Disclaimer: These picks are one writer’s views that should not be used for actual gambling purposes. I don’t say this because I’m anti-gambling, I’m all for it, I say this because I don’t want you to lose a bunch of money and swear off this site forever.
Ok, some quick thoughts on the games this week. Partly because I’ve been out of town and partly because in depth analysis has gotten me to 1-7 so far this postseason, not ideal if you are looking to dominate the world of online betting.
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Another rematch for the Jets against a team that laid down against them late in the season. No one in Indianapolis needs to be reminded of how the Colts abandoned perfection in order to rest up for the postseason, and the Jets took advantage.
There is no mystery about how the Jets have progressed this far in the postseason, their run game and their defense. The Jets should run the ball for the majority of the game, as the Colts ranked 24th during the regular season in run defense, allowing 126.5 yards per game.
The defensive game plan, however, might need to change. The Jets have been successful by blitzing, but Peyton Manning was sacked just 10 times during the regular season. His offensive line gives him time, and when the blitz comes, Manning takes advantage of the 1-on-1 coverage. He will likely need to avoid Reggie Wayne, who will be spending the day on Revis Island, but will have Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and others in man coverage if (or when) the Jets do continue blitzing.
Bottom Line: The Colts defeated the Ravens last week, a team with Jets coach Rex Ryan’s fingerprints all over it. If the Colts employ the same gameplan, run successfully, and keep Peyton Manning upright, we should see a similar result. Plus, I’ve gone against the Jets twice, why not keep up the streak?
The Pick: Indianapolis (-8)
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
The Saints have never reached the Super Bowl, let alone hosted an NFC Championship Game. The Vikings have never won the Super Bowl, and haven’t made it there since the 1976 season. A drought will end on Sunday.
While it’s extremely beneficial for the Vikings that this game is being played indoors in late January, the Saints should still have a massive dome field advantage. Both of these teams were on top of their respective games last week, so all else equal, this tips the scales in the Saints’ favor.
A big part of the Vikings’ success last week came from their defensive line, as Dallas QB Tony Romo was pressured all day and lost crucial fumbles in the backfield. However, a big part of that came from two guys who missed practice this week due to knee injuries, DE Ray Edwards and DL Kevin Williams. If either of those guys misses the game or are at less than 100 percent, it will spell trouble for Minnesota. In addition, the Vikings’ electric rookie receiver Percy Harvin is suffering from migranes again, which caused him to miss the Vikings’ Week 14 game.
If Minnesota is going to win, they are going to need to be balanced. The Vikes know the Saints defense will be focused in on Adrian Peterson which means Favre will need to utilize his receivers and tight ends effectively to be successful. As a result, a big key to this game will lie with the Saints’ secondary. If they can play the way they did last week against Arizona, and possibly force Brett Favre into old habits, they will have a chance to make a big play that will affect the momentum of this game.
Finally, the Saints will need an effective run game to keep the Vikings honest. The Vikings’ secondary is the weak link on their team, and if the Saints can force the Vikings linebackers to stay up to stop the run, Drew Brees will be able to have another great day like he did against the Cardinals.
Bottom Line: They say home field is worth 3 points, but the Superdome crowd should be worth at least another 1 or 2. Both teams played great last week, but without the crowd’s help the Vikings might not be able to get across the line as quickly on defense, which could be the difference. Oh, and you will see pigs flying through the air before you see me pick a Brett Favre team on the road in January.
The Pick: New Orleans (-3.5)
Editor’s Note: I may have missed the NFC Championship Game by 1/2 point, but there was a reason for that whole Favre and pigs flying comment. Here it is.
All lines taken from sportsbook.com and accurate as of the time of publishing on Saturday, January 23, though I do not condone online NFL betting.