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NFL Picks – Conference Finals

The final four. Saints? Yep. Vikings? Yep. Colts? Yep. Charg…err…Jets? Huh? Three of the teams playing this week are ones we thought would be there from the start of the year because they’ve been consistent all year long (aside from benching starters later in the year). The Jets are the one that don’t belong…at least from the outside. If you watched the playoff games, though, they definitely belong. I found it amazing this week when I learned that the last time the two #1 seeds faced off in the Super Bowl was way back in the 1992 season when the Cowboys destroyed the Bills. Eighteen years. Pretty crazy if you think about it. You would think that the two best teams in the regular season would meet in the Super Bowl more often. The Colts and Saints can do it this year. Also, the last time the league MVP won the Super Bowl in the same season? Kurt Warner of my St. Louis Rams in the 1999 season. Is it wrong that I know that the Rams beat the Titans on January 30, 2000? I remember the exact date. God, I miss when my team was relevant. Anyway, this isn’t about me reminiscing about the past. It’s about the present. Let’s get to the picks.

All game times are Eastern.

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts (3pm CBS)
Anybody else find it hilarious when Jim Nantz starts the broadcast with “Hello friends” and that goofy smile of his. It’s not exactly the best catchphrase ever, is it? I hear he has to pay $100,000 per month in divorce settlements to his ex. I know I’m off topic, but does he say “hello friends” when he writes that check monthly too? These are the things I wonder. Oh right, a football game.

The Jets remind me of the Giants of two years ago except with a less experienced quarterback, but still a quarterback that I’m shocked has played so well (how did Eli Manning go four games without a pick anyway?). They run the ball with two guys in Jones & Greene, they pass when they need to and defensively they are very sound. Their pass defense is great because of Darrelle Revis, their blitzing is good thanks to the exotic schemes that Rex Ryan comes up with and the run defense is solid simply because they don’t miss tackles. The other key is they don’t turn it over. That’s the biggest stat in playoff football. The team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. I don’t know the percentage, but I’d say it’s at least 70% of the time. As for Indy, we know what they are: Peyton Manning. It’s on him. Their running game sucks. The wide receivers, aside from Wayne and TE Dallas Clark, were unknowns going into the year. Now, they have to step up. If Revis matches up with Wayne as expected it’s going to be hard for Wayne to have a big day although I do see him making some key plays because he’s hard to totally shut down. The key thing is can Indy’s run defense slow down the Jets rushing attack? I’m not sure if they can. I think this will game will be like Indy/Baltimore last week: Low scoring with Manning making the key plays when he has to. The Jets do belong in this game. They have impressed me. I simply like the Colts more. This a QB driven lead and if I have to pick between the guy who I think is the best QB ever and a rookie playing in a tough environment I’m going to roll with the best ever. That’s just me. No disrespect to the Jets. Hell, you Jets fans should be happy I pick against them considering my track record of late. You’re welcome, in advance. Colts 24-13

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints (6:30pm FOX)
I don’t have any announcer rants here except that I want to punch Joe Buck in the face for generally being a douchebag while Troy Aikman will say “heckuva” way too many times during the three hour broadcast. I love this game. Two best teams in the NFC all year. Yes, the Cowboys impressed me enough last week to pick them over the Vikings (foolishly, I admit), but these are the two that have stood out from the pack all season. My hope is that the game lives up to the hype. I want to see big plays on both sides of the ball, deep passes and big runs. They have the teams to make it happen. It could be a classic. Or one of the teams, like their opponents last week, could lay an egg and not be in the game at all. Who really knows?

For the Vikings, I think they need to look at the tape of when Dallas went into New Orleans and beat the hell out of them by pressuring Brees. That’s what the Vikings have to do in order to win the game. If you give him time he will kill you. You have to get up in his face. The Vikings defense looked amazing last week against the Cowboys, so if they can channel at least some of that momentum going into this game they’re going to have a lot of success. The thing is Brees doesn’t get hit very often because his offensive line protects and he spreads the ball around to so many people. To me, that’s the biggest story in this game. Can they get to Brees? I think they can, at least enough to win the game. I also think by the end of the game instead of the Favre/Brees talk we’re going to remember that Adrian Peterson guy in the Vikings backfield that is arguably the best RB in the NFL. I can see him breaking loose here. He’s almost fallen under the radar, but against a small Saints D that could get overpowered by the Vikings big OL he could have one of those 150 yard, 2 touchdown kind of games. If the Saints pay too much attention to Sidney Rice going deep, which might happen, it could free up a situation where Peterson’s running against nickel defenses more often. I think if that happens the Vikings can win by running the ball rather than relying on the old guy at QB. I hope this game lives up to the incredible hype. I really do. The playoffs have disappointed in terms of good games (aside from Cards/Pack and Jets/Chargers in the 4th Q at least), but I hope this one doesn’t. I just realize I wrote all that without mentioning that Brett Favre fellow. He’s on the Vikings? Who knew? Vikings 31-24

JC’s Money Picks
Every week I’ll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. I was 1-3 last week. These odds come from pinnaclesports.com as always. Can’t say I have that much confidence in these bets.

Colts -7.5 over Jets
Colts/Jets under 39
Vikings +3.5 over Saints
Vikings/Saints over 52.5

Playoffs: 3-5
Season: 38-28-2 (.576)

Thanks for reading. See you in two weeks for this little thing the NFL does called the Super Bowl.

Enjoy the games.

John Canton

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  1. Aaron
    January 22, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    I was three for four last week.. really expect the Charges to go all the way.. but I’ll give the Jets credit.. they took advantage of a soft conclusion to their regular season schedule, and turned on the switch in the playoffs.. Reminds me of Baltimore a year ago.. good play, and some good bounces their way (I think Matt Stover can kick field goals, unlike Graham, Kaeding).

    My picks, Colts over Jets.. 21-13

    Peyton Manning owns the blitz. The Jets D? Blitzing team.. Sorry, too many weapons.. inexperienced QB for the Jets.. New York does not win this game. Furthermore, they don’t sniff the playoffs next year…

    X-Factor (terrible stable, worse entrance music) – Petyton Manning.. always the man in any game he’s in.

    Vikings over Saints.. 24-21

    I get this feeling the Vikings/Saints game is going under the total.. the Vikings front four keeps the score down, and AP/Chester Taylor grinds a little more to makes things easier for Favre and the crowd noise.. slow the game down a bit.. even with a low score, I see no shortage of big offensive plays however..

    X Factor – AP.. he cannot fumble.

  2. Aaron
    January 25, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Just wanna say my X-factors proved to be the differences in both games. the Vikings are the better team, but they fumbled (literally) the game away and gave it to the Saints. Peyton Manning won the game for the Colts. Period. The Jets looked good, but Peyton’s first hald TD to close the gap was I think the biggest score of the game.

    I’m a little upset at the officiating in the Saints/Vikings game. How a flag was not called on the low hit to Favre is beyond me… then, the pass interference which set the Saints up was a completely uncatchable ball.. thirdly, Meachem’s pass to the 22 yard line wasa trap. You can’t use the ground to aid in the catch (while the last one was the closest call, and am not necessarily upset it wasn’t overturned, I almost felt the refs owed the Vikings on this clsoe call, considering the fucked them with the pass interference call on a pass that was 8 yards over the receivers head, and was in no way catchable). At the same time, you can’t put the ball on the ground 6 times and expect to win. The bet team didn’t win this game, htye handed the game over to the Saints.

    I am pulling for a Nawlins win in the Super Bowl, but I don’t think they’re good enough to beat the Colts… The Colts will not beat themselves.

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