Friday, January 4

NFL Picks: Wild Card Weekend

Rough year in the NFL for all of us here at FCF, both with the performance of the Browns and the difficulties we all had with prognosticating. Joe wins the season series despite finishing nine games below .500, know what? Let's just move on from that.

It's playoffs time!

Last Week
Figgs: 8-8
Joe: 6-10
Nick: 5-11

Final Regular Season
Joe: 119-128-7
Figgs: 114-133-7
Nick: 110-137-7
Figgs' $ Picks: 20-19-1
Nick's $ Picks: 10-9-1, +3

AFC Wild Card, 4:30
TEXANS (-4.5) vs Bengals
Figgs: Texans. I do believe that there is something to be said about finishing the season strong and heading into the playoffs with momentum, but I also believe that the better team wins in the playoffs more often that not. In this case, I don't think anyone could really argue against Houston being the better team. ($)
Joe: Texans; I have no confidence in a team on such a downward spiral. But the Bengals still don't do anything impressive other than AJ Green. Yet they keep winning. I don't know, I picked the Bengals in this matchup last year, and I was way off. I just am gonna ignore how the teams have played lately, and pick the team that should be significantly better, given the talent differential between the two.
Nick: Bengals
AFF: Hey hey, it's Andy back for more. I'm visiting the PA-based FCF road crew this weekend, thought I should show up and make some selections. As for this contest - I'm not seeing the same talent differential that the Figgs brothers are. Cincy has a +71 point differential, Houston a +85, and the Bungles play in a much tougher division. Don't let Indy fool you - they're statistically the worst playoff team in years. The balance of Houston's division had a staggering -360 point differential; the non-Bengal AFC North posted a +10. Plus, Cincy is on a roll, looking to avenge a defeat last year (motivation matters), sport the NFL's top-rated pass defense of late, and if you're interested in Football Outsiders, are 7th in weighted DVOA while the Texans are 19th. The two clubs are right adjacent at #11 and #12 in total DVOA. The Texans also sport the league's worts-rated special teams unit, and I think that will make the difference today. The only problem I see for Cincy is turnovers - they're only a +4 on the season (thanks to Andy Dalton's 16 picks) while Houston is +12.

I should also say that, frankly, I want the Bengals to win. Yes, I'm openly rooting for a non-Browns team for non-monetary, non-pick reasons, just because I want them to win. Why? I'm glad you asked. First off, geography. The Bengals are from Ohio, the Texans are from...well..Texas. I love Ohio and I mock Texas every chance I get. Second, my pops is a Bengals fan, and I know he'll be pulling for them. Third, I feel some solidarity with the Bengals because of how dastardly the other two teams in the AFC North are. Better Cincy than those other punks (have I mentioned how great it is that Pittsburgh isn't playing in this year's postseason, delightful as their humbling at the hands of Tebow was?) And finally, I feel for Bengals fans. You know how long it's been since they won a playoff game? It was the 1990 season. Yes, 1990. For some perspective, the Browns have won a playoff game more recently than the Bungles. Their fans have suffered through awful ownership and football for too long, and I like to see good people (good Ohioans!) rewarded for their patience, so I'm all in for the Bengals today.

NFC Wild Card, 8:00
PACKERS (-9.5) vs Vikings
Figgs: Vikes. I'll take these points, and I think I might need every one of them, as I got the Pack winning by about a touchdown. I unfortunately missed last week's thriler between these two, and this is the game I'm most looking forward to this weekend.
Joe: Vikings; Aaron Rodgers over Christian Ponder should be enough reason to get a playoff victory for the Pack. But the Vikings looked very impressive in their two regualar season meetings this year. Green Bay hasn't been remotely able to even slow Peterson down and I don't see them doing it here. The Pack should win, but an upset won't surprise me. At any rate, I'm definitely grabbing the points.,
Nick: Packers
AFF This one seems easy to me on the surface, and by surface I mean grass, cold, hard Lambeau grass, where the Packers play and where I see Minny struggling. The Packers to me seem a far better club - they're 4th in Football Outsiders' rankings while the Vikes are just 17th. Aaron Rodgers was, by the way, the top-rated QB in the league and somehow managed to fly under the radar. The Pack were a +7 in turnovers, Minnesota a +1. The Vikings played four games outdoors and lost by 12, 10, 18, and 9 points (the last to these Packers). I know Adrian Peterson is terrific, but this one feels like a Green Bay Packers rout.

AFC Wild Card, Saturday 4:30
RAVENS (-7) vs Colts
Figgs: Indy. I thought about betting this one, then thought back to my "better team" arguement and decided against it. Baltimore should win so I'm not confident enough to lay money, but I'll still take the Colts here to keep it close.
Joe: Colts; I've said for weeks that Baltimore isn't very good, and certainly not a SB contender. That said, they are playing a very weak playoff opponent, so they could get a one and done win here. The Colts have been a great story this year and improved on last years win total by 9 games, which is unheard of. That story might come to an end early, but it will be good experience for Andrew Luck for his future that will be filled with multiple playoff appearances. When I am this torn over an outright winner, I simply have to take 6.5 points, so Colts.
Nick: Ravens
AFF Editor's note: I bumped this line up to 7, which is where it was Friday. Joe and Figgs had already taken the Colts at + 6.5 so we'll give them that half point as well). This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend, and by intriguing, I mean: "I hate the Baltimore Ravens." There is simply no way I'm laying 7 to take a team I utterly despise, a team that has lost 4 of 5 games, in the final game of their murdering linebacker's career, wearing those awful, disgusting "Art" patches. No fucking way. And forget all those metrics I used in my other picks, because Baltimore (11th in DVOA, 8th in turnover differential, 11th in point differential) is better than Indy in all of them (25th, 26th, 21st). But Indy is a way, way better story, with Andrew Luck's crazy heroics and ChuckStrong. In fact, in honor of ChuckStrong, I'm posting my favorite image: Chuck from the Megabus logo. Go Colts.

AFC Wild Card, Saturday 4:30
REDSKINS (+3) vs Seahawks
Figgs: Hawks. Love getting this line under a field goal. It used to be that Seattle was great at home but smart money was to go against them on the road, but now they are just simply unbeatable at home but still a very good team away from Qwest. Favorite line of the weekend (which I've often been known to lose). ($)
Joe: Seahawks; I love what the Skins have done this year with RG3 and Alfred Morris. They ran the ball for more yards than anyone in the league this year. But I have been on the Seattle bandwagon for several weeks now, and I'm not about to jump off. Oh yeah, as good as RG3 is, Seattle might just have the better rookie QB in this game.
Nick: Seahawks
AFF: Editor's note: Figgs and Joe got this at +2.5. Nick and AFF have a +3 spread.
This is the sort of game that makes people interested in playoff football, no? I'm going to have to think about my pick here for a while.

OK, thought about it. I don't really have a horse in this race...Seattle just looks too strong to pick against at present, so I'm taking the Seahawks.

Figgs $ teaser: Indy (+12)/Green Bay (-1.5)

1 comment:

Joe Figgs said...

I suppose there is an advantage to waiting until kickoff to make a pick. Certainly, I would have taken the Packers to cover if I had known that the Curtis Painter-like Joe Webb was going to QB yesterday. But, alas, I didn't switch my pick before kickoff, so that combined with my hate on Baltimore even though I don't really believe it pick, and I'll live with a 2-2 weekend. ( P.S. That Baltimore game is a perfect example of why I don't bet games. Clearly, I routinely let my emotion talk me into believing things that are obviously not going to happen.)