The Pi-Rate Ratings

January 19, 2010

NFL Conference Championship Previews

And Then There Were Four

Okay, first let’s get the bad news out of the way.  Our picks straight up against the spread finished 2-2, which is mediocre, but great in comparison to the totals, which went 0-4.  That brings or NFL playoff record to 5-3 vs. the sides and 3-5 vs. the totals.  It gets much harder from here, as little things mean a lot.  Then again, missed chip-shot field goals and stupid mistakes shouldn’t be much of a factor when you get this far.  But then again, Vikings fans can remember Gary Anderson hitting every extra point and every field goal during the 1998 season, and then he shanked a simple 30-yarder that kept the purple and white out of the 1999 Super Bowl.

Sunday,  January 24

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts

Time: 3:00 PM EST     Network: CBS

Forecast–Dome Stadium, No Weather

PiRate:  Colts by 6.5

Mean:  Colts by 2.9

Bias:  Colts by 0.8

100 Sims:  Indianapolis 52  New York 48

Avg. Sim Score: New York 18.1  Indianapolis 16.9  

Outlier Score A:  Indianapolis 20  New York 13 (6 others by 7 points)

Outlier Score B:  New York 24  Indianapolis 10

Vegas: Colts by 7 ½     Totals: 39   

Analysis

The Colts have done it with timely Peyton Manning passes and just enough defense to get by.  Last week, the Ravens helped the Colts’ defense more than the Colts’ defense stopped the Ravens.  However, the Indy defense will face a considerably weaker Jets’ offense this week.  

The Jets cannot completely shut down Manning’s passing game unless they knock him out of the game.  Indianapolis cannot win running the ball, but they will get two yards on 3rd and 1.  That doesn’t show up in the statistics after the game, but it is successful when it accomplished that feat.

These two teams played in Week 16, when the Colts were 14-0 and the Jets were 7-7 and facing a must-win game.  Indianapolis led this game before removing the key starters, and then the Jets came from behind to win.  

All signs point to New Orleans becoming Peyton’s Place once again.  9-7 teams rarely beat 14-2 teams on the road, and there’s a reason the Jets lost seven times.  Passing and stopping the pass wins championships in the 21st Century.  The Jets cannot consistently stop the Colts’ passing game, while an average NFL defense can stop the Jets’ passing game.  Indianapolis has an above-average pass defense.

The spread is 7 ½ points, and we at the PiRate Ratings never recommend anybody giving up more than a touchdown in a playoff game.  We don’t necessarily like the Jets at +7 ½ either, but the logical choice is to take the Jets and hope they will lose by just a touchdown at the most.  We advise leaving this spread alone unless it drops below 7.

As for the Totals, we think New York will try their best to control the clock and make it a low-scoring game.  Miami tried that against Indy in September, and there were still 50 points scored in that game.  We believe Indianapolis will top 21 points in this game, but the Jets will be hard-pressed to get to 17.  If we have to choose, we’ll play the law of averages and take the OVER, but we aren’t in love with this pick either.  This is the week for a teaser play, and you’ll see it at the end of this feature.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Time: 6:30 PM EST     Network: Fox

Forecast–Dome Stadium, No Weather

PiRate: Saints by 1.9

Mean:  Saints by 3.0

Bias:  Vikings by 0.8

100 Sims:  New Orleans 61  Minnesota 39

Avg. Sim Score:  New Orleans 33.2  Minnesota 25.4

Outlier Score A:  New Orleans 37  Minnesota 17

Outlier Score B:  Minnesota 31  New Orleans 23

Vegas: Saints by 3 ½     Totals: 52  

Analysis

This is the game most fans have wanted to see since early October.  The two best teams in the NFC face off in an emotional contest.  The Saints have never gotten this close to the Super Bowl, and they are one win away from hosting the big game in their own stadium.  As for the Vikings, they share the dubious distinction with the Buffalo Bills for being 0-4 in Super Bowls (at least the Bills have two AFL Championships to their credit).  

The key to this game will be defense.  It is a given that both teams can move the football on anybody’s defense.  It will be the defense that comes up with the big play at the opportune time that decides which way this game should turn.

New Orleans’ defense rose to the challenge against Kurt Warner last week, while the Vikings looked like the old Purple People Eaters of Alan Page, Carl, Eller, and company when they humiliated Dallas.

The Vikings’ defense has consistently shown they are capable of coming up with great efforts every week, while the Saints’ defense has had a tendency to follow up a good showing with a mediocre one.  

That’s where we think this game is headed.  It’s hard to select the enemy of the Packers with our former quarterback piloting the team, but that’s what we must do this week.  We believe Favre will get to close out his career with one final attempt to win a ring.  We’ll go with the Vikings to win a close one.  So, that means we take Minnesota and the points.

As far as the Totals go, 52 is an awful lot for a conference championship game.  Take the UNDER.

13-point Teaser

 

There are six different selections that can be made to satisfy the four picks in a 13-point Teaser.  They are: Jets +20 ½, Colts +5 ½, OVER 26, and UNDER 52 for the AFC game; and: Vikings +16 ½, Saints +9 ½, OVER 39, and UNDER 65.  Here are the four we’d take for our teaser:

Colts +5 ½, Jets & Colts UNDER 52, Vikings +16 ½, and Vikings & Saints UNDER 65.  That’s our one true recommended play this week.

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