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.
Brady’s chances of breaking Manning’s record are very closely related to Moss’ chances of breaking Rice’s record. With 48 scoring throws through the Pats’ first 15 games, and with the team chasing down a perfect season, New England will play for history Saturday night vs. the Giants. And to win, the Patriots must throw the ball.
One factor that could work against Brady and Moss might be the elements on a late December evening in Jersey, where the wind can make throwing the ball very tough. The Giants gave up big yardage and points to Dallas and Green Bay early this season, but since then the G-Men defense hasn’t been too bad, and they rank in the top 10 against the pass.
Of course, they haven’t run up against anything like the Brady bunch. Given any chance whatsoever, Belichick will get both his QB and his slender WR their records.
Football is very much a coach’s game. Arizona fans can attest to that; Ken Whisenhunt has come in from Pittsburgh and led the Cardinals to three straight paydays. But at 1-2 straight up, it’s doubtful Whisenhunt will get the credit he deserves when it comes time for voters to pick their Coach of the Year.
That honor usually goes to teams with very good win-loss records, often in turnaround years. Based on those criteria, the leading candidates thus far would be Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy, each sitting at 3-0 after their respective clubs went 8-8 last season.
McCarthy is doing more with less, and the Packers are a feel-good story in the press (which votes for the award, mind you), so he probably has the advantage at this point. But in reality, 2003 winner Bill Belichick should take the award just about every year. His colleagues would begrudgingly agree.