Wildcard Weekend NFL Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo - 01/04/2007
Playoff time, baby!! Your favorite team may have been eliminated last week by some fluke play or freak occurrence, but hopefully your bankroll is alive and well. For those gamblers that have struggled through a losing regular season the start of the playoffs marks the Final Countdown - 11 games in one furious month to win back their cash before having to tell their wives where the mortgage went. For those who have been playing nothing but winners it's a time to press, to try to continue taunting Lady Luck ("It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose again.") on their way to increased fortune.
Wild Card Weekend is generally the weirdest and wackiest of the playoffs. Fringe teams are discarded and paper tigers are exposed a week before the Real Playoffs start. I, personally, am intrigued by the match-ups we have on the slate this weekend. But with the way things have panned out over the past three weeks neither I, nor anyone else in my profession, can say with any certainty that they have a clear picture of how all of this is going to shake out. But in crazy times like this it's more important to stick to the basics of betting: key numbers, money management, solid systems and playing the odds.
Don't try to be a hero this weekend. Don't try to prove to everyone how Football Smart you are. Yes, this is prime time to cash in by going against general public perception but don't outthink yourself. We're not in this for fame: we're in it for money. Don't ever forget that. Our goal is profit and we'll achieve this goal by any means necessary.
And without further ado, here are my Postseason Power Rankings:
1. San Diego (14-2) - They've won 10 in a row and are going to destroy whomever they face in the Divisional Round. If you believe what you read then San Diego is the Best Team Ever. I'm still not buying the Chargers. I know, I know. I'm a damn fool. But there's something beneath the surface of this team that makes my soul quiver. They have Home Loss in the AFC Title Game written all over them.
2. Baltimore (13-3) - Having earned the bye week they are now a legitimate Super Bowl threat. However, they do have some weaknesses. Their offense was 28th in red-zone efficiency with just a .42.3 percent touchdown ratio. Also, if they do face Indy will they be able to fully exploit the Colts weak run defense? The Ravens average just 3.4 yards per carry, second-worst in the NFL.
3. Chicago (13-3) - Rex Grossman leads the NFL in games with a passer rating over 100 (seven). He also leads the NFL in games with a passer rating under 40 (four). But Rex did bounce back with three of his best games of the year (vs. San Fran, at the Giants, at the Rams) after three of those four atrocious performances. I'm going to go put my head back in the oven now.
4. New England (12-4) - New England is 10-1 in its last 11 playoff games. The first time they faced the Jets they switched from their base 3-4 to a base 4-3 and completely shut down the running game. They weren't able to do that in the last meeting because they were without Ty Warren. The Pats are 10-11 ATS without Rodney Harrison over the past two years.
5. Indianapolis (12-4) - Since the NFL went to the 16-game schedule, 40 teams have allowed more than 2,500 yards rushing. Thirty-nine didn't make the playoffs, including one-win units like the 1980 New Orleans Saints and the 1990 New England Patriots. The only exception is the 2006 Colts. They allowed the most rushing yards in 20 years (2,768), gave up 5.3 yards per carry, and allowed 375 rushing yards in one game.
6. Kansas City (9-7) - That being said, am I the only one who thinks Larry Johnson won't run all over the Colts? I know it sounds absurd, but when everyone and their sister thinks that something is going to happen in the NFL it very rarely does. Of the 44 instances where an opponent ventured into the Chiefs 20-yard line they scored 42 times (96 percent). That was the second-worst percentage in the NFL.
7. New Orleans (10-6) - All the magic seems like it's been zapped out of the Saints in the Superdome. After their inspired victory over Atlanta in Week 3, New Orleans went just 2-5 ATS and 3-4 SU at home. Oddsmakers may have been purposely inflating those lines knowing that the public would overvalue the Emotion Factor. That said, I still don't see how they lose a home playoff game. Covering is another story.
8. Philadelphia (10-6) - The Eagles started the same five offensive linemen in all 16 games for only the second time in franchise history. There are some ominous signs for Philadelphia this week. First, there's the Mrs. McNabb bitchfest on Donovan's blog that has put a damper on the Eagles' happy vibes. Next, Jeff Garcia appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In my business, you believe in Curses whenever you find them.
9. Dallas (9-7) - Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo (what a joke that is) has committed 15 turnovers in the past five games. Also, a huge red flag for this team is the fact that two years into a highly publicized scheme change to a 3-4, Bill Parcells is apparently going back to a 4-3. What the hell is that? Road teams off two consecutive SU losses as a favorite are just 15-41 ATS since 1997.
10. New York Jets (10-6) - The Jets played just four games against teams with winning records this season. Two of them were against the Patriots, in which they went 1-1. The other two were a 10-point loss to Chicago and a 41-point loss to Jacksonville. After a torrid start that included six of seven games with a passer rating over 92.8, Chad Pennington has failed to top an 88 rating in five of his past nine games.
11. New York Giants (8-8) - Six of the Giants eight losses have come at the hands of other playoff teams. In fact, the Giants had the most difficult schedule of all the teams to make the playoffs. Their opponents' winning percentage was .520. All the other playoff teams' opponents were .500 or below. However, of the seven previous 8-8 teams to make the playoffs since 1970 only two - the 2004 Vikings and 2004 Rams - have won a playoff game. Oh, and nickel corner Corey Webster was placed on IR this week.
12. Seattle (10-6) - The Cowboys have surrendered 14 touchdowns in the last three games and the Seahawks and their glut of talented wideouts should be able to exploit the Dallas secondary. Seattle is 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 home games and 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games as a home favorite.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.