NFL Divisional Round Round-Up

I’d say it was a pretty good weekend, with three of four games being reasonably exciting.  Here’s the low-down based on my predictions from Saturday.

Saints at 49ers: Luigi nailed the spread, moneyline, and over/under, but missed on the outright winner.  It’s hard to say anything bad about this game, because it was great to watch.  But if you’re a winning team that feels bad right now, aren’t you the 49ers?  Everything broke absolutely perfectly for them.  It wasn’t just the turnovers, but the location and timing of the turnovers.  The Saints lost a fumble on their opening drive when Pierre Thomas was knocked unconscious on a helmet-to-helmet hit at the San Fran 4, taking Saints points off the board.  The 49ers recovered their own fumble at midfield on 3rd down, avoiding giving up a short field and getting to punt instead.  Brees gets intercepted at midfield and it’s returned to the 4, giving the 49ers a short touchdown.  Then the Saints fumble that kickoff and give the ball right back to the 49ers on the 13.  That was just the first quarter!

Brees got intercepted again with no immediate harm before the 2 minute warning.  The 49ers lost a fumble, but it was with 17 seconds left in the half; the Saints didn’t have enough time to take advantage.  Then right out of the gate in the second half the Saints force a punt but then fumble it, giving the 49ers essentially a 53 yard free move.  The 49ers recovered another one of their own fumbles.  Somehow, after all of that, the Saints were only down by 6.  Nothing else of note happened in the 3rd quarter, setting up the crazy 4th quarter with 44 of the 68 points scored in the game.

Granted, the 49ers are a strong defensive team.  But it’s tough to count on five turnovers a game, and even tougher to expect them to take points away from the opponent and give it to you inside their 30 four times.  And they needed every one of those to win.  The Saints are not a good defensive team, but the 49ers only really moved the ball on their final two drives.  They can’t be thrilled with their offense, but they probably are thrilled they don’t have to go to Green Bay now.

Broncos at Patriots: Luigi skipped the moneyline, got the outright winner, and missed everything else.  I thought this game would be closer, but I’m not surprised by the outcome.  About the only thing I really found weird was Tom Brady staying in the whole game.  I know the Pats like to keep the pedal down, but that seems like an unnecessary risk.

Texans at Ravens: Luigi got the spread, missed the outright winner and moneyline, and missed the over/under.  This is sort of the same thing for the Ravens as it was for the 49ers.  Houston couldn’t finish a drive to tie the game in the 4th quarter after they gave up a free touchdown on a muffed punt, threw an interception, missed a field goal, and threw two more interceptions.  In the meantime, Baltimore fumbled three times and recovered all of them, including once when they fumbled forward.  Houston’s defense is pretty good, but the Ravens’ offense has to be pretty disappointed in their showing.  The Patriots’ defense will be more giving, but the Ravens had better get it together.

Giants at Packers: Luigi missed the outright winner, making it 1 for 4 on the weekend.  But it got the spread and the moneyline as well (missing the over/under).  The Giants did a good job of stifling the Packers, but the Packers hurt themselves quite a bit as well.  Three fumbles is rare for them, and they missed a lot of plays they usually make.  The Giants’ win makes my previous post look a little silly now, but I stand by it.  Before the playoffs, the Giants were not a favorite to win the Super Bowl.  With four teams left, are the Giants even favorites now?  They have to go to San Fransisco, where they lost earlier this year.  Then in the Super Bowl they’ll have to beat the Patriots for a second time, or beat the Ravens.  It’s a tough run, and I don’t know for sure but I bet they’ll be underdogs in both games (if they were to make the Super Bowl).

Overall Luigi was 1-3 on outright winners (as mentioned), making it 4-4 for the playoffs.  But it was 2-1 on the moneyline and 3-2 for the playoffs, which is a decent trade to make if one were actually wagering.  The over/under continues to be a disaster at 3-5 (1-3 this weekend), but Luigi went 3-1 against the spread and is 5-3 overall for the postseason.  Bill Simmons went 2-2, getting the 49ers and Patriots, and is 6-2 for the postseason.  So much for that 11-0 run, and now I’m only one game behind in the playoff competition.

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