January 22, 2010

Championship weekend arrives

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

Some would say that this is the weekend where you should be making a pilgrimage to see your favourite football team play in the post-season. That’s right, the conference championship game, not the Super Bowl. Why should it be this weekend and not two weeks from now, in a nice and sunny locale that rotates every year? Quite simply, the fans.

Think about how many head honchos and suits from corporations are in attendance for the Super Bowl. Think about how much tickets cost for the NFL’s, nay, sports’ biggest worldwide showcase. Could any team’s best fans — usually of the blue collar variety — afford to not just buy their way into the stadium, but pay their way to get to the host city and cope with bumped-up hotel rates? More than likely not.

So, if you want to see your team at the pinnacle of their game, fighting for a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, you might want to look into those games two weeks before the Super Bowl, not at the event for the most casual of fans.

The lines are from Vegas and the home teams are in CAPS

New York Jets +7.5 over INDIANAPOLIS
I’ve got to admit, the Jets and Colts could be the boring game that has ever been played in conference championships. One team grinds the ball on offence and plays outstanding pressure defence; the other is deadly efficient with the ball and lacks big names to watch on defence … If you didn’t know that the Jets are only here because the Colts rested their starters weeks ago, you don’t read much about football … Darrelle Revis can shut down an entire side of the field, but Peyton Manning is the best QB there is at spreading the ball around. Lito Sheppard is going to have be outstanding to keep the Colts off of the scoreboard … Against the Jets, kickers have missed the past five field goals. That has never happened in the NFL, ever before this. Don’t expect a few more lucky shanks …  This game will come down to if Mark Sanchez can continue his effective play and if he can keep up with the Colts when — not if — they start scoring some points.

NEW ORLEANS -3.5 over Minnesota
The Vikings defensive line looked amazing last week and even when Flozell Adams was in the game, they were still very tough to stop. Can the Saints o-line – which is pretty much on par with Dallas’ – keep Jared Allen and company off of Drew Brees? Maybe, since the Saints are so effective with their chip blocks, but it it’s not like Brees won’t the ground a few times on Sunday … Reggie Bush played between the tackles and ran hard last week, if he can do that again, that is a valuable weapon in the Saints pocket and matchup that will give the Minnesota fits. Rumour has it that Bush is playing to keep his job; more than enough motive to start banging in the running game … Speaking of running, this has the potential to be an Adrian Peterson breakout game. After struggling for weeks, you just know that he’s due for a 100-yard-plus performance. But facing a Saints team where even the offence causes fumbles, AP is liable to put a few on the carpet … If this game were in Minneapolis, I’d have no problem endorsing the Vikings, but the Superdome is one of the hardest places to visit in football.

This week: 1-3.
This playoffs: 3-5.

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