Fishing in Lockness – NFL Conference Championships

by dave on January 17, 2013

My Vegas condo agreement requires me to publicly tout gambling picks for the week. I can’t GUARANTEE A FIVE STAR LOCK OF THE MILLENNIUM, YOU ARE A COMMUNIST TRANSVESTITE IF YOU DON’T BET ON THIS but I can identify the games that seem to me to have an essence of Lockness about them, which smells like a mix of algae, brackish water and lizard breath.

Also, I am totally welcoming of all communists. Transgendered, transvestite or other.

It is amazing that this is the week of the Conference championship games, only three NFL games remain until September, yet the NFL is only the 3rd biggest story in sports.

Somewhere deep underground in his lair on an unpopulated Japanese island, Roger Goodell is plotting a way to get back to the top of the sports section. I assume by the end of the week, he will suspend Adrian Peterson for being inhuman, Peyton Manning for being part cyborg or announce a new ‘2nd season’ where each team will play 5 spring games. With no pads.

This should be the NFL’s greatest month of the year and they are an afterthought thanks to a cyclist and the non-existent girlfriend of a college linebacker. I am kind of surprised Goodell hasn’t already announced suspensions for both Armstrong and Te’o, just to see his name in print.

Thankfully, I got my game handicapping out of the way early this week to ensure I could get bets down at their optimal level (and then watched the lines move against me the moment I placed my bets, as usual). Since the Te’o story broke, my productivity levels have been approaching Paris Hilton levels. I can’t look away from Twitter awaiting the next non-sensical fact to drop. This story is sort of like modern art, I have no idea what I am seeing most of the time, yet I keep staring at the shark carcass suspended in formaldehyde.

I refuse to speculate (publicly) on what the hell happened because nothing makes sense and no one possibly extending all the way to Te’o himself knows what is going on.

That of course, won’t stop much of the media to jumping to whatever conclusion they feel predisposed to. Creating knee-jerk ‘narratives’ with too little information is the foundation of most large format journalism these days anyway. Narratives, like for example, a cancer survivor overcoming the odds and beating a cast of foreigners. Or a linebacker playing inspired by the struggles of a recently departed girlfriend.

As for Lance, call me cynical but when a guy beats cancer and then repeatedly wins a race filled entirely with people that are doping, I kind of assume he is doping as well  - understanding relationships like this is why I did well on the ACTs. To say his ‘confession’ is old news is an insult to old news.

But on the other side of this strange, weird week are the AFC and NFC Championships. A pang of pain shoots through me every time I see the Ravens in the title game knowing that should be the Broncos.

But that won’t stop me from betting. In fact, given there are only 2 games remaining and one involves two of my least favorite teams, let’s go all in on gambling, picking both games against the spread and against the over/under line.

If it wasn’t for gambling I would have a hard time stomaching the looming 3 hour Ray Lewis canonization that would make an awards show ‘In Memoriam’ look even handed and objective.

Sure, he once was involved in a man’s death but as we learn over and over again, real life facts matter little compared to what the media has decided is the overarching story of someone. The media, having learned absolutely nothing this week, will once again hold up an athlete as all that is right with the world.

So cheers Ray, in the media’s eyes you will always be a great man and a great leader. Not like those charlatans Lance and the girlfriend no one bothered to research.

<quietly nudges body of knifing victim under the bed with toe of shoe>

Lockness #1 – San Francisco at Atlanta Over (48.5)

The system that I have been using projects a total of nearly 57, so who am I to argue? The offenses that have moved on the Forty-Niner defense this year have required receivers on the outside as well as a tight end threat (see: Patriots). Enter Tony Gonzalez who has finally won a playoff game to burnish his ‘greatest tight end in history’ resume (though Shannon Sharpe can’t hear him over the shine coming off his three Super Bowl rings). The second half of last week’s game showed that the Falcons defense is incapable of tackling a mobile quarterback, especially when trying to stop a power running game. I think both teams can score a little and will blast through this line.

Lockness #2 – Atlanta (+4) vs San Francisco

Yes, we were all impressed by Colin Kaepernick’s dismantling of the Packers last week but the dirty secret is that he just hasn’t been that great on the road. Outside of at New Orleans and one great half at New England (neither of whose defenses will be confused with the ’85 Bears), Colin has looked like the inexperienced player he is when he ventures from the friendly confines of Candlestick. That horrid game at St. Louis. The implosion at Seattle. When he has faced solid defenses on the road, Kaepernick has not been the game changer he has been at home or against bad defenses. I am leaning to the Falcons because, I think this game is going to be close and I will happily bet on the home team, with the best record in the NFC, to lose by a field goal or less.

Full disclosure: Personally, I want the Forty-Niners to win. But separating heart from mind, being favored on the road by anything over a field goal seems like too much.

Lockness #3 – Baltimore at New England Under (51.5)

Again my system projects a different score than the line offered by Vegas. This time it suggests a score around 47. A look back at the history between these teams and it is easy to understand why. Outside of their week #3 match-up this year, these teams haven’t scored more than 48 points in this match-up since 2007 (5 match-ups). I just don’t see a back and forth scoring fest like we saw in both AFC games last week. These teams know each other well; they know the other team’s strengths and weaknesses. Last year’s AFC title game between the same teams (two teams that have seen little turnover in personnel), totaled 43 points. Throw in a forecast of a cool windy day in Foxborough causing havoc with the passing game and I am riding with boredom this week.

Lockness #4 – Baltimore (+8) at New England

Ok, I refuse to always be a slave to the machine. This time, I am going against what the system projects. My numbers say New England is about 10 points better than Baltimore but I don’t buy it, the system said the Broncos were 12 points better than Baltimore too. Baltimore may be this year’s Giants. A team that is playing better in the post season than they ever did in the regular season, making projections based on their regular season performance irrelevant. A defense getting strong (and healthy) at the right time and a quarterback not making mistakes. I think the Ravens keep it close – as stated above they know how to play against the Patriots and are coming in riding a wave of confidence from that ridiculous win in Denver last week. A game they had no right to win.

But as I am sure we will be reminded repeatedly, the great and glorious leader Ray Lewis willed his over-matched Ravens to the win.

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