As Wes Welker would say, it is time to put your best foot forward. This is arguably one of the best weekends in sports: Week 2 of the NFL Playoffs. You still get four games in two days, you don’t have any shitty wildcard teams left, and you have fantastic matchups where teams are playing as hard as possible because a win means a conference championship game. I suggest just sitting back and enjoying the 48 hours of football. However, if you’d like to make things a little more interesting, risking some of your hard earned dollars on the outcomes of these games can be fun too. For those of you doing the latter, here is how you should play it for Saturday, we’ll do Sunday tomorrow.
Saturday, 4:30pm – STEELERS (-3) over Ravens
Ben Roethlisberger has never lost to Joe Flacco
Ben Roethlisberger has not lost to the Ravens in six games.
Ben Roethlisberger is 8-2 in his career against the Ravens
Ben Roethlisberger is going to take the Ravens into a bar bathroom and have his way with them.
Why do I begin with three legitimate sentences and one other sentence about Big Ben? Because Big Ben does not lose these kinds of games. He doesn’t lose many games in general, but especially not second-round home playoff games against the Ravens. You may not like him, his face may look like a Salvador Dali painting at this point, and he may not make the best off-the-field decisions, but the guy wins football games. Herm Edwards texted me something interesting the other day: “You PLAY to WIN the GAME.”
I can’t explain it. I can’t quantify it. I can’t even give you a score because it does not matter. Ben will find a way to win this game and you can take that to the bank. The only way this thing goes south for Pittsburgh is if Troy gets hurt. In case you forgot the last time these two teams played, Polamalu literally single-handedly won the game with his absurd blitz off the edge resulting in a Flacco fumble and a Steeler touchdown. I am confident he will be on the field and effective. So confident in fact, I have dust off Punxsutawney Polamalu.
Gun to my head, I say take the Steelers and lay the three points. I’m not excited about it, but you can’t not bet on NFL playoff football. I won’t be mad at you if you take Baltimore, but know Big Ben wins this game somehow. Trend right now is 62% of the public is on Baltimore (+3). This is the highest of any of the games this weekend. Like I said, I’m not mad at you, but how can you all be betting against Big Ben? You’re not betting on the Ravens unless you think they can win. You NEVER bet on an away dog in the playoffs unless you think they can win. At least I hope you aren’t doing that.
Saturday, 8:30 – FALCONS (-2) over Packers
Another game that is a complete coin flip. So why am I still doing the Dirty Bird? Why the hell not? Matty Ice wins games at home. I’m not going to get cute here, I like what Green Bay has going on. Rodgers is a stud, that defense is solid, and they should have run up on the Eagles. On the other side, I don’t like the running back situation, Donald Driver is 80 years old, and they don’t have anyone to cover Rowdy Roddy White.
My only worry…Are these Falcons the same exact team as the 2006 Schottenheimer Chargers? Let’s analyze:
Regular Season Record: 2010 Falcons 13-3, 2006 Chargers 14-2
Stud Young Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers
Top 5 Running Back: Michael Turner, LaDanian Tomlinson
Go-To Tight End: Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates
Big-Play Wide Receiver: Rowdy Roddy White, Vincent Jackson
Good Regular Season Coach Unproven in the Playoffs: Mike Smith, Marty Schottenheimer
It was a little too quiet of a 13-3 season in my opinion. If they didn’t have that big game against the Saints this would have been the most under the radar 13+ season since the 2006 Chargers. The parallels are all over the place for me. This team is built to win at home and in the regular season. The Chargers ended that season with 10 straight wins, went on bye, then lost to the Pats at home 24-21. This Falcons team has come in winning 9 of their last 10, went on bye, and now face the Packers at home.
This scares the hell out of me. However, I believe in Mike Smith more than Schottenheimer. I HATE Philip Rivers with a fervent passion and I like Matty Ice – especially at home. I think it’s a good game, but that crowd should be into it and I think Green Bay got beat up a little bit last week and won’t be able to run the ball. Atlanta has the second best run defense in the league and THE BEST RUN DEFENSE AT HOME IN THE LEAGUE. That’s enough for me to say they aren’t the 2006 Chargers…I hope.
Steelers and Falcons are the picks today. Good luck!