The best thing about the playoffs in any professional sport is that each team, fan, and degenerate gambler enters the fray with a clean slate.
It matters not that Seattle lost nine games in 2010 by at least 15 points.
Inconsequential is the fact that the reason many of us are so excited for the Wild Card games is because we took the last seven or eight weeks of the regular season off for the sake of financial survival.
Trivial it is that our favorite team choked away a playoff berth for the second consecutive year with embarrassing, devastating defeats both at home and on the road.
Thanks again, Giants.
So with an eye toward a bright, lucrative future, let's take a look at these Wild Card games and see where some moves can be made. Picks in bold, home team in CAPS.
If you have interest in reading the best plays to make in terms of Futures odds, take a look.
SEATTLE (+11) over New Orleans.
I'm not really taking the Seahawks, am I? I seem to specifically remember saying, after the Rams game last week, that I prayed Vegas would overrate Seattle's win and set the spread at 10.5 instead of the 14.5 I thought it should be.
Which Wild Card team is most likely to reach the Super Bowl?
I got exactly what I hoped for, and I'm still going the other way. Sounds like a foolproof plan.
Consider that New Orleans will be without both Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, their two best between-the-tackles running backs. New Orleans struggled mightily each of the weeks the Saints rushing attack was compromised, the most glaring examples spanning from Week 3 through Week 7. During this five week stretch, the Saints beat Carolina (at home) 16-14, lost to the Cardinals 30-20, and were run out of their own building by the Browns 30-17.
I still believe the Saints will win this game, but don't be surprised if it's a single digit difference.
COLTS (-3) over New York Jets.
Hesitant as I am to put my trust in Blair White and the other no-name wide receivers Peyton Manning will be throwing to this postseason, I am even more concerned about the Jets' ability to pressure Manning and slow him down.
I'm typically the first person to wager against Peyton in the playoffs, but I don't have much faith in the Jets right now. The Fighting Rex Ryan's are such a strange team this year—especially considering their record is two games better than in 2009. The Jets' offensive talent is better by leaps and bounds than the 2009 version that led the AFC Championship Game at halftime, but it feel as if something is missing with the Jets. A first round exit seems likely.
Baltimore (-3) over KANSAS CITY.
Up until Week 17, I planned to ride the Chiefs in their home playoff game no matter the opponent. Then everything fell apart with the announcement of the departure of Charlie Weis and the ugly display put on against the Raiders.
Now, I'm convinced the Ravens are going to dominate, and Todd Haley's head will actually explode on the sidelines sometime around the middle of the third quarter.
For the record, when Dwayne Bowe inevitably catches his third touchdown of the first half and the camera pans to Charlie Weis pumping his fist up in the booth, I will be quite upset with myself for jumping ship.
Green Bay (+3) over PHILADELPHIA.
This pick has much more to do with my unabashed man crush on Aaron Rodgers than anything else.
The last game of the weekend should be the best, especially since I believe the winner of this one is more likely to reach the Super Bowl than either Atlanta or Chicago.
Bonus pick for Monday night: Oregon (+3) over Auburn