(Note: I swore off the NFL, and especially the Super Bowl, about 6 or 7 years ago. I cheated a couple of times by watching the second half of Steelers/Cardinals and the last couple of drives of Pats/Giants II for the schadenfreude.)
Last year, I started what I hoped would be an annual tradition. As with most of my plans, this one got lost somewhere between planning and implementation. I wrote an article called “My Completely Ignorant NFL Preview” to basically show that the blowhards on TV and the internet every week have no better idea than anyone else as to how the NFL is going to unfold in any particular season. I picked how each team would finish in their division and then made a Super Bowl prediction. The division picks were a mixed bag. Then again, I never thought to check how I did compared to the “expert” (Dr Z? Is he still a thing?) I fashioned my article after, which would have been a good follow up. Oh well, good intentions and all that. However, I came within 5 seconds and a crazy sequence of events from winning my Seahawks over Patriots pick.
If I was a gambling man, this would have been me. I would have specifically asked my bookie to deliver the money in this fashion. He would have most likely responded to this request with a pair of cement shoes.
I also only lost two picks in the entire playoffs, including that stupid Super Bowl. Eff the Patriots. Nevertheless, emboldened by that success and my fantasy football championship, I present to you the second annual “Completely Ignorant NFL Playoff Picks”. Before I pick the Coin Flip, er Wild Card, games, I’m going to talk a little about the Super Bowl. Obviously, I didn’t get to make preseason picks and I can’t go back in time–not even virtually–to make them, so I’m limited to doing it now. In keeping with tradition, the only research that I’ve done is listening to Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal discuss the NFL from a degenerate gambling point of view, so I will follow their lead in this article. In that spirit, here are the Super Bowl odds for all of the playoff teams as of 1/8/2016.
Super Bowl Odds
Panthers, Patriots, Cardinals (9/2)
Seahawks, Broncos (5/1)
As you can see, there is no clear favorite this year. Usually, by this time of the year, everyone has jumped on the Patriots bandwagon. They’ve looked so bad over the last month or so that people (well, not technically people, gamblers) are spooked. The biggest surprise to me is that the Steelers are so heavily favored, but that might be because I’m a Steelers fan and they are a terrible team that passes for decent in today’s watered down National Football League.
With all of that being said, they are my outside pick for the AFC team in the Super Bowl. More on that in a moment. i’m calling this the Coin Flip round. That’s only partially a joke. Like almost everyone else (or maybe more so given my absolute ignorance on the subject), I am clueless as to how this playoff season will unfold. I honestly have no good feeling, even, about any of these games ore team. How, then, am I supposed to pick two teams from this hodge podge of 12 as a proper Super Bowl match up?
Well, then, to be safe and increase my odds, I’m going to pick four. I will pick an obvious match up and I will also make an “off the rails” pick that could conceivably happen if things go just right for the teams involved. Let’s start with the obvious picks and build suspense on the NFC “outsider” pick. To be fair, I’m also putting that one off because I don’t have a good one yet.
Sure, they’ve looked terrible lately, especially over the last two games, but they might have just been playing possum. Plus, I always lead with eff them, but until someone proves that they can eff them, I have to pick the Patriots. Many think that Carolina is Cinderella and they’re all waiting for the coach to turn back into a pumpkin. (Oh, come on, that was a good pun and I didn’t even mean to do it.) I am among them. I have no faith in the Panthers, so I’m going with the Cardinals in the NFC.
If I understand how odds work (and there’s no guarantee of that) and my math is right (there’s a much better chance that is true), then that gives 29.25 to 1 odds of this happening according to what Vegas says. And, that’s the sure thing this year. There’s just no rhyme or reason in today’s National Football League. If I had more of a production budget, I could have made a cool graphic like the robots fighting or helmets crashing into each other, but all we have is the image below. Enjoy.
I’ve already told you that I think the Steelers have an (extremely) outside shot of going to the Super Bowl this year, but that requires beating the Patriots and that’s something that they’ve never been able to do reliably. Especially this year, of all years, they have a crap defense and the Patriots are susceptible to the rush due to a patchwork offensive line. Oh well, here’s how I see it happening. Steelers beat the Bungles, which is possible because the Steelers hurt another Cincinnati quarterback earlier in the year. First Carson Palmer and now Andy Dalton. It is slightly less likely now because D’Angelo Williams is hurt. Look at how smart I look at missing my own deadline. Anyhow, if that happens, they’d play the Broncos. Peyton Manning usually folds against both the Steelers and Patriots, but again, this isn’t my father’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Finally, the Steelers would have to beat Patriots, who would easily dispatch of the Chiefs or Texans. Highly improbable, and that is why I don’t understand how they are only 8 to 1.
In the NFC, the Packers could beat the Redskins. That would put them against the fraudulent Panthers in the second round and then they’d have to defeat the Cardinals in the Championship to get to the Super Bowl. Both of my outsider teams would have to beat my sure thing teams and that’s insanity. It shows in the numbers. The sure thing was about 30 to 1. This one is nearly 10 times that at 278 to 1. Both of these logos have letters in them, so they look weird when flipped. My Steelers bias would rather have the Packers look weird.
Okay, now finally on to the picks for those of you who didn’t take advantage of the TLDR. Since this is coin flip weekend, I will give you the coin’s take on it first and then my own.
Chiefs (-3) at Texans: The coin picks the Chiefs by a score of 59-41 in 100 coin flips. I have to agree with the coin on this one. The Texans have limped through the season as the best team in the worst division in football. The Chiefs aren’t a sexy team, but they are a great team to be fodder for the rejuvenated Patriots in the next round.
Steelers (-3) at Bengals: The coin is fairly certain of this one, too. Steelers win 58-42. I’m less certain. As I said, so many people love the Steelers, but I think that is fantasy football bias. The Steelers have sexy fantasy guys and that doesn’t always translate. Even with Williams out, I think the Steelers have enough to beat AJ McCarron and the Bengals again.
Seahawks (-5) at Vikings: The coin thinks this one will be closer, but it picks the Seahawks 51-49. I’m more confident in this pick. The Seahawks tend to turn it on in the playoffs. Like the Steelers, their defense has taken a step back and their running back is injured, but it’s the Seahawks. Like the Patriots, you can’t count them out until they’re out.
Packers (-1) at Washington: Well, the coin thinks it is going to be a road sweep this weekend. Packers win this one 52-48. I didn’t want to pick all road teams and I think this game is the one that will be most wide open. The Packers are Aaron Rodgers and a bunch of other guys right now and Washington might have finally found a quarterback in Cousins.
I don’t think that I will come close to my record from last year and this weekend could be a disaster picks wise. Oh well, thankfully I’m not a gambling man, but I did take a free entry into Yahoo Sports daily fantasy playoffs contest, so maybe I’ll somehow luck out and win $50,000 dollars to help heal the pain of looking completely foolish. I’m pretty sure that’s how the pros deal with that aspect of the job.