Cincinnati (+4.5) over HOUSTON: Man, I can already feel that I'm not going to like this. It already feels like I'm totally ignoring a season's worth of stats and going with trends and momentum. The Texans are fading and the Bengals took care of business towards the end to lock up the wild card. But my stats say Houston wins this game 51% of the time on a neutral field. Home field advantage says they should be a three point favorite. Also Houston threw more interceptions than you would have thought a team with Arian Foster would throw. And even with all of JJ Watt's passes defensed the Texans didn't force opponents into that many interceptions. Although Cincy was actually slightly worse in both respects. I think this game turns on a random fumble recovery and I'm taking the points.
Minnesota (+7.5) over GREEN BAY: It's getting pretty late, and I'm typing without my glasses, and because I'm old, I'm not sure I'm seeing things correctly. Did I really just pick the Vikings to cover at Lambeau Field? I mean, there's no way I think Adrian Peterson runs for 200 yards again and this mean I'm expecting Christian Ponder to cover on the road against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. This 7.5 point spread, which should only be 4, says I am. Among teams that qualified for the playoffs, the Vikings caught the fewest interceptions. But that's ok, because Aaron Rodgers threw the fewest interceptions. It will be pretty hard for the Vikings to win if they don't get any turnovers. I think this post is missing something. It needs more snark or disgruntled-ness (disgruntled-ocity? disgrunt? disgruntle? Royce, are you the arbitrator of made up words or am I? Even if I am, I think I'd like a second opinion.) I really wanted to go with the Texans above just to go against the public betting momentum nonsense, but the Texans were a 10.1-5.9 team and the Bengals were a 9.8-6.2 team. They really are that close. Here, I really don't want to pick Christian Ponder and I don't think a running back can actually carry a team to victory. But Green Bay just isn't as good as people want to think they are. AND they are one of those popular teams who get enough action to actually swing the line towards them by a point or so. I honestly think the Packers win, but don't cover 7.5. And it's entirely possible the Vikings beat the Packers outright, you know, like they did last week. This was one thing I forgot about last week. I think I made some mention about how there seems to be a recent history of teams having to play each other two weeks in a row. I thought it might have been the Ravens getting up to the 3 seed and facing the Bengals after playing them last week. It honestly didn't occur to me that a Vikings win over the Packers would push the Packers down to the 3 seed an they would have to face the Vikings again in the first round. I'm ok with this because it means we get to see plenty of highlights of Adrian Peterson from last week and that was fun.
Indianapolis (+6.5) over BALTIMORE: What? Three underdogs? And aren't the Colts the worst team to make the playoffs, like ever, or something like that? Don't they have a negative point differential? Aren't they worse than the Chargers (who finished with exactly 0 as a point differential), Bucs, Panthers, and Cowboys? A rookie quarterback, ON THE ROAD, who led all playoff teams in interceptions thrown, and whose defense caught the second fewest touchdowns...Blah, blah, blah, more stuff about how the Colts are overrated by any statistical analysis, especially Football Outsiders, they won close games and got blown out by the Jets, etc. etc. It turns out the Ravens aren't really a dominant enough team to take advantage of all these things (in terms of their odds of winning) The spread should only be 5, so it's close. An for what it's worth (not much), the Colts actually do have a better record than the Ravens. That's right, if some pundits got their way and winning the division didn't guarantee a home playoff game, then this game would be in Indianapolis. So this pick really isn't for the Colts as much as it is against the Ravens being favored by 6.5 over any playoff team. I kind of paused there to read some Bill Simmons preview an he genuinely scared me regarding my previous pick of the Vikings. I mean, he actually had some good points that I liked. But then I took solace in the idea that I was picking against Bill Simmons.
Seattle (-3) over WASHINGTON: FOUR ROAD TEAMS?!?!? (That caps lock was intentional and not an unintentional left-the-caps-lock-on joke that I have used the past few weeks.) FOUR ROAD TEAMS?!?! Am I just guaranteeing that I don't go 4-0 but significantly increasing the odds that I go 3-1 or 2-2? Well, looking at just this game, the Seahawks are a terrifyingly efficient team. I think that's something people don't quite realize about Football Outsiders and DVOA. They are saying that on each individual play, the Seahawks are 30% more efficient than the average team this year. They aren't necessarily dominant in the way you think Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson are dominant. Nor are they even Tom Brady or Peyton Manning dominant. They're more steamroller dominant, but if a steamroller was also capable of going 30mph. They're not a tank or a rocket, jut something that looks like its going faster than it should be allowed to go. Was that an effective analogy? I don't even care any more. Although it will be fun to watch Russell Wilson an RGIII on Sunday afternoon. I guarantee a rookie quarterback will win a playoff game this week. Maybe we can get Bill Simmons to tweet about his man-crush on Russel Wilson to Matthew Berry, who will respond with irrational Redskins fandom regarding RGIII. If there's a secret to this game, the Redskins actually lead playoff teams in interceptions caught and even though the Seahawks only threw 10 interceptions, they attempted so few passes that the offensive interception rate is actually kind of high. The more passing situations the Redskins can force the Seahawks into, the less effective Beast Mode will be and the better the chance for the Redskins to win outright.
Posted by Aaron at 1/05/2013 12:26:00 AM