Some quick picks against the spread for the weekend, with home teams in CAPS:
(1) BALTIMORE RAVENS (-4) over Indianapolis Colts – I’m sure some people will be lulled into picking the Colts in the wake of another Wild Card round destruction of the Chiefs by Peyton Manning. As for me, though, I never fell for that one before and certainly won’t be doing it here. The Colts have never been able to beat upper tier defenses in the playoffs. Well, the Ravens have the top-ranked defense in the NFL. This is a no-brainer.
(2) Philadelphia Eagles (+5) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – There’s going to be the inevitable deluge of stories about how the Saints are bringing some light back to the city of New Orleans, not to mention the “genius” label applied to Sean Payton, who is the latest Bill Parcells protege to make good. As for actual game play, it’s really the Saints’ ability to stretch the field on offense against the Eagles’ stronger running game and defense. I hate having to ask Jeff Garcia to do very much here, but being able to run and defend are the keys to success in the postseason, so I’ve got the Eagles at least beating the spread, if not pulling an outright upset.
(3) CHICAGO BEARS (-8.5) over Seattle Seahawks – Obviously, I’m extremely biased here, yet I believe that the Bears genuinely have the “disrespect” card in the their collective pockets right now. Everyone keeps bringing up Rex Grossman’s problems, the way the Bears blew the playoff game at home against Carolina last year, and the defense’s letdown over the last month of the season. As a result, the Bears are ridiculously hungry for a team that went 13-3 during the regular season. More importantly, if the Bears can’t back their way into the Super Bowl facing a group of NFC teams that came straight from the short bus, the personal disappointment will rank with the Frank Williams-led Illinois teams only maxing out at the Elite Eight and the Frank Thomas-led White Sox teams from the 1990s only making the playoffs once. This Frank’s pick: Bears 412, Seattle -7
(4) New England Patriots (+5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – I’ll take 5 points with a Bill Belichick team in the playoffs anyday, particularly against Marty Schottenheimer. Plus, I’m getting an extremely bad vibe in the wake of the Chargers restricting ticket purchases to the game to only those with Southern California addresses in order to prevent Pats fans from buying up seats. That means that the home field advantage for the Chargers is going to be minimal. Granted, LDT can carry a team on his back as well as anyone in the NFL, but the Tom Brady vs. Philip Rivers QB matchup should be pause to anyone putting too much money on San Diego.
Go Bears, Go Illini (but curses to CBS for scheduling the Illinois-Michigan State game to conflict with the Bears game on Sunday), and have a great weekend!
(Image from Bookweb)