Opening Lines: Wild Card Round

Since the Patriots will be spending this week getting healthy and sipping margaritas (except for Edelman, since he can’t handle his liquor without allegedly groping somebody), I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on how I’ve done this season picking against the spread in New England games.

Week 1 PICK: Patriots -7 RESULT: WIN
Week 2 PICK: Chargers +7 RESULT: LOSS
Week 3 PICK: Patriots -9.5 RESULT: LOSS
Week 4 PICK: Patriots -4.5 RESULT: WIN
Week 5 PICK: Jets +9.5 RESULT: WIN
Week 6 PICK: Cowboys +7.5 RESULT: WIN
Week 7 BYE
Week 8 PICK: Patriots -2.5 RESULT: LOSS
Week 9 PICK: Giants +9 RESULT: WIN
Week 10 PICK: Patriots -1 RESULT: WIN
Week 11 PICK: Patriots -12.5 RESULT: WIN
Week 12 PICK: Eagles +4.5 RESULT: LOSS
Week 13 PICK Patriots -20.5 RESULT: LOSS
Week 14 PICK Patriots -7.5 RESULT: LOSS
Week 15 PICK Patriots -6 RESULT: WIN
Week 16 PICK Dolphins +9 RESULT: WIN
Week 17 PICK Patriots -12 RESULT: WIN

The takeaway? First, a 10-6 record against the spread is solid. Of course, I would have gone 9-7 if I had just blindly picked the Patriots every week, so it’s not mind-blowingly good. But still, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who did much better picking New England games against the spread this season. I’ll take it. Second, I really sucked on the other lines I picked this year. I made things a little bit harder on myself this year by adding an extra game to my picks each week, and that forced me to pick a lot of marginal games. That’s a good sign that I need to dial it back a bit next year and not spread myself too thin. Still, a few good weeks in the playoffs could bring the winning percentage above the magical .525 to achieve profitability, so there is still hope. Third, much like the Patriots, I pretty much owned games within the division. It’s an impossibly small sample size, but going 5-1 in those games will at least serve as a source of personal pride. When you’re barely above .500 overall, you have to savor the small victories.

On to this week’s picks:
Texans (-3) vs. Bengals
The Bengals have some very nice building blocks in place, but they still aren’t a very good team. They’re in the playoffs primarily because they played against the NFC West and AFC South this year. They were 0-7 against playoff teams and 1-6 against teams with a winning record. When these two teams met in Cincy a few weeks ago, the Bengals had a +2 turnover differential and still lost. You want to take them on the road in an electric playoff atmosphere for Houston’s first home playoff game? No thanks.

 

Lions (+10.5) @ Saints

The Lions defense will face a stiff challenge against Drew Brees and the Saints offense, but the Detroit offense is no slouch either. The Saints defense is not an elite unit. They remind me of the decidedly average girl at the club who only looks passable when she’s surrounded by her hotter friends in trampy outfits. I have trouble backing that sort of defense when they face a double-digit spread against a good offense. (following this same analogy, the New England and Green Bay defenses would be the sloppy drunk chicks sporting the muffin tops and flashing their naughty parts to everyone in the vicinity of the dance floor)

 

Falcons (+3) vs. Giants

New York was barely the best team that played home games in New Jersey this year, and you could argue that they were the third-best team in their own division. It’s tough to stop the Atlanta offense when they get the running game on track, and the Giants have struggled mightily to stop opposing running backs all year. Since Week 3, Atlanta’s only losses have come against division winners (Green Bay, Houston and New Orleans twice). The Falcons probably win this game outright, so I have no problem taking the points.

 

Broncos (+8) vs. Steelers

Denver is probably going to lose this game, but the Steelers have been awful against the number in games they are supposed to win comfortably. Pittsburgh is also dealing with injuries at quarterback, running back, offensive line and probably towel boy, water boy and cheerleader (which is odd considering the fact they don’t even have cheerleaders, presumably because city residents do not appreciate enthusiastic and attractive women). Also, they won’t have the services of safety Ryan Clark due to his weird altitude sickness thingy that could kill him if he looks at the Rocky Mountains the wrong way. An undermanned Steelers squad could still eek out a win here since they match up well against Denver’s Leather Helmet Offense, but a complete blowout is unlikely.

 

2011 Record ATS 43-41-4

2010 Record ATS 25-17

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