Earlier today I gave you my pick in the AFC Championship Game, and told you why I felt the New York Jets are a duel play. Today we’ll take a look at the NFC Championship Game and how I’m going to play it.
Unlike the Jets vs. Steelers where I think the line is off, I think the Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears line is right about where it should be. The Bears didn’t get any respect all year and in hindsight, most people would have to admit, they read them wrong. As for the Packers, they were one of a handful of NFL teams that received an extraordinary number of devastating injuries to prominent members of the core of their teams. Finishing at 10-6 and making the playoffs with the injuries they sustained early on was nothing short of a super human effort of those that were healthy enough to take the field. One look at the way they competed against the New England Patriots without Aaron Rogers on the field is all you need to know about how good this team is.
If you read Mike Cardano’s fabulous interview with Ballyped a few weeks ago, you found out that the Packers were his choice to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. But it was why they were his favorite that stuck with me.
“The Packers may be the only team in the NFL that was literally in every single game. When you consider that their six losses were by a total of 20 points, you can see no team in the NFL was ever really able to get their number. There isn't any other team in the NFL we can say that about. And considering some of the injuries they dealt with during the season that was a remarkable feat. Even when their starting QB went down, they conceded nothing. I also think that the experience that Matt Flynn got against the Patriots (and the team with him) may prove valuable before this year is over as Aaron Rodgers has a tendency to take some hits. I would submit that if you gave Flynn another chance to play that last minute of the game over again, Pats fans might not be too happy about the outcome.”
The other thing that Mike mentioned was that his vote for League MVP was Clay Matthews (not Defensive Player of the Year, League MVP.
“Brady is certainly worthy of the award, one wonders if he’ll ever throw another INT. And with the amount of times he drops back to pass, that’s’ no small accomplishment. While no one could argue if he won the award, I think the coaching, system and talent around him has a lot to do with his success. You need to look no further than Matt Cassel going 11-5 for the Patriots two years ago to see what I mean. As for Vick, I think his prime time All-World performance against the Redskins and his part in the greatest comeback I’ve seen since the Buffalo Bills playoff comeback against the Houston Oilers on January 3, 1993 has skewed the perception of what his season has really been. He certainly hasn’t been as consistent as Brady and I’m not certain that they wouldn’t have been able to get to 10 wins if Kevin Kolb were there quarterback. He’s got a lot of talent around him. While one of those two guys will probably win, I would give the award to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. I just think he’s had a remarkable season and has had the more impact on his team than anyone else has had on theirs. To me, the Packers clearly would not have been a playoff team without him.”
For me, I think if I had to take one quarterback to build my franchise around going forward it would be Aaron Rogers. I just think he’s got the whole package and the sky is the limit. The only thing this kid has left to prove is to win a Super Bowl and the generational transfer of quarterback from Favre to Rodgers will be complete. This just might be the year where Packers GM Ted Thompson gets ultimate vindication and Rogers achieves his own stardom getting out from under the shadow of Brett Favre much in the way Steve Young did with Joe Montana.
I know many of you have been piggybacking my wagers all year so I’ll give you my take. If you have been with me all year you are up quite a bit but that doesn’t mean that you should do something stupid and just give it all back. So before I tell you how I’m playing it I’d like to remind you that if you are following me, and wagering the way I am, it should only be because YOU THINK what say makes sense to you, not because you’re just doing what I’m doing. Never take a wager that lightly, no matter how small it is. If you don’t have the conviction yourself, you should never place a bet just because someone else is.
This one is much tougher for me to game than the AFC Championship. I would feel a lot more comfortable if the Packers were favored by 3 rather than 3.5. Not being able to have a push in your pocket always makes you queasy.
The Chicago Bears are much better than people have given them credit for. Given that the Bears are playing a team that they beat out for the NFC North Division title and split the season with them in two highly contested and are playing the game at home, they have to be insulted being more than a field goal underdogs at home. “Sticks and Stones” as they say and I don’t think that matters. These are two bitter division rivals and they know each other well. No one is going to b able to do anything to surprise the other team I I just feel that the Packers have better personnel. Jay Cutler is the closed on the field mirror image of Brett Favre that we know of. Cutler can throw passes that many NFL quarterbacks can’t but like Favre, he will throw balls that many NFL quarterbacks won’t. I think this is the game that we see Brett Favre-lite as Jay Cutler tries to make some throws that he shouldn’t in an attempt to make plays and the turnover(s) will be too much to overcome.
Unlike the suggestion of betting on the Jets early in the week as I perceive risk in the point spread coming down, I think the strategy here is the opposite. I think there is also risk of this spread dropping below 3.5 before game time so if you are planning on taking the Packers and laying the points I would wait until later in the week and see if you can get .5 or 1 point to go your way. Conversely, if you think the Bears will cover or are going to be moving on to Super Bowl XLV (I don’t think that’s the craziest notion in the world) and want to take the points, I would place the bet immediately as I would expect that the line moves down or stays pegged here at worst. While I don’t see playing the Bears money line in this one, don’t let that sway you if that’s what blows your skirt up. No one could argue that getting paid +170 is a bad risk /reward if you have a conviction that the Bears will win.
Robert Fairchild is a professional sports gaming professional. He legally wages on professional and collegiate sporting events for a living. Robert is NOT suggesting that you quit your day job and try to wager on sports for a living. He is contributing his thoughts and experience to assist you in a recreational activity that you as an informed adult may choose to take part in.
You may email Robert directly at [email protected].
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