Last week overall: 2-0
Last week ATS: 1-1 (+80/+15%)
Overall picks: 174-92 (.654)
ATS Picks: 141-118-7 (+$3040)
Lock picks: 12-5
Upset picks: 35-36 (+1668)
Other: -100 (Seahawks 20:1 to win NFC)
Total Money: $4608
Conference Finals recap: Not much to say. I nailed my 3 unit with Green Bay -3.5 over Chicago and dropped my 2 unit with New York +3.5 over Pittsburgh. I made money and I am still up for the postseason and up over 3K on the season on ATS picks alone. I nailed both straight up picks though, picking Green Bay and Pittsburgh to advance to the Super Bowl. In total, I’m up $4608 on the year. Not too bad for my first year keeping track of money.
Not only did the Jets lose last week, now it appears they have a quarterback controversy. No, Mark Sanchez isn’t being benched for Mark Brunell. I’m referring to the controversy that will ensue once Brunell realizes Sanchez wiped his boogers on him on the sideline. Click here for video.
However, that controversy pales in comparison to the controversy surrounding the sexual assualt charges filed against Rashard Mendenhall. Roger Goodell was torn on what kind of punishment to give Rashard Mendenhall because, on one hand, he’s a Steeler and there’s nothing Goodell loves more than screwing over the Steelers but on the other hand, that’s exactly what Mendenhall was doing (literally) and an enemy of his enemy is friend. The decision was so difficult to make that Goodell’s head eventually exploded, so it appears there will be no punishment for Mendenhall.
However, both of those two controversies combined are nothing compared to the controversy surrounding Brett Favre’s new commercial. Wanna see my Danny Woodhead?
Green Bay Packers 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Spread: -2.5 Green Bay
Pick against spread: Green Bay 5 units
Before I give my pick, back by popular demand it’s the Monday Night Countdown crew. Among some of their “analysis”in the Jets/Pats 45-3 game were the following.
Steve Young: It’s my son Braden’s 10th birthday and we call him Brady B. The stars are aligned. I’m taking the Pats.
Matt Millen: I think Tom Brady is the best quarterback on the field. I’m taking the Pats.
Keyshawn Johnson: Yo, I gotta lotta love for New York, but I gotta go Pats.
A couple weeks earlier Chris Berman picked the 49ers to beat the Cardinals 19-16 because 1916 was an important year in San Francisco history. A few weeks after that Berman picked the Falcons to beat the Saints because he likes Diet Coke. Mike Ditka has the uncanny ability to tie everything back to how he used to coach in the NFL (in case anyone forgot), while the rest of the gang just says they are picking this team because they are the better team.
Steve Young: My half-cousin twice removed once had a 3 hour layover in Philadelphia, which is closer to Pittsburgh than to Green Bay. The stars are aligned, I’m picking the Steelers.
Matt Millen: I think the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2008. I’m going with the Steelers.
Keyshawn Johnson: Yo, I got mad love for Ben Roethlisberger, but I gotta go with the Packers.
Chris Berman: WHOOP! The Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2008. I’m taking the Steelers to win 2000-8. WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP!
Tom Jackson: The Steelers offensive line is banged up and good quarterbacks with receiver who can spread the field normally do well against the Steelers. I’m taking the Packers.
Stuart Scott: What Tom said sounds smart. I’m taking Packers.
Mike Ditka: I used to coach the Bears and last week the Packers beat the Bears and made Jay Cutler’s knee hurt a little bit. That’s not very nice. I’m going with the Steelers.
Cris Carter: I think the Packers have the better team. I’m taking the Packers.
I picked the Packers to start the season. I picked the Packers again once my Pats were eliminated. So it should be no surprise I’m picking the Packers here to win. I’m not really paying much attention to the spread. If you think the Packers will win, you think the Packers will win by 3. There’s always a slight chance of a bullshit backdoor cover with a sub 3 spread, but never enough that it should scare you into taking the team you don’t think will win.
That being said, I do have other reasons on why the Packers. Aaron Rodgers won’t be scared by this Steelers’ defense. He was 26-48 for 383 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no picks the last time he faced them, last year, week 15. I’d argue that Rodgers has gotten better since then, and though the Steelers’ pass defense has also improved, Rodgers has improved more than they have.
Ben Roethlisberger is working with one of his most banged up lines ever. That wasn’t the case when these two played last year (though the Packers still managed to sack Ben 5 times). Maurkice Pouncey is questionable for this game, though he says he will absolutely play, but there’s no guarantees at all he’ll be 100%. The Steelers didn’t get any sort of offensive rytyhm in the 2nd half last week with Pouncey out and they even fumbled on the goal line for a safety on a botched snap.
The combination of Ben’s poor protection and the Packers crazy blitz schemes means that Ben will be going down more than a few times this week. Ben deals with pressure better than any quarterback in the league, though, so while that’s a positive for the Packers, it’s not as big of a positive as it was last week against the Bears.
Another thing I like to do in the Super Bowl is see how both teams do against elite quarterbacks. Super Bowl teams almost always have elite quarterbacks so seeing how each team defends elite quarterbacks is a good measure of how well each team will do defensively. For the sake of this, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger are elite quarterbacks, while Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, and Joe Flacco are borderline elite quarterbacks.
Steelers week 1 vs. Matt Ryan: 27-44 252 yards, no touchdowns, 1 pick
Steelers week 4 vs. Joe Flacco: 24-37 256 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 pick
Steelers week 8 vs. Drew Brees: 34-44 305 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 pick
Steelers week 10 vs. Tom Brady: 30-43 350 yards, 3 touchdowns, no picks
Steelers week 13 vs. Joe Flacco: 17-33 266 yards, 1 touchdown, no picks
Steelers AFC Semis vs. Joe Flacco: 16-30 125 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 pick
Packers week 1 vs. Michael Vick 16-25 175 yards, 1 touchdown, no picks
Packers week 12 vs. Matt Ryan 24-28 197 yards, 1 touchdown, no picks
Packers week 15 vs. Tom Brady 15-24 163 yards, 2 touchdowns, no picks
Packers NFC Wild Card vs. Michael Vick 20-36 292 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 pick
Packers NFC Semis vs. Matt Ryan 20-29 186 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 picks
Steelers Total (without borderlines): 64-87 (74%) 655 yards (7.5), 5 touchdowns, 1 pick
Steelers Total (with borderlines): 148-231 (64%) 1554 yards (6.7), 8 touchdowns, 4 picks
Packers Total (without borderlines): 15-24 (63%) 163 yards (6.8), 2 touchdowns, no picks
Packers Total (with borderlines): 95-142 (67%) 1013 yards (7.1), 5 touchdowns, 3 picks
The results: Fairly inconclusive. The Steelers faced more elites and borderline elites and they threw against them more. They had a slightly better completion percentage allowed for slightly fewer yards per, but a worse TD/INT ratio. They also were burned by both Drew Brees and Tom Brady, while the Packers actually managed to slow Tom Brady. I think the result favor the Packers, but they can be interpreted in either way. It’s also worth noting that more of Green Bay’s experience with elite quarterbacks has been late in the season, so they should be more prepared.
The two teams rank 1-2 in point allowed per game. Let’s see how both teams do against elite defense (top 10 in points per game allowed). Those teams are, in order, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, NY Jets, New Orleans, New England, Tampa Bay, and San Diego. I will not count Steelers’ results from weeks 1-4 when Ben Roethlisberger was out nor will I count the Packers game against the Patriots, when Aaron Rodgers was out.
Pittsburgh Week 8 vs. New Orleans (7th): 10 points, 279 yards
Pittsburgh Week 10 vs. New England (8th): 26 points, 425 yards
Pittsburgh Week 13 vs. Baltimore (3rd): 13 points, 288 yards
Pittsburgh Week 15 vs. NY Jets (6th): 17 points, 377 yards
Pittsburgh AFC Semis vs. Baltimore (3rd): 31 points, 263 yards
Pittsburgh AFC Finals vs. NY Jets (6th): 24 points, 287 yards
Green Bay Week 3 vs. Chicago (4th): 17 points, 379 yards
Green Bay Week 8 vs. NY Jets (6th): 9 points, 237 yards
Green Bay Week 12 vs. Atlanta (5th): 17 points, 418 yards
Green Bay Week 17 vs. Chicago (4th): 10 points, 284 yards
Green Bay NFC Semis vs. Atlanta (5th): 48 points, 442 yards
Green Bay NFC Finals vs. Chicago (4th): 21 points, 356 yards
Pittsburgh average ranking played: 5.5
Green Bay average ranking played: 4.7
Pittsburgh average points per game: 20.2
Green Bay average points per game: 20.3
Pittsburgh average yards per game: 319.8
Green Bay average yards per game: 352.7
Green Bay did slightly better offensively against slightly tougher competition, though that 48 point game does skew things a bit. I give Green Bay a moderate advantage in this statistical analysis, as I did in the last one, but again it’s close.
At the end of the day, both teams have good teams that bring pressure and confuse opposing quarterbacks, and can shut down the run and make sure Mendenhall and Starks respectively don’t see much daylight all game. Both teams have stacked receiving corps with a wily veteran (Hines Ward, Donald Driver), and explosive playmaker (Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings), and good depth (Antonio Brown/Emmanuel Sanders, Jordy Nelson/James Jones).
However, I’m going with the Packers because I think they have the better quarterback behind the better line. No offense to Big Ben at all, Aaron Rodgers is just playing better right now. Rodgers didn’t have a great week last week, 17-30 for 244 yards no touchdowns and 2 picks, but one pick wasn’t his fault, he had several drops and he still posted a better line than Big Ben. Ben was 10-19 for 133 yards, no touchdowns, and 2 picks.
Rodgers was amazing going into that Chicago game. Besides that Chicago game, dating back to week 9, Aaron Rodgers is 196 for 269 (72.9%) for 2457 yards (9.1 YPA), 22 touchdowns, and 2 picks. Besides that Chicago game, Rodgers went 77 for 105 for 969 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 1 pick in his first 3 playoff games.
The Packers are the type of team that offensively matches up well with the Steelers. They can spread the field effectively. They can go to a spread offense and that’s the Steelers achilles heel. They couldn’t stop Tom Brady or Drew Brees when they did the same thing this year and remember the Super Bowl two years ago. Kurt Warner and company didn’t win, but they played so well once they went spread that they could have easily won if they had played that way the whole game.
Going to a spread forces the Steelers to either move James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley or to take them out of the game completely to avoid them being matched up against a receiver. They then won’t be able to rely on their pass rush as much and will be forced to rely on corner play, which is the weakness of their defense. That’s what the Patriots and Saints and 2008 Cardinals did. The Packers do that almost as well as anyone in the game.
Anothing thing you can’t forget, this is a dome game and the Packers’ offense, as a pass heavy, downfield explosive offense, has the advantage in this type of game. You saw what they did in Atlanta a few weeks ago. Aaron Rodgers’ career passer rating in a dome is 111.2.
I trust him more. I trust his line more. I trust the Packers depth more (don’t understimate their depth). I picked the Packers in August (over the Ravens, but whatever) and I’m doing it again in late January. Packers 23. Steelers 17. I’m making it a 5 unit because it’s the biggest game of the season, I feel confident in it, and I want to go out with a bang.
Super Bowl Prop Bet
Pittsburgh wins by 1-6 +400 (1 unit)/Green Bay wins by 1-6 +330 (1 unit)
This is going to be a close game no matter what. I can’t see this being decided by more than a touchdown. These two teams are so evenly matched. 4 of the last 7 Super Bowls have been decided by less than a touchdown. Of the three that weren’t, two needed a late pick six to make the lead bigger than 7. Besides, the Steelers have only lost two games by more than 5 points all year while the Packers haven’t lost a game by more than 4 points since week 8 of 2009.
I’m betting 1 unit on each so if the Steelers win by 6 or fewer, I win 300 (minus the 100 for losing the Packers part of the bet) and if the Packers win by 6 or fewer I win 230 (minus the 100 for losing the Steelers part of the bet). Average those two out, that’s +265. Sure I’ll take a this game will be decided by less than a touchdown +265 bet. Makes so much sense.