Colts, Chargers Remain 3-1 Favorites To Win Super Bowl

NFL Bluebloods Say Playoffs Are Great Chess Matches And A Battle Of Wits Between Genius Coaches...But The Truth Is They Are A Great Guessing Game

Colts, Chargers Remain 3-1 Favorites To Win Super Bowl While Jets Are Longest Price On Board At 50-1

The Road Continues To Be The Undoing Of The Best College Basketball Teams, But Don't Worry About It

By Kelso Sturgeon

It is extremely dangerous for any handicapper to assume anything at National Football League playoff time. It is most certainly a waste of time to entertain dreamy thoughts of how devoted to winning teams are in the final steps to the Super Bowl and the world championship that goes with it. Just in case you were lucky and missed it, I give you as exhibits one, two and three the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots.
           
These three teams went into last weekend's post-season play needing to win just three games to get to the Super Bowl and not only did all three fail to perform up to expectations but none even showed up. To call their performances embarrassing and public disgraces does not do justice to the stench.
           
However, on the positive side, the NFL did gain some ground in its hypocritical and in-word-only opposition to betting on its games. Play many more like those of last weekend and bettors will leave the game in droves as already have many fans who have watched the game deteriorate into an exercise in boredom.
           
Seen one-you've seen them all.
But-enough of this negative stuff.
           
The divisional playoffs are here and that means teams are just two games away from the Super Bowl. Win this week, and next week and you're in.

The NFL bluebloods sell the playoffs as sacred chess matches that are a battle of wits between genius coaches of such mental exultation and rank they could go head-to-head with the likes of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking with half their brains tied behind their backs. The analysis, the planning, the long and devoted hours of hard work, the breakdown of match-ups etc. to get to the Super Bowl are things of legends-are they not?
           
A few might be but I stand with what my late friend, the great Baltimore Colt quarterback told me...."there ain't no geniuses coaching in the NFL".
This brings me to practical approach of handicapping the four divisional playoff games-two on Saturday and two more on Sunday. The winners will meet the following Sunday, January 24, in the conference championship games, with the winners of those two games heading for Miami.
           
Analyzing these games is far more a guessing game than a chess match and one simply has to use the tools of basic handicapping-the things that one has used all season to evaluate the chances a team has to win-to enable one's self to take his best shot.
           
Most of all, just keep in mind there is no sentimentality to winning in the NFL playoffs. It will be decided on the field by the players and at this level of play the loser will be the team that gets tired and blinks first. Figure that one out and you have your own personal gold mine.
           
Before offering some thoughts on this weekend's games, here are the current betting lines and the odds to win the Super Bowl.

Current Betting Lines
(Home Team In CAPS

Saturday, Jan. 16
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3) -7 over Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (14-2) -  over Baltimore Ravens (10-7)

Sunday, Jan. 17
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (12-4) -3 over Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (13-3) - over New York Jets (10-7)

Odds To Win Super Bowl
To Be Played Sunday, Feb. 7 At Land Shark Stadium, Miami, Florida

Team
Odds

Indianapolis

3-1

San Diego

3-1

New Orleans

4-1

Minnesota

6-1

Dallas

8-1

Arizona

18-1

Baltimore

30-1

New York Jets

50-1

While odds may vary from betting shop to betting shop, the Super Bowl numbers are a consensus of what you will find in Las Vegas. There is a greater variation at the offshore books and one should definitely shop around to get the best number.

NFL Playoff Questions And Thoughts

 The first issue I always address at playoff time is the place each team is in its form cycle, because this offers some insight into how a team is going to play. Here are thoughts on each of the four teams playing Saturday. We will discuss the Sunday games tomorrow.
           
Arizona-The Cardinals kicked it up a notch to beat Green Bay, 51-45, in the wild-card round and got outstanding play from its offensive line which opened up holes for a new-found running game and permitted just one sack. Will that kind of line play get it done at New Orleans?
           
Baltimore-The Ravens absolutely over-whelmed New England in their, 33-14, win over the Patriots in Foxborough last week-and they did it with a crippled quarterback. In that game they were able to open up a 24-point first quarter lead because of New England turnovers and coasted home with their running game. Quarterback Joe Flacco, playing with a painful leg injury that gave him an obvious limp during the game, completed just 4-of-10 passes for 34 yards in that game and had a 10.0 passing efficiency rating. Turnovers and the running game got the Ravens home in that one but can lightning strike twice?
           
Indianapolis-The Colts beat the Ravens, 17-15, November 22 in Baltimore and their defense limited them to five field goals. While Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning threw two interceptions in that game, he consistently burned the aggressive defense of the Ravens for 299 yards passing and a touchdown. If the Colts stopped the Ravens' offense once-and on the road-why can't it stop in again Indianapolis?
           
New Orleans-None of the eight teams still in the playoffs closed out their season in as shaky a fashion as did the Saints. They played to declining performance profile numbers in each of their last six games and closed out the season with three consecutive losses-at home to Dallas, 24-17, and Tampa Bay, 20-17, in overtime and then in a meaningless final game at Carolina, where they went down, 23-10. Which will it be-the Saints who opened the season 13-0 or the Saints which brought it home 0-3?
           
Let the guessing begin.

What Does It Mean To Lose On Road?

The real boobs who follow college basketball cry real tears and wet their pants when their favorite basketball team loses on the road. My, my-what a disaster, or is it?
           
It has been forever lost on me of the unreal expectations of some college basketball fans. Wake up, friend, the days of John Wooden and UCLA basketball are gone. The days of the San Francisco Dons and Bill Russell and Casey Jones are gone.
           
NCAA basketball is the most competitive game in all of sports and the great equalizer of it all is the home court-that sacred floor that produces 90% of all the "upsets".

Last night an outstanding nationally-ranked Baylor team lost at Colorado, 78-71, giving the Buffalos their first win over a ranked team in three years. On Sunday, then top-ranked Kansas lost at Tennessee, 76-68.
           
Losses such as this are not tragedies. They are one game-on the road-in which an outstanding team lost to another team with some talent. Texas (15-0) and Kentucky (17-0) are the only two of 345 NCAA 1-A teams that remain undefeated and they too will fall before the regular season is over.
           
It happens, because every time you leave home in college basketball, you are at high risk.
           
What does a loss mean?
Absolutely nothing.
           
A loss does not change the performance ability of a basketball and in most cases serves as a reality check and makes them tougher.
           
Never forget that many teams coming off losses such as those of Baylor and Kansas bounce back and win their next games in blowout fashion. Not all-but most.

Nobody ever said the game was easy.

21
Aug

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