Tuesday, January 15, 2013
I'm picking favorites, so just move on.
One place you could go would be here. Just a year ago I did a comprehensive review of each of the NFC Championship games in 49ers history. If you missed it, consider going back and taking a look.
If you want to keep reading; the chalk is thick this week - New England's favored by 9; here's why:
The three metrics I use throughout the year are from Football Outsiders, Pro-Football Reference, and Bryan Burke. Evaluating the two team's offenses:
New England: FO: 1st, BB: 1st, PF-R 12.2
Baltimore: FO: 17th, BB: 13th, PF-R 1.9
Evaluating the defenses:
New England: FO: 15th, BB: 29th, PF-R .5
Baltimore: FO: 16th, BB: 19th, PF-R 1.0
The Patriots have an historically great offense, Baltimore's is middling.
The Patriots have a middling to bad defense, Baltimore's is also middling. This isn't a matter of a great Ravens defense meeting a great Patriots offense, as has been the case in previous big game meetings between these two teams. Baltimore's just okay; they're a run of the mill football team. That doesn't mean it's impossible for them to win this game or even the one after that; last year's Giants team profiled similarly.
But you wouldn't pick Baltimore.
Against the spread? So, I went 2-1 in the divisional round after not picking a game against the spread in the wild card round. I'm solidly in the black for NFL games this season. It's a no play unless the number gets to 10 (which it might, stay tuned). If you can get ten, then you can invest in the Ravens. This profiles as an 8 point game; there's not going to be much daylight, but if you can get the public to bet it up to ten, taking Baltimore makes sense.
It just feels like too much to say, after the Giants winning the World Series for the second time in three years, that the 49ers, 18 years after the last time, are headed to the Super Bowl.
But that's what I said coming into the playoffs, and now they are, in what I think is probably an unprecedented number, favored by 5 points on the road against the top seeded Falcons.
Niners: FO: 5th, BB: 3rd, PFR: 3.5
Atlanta: FO: 12th, BB 13th, PFR: 2.0
Niners: FO: 2nd, BB: 3rd, PFR 6.7
Atlanta: FO: 12th, BB: 18th, PFR 4.5
That means the Niners are better, both offensively and defensively, by every metric.
If you were looking to invest in San Francisco, the worst thing that happened to you was that Seattle comeback, because now, what the public has seen is a catalyzing performance by Colin Kaepernick and a near collapse by the Falcons, and they've bet the Niners up accordingly, to the point where you just cannot invest in them. I cannot believe that number is 5. It's a totally unknown, unproven quarterback going on the road against the top seeds in the conference and the Niners are giving 5.
It's a no play; if you wanted to invest in Atlanta that's good decision making - I don't think it works out, to be honest, I think we beat them going away, I'm right there with the squares thinking the Niners are going to roll Atlanta - but as an investment strategy, when you see the public just running away with a game, moving the line from 3 to 5 in two days under a clear confirmation bias, you'd make sense to invest the other way.
So - I'm not picking anything ATS, unless the Patriots game gets to 10, and then I'm taking the points. If the Niner game was still a FG, I'd give the points, but other than that I'm completely out.
And straight up - favorites. Niners v. Patriots, two worlds collide, rival nations.