Photo: Fox Sports
Here. We. Go.
The penultimate weekend of this football season has two pretty good games. They’re not as good as last week’s, but they’re pretty exciting.
For all of the talk about parity in the NFL, the truth of the matter is that the best teams are consistently in a position to go to the Super Bowl.
Three of the four teams in the conference championship games were in the conference championship games last year.
When people talk about parity in the NFL, feel free to laugh at them. The teams with great quarterbacks and great coaches have separated themselves from the rest of the league. There will be some 3-13 teams that become 10-6, but they don’t stand a chance against the truly great teams in the league.
With that said, let’s dig into the two games this week.
I’m 4-4 on playoff picks, so I need to nail these picks. I think I can do it.
The Baltimore Ravens are on the road against the New England Patriots, who are 8 point favourites.The Patriots opened as 9 point favourites. As the bets have poured in, the Pats are only 8 point favourites. This suggests the market doesn’t believe the Pats are going to blow out the Ravens.
The reason they don’t believe is pretty straight forward. The Patriots lost to Ravens earlier this year, 31-30, and beat the Ravens a year ago 23-20. The last two games have been close, why would the Pats crush the Ravens this weekend?
And then, there’s the fact that the Ravens were heavy underdogs in Denver and won. Betting on the Patriots and giving the Ravens 8 points just makes one feel queasy.
At the same time, this Patriots team feels like it’s better than the team that played the Ravens in the recent past. The offence, even without Rob Gronkowski, appears to be on fire. It’s moving very smoothly. The defence, thanks to new cornerback Aqib Talib, seems to be much better than last year’s defence.
I could picture the Patriots winning by 10 or more points. I am not a believer in the Ravens. I really want to pick the Pats, and give the points, but I just can’t do it. Even in last week’s win against the Texans, the Patriots came close to not covering the spread.
Ultimately, I say take the points. I believe the Pats win, but it’s close.
The Matlock: Ravens +8
(For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, that means I think the Ravens either win, or lose by 8 points or less.)
Photo: AP Images
The San Francisco 49ers on the road against the Atlanta Falcons, who are 3.5 point underdogs.After watching last week’s games, it’s nearly impossible for any sane person to pick the Falcons.
They only have one thing going for them: No one believes they’re going to win and they have very little pressure.
San Francisco has a better coach. San Francisco has a better defence. San Francisco’s offence, when it’s firing, is much better. San Francisco just overhauled its offensive scheme and Atlanta might not even know how to prepare.
But there is a big risk with that offence. Colin Kaepernick is still a virtual rookie out there. And the last time he won a big game he followed it up with a big let down. Kaepernick crushed the Patriots, then was crushed by the Seahawks. Do we believe he can have two great games in a row?
After watching Russell Wilson, who is a similar quarterback to Kaepernick, torch Atlanta in the second half of last week’s game, I can’t pick Atlanta. I believe Jim Harbaugh is the best coach in the league and I believe he will get to the Super Bowl.
The lead-pipe lock: 49ers -3.5
(For non-gamblers like my boss Henry Blodget, that means I think the 49ers win by 4 points or more.)
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