Last Week: 12-4
Record Picking Redskins Games: 10-6
Against the Spread: 29-33-2
Lock of the Week (ATS): 10-6
Final Regular Season Analysis: I think I had a pretty good year, but a few disastrous weeks made my overall record look pretty pedestrian. I did finish 20 games better than I did last year (146-110) and slightly above my wins mark from 2005 (163), so I guess Iím headed in the right direction.
I had a hard time getting a good read on several teams this year (Giants, Bucs, and Bengals all come to mind), while I had a good read from the start on some other teams (Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, Patriots). My pre-season pick of Patriots over Cowboys in the Super Bowl looks pretty good at this point as well.
My little experiment with picking games against the spread yielded some interesting results. My goal was to choose 4 games each week and see how I would have fared at the end of the season had I bet them all. Clearly, with my finishing mark of 29-33-2, I would have lost money. Not a ton, but a loss nonetheless. However, each week, I also chose one game that I would have bet above all others (my ďlock of the weekĒ). In those games, I did pretty well, finishing at 10-6. So perhaps that is the key right thereópick the ONE game you like the most each week instead of picking several.
Overall, my analysis of my 2007 regular season picks is that I was steady, but unspectacular.
Now, on to the playoffs.
Washington at Seattle: Iíve never hidden my fandom in this blog, and I certainly canít start now. I will 100% admit that my predictions and opinions of the Redskins are definitely skewed at this point due to the improbable and emotional run they have been on for the past month. One thing is not up for debateóthe team is playing extremely well in all facets of the game. In addition to their on-field execution, the team is clearly rallying behind Joe Gibbs and their fallen teammate. Things will change for the Redskins this week. The Seahawks will be the toughest team theyíve played since turning their season around, and the Seahawks total dominance at Qwest Field is well documented. Only the Patriots have more home wins over the past five seasons. As a Redskins fan, my biggest fear is Matt Hasslebeck. He has been widely underrated for several years now both by the media and the average NFL fan. Hasslebeck is the type of QB that can beat you even if you have a perfect gameplan and good execution. The rest of the Seahawks skill position players are middling at best, but they do have good depth at both RB and WR, which makes it difficult to key on one specific area.
Defensively, the Seahawks have been very solid, but they have also gone unchallenged most of the year due to Seattleís soft schedule. Todd Collins has been magnificent in leading the Redskins the past four gamesóis his performance legitimate or is the coach about to turn into a pumpkin? Of all the wild card games, Iíve had the hardest time getting a read on this one. Hasslebeck and the Seahawks are more experienced in this situation and homefield is a bigger advantage than usual when analyzing any game played in Seattle. But I grew up on Joe Gibbs. I know about his impeccable playoff record and how his teams get markedly better this time of the year. Two years ago this weekend, the Redskins went into Tampa Bay and won a playoff game on heart, desire, and preparation. I just donít see them going home this early. Call it a homer pick, but thatís my take.
Redskins 23, Seahawks 20
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: Jacksonville is certainly the ďhotterĒ team at this point, and they have become a popular pick to win this game and make some noise in the AFC. But if I were a Jags fan, Iíd just hate the fact that my team was trying to win in Pittsburgh for the second time in less than a month. In many ways, Jacksonville manhandled the Steelers in week 15, and Pittsburgh has looked average at best ever since. As a matter of fact, the Steelers have been generally uninspiring since mid-season. But Iím a weenie. I am sticking by the book here and taking the home team. It just feels unnatural to pick the Steelers to lose at home in early January.
Steelers 27, Jaguars 23
New York Giants at Tampa Bay: On one hand, I can see Eli Manning getting rattled and bombing badly this week against the tough Bucs defense. On the other hand, I canít ignore the Giants stellar 7-1 road record this year. Manning appears to be more comfortable when playing away from the glare of his hometown fans and media. The Bucs are even more of a mystery. They sort of won the lackluster AFC South by default this year and they rested many of their players and slogged to two losses over the past two weeks against the 49ers and Panthers. I understand not wanting to get key players injured, but I donít like the way the Bucs are entering the playoffs.
Having said that, I simply do not trust Manning (or Tom Coughlin) to win under these tense playoff circumstances. I am also troubled by the Giants run defense, which has been lousy the past several weeks and could be exploited by Tampa Bay. I think this will be the lowest scoring of the four games this weekend, and possibly the closest.
Bucs 17, Giants 16
Tennessee at San Diego: I was really pulling for the Colts last Sunday night because I thought Cleveland would have made for a much more intriguing match up headed into San Diego. I respect the Titansí grit and their solid 10-6 record in a tough division. However, the Titans may be the least explosive 10-6 team Iíve ever seen, and I think you need at least a little explosion to keep up with the Chargers. I donít like the Chargers chances in the coming weeks, but this is a good spot for them.
Chargers 28, Titans 13