Let me review last week’s Mythical Picks before moving on:
I liked Ravens/Broncos Under 46.5. Game was Over in 3rd Q. Boo!
I liked Packers +3 against Niners. Not even close… Boo!
I liked Seahawks +3 against Falcons. Falcons won by only 2. Yes!
I liked Texans +10 against Pats. Pats won by 13. Boo!
Mythical Picks were clearly unprofitable last week with a 1-3 record – and two of those picks were not even close to correct. Nevertheless, the season cumulative record remains mythically profitable at 139-115-7.
Lest anyone even allow a fleeting thought to go through his/her mind regarding the use of anything here as the basis for picking a side in a wager on this weekend’s NFL playoff games, let me tell you how dumb you would have to be to act on that thought:
You probably also think that the World Wide Web was made by 8 jillion spiders.
I know that Manti Te’o is not in the NFL yet and I know that there will be more revelations with regard to the story about his girlfriend. Nevertheless, I have to ask a question here even before all of the precincts have reported:
Am I the only person in the world who thought that “catfishing” was a means to acquire dinner and had nothing to do with an online scam?
One more comment on that situation without the benefit of all the facts:
Whoever concocted this hoax – whether it was Te’o, a friend of his, Joe Flabeetz or the AD at Notre Dame – is in need of serious psychological counseling.
Speaking of the need for counseling, Ryan Leaf dug a deeper hole for himself recently. Leaf was in a Montana drug treatment facility after he pled guilty to burglary and possession of dangerous drugs. However, he has been removed from that facility and sent to Montana State Prison for violating rules at the treatment facility. One violation reportedly was that Leaf “threatened a staff member”.
While I was watching the Ravens/Broncos game last weekend – having made a Mythical Pick that the game would stay Under 46.5 –, I was pleased to see the Ravens keep the ball on the first possession of the game for a few minutes and then have to punt it to the Broncos such that the Broncos would probably get the ball deep in their own territory. When you play Under, what you want is a lot of punting without good field position for the receiving team. Then the Broncos returned the punt for a TD and I “knew” at that point early in the first quarter that Mythical Pick was going down the tubes.
By the way, Trindon Holliday also returned a Ravens kickoff for a TD in that game – and the Broncos still lost. Most unusual…
After the game was over, Peyton Manning and his wife reportedly waited outside the Ravens locker room until Ray Lewis finished with all of his interviews and comments to wish him well in his retirement. I may not believe for a minute that Peyton Manning actually drives that mid-size Buick that he hawks on TV, but that gesture was respectful and classy.
The Pittsburgh Steelers released Chris Rainey after police arrested Rainey on charges of beating up his girlfriend. The reason that merits a comment here is that Chris Rainey was suspended from the Florida football team a couple of years ago after he sent his girlfriend a text message saying that he was going to kill her. Urban Meyer was the coach at Florida at the time and he reinstated Rainey after a brief suspension. The girlfriend subsequently said that no assault took place last week but police say that witnesses reported that Rainey slapped the woman and then chased her when she ran off.
Maybe Manti Te’o is onto something here. It is pretty difficult to slap or abuse an imaginary girlfriend…
I am not sure, but I think that Jon Gruden has finally stopped talking on the last MNF game of the season. Yes, indeed he has stopped talking… Cue Simon and Garfunkel:
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”
NFL defensive units took last weekend off. The losing teams averaged 30.5 points per game last week. When a team is good enough to make the playoffs and it scores 30 points or so, it is supposed to win the game. However, last weekend, the winning teams averaged 38.5 points per game. The average total score was 69 points! Amazing… In Ireland, they have days called “bank holidays” where businesses close and people have the day off. Was last weekend a “defensive holiday” in the NFL?
A federal judge in New Orleans dismissed Jonathan Vilma’s suit against Roger Goodell for defamation of character. Can that please be the end of the saga regarding the Saints and their putative bounty system?
Gus Bradley left his job as Seahawks’ defensive coordinator and took the head-coaching job in Jax. Bruce Arians will be the head coach in Arizona. Good luck to both of these men; I think they are going to need it.
In the Texans/Pats game, Danieal Manning took the opening kickoff and returned it 94 yards before he was tackled at the Pats’ 12-yardline. Here is a tidbit from the Elias Sports Bureau via espn.com:
“That was the second-longest kickoff return that failed to result in a touchdown in NFL postseason history. Maurice Jones-Drew was stopped at the 1-yard line after a 96-yard kickoff return for Jacksonville at Pittsburgh on Jan. 5, 2008.”
By the way, here is another item from the Elias folks on espn.com regarding a record set last weekend:
“Russell Wilson threw for 385 yards on Sunday, setting a rookie record for a postseason game. The record that Wilson broke had stood for over 75 years – Slingin’ Sammy Baugh threw for 335 yards, including TD passes of 77, 55, and 35 yards, in the 1937 NFL Championship Game. No other rookie has thrown for 300 yards in a postseason game.”
You will not find this proposition bet at any sportsbook, but I think it might be worth considering for the games this weekend:
Which Harbaugh brother will pitch the biggest fit on the sideline as a result of a call by the game officials?
Jim – 160
Here is a great line from Ravens’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees on the best way to make life difficult for Tom Brady this weekend:
“Hire Tonya Harding…”
Three of the four teams from last year’s Conference Championship Games are back again this year. The NFL loves to remind us that “On any given Sunday…” However, this year, those “upsets” did not happen sufficiently often to make much of a change when it comes to this layer of the playoffs.
Did you realize that three of the last five NFC Conference Championship Games went to overtime? We can only hope that happens again since the Atlanta/SF matchup looks like a very interesting one.
SF – 4 at Atlanta (48.5): Normally, when you get to this point in the playoffs, the home team is one of the top two seeds, had a bye week in the first week of the playoffs and that team is favored at home. I say that lest you think that I made an error here and have the points allotted to the wrong side; indeed, the Niners on the road are favored by 4 points. The line opened at 3 points and has risen all week. In fact, you can find it as high as 5 points at one Internet sportsbook. These teams are relatively evenly matched on offense but the Niners defense gives up about 70 yards per game less than the Falcons defense does. The big difference is in the rushing defense where the Falcons give up 4.8 yards per rushing attempt. And running the ball is one of the strengths of the Niners offense – even without Colin Kaepernick scampering around for 175+ yards. Here is an interesting triad of stats:
The Niners are 1-5 the last six times they have played in the NFC Championship Game.
The Niners are 2-2 on the road with Colin Kaepernick at QB
The Falcons are 34-6 at home (including playoff games) with Matt Ryan at QB.
Remember, the Niners are favored here… Here are some meaningless and contradictory trends related to these two teams:
Niners are 5-2 to go Under in their last 7 games against the Falcons.
Falcons are 6-1 to go Under in their last 7 home games.
Take the Under, right?
Niners are 5-2 to go Over in their last 7 games against the NFC South.
Falcons are 16-7 to go Over in their last 23 games against the NFC West.
Take the Over, right?
In watching the Falcons this year, I have seen a team that plays hard and does not make mistakes, but I have never gotten the idea that they might be a dominant team. Last week against the Packers, the Niners looked unbeatable; they gained almost 600 yards. I just do not see the Falcons being able to replicate the running game they had last week against the Seahawks but I do think that the Niners will be able to run the ball respectably against the Falcons. I also think this game will come down to the matchup of receivers versus secondaries. In that dimension, I like the Niners’ matchup better than the Falcons’ matchup. I’ll take the Niners and lay the points.
Baltimore at New England – 8 (51): This is a rematch of the AFC Championship Game from last year. The last time that happened in the AFC was in 1987 when the Broncos and the Browns met in this game for the second straight year. The Broncos won both of those games and went on to get slaughtered in the Super Bowl two years in a row. Enough history… Here are some stats that are interesting:
Joe Flacco has won 5 road playoff games in his career.
Tom Brady has won 17 playoff games in his career.
Pats are 14-3 at home in the playoffs
Ravens are 8-5 on the road in playoffs [Elias Sports Bureau says this is the best record in the NFL for 10 games or more.]
The line for this game opened at 9 points and moved up to 9.5 points early in the week. Since then, it has steadily come down to this level at the vast majority of sportsbooks I check. The Pats have the NFL’s most prolific offense gaining 428 yards per game. However, the Ravens have the 5th best offense in the AFC at 350 yards per game and the Pats rank 13th in total defense in the AFC. Joe Flacco may not have the résumé that Tom Brady has, but he has thrown 5 TD passes in the playoffs this year and the average distance on those TD passes is 40 yards. I smell a shoot out here – assuming that the weather in Foxboro cooperates – so I’ll take the game to go Over. Also, I like the Ravens plus the points.
Finally, here is an observation from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“The Internet was abuzz with the Dolphins’ supposed redesigned logo, which shows a sleeker, stylized dolphin without eyes or a helmet. Moral of story: No matter how hard you try or what you do, you simply can not make a leaping dolphin look menacing.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………