January 2008

NFL Super Bowl Odds: Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady

The Super Bowl props market is absolutely overflowing with football goodness. There are wagers available for nearly every individual player of consequence; the ones pitting Eli Manning’s production against Tom Brady’s are twice as tasty.

Brady is the favorite in all six of his props against Manning, including most pass completions (-5.5) and most passing yards (-65.5, -135). It’s important to look at the Super Bowl matchup itself before taking the hammer to that piggy bank. If it looks anything like Week 17, Brady will attempt significantly more passes against the softer New York Giants secondary.

Otherwise, Manning has plenty of value in the touchdown department. His learning curve appears to have taken him through what started off as an inconsistent 2007 campaign. Appearances can be deceiving, but Manning has eight TD throws (four against the New England Patriots) and one interception in his last four games; Brady has 10 TD passes (two against the Giants) and five picks.

Top 10 Super Bowl Predictions

Not a lot of people predicted a Patriots-Giants matchup for Super Bowl XLII. But now that we’re here, let’s crank up the old crystal prolate spheroid and see what fate has in store for Glendale.

  1. Wes Welker will be named Super Bowl MVP. The Giants will leave the middle of the field open for Welker to roam.
  2. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw will combine for over 100 yards rushing. Bradshaw is the X-factor in this one.
  3. Lawrence Tynes will not miss a field goal. That was the case 14 times this year.
  4. Domenik Hixon will return a kick for a touchdown.
  5. Randy Moss will catch a TD pass.
  6. Eli Manning will throw two interceptions.
  7. Tom Brady will throw for over 400 yards.
  8. Mike Vrabel will catch a TD pass.
  9. Junior Seau will retire after the game.
  10. You’ll be very tired of hearing the word “dynasty” very soon.

AFC Divisionals Scores and Highlights

There will be a new NFL champion this year. The Indianapolis Colts (-11) had the better of the visiting San Diego Chargers on offense Sunday, but two tipped Peyton Manning passes for interceptions were the difference in a 28-24 Chargers victory. San Diego won despite in-game injuries to Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Indy wasn’t the biggest chalk on the Divisional board. That was the New England Patriots (-13.5) in Saturday’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tom Brady was 26-of-28 for three touchdowns, and Laurence Maroney rumbled for 122 yards and a score, but the Jags were sufficiently pesky to grab the cash in a 31-20 loss.

The Pats will now prepare to host the resilient Chargers in the AFC Championship game. It was unknown at press time how the knee injuries suffered by both Rivers and Tomlinson would affect their status for Sunday’s matchup. New England reported no significant injuries.

AFC Divisional Playoffs Picks

You’re going to see it mentioned time and again this week. I was among the many who got burned last year picking the home team in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs. They were 0-4 ATS.

I certainly won’t be shying away from taking the home side in the two AFC Divisional games this weekend. These are two of the best teams ever assembled: the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. They are so good that I have no problem taking New England (-13) over Jacksonville and Indianapolis (-9) over San Diego.

The bye week is the reason home teams (last year notwithstanding) have traditionally done well in this round. It’s going to be of particular use to the Colts, who had a number of nagging injuries on offense and needed the rest. And it’ll be very difficult indeed to out-coach Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy when they’ve had an extra week to prepare.

Tom Brady Named NFL MVP

It’s been quite a season for the New England Patriots, hasn’t it? A perfect season, a handful of records and now QB Tom Brady has been chosen as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, as voted by the Associated Press.

Brady picked up 49 of the 50 votes from a nationwide media panel that regularly covers the NFL. The only other vote went to Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre..

In leading the Patriots to the NFL’s first undefeated regular season in 35 years, Brady was amazingly focused and it was clear that he had only one goal in mind: to win. He led the NFL with a passer rating of 117.2, a completion percentage of 68.9 and 4,806 yards, while also setting a league record with 50 touchdown passes.

This makes Brady the first Patriot to earn the MVP award. San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson won the award last year.

BTW, the New England Patriots are the heavy, heavy favorites to win the 2008 Super Bowl by 1/2 odds.

NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks

New York Giants at Tampa Bay Bucs: O-line vs. D-line? That one’s easy: New York Giants. The Bucs allowed a lot of sacks during the regular season and don’t even get me started about the crappy division they were in. That’s not to say that QB Jeff Garcia doesn’t have it in him to win this one for the fans back in Tampa Bay, but it takes more than one man to win a football game. And that’s why the Giants will win. Eli Manning may be inconsistent but as a team these guys play so well together. When it matters most the Giants will stand tall and triumph over Tampa.

Washington Red Skins at Seattle Seahawks: The Washington Red Skins have been on fire as of late but can they keep things going when the going gets tough? Because (if you’ve never been to Qwest Field, and I have!) it’s going to get tough. And damn loud. That whole “12th Man” thing is TRUE, especially when it comes to the playoffs in Seattle. Sleepless or not, the Seahawks are going to be a force to be reckoned with this weekend. And what about Todd Collins for the Red Skins? Let’s see what he’s got. Bring it on, boy!

Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are the team to beat in this matchup. LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers…these guys are hot. But it just might come down to the team most willing to get down and dirty to win. And that honors, I’m afraid, goes to the Tennessee Titans. Vince Young isn’t playing at his healthiest but something tells me he’s going to leave it all on the field for the team and his coach. Let’s hope the Chargers are just as hungry for the W.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Jags are the slight favorite to win this game and that’s saying a lot considering that this one is being played in Pittsburgh. Steelers fans are NOT going to make it easy on the visiting team to walk in and win this one on their turf. No bloody way. And if you were to ask Ben Roethlisberger what his thoughts were going into this big matchup he’d probably say something like, “Grrrr…!!!” He’s a man of few words. And he can get the job done.

Stay tuned for a wrap-up report of this Wild Card Weekend once all is said and done…

Top 10 NFL Stories of 2007

The NFL never ceases to amaze. We saw some amazing things happen both on and off the field in 2007. Some of what we saw, we wish we hadn’t. The Top 10 list of the league’s biggest stories of the year proves that truth is stranger than fiction.

Top 10 NFL Stories of 2007

Michael Vick arrested and jailed on dogfighting charges, suspended by NFL
New England Patriots go 16-0 during 2007 regular season
Sean Taylor shot at his home by intruder, dies at hospital
Marquise Hill dies in jet-ski accident
Indianapolis Colts beat Chicago Bears at Super Bowl XLI
Bobby Petrino signs with Atlanta Falcons, leaves for Arkansas after 13 games
Bill Parcells retires for third time, comes back as top exec for 1-15 Dolphins
Tom Brady (50 TD passes) and Randy Moss (23 TD catches) set league records
Brett Favre breaks Dan Marino’s career records for TDs and yards passing
Pac-Man Jones suspended for entire season following strip-club riot