Friday, January 18, 2008

Playoff Pick'em Conference Championships

Well, after my undefeated first week, Durden and I were together on all the games last week which resulted in a whopping 1 win (thanks Giants).

Fortunately for you guys, I'm guaranteeing we will not get 3 games wrong again this week.

Sure, the NFL and all the broadcasters have a hard on at the mere thought of Tom Brady up against Brett Favre in the Super Bowl, with a perfect season on the line. But I’m rooting for the “these two quarterbacks were traded for each other just four years ago and now they’re playing against each other in the Super Bowl” storylines.

In case there was any doubt about what the underdogs are up against this week, let’s take a look at what Vegas has to say about the games… A $100 dollar parlay on the Chargers/Giants to both win outright would win you close to $3,000. Mmhmm, sooo there's that...

San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots -14
Philip Rivers on the perception that he has a big mouth: "I'm aware of it. I really don't get too caught up in it. It's kind of surprising, really, to be honest with you. But, again, I'm out there having a good time as I did in the backyard since I was 5 years old. Why is it that when Brett Favre acts like a child, he’s made into a national hero?” OK, I made up that last statement but it’s true!

Interestingly enough, Rivers has become the closest thing these playoffs have had to a villain, and yet could also be close to our last hope at ending New England’s run.

Unfortunately, I just don’t think they were winning this game even with LDT and Gates being healthy, which they’re not. In my opinion, their only hope is to put Cromartie on Moss without help all game long, and go after Brady. Of course, Ted Cottrell has been reluctant to blitz with Merriman and Phillips but it probably won’t matter if they don’t opt for this type of game plan.
Pick: Patriots -14

Mazzone: First Tony Romo's trip to Mexico ruins Dallas' season and now Randy Moss beating on some women will destroy the Patriots' season. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, sort of...

Way back in the first half of the season Bill Simmons mentioned how the Dolphins trading Chris Chambers to the Chargers was part of an elaborate plan to keep the Patriots from an undefeated season. We all thought he was just being his usual jackass self in not recognizing that, at the time of the trade, the Patriots had already destroyed the Chargers and still had the Dolphins left on their schedule – thus actually aiding the Patriots efforts at an undefeated regular season.

But now, now the Dolphins glorious plan is falling into place. Gates is hobbling, Tomlinson is limping, Rivers is banged up, but Chambers… Chambers is full speed and ready to dominate the AFC Championship game just as the Dolphins had hoped when they traded him.

On a more serious note, it could probably go without saying that the Chargers have little chance of escaping New England with a win. But we said the same last week and Igor Olshansky will tell you otherwise, they certainly have enough motivation (history between the teams, the Patriots being unbeaten, oh yea and a trip to the Super Bowl…kind of a big deal too) and they have the talent on both sides of the ball to get it done as well. It’s not like they don’t stack up well with the Ravens, Eagles, Colts, and Giants who have given the Pats some trouble.

I don’t truly believe the Chargers will win this game (mostly because Rivers usually sucks when he's healthy let alone with a bum knee), but being a fan of Chris Chambers, loathing the Patriots and their shot at a perfect season, and now living in San Diego, it’s pretty easy to root almost as if it we’re the Miami Football Dolphins in the championship game. So, here’s to Merriman passing around the steroids this week and to me regaining my belief in football.
Pick: SUPER Chargers +14

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers -7.5
Oh my gawd, did you see Brett gunsling a snowball at Donald last week?!?! It was like two little…wait for it…LITTLE KIDS!!!!!

OK, this one’s gonna be a good one, because like I said last week, none of these NFC teams should be favored by more than a touchdown over each other. While I do think the Packers will win, it may be a lot to ask for Green Bay to keep carrying Brett Favre, especially if the real Favre shows up and starts throwing balls up for grabs.

Regardless though, the Giants actually have a great shot to win and this is the game you’re going to want to get your popcorn ready for. Just don’t eat TO’s because that’s not fair, man. If you guys do that, it’s really unfair. It’s really unfair, man. That’s his popcorn…man. And don’t worry Cowboy fans, rumor has it that Jessica Simpson will not be at the game, so you’ll have to blame someone else if Dallas doesn’t win this one.
Pick: Giants +7.5

Mazzone: Last week I showed you a video of a children’s cult cute little kids willingly dressed in Green Bay gear and singing about their beloved Pack. Here’s what happens if you don’t participate.

It’s going to be difficult to win in the snow, in Lambeau, without Seinfeld, and with Favre sliding around and tossing no look shovel passes like he’s a kid on the playground, but hopefully the Giants are up to the task.

I’m enjoying the Giants postseason run for a few reasons. First, I mentioned them as a possible Super Bowl team earlier in the year. Second, now that I left New Jersey for the West Coast, the Giants winning some games is much more tolerable. Especially since most Giants’ fans (up until two weeks ago) hate Eli Manning, as does the media - at least compared to Favre/Brady. I also love the aspect of every single drive from here until he wins a Super Bowl being a “defining drive in Eli Manning’s career.” At last count he’s up to 39 career defining drives and should be good for a few more this weekend. And lastly, it's nice to see the football Gods rewarding the Giants for actually giving a crap against the Patriots.

And nobody gives a crap more than Osi Umenyiora, literally. Whether that story is true or not, let’s hope he celebrates each and every sack by shitting all over Brett Favre.
Pick: Giants +7.5

Enjoy the games and believe in football.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Playoff Pick 'em Week 2

Alright, I'm coming off a 3-0-1 week in the first round and feel invincible heading into round two. Durden only missed the 'Skins game last week, but it's not his fault that Sean Taylor's ghost gave up late in the game, no one could have predicted that.

On to the games, where oddly enough our picks are identical this week so 4-0 is pretty much guaranteed! Enjoy your winnings...

Seattle Seahawks
@ Green Bay Packers -7.5
Durden: Brett Favre says he plans to return for an 18th season in 2008. "I want to continue the streak and winning," Favre told the Biloxi Sun Herald. "When I talk about the streak, it's not the consecutive starts; it's the hot streak we are on." Of course that’s all it is, Brett, we believe you. As for the game, I maintain that it’s hard to know which Seattle team will show up from week to week. However, assuming the Seahawks show up at all, the difference between these two teams is marginal. We want the points and we’re going to win!
Pick: Seahawks +7.5

Mazzone: I was figuring the Packers for a blowout in this game all week, but a couple things - completely unrelated to the actual game/matchup - changed my mind. The first is that I still absolutely love “We want the ball and we’re gonna score!” That’s the stuff legends are made of and it’s just plain fun. So it didn’t work out, Hasselbeck is still ok in my book for now and forever. Without that moment he’d have just been another above average but mostly irrelevant QB on another above average but mostly irrelevant team and I’d have no problem laying the points. As for the other thing that made me want to take the Seahawks, here you go. If you’re not from Green Bay, be ready to throw up…
Pick: Seahawks +7.5

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots -13.5
Durden: Fred Taylor initially considered turning down a Pro Bowl invitation if either Tomlinson, Addai or Parker couldn't make the trip for the Feb. 10 game -- he even said "maybe the Pro Bowl doesn't deserve Fred Taylor" -- but his wife convinced him otherwise. Boooo, Fred Taylor’s wife. That was the best 3rd person proclamation I’ve heard in a long time.

Anyway, this is the matchup I was hoping for, as I felt the Jaguars had a better shot to beat the Pats than the Steelers or Titans did. Were it not for the Jags’ meltdown last week, my wishful thinking was all I needed to pick them here. Unfortunately, that second half scared me enough to go with New England instead. I really hope I’m wrong, but the Patriots are coming off an extra week of rest and preparation for the first time all season. Worse for Jacksonville, NE won’t be forcing passes just to break records and is free to just play its game, for the first time in weeks. That concerns me more than anything.
Pick: Patriots -13.5

**Editors note: Fred Taylor is very underrated as far as being quotable - “maybe the Pro Bowl doesn’t deserve Fred Taylor” is solid, and "I didn't think I needed a shrink. I'm not a nut case. But I told them, I'll do it anyway. If it's free, it's me." Is downright spectacular.

Mazzone: Last week’s game with the Steelers was pretty much a repeat of the first matchup and while most will say the Jaguars were lucky to escape, I’m more inclined to give them credit for surviving. It’s not easy to beat a team twice on the road in a few short weeks, especially in a playoff atmosphere during a close game. Nonetheless, I’m sticking by my “playoffs are where game managers go to die” theory. Garrard almost cost them the game last week with the interceptions that let the Steelers back in the game and he only made one real big play and had a little help from the officials on that one. You can’t make mistakes and you have to make big plays to come close against the Pats. You better believe they are going to sell out on stopping MJD/Fred Taylor and force Garrard to beat them. I think this one gets ugly in a hurry unless one of two things happens. The Jags get big special teams plays from MJD, or the Pats/Brady just come out explicably slow.
Pick: Patriots -13.5

San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts -9
Durden: Not only am I deferring my wishful thinking pick to the Colts here, but the absence of Antonio Gates makes this a no-brainer for me. Indy needs to look strong in this one because they represent our (the free world’s) last hope.
Pick: Colts -9

Mazzone: Prior to the playoffs I had future bets on both these teams to win the Super Bowl, but much more significant one on the Colts (because this team is significantly better than last year's that won the Championship), so I’m partial here.

That being said, Marvin Harrison is back for the Colts, and Antonio Gates is out for the Chargers making this an easy pick for me, despite rooting for Chambers to be successful. If they played in San Diego and Gates was healthy they may have had a shot. As it stands, this one’s not even going to be close. I’m just rooting for a nice friendly scrimmage where Peyton and Marvin can get their timing down and everyone stays healthy so they can go into New England and take care of business.
Pick: Colts -9

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys -7.5
Forget whatshername for a second. It may interest Terry Bradshaw, but I really don’t care what Romo, Witten and her father do with her in Mexico. I still simply refuse to believe Tony Romo is as good as everyone else seems to think he is.

What I am curious to see, is which receiver in this game plays up his injury more. Between Plax pretending to be hurt all year and letting us all know about it, TO’s latest injury, and Terry Glenn possibly playing for the first time all year, it’s going to be a heated battle for sure. I’m sure TO is less than 100% though, so I’m looking forward to seeing how great Romo is if the Giants do an adequate job of covering Witten. So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m taking the Giants. Really though, I just don’t think any NFC team should be favored by 7 or more in the playoffs.
Pick: Giants +7.5

As much as the pictures of Romo fumbling the snap and crying would be amusing, there isn’t any part of me that wants to see a Dallas/Seahawks rematch. At the same time I don’t think I could tolerate Romo/Favre either. The solution… Let’s Go Eli!!!!!!!!!

This week’s trendy pick makes sense on a few levels, but probably not the most important one. The Cowboys are simply the better team, not to mention they’re healthier, even with TO hobbled – we’ve seen him perform on one leg before, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. Also, the Giants are coming off essentially three playoff/grueling games with big implications in a row, do they have anything left?

Recently, I heard Julius Jones was a great change of pace back for Marion Barber. Yea, something like that. I propose calling Julius Jones the first ever game manager at the running back position. He’ll get you 3-4 yards for the most part and won’t fumble, but don’t expect much more.

So, we know the Giants can get to Romo, and we know there’s a chance TO could struggle or re-injure himself. We also know the Cowboys insist on giving Julius Jones 10-15 touches a game. Since he’s a game manager now and the playoffs are where game managers go to die, you gotta like the Giants here.

Besides, it’d be fitting for Romo’s legacy to follow up last year’s fumble with another gut-wrenching loss this season. And the media has already started second guessing and writing the obligatory “should Tony Romo have spent the week having sex with Jessica Simpson in Mexico when he could have spent the week having sex with Jessica Simpson in Dallas?” articles.
Pick: Giants +7.5

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Playoff Pick'em!

Well, I finished the season as poorly as I started, but at least I can take solace in the fact that no self respecting gambler would bet serious money on the last week of the regular season. The 5-10-1 finish was the perfect end to an embarrassing pick’em performance and pushed me under .500 season (121-124-11).

Next to me, Durden looks like a genius sitting at just under 53 percent for the year (135-110-11). A minor victory in a solid, but disappointing season that saw him finish second in both his fantasy leagues (including a 15-0 team losing in the finals), and finishing 3rd in his survivor pool.

Fortunately, for the good of our readers, we’ve decided to continue with the postseason picks, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll bet with Durden in the games we have different and make some money.

Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks -3.5
Durden: Todd Collins is so old, when he was in school, there was no history class. He’s so old, that when he was born, the Dead Sea was just getting sick. And yet as long as he gets adequate protection, he’s going to lead the Redskins to a win, as they’re hitting their stride at just the right time. Of course, the Seahawks are fully capable of winning this game at home if they decide to show up, but they’re also the most consistently inconsistent team in the league. I’m sick of them getting a free pass to the playoffs every year because of their weak division, and I think the Redskins will expose them for the frauds that they are.
Pick: Redskins +3.5

Mazzone: Sean Taylor was the first player ever voted to the Pro Bowl team posthumously and now he’s been replaced. That alone doesn’t make much sense to me. Toss in that it’s Roy Williams taking his spot and I can’t help but think that’s a slap in the face. Not only is Roy Williams not too fond of covering people, but he also can’t tackle legally anymore with the institution of the Roy Williams horse collar rule a couple years ago.

Anyway, I wanted to pick the Redskins, and I still may by the time I place my bet on Saturday, but for now it’s tough not to like Seattle who’s something along the lines of 24-3 at home, including the playoffs (3-0). So, I’m going with the Seahawks in this game, but leaving the option open to posthumously vote the Redskins back in next week…and maybe even replace them with the Vikings.
Pick: Seahawks -3.5

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers +2
Durden: Remember when the Steelers were supposed to challenge the Pats for AFC supremacy? Hey Pittsburgh: enjoy those low draft picks and the first place schedule next year, with nothing but a lousy performance in the wild card round to show for it.
Pick: Jaguars -2

Mazzone: Everyone wants to see Jags/Patriots. The Jags manhandled Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh weather, on a terrible field last time they were in town. This time the McBeams will be without Willie Parker, and the offensive line is banged up as well. Roethlisberger is already among the most hurried/hit/sacked qbs in the NFL and could be in for a long day. So obviously I’m taking the Steelers… what?!

I don’t think they’ll take too kindly to being underdogs at home. Also, the playoffs are where “game managers” at the QB position go to die, with exception of the great Trent Dilfer. So, I expect Garrard to not be able to come up with the big play when needed, or turn the ball over in a big spot. On the flipside, I like Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes for some big plays to spark the crowd and open up the running game, maybe a quadruple reverse into a forward pass or something else festive that we’ve come to expect from Pittsburgh. Ok, once I start using “on the flipside” to transition, I know it’s time to move onto another game…
Pick: Steelers +2

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3
Is Tampa trying to draw the ire of the football gods? Between not really playing out their schedule, and trying to keep all 4 Giant fans who were interested in going from attending this Saturday’s game, it would appear that they’re not interested in positive karmic forces. Meanwhile, Burress has stopped pretending he’s hurt, and the Giants have been mostly impressive over the course of their last 5 quarters. The Bucs stops here!
Pick: Giants +3

Mazzone: This is the trendy pick for the upset special (since the Jags are favored) and it’s easy to see why. It’s the ideal matchup for the Giants because Eli can play like absolute crap and they could still win since the Bucs don’t typically put up a lot of points - especially against a defense like the Giants’. I think the Giants will pull this one out. I just haven’t decided if they squeak out a win with Eli playing poorly or if he plays great this week to get everyone’s hopes up and then shits the bed next week. Either way I think we’re looking at a couple playoff games of analysts saying “If Eli manning is ever going to be a star and lead this team he needs to step up and do it today by playing well”. Roughly games 15 and 16 of his career where he “needs to prove he’s an elite qb”.

And if that's not good enough, this video should do the trick, as Tecmo Bowl has never lied to or let anyone down...ever.
Pick: Giants +3

Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers -9

I was initially inclined to give the Titans these points, but I just couldn’t ignore how underwhelming they were against the Jets and then the Colts’ backups. To make matters worse, their pass game has since lost multiple weapons (for lack of a better word) , which is the last thing an already anemic “attack” needed. Not even Albert Haynesworth putting his foot down will be enough.
Pick: Chargers -9

The discrepancy in the defensive numbers, both team and individual, with Haynesworth vs. without is astounding. He’s an absolute animal and really does make everyone around him better. And with Vince Young always winning big games this should be a piece of cake for the Titans, but the Chargers are hot at the right time and dominant at home. Neither of these QB’s should be allowed to throw it more than 15 times, but at least Rivers has several guys who will go up and make plays for him. I feel good about the Titans being one and done, the question is whether or not they keep it close enough to cover. I have visions of Vince Young sitting by himself and pouting - maybe even pulling himself out with an ‘injury’ after getting hit over and over again, so…
Pick: Chargers -9