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The Profit

So, we've got four pretty great games on tap for the weekend. They're also four games that are just about impossible to project. Would anyone be shocked if any team beat any other team this weekend? I know I wouldn't be. Should make for some interesting football. What's not interesting is this opening. See, I'm simply trying to deflect all attention away from having finished with yet another sub-.500 week and finishing under 53% for the first time since 2001.

(See how I did that? I complimented myself while bashing myself. I made it seem like I was so terrible this year, but I made sure to include how great my picks have been over the last four years. Sort of, "Hey look, what can I do? I've been great for years, what do you want from me?" Slick…very slick.)

On to the picks…

Source: Yahoo.com

NEW ENGLAND (-8) vs. JACKSONVILLE
I know, everyone is jumping on the Pats right now and assuming that they're gearing up for a deep playoff run once again. And I've even mentioned it once or twice recently that no AFC team wanted to draw New England in the first two rounds of the playoffs. But if there's one team that it doesn't matter who they play, it's the Jaguars. They haven't been to the playoffs much recently and are going in as the one quiet team that no one is saying anything about. They just quietly completed an outstanding 12-4 season, and yet it seems like they snuck in as a 9-7 wild card and barely played a game. That would worry me as a Pats fan, because the Jaguars can hang with anyone in the league. Of course, prior to last week the Pats were working on a nice four-game win streak of their own, but that was a bit misleading. Included were two victories over the Jets and one against Buffalo. The Tampa blowout was nice, but most of you know what I think of Tampa's playoff chances. Really, the Patriots only have three good wins all year (the Tampa game being one, and the wins at Pittsburgh and Miami). I'm not saying they'll be an easy out in the first round, but I'm pretty shocked to see this line approaching double digits. The Jaguars only lost by eight points on two occasions - one was against the Colts and one against Denver - two of the league's best teams. I know that in the playoffs, you aren't supposed to use the lines on the game and the smart play is to bet based on who you expect to win, but I'm going against the grain this week. I think there's an excellent chance that Jacksonville hangs right there with the Pats and even though they don't quite have enough to pull it out in the end, they end up losing by 3 or 4 points. And honestly, with how well Jacksonville has played this year and how badly New England has underachieved for much of the season, I wouldn't be the least bit shocked to see the Jaguars pull this one out. PICK: Jaguars

TAMPA BAY (-2.5) vs. WASHINGTON
So everyone knows I'm not real big on the Bucs, and haven't been for some time. Yet they've consistently proven me wrong over the season's second half. So why do I still not want to believe in them for this game? Because I think Washington is everything that the Bucs are, only better. The Bucs have a solid lefty QB. The Skins have a solid veteran lefty QB. The Bucs have an excellent rookie RB. The Skins have an excellent veteran RB. The Bucs have a WR corps led by speedy Joey Galloway. The Skins have a WR corps led by ultra-speedy Santana Moss. The Bucs don't really have a good TE. The Skins have one of the league's best in Chris Cooley. The Bucs head coach is a former Super Bowl winner. The Skins head coach (ha, Skins head) is a former three-time Super Bowl winner. Admittedly, the Bucs' defense looks to be a bit better statistically, but not so much so that it's a huge difference. Not only that, when the two teams matched up during the middle of the season, they each exposed the other's defense incessantly. I'm simply basing this on the fact that in watching each of these teams play various times during the season, the Redskins impressed me more often than not. They've got at least four big-time quality wins, and closed the season on an absolute tear. The Bucs have a few quality wins (with some awful losses thrown in there), and also finished relatively strong. With a week to prepare for his first playoff game in over a decade, I just like Gibbs' crew to come out with a top effort. Not a knock on Gruden, mind you - just that I think Gibbs is a bit better at this point. It should be an outstanding game, and if it puts your mind at ease at all, if we get a replay of the last time these two teams met, then Washington can lose and cover the 2.5 anyway. PICK: Redskins

NEW YORK GIANTS (-2.5) vs. CAROLINA
The Giants drew just about the worst possible first round matchup there is in getting Carolina. It's a tough one in that we know that Carolina has the talent to hang with any team in the entire NFC. It just so happens that the teams who are in my opinion the two most talented in the conference have to square off in round one. It's my belief that the winner of this game will go to the Super Bowl from the NFC. For the Giants, it's especially the case because they won't face another team that is this tough a matchup for them. Everything the Panthers are strong at, the Giants are weak at, and vice versa. So if New York can simply get by this week, they won't face a more difficult opponent until they get to Detroit. Now if you don't want to believe in Eli Manning because of his recent struggles, or the Giants' defensive backs because of their struggles, it's understandable. I just feel like the pressure of the d-linemen and Tiki Barber on offense are enough to offset those deficiencies. With most things being equal offensively, only the Giants can boast a player of Barber's caliber. That, to me, is the big difference in the game. As with the first two games, I wouldn't be shocked to see this go either way, but I have a feeling the Giants will muster enough to pull it out at home. PICK: Giants

PITTSBURGH (-3) at CINCINNATI
Is anyone else as shocked as I am by this line? Since when did beating Cleveland and Detroit qualify one for impending playoff excellence? I mean, I understand that the Steelers aren't at home for this week's playoff game so they actually have a decent chance to win the game (oooooooh), but how can they be road favorites against the Bengals? The same Bengals whose strength is every Pittsburgh weakness? Who took care of them the last time they met with an air show that the Steelers could do nothing about? I know, it's the first time Cincy has been in the playoffs in years. You know what? Who cares! They're good. No wait, they're really good. No one wants to get on board still, after I told you since the preseason that this team was legit and going to contend for an AFC title? Fine, I didn't want you on board anyway. I'm still driving, and there's plenty of room if you want to hop on now. And then when they "upset" the Steelers this week, you can all thank me for leading you down the right path. Folks, the Steelers aren't very good this year. They're very up-and-down, and you can't trust them to put out a quality effort on a weekly basis anymore. Look at how long they allowed Detroit to hang around in a must-win game! No, I'm feeling good about going with the Bengals and won't think twice about it. I know I said above that I wouldn't be shocked to see any team beat any team, but if the Steelers manage to pull this one out it would be quite surprising indeed. So have I made my point yet that I think Cincy takes this one. Well in case I haven't, PICK: Bengals

LOCK OF THE WEEK: Cincinnati Bengals


LAST WEEK

  • OVERALL: : 7-8-1
  • BEST BETS: 2-2
  • LOCK OF WEEK: 1-0

SEASON TOTALS

  • OVERALL: 119-130-7 (47.8%)
  • BEST BETS: 36-31-1 (53.7%)
  • LOCK OF WEEK: 8-9 (47.1%)

CAN'T WAIT TO GO 0-4 THIS WEEK!

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