So it begins, the ending of the NFL season with
plenty of good teams playing at this time of
the year, and I mean that sincerely. Not one
team playing in the Wildcard rounds got here
by accident or backed their way in. You have
New York, a Super Bowl team 5 years ago, with
a revamped line-up, you have Jacksonville with
one of the brightest young coaches in the game
and a great W-L record, you have New England,
2 time defending champs with THE BEST coach
in the game today, and the list goes on and
on, not to mention the Super Bowl team from
2 years ago, the Panthers in the mix again!
Did I mention that the Steelers or Bengal's
are no slouches either, and Carson Palmer has
emerged and become a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback?
What a weekend we have!
Some notes, as far as the pointspread is concerned.
Many times, and I mean many times the wild card
games are blowouts. Hard to figure when you
look at 2 defensive minded teams like Washington
and Tampa Bay huh? Both coaches in that match-up
have went to and won Super Bowls. For many years
there always been a blowout or two in the opening
round, as a matter of fact 24 out of 40 wild
card games since 1995 have been won by 13 or
more points. Usually that is because, in my
opinion, teams on the rise and teams that are
underdogs, sometimes do not have the experience
of a favorite in that particular game, and the
playoffs are all about your "A" game,
and not making mistakes. Look at USC in the
national title game against Texas this week.
They were in the red zone 5 times in the first
half, walked away with one score and had crucial
turnovers in the second half, and when you play
a good team, #2 Texas for instance with Vince
Young, you cannot do that and win. The playoffs
are very similar to that in the NFL, make mistakes
and miscues, and you lose, plain and simple.
Wildcard underdogs last year
went 3-1 ATS and since the year 2000, they are
12-8 ATS. Some more numbers from a respected
publication that may make you think twice or
use an expert this weekend is that 1-3 point
underdogs are 17-13-1 ATS since 1998, home underdogs
are 8-1 ATS in the wild card rounds, and 7 point
underdogs are 11-8 ATS since 1978. More of interesting
note, and bear in mind there was no free agency
in 1978 and for many years after that, 37 wild
card games have been won by 14 points or more.
One has to sidestep a few landmines in the wild
card games this weekend, but no team playing
on Saturday or Sunday is there by accident,
as I already mentioned and with parity at the
forefront, I look for tried and proven handicapping
methods that have stood the test of time in
the NFL post season, I urge you to do the same.
It is blocking and tackling 101 this weekend,
who has the better team and the better coach,
it boils down to simple thinking.
Tony George is a documented member of The Professional
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