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NFL Picks – Conference Semifinals

For the NFL haters that read the blog, only two weeks left. Then I’ll write about only wrestling although I might delve into TVs or movies once in a while.

The interesting thing about round two in the playoffs is that in the 90s a lot of the time the home teams won these games. This past decade, though, it didn’t happen. Just last year we saw three of the four teams that had byes lost (Titans, Giants, Panthers) while only one of the teams (Steelers) won. Home field doesn’t mean as much anymore. Before I get started I should say that this is my favorite weekend to be a fan of the NFL. You’ve got the top eight teams (at least we think so) playing double headers in back to back nights. These games are usually very good. I’m excited. Let’s get to the picks.

Last week: 2-2
Regular Season: 168-88 (.656)

All game times are Eastern.

Arizona @ New Orleans – Saturday 4:30pm
This should be a fun game to watch due to each team having explosive offenses. The Cardinals showed last week, just as they did last year, that they can turn it up come playoff time. Kurt Warner looked phenomenal while all of his receivers did a great job in getting open. Defensively they stunk, though. There’s no other way to say it. If you blow a 31-10 lead like they did you have to be worried. The Saints, meanwhile, haven’t been great for over a month. Who knows what we’ll get from them? My thinking is they might come out slow for the first one or two drives, but once they get in that groove they will be very hard to stop. I really think Drew Brees is going to have a huge game here. They had to have watched how the Packers threw on the Cards the last two weeks. Considering he’s got plenty of weapons to go to, both at WR and RB, the Saints are going to put up a lot of points. The question is whose defense will be better? I like New Orleans. It’s a tough building to play in and they’re the fresher team. The key is getting pressure on Warner. You need to get in his face or he’s going to hurt you. As advertised, it’s going to be an offensive game. Not as many points as last week’s Packers/Cardinals game, but still plenty to go around. Saints win and cover. Saints 37-27

Baltimore @ Indianapolis – Saturday 8:15pm
I think if you’re a Colts fan this is a matchup that should worry you. The Ravens play the kind of physical style defensively that the Colts have had trouble with in the past. Offensively they’re built to run. The Ravens OLine is dominating lately while the tandem of Rice & McGahee have been giving defenses fits. We know Indy’s defense against the pass is very good thanks to the pressure they get from DE’s Freeney & Mathis, but can they slow down the running game? To me, this is a bigger story than Manning against that defense. I think it’s more important for the Colts defense to have a big game then it is for the offense. That’s because it’s hard for me to see the Colts putting up 30+ on the Ravens. If they do, they probably win the game. I know Baltimore has had some shootouts this year, but they’re peaking right now. It’s tough to score on them. Indy needs to minimize turnovers, force Flacco to make some mistakes and capitalize on the short fields if they get them. Ultimately, I like Indy to win because of Peyton Manning having a really strong game. I think the middle of the field will be open, so look for Dallas Clark to have a big night while Wayne might be seeing double teams all game. I don’t think the Colts will be hurt that much by not having a meaningful game for four weeks. With Peyton Manning leading the team, they should be fine. Colts win, but the Ravens cover the 6.5 points they’re getting. Colts 28-23

Dallas @ Minnesota – Sunday 1:00pm
I have to say that this has been the hardest game for me to pick all week. For the other three, I made up my mind as soon as I saw the matchups. For this game I’ve gone back and forth all week. On the one hand, the Vikings were the team I picked to make the Super Bowl just last week. On the other hand, I think Dallas is the most complete team in the NFL with the most momentum as well. It’s hard to go against that. I’d rather go against my own prediction because frankly I wasn’t even sure of myself last week when I made it. I said then as I do now that whoever wins this game is going to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. I think they’re the most complete teams. The Vikes have an elite QB, RB, OL, a very good WR group and a strong defensive line that shuts down the run. Pass defense? I’m a little leery. The Cowboys have an elite QB, an excellent trio of RBs especially with Felix Jones emerging, a strong OL, very good WRs, strong run defense and probably the best pass rush in the NFL right now. Both secondary’s worry me a little bit although the Vikings secondary worries me a bit more. That’s the difference, to me. I had to find an edge. I found one. The Vikings top corner, Antoine Winfield, is still banged up while the rest of that group is just average. With the way Tony Romo is finding people I really think he’s going to expose them. Yes, the Vikings pass rush can be very good thanks to Jared Allen, but Romo’s one of the best QBs at throwing on the run. He’s played excellent football over the last six weeks. Does the fact that the Vikings are 8-0 at home this year matter? Not really. The Pats were 8-0 last week too and they got hammered by the Ravens. The better team is going to win. To me, in this game, the Cowboys are the better team because of their defense more than anything. I think DeMarcus Ware is going to wreak havoc on old man Favre leading to the mistakes that Dallas will capitalize on. Should be a classic game. Cowboys 27-20

NY Jets @ San Diego – Sunday 4:40pm
Congrats to the Jets on continuing to surprise me. I didn’t see much of the game last week, but their running game was dominant last week against a good Bengals defense. Defensively they did a phenomenal job against the pass although their run defense was suspect. I think the Chargers present a big problem to them because they’re so diverse on offense. They can beat you with Tomlinson slashing up the middle, Sproles on the outside, Rivers throwing it deep or looking for Gates over the middle. In the past couple of years the Chargers have had injury concerns in the playoffs. Teams were able to expose them. Not this year. The defense has looked very good during this incredible streak they’ve been on for the past three months. I know Mark Sanchez was sharp last week. This week’s a different challenge. I think most of the games of the weekend will be close except this one. I like the Chargers comfortably. They’re better then the Jets in too many different areas. The player of the game? Darren Sproles. I can feel it. Chargers 23-10

JC’s Money Picks
Every week I’ll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 2-2 last week. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always.

Season: 40-30-2 (.571)

SAINTS -7 over Cardinals. I think they can win by more than one TD.
CHARGERS -7 over Jets. Same as above.
Colts/Ravens OVER 44. Not sure why, just feels like there’ll be lots of points.
Cowboys +2.5 over Vikings. Very leery of this.

Thanks for reading. See you next week for the conference finals.

Enjoy the games.

John Canton
oratoryjohn@gmail.com
johnreport.wordpress.com/

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  1. mr. W
    January 15, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    I’m still in shock over that packers game. Fuck all the football haters out there john, you write as well about football as you do wrestling. Keep up the good work, son ~!

  2. Aaron
    January 15, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    Without getting into detail, I’ll try and rebound from my 0-4 week last week.. straight scores:

    ARZ @ NO – Saints 31-27 (Cards cover)
    BAL @ Ind – Colts 34-17 (Colts cover)
    DAL @ Min – Vikings 20-14 (Vikes cover)
    NYJ @ SD – Chargers 35-13 (Chargers cover)

    I’m keeping ym money in ym wallet this week.. though thinking about laying some on San Deigo cuz I don’tn think it’ll be close.

  3. Jonathan
    January 15, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    I love the NFL columns! Football is awesome =]

    I cannot wait for these games, just hope they can live up to the amazing packers cards game!

    Cardinals @ Saints – Saints 42-35
    Ravens @ Colts – Colts 31-20
    Cowboys @ Vikings – Cowboys 24-10
    Jets @ Chargers – Chargers 27-24

  4. Mike
    January 15, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    Jets-Chargers will be closer then many think….in fact I give the Jets a great chance to win. The key for the Jets D will be to pressure Rivers, and to slow down Gates. Revis will shutdown Jackson.

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