FIWK the NFL: Conference championships.

Scott, I'm really going to try and keep my thoughts organized for you, but I can already feel that it falling apart. I think that despite all the Steelers-Jets drama, that game is more likely to be a blowout and the Bears-Packers game will be pretty close. Both spreads are 3.5 points and I think the Steelers easily cover, but I haven't figured out if the Packers will cover that last half a point. A couple public service announcements before getting to the picks. The games are both on Sunday at noon and 3:30 Pacific time. I know this is unusual, but with proper advanced planning, you should be able to time your drinking just fine. Second, the Pro Bowl is next week in Hawaii, not at the same location as the Super Bowl as it was last year.

New York @ Pittsburgh (-3.5): I'm picking these games out of order, because I already know what I'm going to say. The Jets faced the Colts and the Patriots in the playoffs already and won both by a total of eight points. Both opponents have an All-World QB leading a great offense with a weaker, but ok running game and a defense that is average at best. Both defenses turn out average because they are good against the pass and poor against the run. This usually works because their offenses are so dominant that their opponents are playing from behind and need to pass more than run. However, the Jets were able to exploit both these factors. New York's defense is good enough to hold the Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in check (not stop them completely...but hold them a little) giving the offense some breathing room. And the Jets running game is just strong enough to attack the Colts' and Patriots' weakness. This allowed Mark Sanchez to pass off play action or against a defense that was set up to stop the run. When fewer pass rushers and defensive backs are on the field, Sanchez can do enough to win. However, none of this will work against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has the best run defense and a great pass defense. They will be able to stop the Jets run game from a base defense and force Mark Sanchez to make enough plays to win. He won't. When the Steelers have the ball, the Jets may be able to stop the run, but not enough. And if Ben Roethlisberger has to make a play to win the game, he will. The Steelers have the better quarterback, the better defense and they're at home. The Steelers win by at least a touchdown, which easily covers the 3.5.
Not so bold prediction: Hines Ward gets penalized for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
Bold prediction: Troy Polamalu has an interception and/or a sack.

Green Bay (-3.5) @ Chicago: Green Bay is the 6 seed. The Bears are the 2 seed. The Bears are at home. In the AFC, this led to the Steelers being favored by 3.5, but in the exact same situation the visiting is favored by 3.5. Why the seven point swing? Because the Packers are that much better than the Bears. The Bears have a really good defense, but the Packers have a great defense. The Bears have a .... quarterback, but the Packers have a great quarterback. The Bears have a gr- good coa- offensive coordinator, but the Packers have a ... coach. The Packers have the better quarterback and the better defense. So I am easily picking them to win...but to cover 3.5? Ah, hell with it...Go Packers! Boo Bears! Go Aaron Rodgers! Boo Jay Cutler! Packers win and cover.
Not so bold prediction: Jay Cutler throws an interception.
Bold prediction: I wanted to say something like Jay Cutler has three turnovers, but that might be just a bit too bold...and saying he throws two interceptions really doesn't sound particularly bold. Ummm.....thinking....ok, got it. The biggest single play of the game in terms of yardage comes on special teams.

Just for your reference as to how these four teams compare using my favorite metric (that failed me two weeks ago and I didn't use last week or this week). The Steelers do a really good job not throwing interceptions and catching interceptions. The Jets do pretty good not throwing interceptions and a bad job catching interceptions. The Packers are pretty good at not throwing interceptions and the best in the league at catching interceptions. The Bears are best/worst [most likely] among playoff teams to throw an interception and really good at catching interceptions.

1 comment:

  1. Both winning quarterbacks threw 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, but each ran for a touchdown. I am now 8-2 ATS for the playoffs this year. I guess my biggest strength this season has been identifying trends and metrics that indicate the team more likely to win ATS...then quickly abandoning them when they no longer work.