Friday, January 5, 2007

Playoff Pickery - Wildcard Weekend

In the fall of 2002, one of my co-workers turned me on to an online gambling site. I honestly don't remember the name of it now, but that's not too surprising since I only placed two bets with them.

During Week #4 of the '02 season, the Denver Broncos traveled to Baltimore to play the Ravens. Baltimore was coming off a bye week, but had only scored seven combined points in their first two games. The Broncos, on the other hand, had scored 23, 24 and 28 points in their first three games and sported a 3-0 record versus the winless Ravens.

The Broncos were 3 ½ point favorites in what seemed like the very definition of "free money". Even better, the over/under was 31.

I laid $50 on the Broncos to cover and another $50 on the under, thinking that a 20-7 or 17-13 final score was all but written.

So, it goes without saying that the Ravens put up 34 points by themselves and beat the Broncos by 11, thus killing both of my bets in just four interminable hours on ABC.

My point is that the following predictions are for entertainment purposes only (home team in CAPS):

Kansas City Chiefs (+7) vs. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The Chiefs are everyone's upset pick this week based solely on Indy's inability to stop the run. It'll be a shootout, to be sure, and I could see Kansas City winning outright, but a late Adam Vinatieri field goal staves off the inevitable, insufferable Bill Simmons 10,000-word celebratory told-you-so tirade for another week.

Final Score: Colts 35, Chiefs 34

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-2.5) vs. Dallas Cowboys

I'll concede that the Cowboys aren't as bad as they've looked the last few weeks. I'll also concede that the Seahawks are a flawed, beatable team with fans who are still crying about last year's Super Bowl officiating. Still, Cowboys QB Tony Romo is playing his first playoff game in one of the toughest places in the league to win.

Final Score: Seahawks 19, Cowboys 16

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-7) vs. New York Giants

True story: Earlier this year, my fantasy football team was undefeated and playing a team that was starting a then white-hot Donovan McNabb at QB. That just happened to be the week where McNabb went down for the season with an early injury and, without his automatic 30 points, my team just barely won. I played the same team in the opening round of the playoffs and promptly had my ass handed to me, in part, by the arm of Alex Smith. This is the year for the Great White Hope, Jeff Garcia. OK, well, it's at least your week.

Final Score: Eagles 28, Giants 17

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-8.5) vs. New York Jets

How bad is it to have the San Diego Chargers and their hypocritically ignorant fans in the playoffs? Their presence has forced me to root for New England in this game. Assuming the Colts beat the Chiefs, the Chargers would play the winner of this game. The Pats are much more likely to find a way to put the lethal injection in the Chargers season than anyone else next week. But, don't look ahead, guys! Pace yourself, take care of business and then do it again next week. Please?

Final Score: Patriots 27, Jets 7