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NFC & AFC Championship Predictions & Picks Against the Spread

Posted by in NFL Picks on January 18th, 2008 | Comment »

Sorry for the late update, but lets get down to business.  Here are my predictions for the NFC & AFC Championship games.  I think the best spread to take is the Packers -7.  I would hop on that before it moves to -7.5 because 80% of the action is on the Packers and for several good reason too.  The Patriots spread is too high, so I would stay away from that one.  Also, there is a new poll on the left, so be sure an vote on that.  Here is the analysis of the games:

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday, January 20 – 3:00

San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots -13.5

We all know the Chargers are banged up.  Rivers has a sprained knee and is questionable Sunday.  He’ll most likely sit out of practice, but should be ready to go Sunday.  Tomlinson is also questionable with a hyper-extended knee; however, he has practiced is expected to play.  More importantly, the Chargers might be without Rivers’ favorite target Antonio Gates, who is listed as day-to-day, and the man paving the way for L.T., Lorenzo Neal is also day-to-day.

The action on this game is surprisingly split 50-50, perhaps because the Patriots have covered only 1 of their last 7 games.  The Patriots beat the Chargers 38-14 early in the season, but that was when the Chargers started the season 1-3 and before their 8-game winning streak.  Rivers has been hot lately — a 100.0+ passer rating in 4 of his last 5 games — but with the knee injury, he’ll be losing a lot of mobility and that’s going to hold him back from the performances he’s been having.  In his last game against the Patriots, Rivers went 19/30, 179 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs (Passer Rating: 72.4).  In last year’s playoff game against the Patriots, Rivers went 13/32, 230 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT (Passer Rating 55.5).  I’m sure Bellichik will come up with a game plan that will go after Rivers, so he’ll be sacked a lot or be forced to throw up an ill-advised pass that will fall into the hands of Rodney Harrison or Asante Samuel.

San Diego’s defense has been playing better lately, but they’re ranked 14th and that’s not going to strike fear into the heart of Tom Brady and company.  No, I don’t think the Randy Moss situation will be a distraction for the team.  I expect the Patriots to get their 31-38 points and I don’t see the Chargers keeping up.  13.5 points is a lot to cover and I’m worried about that; I think if the Chargers can reach 24 points, they’ll cover.  I think the game will be pretty one-sided, but the Chargers should be able to hang around for a little bit, much like the Jaguars were able to do.

Prediction – Patriots defeat Chargers – 35-21

Patriots Moneyline – Confidence 5/5
Patriots -13.5 Spread – Confidence 2/5 (Too many points, I like the Packers spread more.)

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday, January 20 – 6:30

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers -7

About 80% of the betting public is taking the Packers.  I like the Packers for several reason too.  I think they’re better than the Giants both offensively and defensively.  The Packers could beat the Giants with just letting Favre air it out to his talented receiving corp or they could mix it up and give you a healthy dose of Ryan Grant, who was outstanding against the Seahawks (201 yards, 3 TDs, 7.4 YPC) after the two early fumbles.  Grant basically sat out the first 7 weeks of the season (he got a total of 6 carries in weeks 3 and 4).  In weeks 8 through 18 he’s piled up 1157 yards — quite impressive indeed.  Since week 9, the Packers scored under 31 points ONCE and that was against the Cowboys, where they lost 37-27.

I also like the Packers because the Giants secondary is banged up and the key to the Giants success is their pass rush.  If I had to pick one reason why the Giants beat the Cowboys last week, I would say it was because of their pass rush, and I’m not being bias just because of this site’s name.  Umenyiora and Strahan dominated the Cowboys offensive line.  However, I don’t think that tandem will be nearly as effective this week against the Packers because of the field conditions in Green Bay.  The field is so beaten down that its said to be like playing on sand and that doesn’t bode well for the defensive ends who rely on their speed to get to the quarterback.  If you take away the pass rush, Favre will have more time to pick apart a Giants secondary that is decimated by injuries.

One final, but very important note.  Eli sucks in the cold and he’s admitted that himself.  His passer rating is directly proportional to the temperature.  It’s a completely straight line, I kid you not.  The higher the temperature, the higher his passer rating (Tampa Bay, Dallas).  The lower the temperature, the lower his passer rating.  And guess what?  It’s going to be 4 degrees in Green Bay with a wind chill well into the minuses.  I’m expecting Eli to struggle.

If you want to take the Packers, I would do it before the line moves to 7.5, which will most likely happen by game time.

Prediction – Packers defeat Giants – 31-21

Packers Moneyline – Confidence 5/5
Packers -7 Spread – Confidence 3.5/5



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