« RCS Top 10: Erroneous Columns of 2008 | RCS Blog Home Page | End of the Line for Tony Dungy? »

Pay Homage To Gamblor: Wildcard Playoffs

by Jeff Briggs

It’s the playoffs, which means an opportunity to make money gambling against bad teams. It also means that the media is going to begin searching for Super Bowl storylines that they can beat into the back of your skull for two weeks in a row. Let’s run through some of these potentially overplayed story angles.

Colts vs. Giants – The Manning Bowl! Nothing would be worse than this. Did you know they won the last two Super Bowls? Archie Manning would probably have ESPN follow him around 24/7 with a team of cameras and get 20 minutes of screen time during the actual game. Also, expect tons of jokes about the Double Stuff League.

Ravens vs. Falcons – Did you know that Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are both rookies? You surely will be informed of this 1,000 times a day if we see this matchup.

Ravens/Dolphins vs. Falcons – Did you know that all these teams have first year head coaches? Add in that if the Dolphins play the Falcons we’ll be subject to endless “biggest turnaround of all time” stories.

Titans vs. Giants – This game will somehow be billed as Kerry Collins versus his old team. Of course, Collins hasn’t been on the Giants for five years, but that won’t stop people from making it sound like he just got cast aside last weekend in New York.

Titans vs. Cardinals – Old quarterbacks who were once thought to be done have resurrected their careers and now are playing each other in the Super Bowl! Tell me more!

Last week: 6-9-1
Season: 114-135-9

Home team in CAPS

Falcons (-3) over CARDINALS
Yes, the Falcons have a rookie QB, on the road, in the playoffs – usually a bad sign. But despite all that, Atlanta is winning this game. The Cardinals haven’t beat a team outside of the putrid NFC West since October 12th, an overtime win over Dallas. Outside of their division, they are 3-7; that’s not the team I want to put my money on.

CHARGERS (+1.5) over Colts
Originally I had all the road favorites. That seems unwise, so upon further speculation, this was the game I decided to change.

What bothers me most about this game is that whoever wins will suddenly become the team everyone picks as the surprise Super Bowl winner. Yes, both teams are hot – the Chargers have won four straight, and the Colts nine in a row – but I don’t have any faith in either of these teams being able to get it done in January. The Chargers will end up winning this game, just to make people in San Diego say things like, “It’s a whole new season” and “We just took a while to get started, but now we are the best team in the NFL.” Well, newsflash: you aren’t. You went 8-8 for a reason, and if you don’t lose this game, you’ll lose the next game, big.

Eagles (-4) over VIKINGS
I really wanted to take the Vikings here. I’ve watched too many Eagles games this year and have no faith in their coaching or ability to play when good things are expected of them. This seems like a classic game where Andy Reid outsmarts himself by thinking that the Vikings have a good run defense, so he completely takes Brian Westbrook out of the game plan, which usually leads to big Eagles losses. But, when it comes down to it, you can’t bet on Tarvaris Jackson in the playoffs; in fact, you have to bet against him.

Ravens (-4) over DOLPHINS
The Ravens lose games when teams can attack them with the deep ball and stretch out their defense. As great as Chad Pennington has been this season, that is his one glaring weakness: throwing any ball more than 30 yards. That means the Ravens defense will be swarming around and they should win in an incredibly low scoring affair.