let's see if we craft any more of a consensus for the Championship games.

Divisional Games
Andy: 3-1
Figgs: 0-4 (ouch)
Nick: 2-2
Bucko: 2-2
Gopo: 3-1

Nick's Money Picks ($): 0-2
Figgs' Money Picks ($): 0-2 (double ouch)

Playoffs so far
Gopo: 6-2
Andy: 6-2
Bucko: 5-3
Nick: 4-4
Figgs: 2-6

Nick's Money Picks ($): 1-4
Figgs' Money Picks ($): 1-4

AFC Championship

Sunday 6:30
STEELERS (-3.5) vs Jets
Andy: Jets. DId you see how I entered "steelers" in white text color above? Ha! I mean, I understand all the arguments Gopo is making, and on the surface, Pittsburgh seems destined to roll. But weren't all of those same things true a few weeks ago when the Jets rolled into Ketchup Field and beat the steelers? WEREN'T THEY? Pittsburgh owns a 3.7-point edge in SRS headed into this one, plus the two they get for homefield makes them a minor value pick. Nevertheless, I'm taking the Jets just because I don't want to pick the steelers here, though I do have a bit of a hedge. I'm currently leading a different NFL pool, with a 6-2 record headed into this weekend. That pool has us picking the games straight up; so far I've only missed Jets-Pats and Seahawks-Saints. My plan is to take Pittsburgh in that pool, where I don't get 3.5 points for taking New York. This way I'm guaranteed at least one win, and I can hit on both if Pittsburgh wins by 3, which is good because I think they'll probably eek one out. I'm impervious to the steelers' screwing me over on picks, so I can focus my energies on hoping they lose. Follow up to Gopo: yeah, I saw that game, and Pitt is for sure a better club, hence me taking them straight up. I was actually trying to give you credit for making a good analysis, just saying that it doesn't always mean a W. And no, Sanchez is not a good QB.
Figgs: Steelers. My reasoning for this pick is twofold. Fold #1 - I think shitsburgh wins by 4 or more. Secondly, whatever I pick is wrong, and I've never wanted to be more wrong.
Nick: Steelers. Never has a team stood less of a chance in a football game than the New York Jets. They blow. At least when the world ends in 2012 the Steelers won't win any more Super Bowls.
Bucko: Steelers. I hate both teams. I agree with everything Gopo said. Sanchez will choke big in this one.
Gopo: Steelers. Even though the Jets as a team looked really good on Sunday, I couldn't help but get excited about facing Dirty Sanchez next weekend in Pittsburgh. Sanchez misses a ton of open receivers - he's almost McNabb-like in his accuracy. Pittsburgh has the better D, the better O, and is at home. Follow up to Andy: the final score last time they played was 22-17. 9 of the Jets' 22 points came from a special teams TD and a safety. The Jets O scored 13 points against the Steelers D while the Steelers O scored 17. In terms of total yardage, the Jets were outgained 378 to 226 and had a 28.42 time of possession vs. 31.18 for the Steelers. Also, Polamalu didn't play in that game. My point is simply this: if the Steelers can stop the run (no problem) and not let the Jets special teams score (a problem), then they win. I see no way that Sanchez is capable of winning this game. He is not a good quarterback.

NFC Championship

Sunday 3 pm
BEARS (+3.5) vs Packers
Andy: Packers. They were right around 7 points better than the Bears this regular season in SRS, have plenty of experience dealing with the cold, and have the league's hottest QB in Aaron Rodgers right now. Just can't justify going the other way with this one - I'm taking them here and obviously straight up in my other pool. I know it's a trendy pick, and I know I've underestimated Chicago at times this year, but the same things were true last week when Green Bay obliterated Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. If the Packer D made Matt Ryan look like a chump then, I think Bears fans could be headed for a long afternoon of Jay Cutler throwing off his back foot. Trust me - the guy was on my fantasy team and never seemed to have two straight good weeks.
Figgs: Pack. I, like Andy, have definitely underestimated the Bears all season long. I continually pick against them, and they burn my time and time again. So what have I learned? Clearly, nothing.
Nick: Pack. Almost seems too easy, but they've just got such an advantage on offense and they sacked Cutler nine times (in Principal Ed Rooney voice: "nine times...") this year. If they don't get womped on special teams, Green Bay wins, and they probably do so by a comfortable margin. Already prepared to buy a Packers jersey to fight the Steelers for the next two weeks.
Bucko: PACKERS. The team is hitting on all cylinders. Have I ever mentioned how much I like Rodgers? Why is every starting to make a big deal about his play in the playoffs. He's been this good since he started.
Gopo: Packers. I think the Packers are a better team and will end up finding their stride in the second half for another easy win. I'm looking forward to a patented 4 pick game by Cutler.

Figgs $ Bets
I give up.
Nick $ Bet

Pack -3.5

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