Championship Weekend Preview: Soak Up Them Points!
With football season winding down, we need to soak up all the Spogo points we can. With just two games this weekend, every question matters. While I cannot prepare you for every single question, I can try to give you some stats and trends to follow, and bet accordingly. Let’s make sure everyone gets some free Nachos, Beers, and Wings this weekend.
Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots
Tom Brady has an absurd record in the playoffs. This guy rarely loses, but if there is a New York Giants-esque team this year, it’s the Ravens. Flacco would obviously be playing Eli Manning (that terrifyingly, inexplicably successful quarterback who has made big plays all postseason). This Ravens team is playing inspired football right now, and they are not scared of the Patriots as the Texans were. Look for probably 5-10 shots downfield from Flacco to Smith or Boldin. Historically, the Patriots have been susceptible to giving up a big play or two a game, I expect to see Torrey Smith get in the end zone at least once this Sunday. Also, Dennis Pitta has shown he is a very capable tight end, and is being targeted more and more. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds his way to paydirt, as the Pats gave up loads of yards to Houston tight ends. This Ravens offense has averaged 31 points per game this postseason, so don’t be afraid to bet on point-scoring drives regularly.
Let’s face it: the Patriots can, and will, give up points. This is the leagues 29th ranked pass defense. While they can stop the run, Baltimore has proven they don’t need to rely on that. It will be interesting to see what Belichick comes up with to stop the Ravens offense. As for their offense, I would follow the Baltimore recipe: bet on scores. The Patriots have scored under 20 points just once this entire season, and have proven that they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. I’m not so sure I trust the rushing attack in the playoffs. The Ravens have clamped down on the run in the playoffs. So I might bet under on the rushing questions, and over on passing questions. We could easily see 70 points in this game.
Out of the two games, this one has the most upset potential (read: if you’re a Patriots fan, watch this without any sharp objects around).
San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
I’m going out on a limb on this one. I think this game could be a two touchdown win for the 49ers. The way Colin Kaepernick played in the Divisonal was stunning, inspired. It was like watching Jamie Fox as Willie Beamen in Any Given Sunday, during that montage of epic throws and runs. Atlanta just doesn’t have an answer for this kind of athlete. In fact, one of their worst losses came against Cam Newton, a quarterback with a similar skill set. I’ll be betting heavily on Kaepernick getting 100+ rushing yards, scoring at least one rushing TD, and having a solid passing game. Due to this Kaepernick (or is it Beamen?) explosion, the defensive unit isn’t the first thing people talk about anymore. But they are still absolutely stifling. While their secondary isn’t quite as good as Seattle’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if they get an interception or two off of Matt Ryan. If any team has athletic enough linebackers to cover Tony Gonzalez, it’s the 49ers.
For Atlanta to win this game, they’ll need to keep some resemblance of a running game going. If it’s solely placed on Matt Ryan to throw his way out of this game, I think the 49ers will get the pressure they need to force some turnovers. If the running game can get the yards to keep them from 3rd and long, Matt should be able to find one of his favorite targets. I’m going to be betting on the Falcons punting often, with maybe the occasional scoring bet if they have solid field position.
Best of luck to all users this weekend.