(Editor’s Note: Even though the divisional round is far less random than the wild card, due to popular demand, I’m bringing back the coin from last weekend to pick the games. Heck, I kind of like the gimmick. I’ll call him George McQuarter.)
Well, I didn’t make 50,000 dollars in stupid Fantasy Football. I didn’t even make it past the first round. I did learn some valuable lessons about daily fantasy football and I’m now obsessed with the math of betting sports. My father gave me the advice to never bet on a sport where the ball bounces funny and I’ve always taken that to heart, but I’m a math guy and the math intrigues me.
I went 3-1 straight up last week. The Green Bay Rodgers came to life for one game as the Washington team turtled and that game was hopeless. I was also 1-3 against the spread. I’m not sure how all that translates to betting possibilities, but I’d probably have put together a moneyline parlay with Kansas City and Seattle. I don’t think it would have paid much, but I’d have made money, so there’s that. Maybe I’ll do this column weekly next year with 200 fictional dollars (enough for 10 dollars each week leading to the Super Bowl and then if I have money at the end, I can use that for the Super Bowl) and see where I end up. I could do the same for George, who was 4-0 and 2-2 against the spread, but I’d have to figure out a way to rank George’s confidence without intentionally sabotaging him.
Okay, enough silliness, on to the picks. I honestly did no research this week other than look up the lines. I didn’t even listen to Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal. So, this week might be ugly. However, the Divisional Round is traditionally where the playoffs settle back into form after the craziness of the Coin Flip Round. This year’s Coin Flip round was especially crazy with all 4 road teams winning, so I see a possible overcorrection happening this week.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-5): There are a lot of people who are high on Kansas City, especially after they thrashed a very terrible Houston Texans team last week. I’m not as high on them because all I keep thinking is Andy Reid on the road against Bill Belichick. I don’t care how many Patriots are injured. I don’t care that Kansas City is coming off of a huge win in the Coin Flip game. I just don’t care. Nothing can convince me that the Patriots won’t win this game. The Chiefs might, might cover if all of those Pats are actually hurt, but the Pats will win this game. George likes the Chiefs 59-41.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals (-7): The Packers whipped the Washingtons, but that’s not saying much. The Washingtons are slightly better than the Texans because they actually have a quarterback. Arizona has been the team to beat almost all year and they’re my NFC pick for the Super Bowl. The Packers are my crazy pick, so this is the game. I can’t pick against Arizona at home. They’ll shut down Rodgers and just win. George likes Arizona, too, but he’s less confident, 52-48.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (-3): Seattle escaped by the skin of their teeth last week in awful conditions in Minnesota. I’m not as high on Carolina as some seem to be, but I’m pretty sure they can win this one. The NFC seems far less wonky this year than the AFC and I have much more confidence in their top seeds. George picks the Panthers, too, 57-43.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (-7): The following is a transcript of a text conversation with my friend. I had been texting him the night before with updates on my fantasy failure and also grumping about the Steelers/Bengals game and what a terrible game it was. I had shut it off when the Bengals intercepted the ball with 1:36 left or whatever.
Him: Do you like NFL any better today?
Me: Nope. (Steelers lost and I’m out of the fantasy running)
Him: Steelers going to Mile Hile????
Me: How? Bungs picked it off with a minute left. (I gave up on the game and went to bed).
After that, I went to check the score, saw that the Steelers won and went on to discuss with him that this terrible Steelers team is now two improbable wins from the Super Bowl. I don’t think that this Steelers team is any better than they were before, but weird things happen in these Steelers/Broncos playoff games. Of all of the games, I’m least confident of this one. I’m picking the Broncos, but I’d love to be wrong to see this awful Steelers team playing for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. George has the Steelers 51-49, so he’s just as shaky on this one.