Originally posted on The Victory Formation  |  Last updated 1/13/12

Well how do you do NFL Playoffs!  A 3-1 start to the playoff picks, with only a comically stupid pick of Cincinnati covering at Houston to blemish my record.  Not too shabby.  Although that Cincy pick was pretty indefensible.  Just six months ago, I picked the Bengals to go 1-15 for the season; apparently I forgot that they were overachievers for the last sixteen weeks.  Anyway, time to look forward instead of back, and see if I can get at least two wins this week to guarantee a winning playoff season…

Disclaimer: Gambling on sports is illegal unless you are in Las Vegas, Delaware or Atlantic City. Also, if I’m horribly incorrect with these picks – as I have occasionally been in the past – I’m sorry in advance. If you can’t afford to lose, don’t play. John Anthony – “The Million Dollar Man with the Billion Dollar Plan” – is not a real person. All lines from Bodog or **SBRForum** are accurate as of the time this was typed – 9pm Thursday. Home teams in CAPS. That about covers it.)

Saints (-4) over 49ERS: No, I’m not sleeping on the Niners.  I still believe that they are one of the three best teams left in the NFC, and five best in the NFL. And I don’t think the Saints are going to blow their doors off.  In fact, I’m not all that happy about taking a road favorite, especially a road favorite that didn’t have a great road record this year (New Orleans was 5-3).  But the Saints have been on an absolute roll lately; eight straight wins to end the regular season (including three on the road), followed by a complete dismantling of the Lions last weekend.  I like the Saints to continue on their path to Lambeau, but not without taking a few lumps from the Niners.  San Fran isn’t going to go quietly, and I seriously doubt they’ll let the Saints ever really pull away.  PICK: Saints 27-20

PATRIOTS (-13) over Broncos: Tebowl 2.0.  When was the last time a 13-point home favorite could legitimately play the “Nobody believes in us!!” card?  This Patriots team is still considered to be one of the best offenses in the league, but no one is giving them a snowball’s chance in hell of winning it all, because of their sieve of a defense.  Meanwhile, this week, the entire focus of the football world has been on the Broncos quarterback, forgetting that the Broncos’ best asset is their defense.  The same defense that gave up forty-one points to these Patriots… in Denver… just four weeks ago.  So I’m not feeling too good about Denver holding the Pats in check enough to keep this game even remotely close after halftime.  And I promise (unless I’m hammered or too doped-up after spending Friday in the hospital), I’ll try not to go completely nuclear on Twitter when the Broncos inevitably jump out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. PICK: Patriots 48-24

Texans (+9) over RAVENS: Now I know I’m out of my mind.  Baltimore plays to the level of their opponents, or at least they have all year long.  The Ravens are notorious for getting over-amped up for big games, especially on defense.  In the regular season, Baltimore went 5-0 against other playoff teams, including a 29-14 win over the Texans back in week six, coming off a bye week (sound familiar?)  But I also know that this game is going to come down to ball control, running, and managing the clock.  And in that situation, the Ravens might still win, but I don’t think they’ll cover.  In fact, I think this Texans team is the absolute worst matchup for Baltimore.  Houston has a pretty dominant defense, that preys on weak quarterbacks making mistakes.  On offense, the Texans can control the tempo of the game with the better overall running game of the two teams (Rice and Foster are 1 & 1A in my book for best running back in the NFL right now, and I’ll take 2011 Ben Tate over 2011 Ricky Williams any day, and especially now that it’s 2012), and let’s be honest – the Ravens’ defense is more reputation than results these days, especially the defensive backfield.  So after all that, I think this is going to be my upset special… as I pray that Jake Delhomme and… gulp… Jeff Garcia never have to see the field.  PICK: Texans 20-16

PACKERS (-9) over Giants: I hate giving up nine points here.  I really do.  The Giants have been on a roll for four of the last five weeks, with the only blemish being a hiccup against the Redskins a month ago.  On the flip side, the Packers barely beat the Giants in Week 13, then in their next four games they won by 30 (Oak), -5 (Loss at KC), 14 (Chi), and a four point win over Detroit in the final game with the second string running the show.  I just don’t know… I’m pretty certain the Packers are going to win, and big.  I’m also pretty certain that the Giants are just about due to **** the bed in spectacularly awful fashion (I’m thinking something like a 16/41, 158yds, 1TD, 4INT, 1 Fumble day for Eli).  But there’s this nagging little voice in my head that says this could be a big time trap game for the Packers while they make preparations to host the NFC title game next week.  I guess I’m going to trust my instincts here and take Green Bay, but I’m not recommending a big wager on them.  PICK: Packers 37-23

RECAP: Saints / PATRIOTS / Texans / PACKERS

Best Multi-Team Bet: Tough, tough week for multi-team bets. I like a Pats/Niners/Packers teasers (-6/+10/-3).  But it’s kind of a hard week to predict on straight up money line bets – although last week’s “Saints/Steelers money line is a layup” didn’t exactly pan out either.

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