Free NFL Picks: Conference Championship Edition

WesAnalyst IJanuary 20, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts thows the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oli Stadium on January 16, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Think about the greatest thing you have ever seen or experienced in your life.

Now think of the complete opposite and that's kind of what I was like last week picking games. Except in this case, I was even worse than that.

Not only did I lose all four games last week, but I lost 253 units as well.

I went from being up 141.75 units to being 111.25 units in the hole.

Do you know how hard it is to go either 4-0 or 0-4? You really need to try hard to pull off a stunt like I did.

If you stood near me, your money disappeared into the black hole known as my picks.

So what does one do when you go 0-4? You don't chase and you don't put up a string of big bets. I know that takes away from the fun, so I will compromise and pick both sides and totals for this weekend’s Conference Championship rounds.

As it stands I am 3-5 in the playoffs and down 111.25 units.

New Orleans (-4) vs. Minnesota (55/50)

Those who read my picks last week know that I said the winner of the Vikings/Cowboys game would go on to win the Super Bowl.

Well, would you listen to any kind of logic I had last week?

That's what I thought.

Last week the Vikings benefited from the homefield advantage tremendously. The defensive line was able to get a good jump off the ball due to a Dallas offensive hampered by the raucous crowd at the Hubert H. Humphrey Dome (I don't care what mall it is named after now).

The Vikings defensive line looked strong from the start and once left tackle Flozell Adams went out of the game with a bum knee, it was all over for the Cowboys' offense.

Jared Allen and the Williams combo did their thing, but it was the play of Ray Edwards that caused the most chaos for the Vikings. He produced three sacks and forced a fumble before leaving early due to a knee injury.

A lot of that is going to change when the Vikings go on the road, face a healthy offensive line, and don't have the crowd on their side.

Without a great pass rush, Drew Brees is going to pick the Vikings apart. I'm not saying the Vikings can't win on the road, but with a 9-0 home record and a 4-4 road record, I can't ignore the fact that Minnesota is not as sharp when they travel away from their dome.

Last week Dallas was moving the ball well in the beginning of the game, but they came away with no points due to a terrible kicker and turnovers.

I just can't see Brees being careless with ball and I don't think Garrett Hartley is going to shank any off his ankle.

With the Vikings playing on the road, I worry about their young skill players on offense. I am concerned players like Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, and Adrian Peterson are going to be a little rattled.

They aren't going to be shaking in their boots, but if they are just a little bit off, the Saints defense is going to have a field day.

Did you ever experience in-laws arguing? It gets loud and hostile, which is kind of like how the Superdome is going to be. Forget the fact that the noise makes it hard to hear each other; it flat out makes it hard to think.

When you're driving and you begin to feel lost, one of the first things you will do is turn down the radio. For whatever reason a little bit of noise makes us go a little goofy. It makes us do things we didn't mean to do and we feel like idiots.

Well, when Harvin runs the wrong route due to noise, Favre is gonna flip out, kind of like the way you would if you whizzed by South Street because your radio was too loud and you missed the street sign, or you were not paying attention to the handy dandy GPS that talks in some strange broken form of English.

And I can't pass up a team playing at home in the biggest game of their franchise’s history. Even if Brees comes out a little too excited, he can have peace of mind knowing his defense is going to be flying around the ball and creating turnovers.

Saints 30 - Vikings 20

New Orleans/Minnesota Under 52.5 (33/30)

There aren't many stats or trends to suggest playing this number one way or the other.

I am going to play the under because I feel the Saints defense is going to make things incredibly difficult for the Vikings.

With the crowd on their side and the ability to get pressure on Favre, I fully expect the Vikings to play rather conservatively in the beginning and not put up many points.

While I am concerned about the Vikings defensive line playing well on the road, I have to admit they are still as good as any defensive line in football, and they will not let things come easy for the Saints vaunted offense.

Indianapolis (-7.5) vs. New York Jets (110/100)

I keep hearing people saying, "You know the Colts let the Jets get into the playoffs, I bet they regret letting them in now, huh?"

Well, I am going to bet the Colts love the fact that they let the Jets in the playoffs. They love it so much that they are going to absolutely blow the doors off of this Jets team that finished 9-7 in the regular season with a rookie quarterback.

I'm not talking about a 10-6 team led by a veteran that got hot at the end of the year. No, I'm talking about a team starting a rookie quarterback who was looking at finishing with a 7-9 record until the Colts and Bengals decided to sit their starters.

Everyone also wants you to believe that the Jets defense is going to keep that rookie quarterback in this game.

I think the Colts defense is the unit that needs to get respect. And it is the Colts' defense that will find a way to help this game turn into a snooze fest by halftime.

I doubted Mark Sanchez last game and forgot to factor in Philip Rivers, Norv Turner, and Nate Kaeding’s ability to choke in big games.

Now Peyton isn't an all-time great when it comes to winning in the playoffs, but he's only played at home once in the AFC title game, and he walked away as a winner in dramatic come-from-behind fashion against the New England Patriots.

This time around Peyton won't need to have a flair for the dramatics. He only needs to guide his down the field for about 17-20 points and let his defense shut down the Jets.

Colts 24 - Jets 10

Indianapolis/New York Jets Under 39 (33/30)

I really don't see the Jets scoring more than 10 points in this game, which gives me good value with the under. The Colts know how to salt away wins once they have the lead, so I don’t expect Peyton to throw the ball a lot in the second half. That potentially leads to a backdoor cover for the Jets, but it helps the under out.

The Jets are going to try and grind this game out by running the football. In doing so they will try to make this a shorter game, which means the clock is running as much as possible.

I'm not saying Rex Ryan won't let Sanchez throw it around a little bit, but I don't foresee him relying on his passing game if he doesn't have to.

With both defenses playing at a high level right now, I will side with the under. 


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