1.16.2005
 
Friday Juice (For Real)

I still intend to put out notes on the two Sunday games (as I did for the NJJ/PIT and STL/ATL games) but I'm going to go ahead and get out some real picks now.

First, a note from the Football Outsiders:

It is often said that home field advantage is key in the playoffs, but that’s not quite accurate. The real advantage comes from a first-round bye. In the wild card round and the championship games, home teams win at the same rate as the regular season. But in the second week of the playoffs, home teams are 45-11 since the postseason expanded to 12 teams in 1990. Just like in the wild card round, each playoff game this week is a rematch of a regular season game. All four of those games were won by the teams hosting this week’s contests.
  • New Jersey +8.5 at Pittsburgh - I can only see maybe one road team winning this week, but if I had to pick another one it would be the Jets. Plax or no plax, the last time these two played, the score was 3-3 going into the fourth. Therefore, I'm employing a 6 point tease here. Jets +14.5 under 41. That under 41 is still a low number, but the last four times Pittsburgh has played at home, both teams have combined for 30 or less points. 10 of the Jets' 17 games so far have fallen under the total and Pittsburgh holds an 8-8 record against the O/U. I don't really see either team pulling away from the other in this game.
UPDATE: Just a quick note, my confidence in this pick is fading. I think the wise move now is to take either the Jets to win, or the Steelers to cover. If I could change my pick I would, but in my heart I'm leaning towards the Steelers -9.

UPDATE THE UPDATE: Glad I am forced to stick by my guns. Actually, the Update was right on, it's just that Herm pulled a little Marty ball there at the end.
  • St. Louis +7 at Atlanta - I don't like these Rams. I just don't think they are that good. Marc Bulger has improved so much that he could be considered the league's 5th best QB- after the elite four (Payton, McNabb, Culpepper, Brady). And consider also that he's doing all this with a shoulder injury that probably isn't 100%. But being able to throw well doesn't consistently win games on the road. And the only reason the Falcons weren't considered by some the best team in the NFC this season is because of TO. Now that he's gone, Atlanta could make it all the way to Jacksonville. Falcons -7 and Falcons -1, over 42 in a six point tease.
  • Minnesota +9 at Philadelphia - Who knows how hurt Moss' ankle is. I don't think it'll matter. Lining up against Green Bay is one thing, but these Eages have made it to 3 straight NFC Championship Games with TO for a reason. Minnesota doesn't have the linebackers to play against the Eagles middle (Smith, Lewis, and Westbrook). But a special teams score will probably be the deciding factor that puts this line onto the side of Philly. Many professional gamblers will say that there's not much difference in taking a team -7.5 than there is in -9.5. I'll go with that Vegas proverb here. Eagles -9
  • Indianapolis +2 at New England - This will be the 4th game in just over a year that the Colts will play New England in a highly contested match. How many on-field coverage tricks are possible? There's no way Belichek can come up with something Peyton hasn't seen by now is there? NE leaving the field uncovered this week may turn out to hurt the Patriots because they are going to need to score a lot to keep pace with the Colts. Even though I also picked Atlanta twice, I don't like any other game like I do this one. I just don't think the Colts at their best can lose to what seems to be the Pats at their worse (which for everyone else, still isn't that bad). Colts +2 and Colts +8, over 46 in a six point tease.
(I also flipped the coin for these four games and it picked all four home teams....)

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: By Beach Decree, I can't change picks that have been bolded but I can add to them. The Eagles line is now at -8 and I'm favoring the under now, so I'd like to add a six point tease with Philly -2, under 53. I've also bumped this post up since it was getting buried down the list.
SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: 5-2 on the weekend, 7-4 for the playoffs.


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