by Robert Ferringo - 01/09/2006
"Scared money never makes money."
It was somewhere in the middle of that second bottle of rum - maybe around 6:45 a.m. on the dawn of Sunday - that the important questions started to seep to the surface:
1) Why am I playing $100 hands of midnight baseball?
2) Are we really having a hatchet-throwing contest?
3) Do Cincinnati or New York have defenses tough enough to stand up to battle-hardened teams like Pittsburgh and Carolina?
4) Is Dick Cheney the Son of Sam?
Now, I don't advocate making monetary decisions in the heart of 27-hour drinking binges. Especially when said binge happens to coincide with Wild Card Weekend. That would be reckless and irresponsible.
However, you have to trust your instincts. And while my decision to hop online and wager 75 percent of my bank on a two-team parlay while watching the sunrise might not be justifiable in any traditional sense, it just felt right.
And fortunately for me the answer to Question No. 3 was "No."
I've been on a torrid streak since the Sugar Bowl, and these rushes don't happen as often as one would like. When they do, you have to hop on this wild Mesopotamia and ride the crazed beast to whatever end.
It's the playoffs, friends, and fortune favors the bold. So pour yourself a drink, throw caution to the wind, and remember that football will always be a game of savage brutality. Good luck.
Here are some random thoughts from a hectic Wild Card weekend:
-- Between 1993 and 2003 there wasn't a single postseason that saw more than one visiting team earn a win in the opening round. Yet, for the second year in a row, three road teams claimed victories in the Wild Card Round.
Though that seems like a statistical anomaly, it's actually in line with a late-season trend that I've discussed on several occasions. From Weeks 9-16, when the most serious football was played, the home team was just 62-62 straight up and a somber 54-58-4 against the spread.
However, don't expect that tendency to continue into the Divisional Round. Since 2000, the home team is 16-4.
-- Joe Buck needs to get laid. Did you hear him during the Panthers/Giants game? I mean, it wasn't the Game of the Year, but the guy wouldn't stop taking shots at both teams. I think Buck was just bitter because he knew that while he was asleep in some hotel on Saturday, Troy Aikman was probably out tearing up NYC with Pat O'Brien, blowing coke off the ass of a hooker at some wild orgy.
-- Saturday and Sunday represented the second-lowest scoring playoff weekend since the 12-team format was adopted in 1990. The 129 points managed by the eight teams was the lowest total since 1991. And 40 percent of those points came from the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game.
Needless to say, the Under was 3-1.
-- Tom Brady playing the "disrespect" card was a joke. The Patriots - with good reason - might be the most "respected" team in NFL history. But hey, whatever gets you fired up.
-- In their last 28 games, the Steelers are now 22-0 when rushing for more than 100 yards. They are 0-6 when they don't.
-- Anyone who thinks that the hit on Carson Palmer was dirty is just a bitter Bengals fan.
-- I like Suzy Kolber. A lot. I think she's incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to The Game. But what's the point of having sideline reporters if they aren't there to give us information after something like the Sean Taylor-Michael Pittman scuffle? Kolber needed to get her face out of the lap of some linebacker and find out what the hell was going on.
-- Did you see the play during the Washington/Tampa Bay game where Chris Simms was scrambling, and then tossed an antagonizing "Come and get me" wave at a Redskins defender? He made sure to give his little bait while he was running out of bounds. That's exactly the type of sissy move I'd expect from a pretty boy like Simms.
I'm glad that Simms is so young. I'm going to make a lot of money betting against him over the next few years.
-- During the regular season the Panthers offense was sixth overall in third-down conversions (42.2 percent). On Sunday they executed 7 of 15 (46.7 percent). This precision didn't take the home crowd out of the game; it actually helped the Panthers turn a horde of bloodthirsty New Yorkers against their own team.
-- Say what you want about how "banged up" the Redskins are, but they've now won seven games in a row and continue to punish people.
That being said, Mark Brunell has to show a bit better judgment and provide a steadier veteran hand.
-- On Saturday I said to a friend that I could see Deshaun Foster going off for like 132 yards this week, and then turning around and getting only 48 next week. I was close - Foster put up 151 yards on 27 carries. Don't be shocked if Chicago holds him to a double-nickel this Sunday.
-- As I'm sure you've heard by now, quarterbacks making their first playoff start were 0-4 this weekend. Experience counts for a lot in the postseason, which does not bode well for Rex Grossman this weekend.
-- I think there was a reason why Terrell Buckley was watching football on his Lay-Z-Boy up until a month ago. It's really not fair to ask a guy who played just four games this year go head-to-head with the most lethal receiver in the game. And when Tiki Barber says that the Giants were out-coached, the Buckley-Smith match up serves as a perfect example.
Having Buckley on Smith also said a lot about what the Giants think of former first-round pick Will Allen.
-- Willie McGinest and Michael Strahan, two aging warriors, displayed what the playoffs are all about. Heart.
-- "Run the ball and play good defense." That's my football mantra. Denver, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington are still alive because they're both exceptional in both of those areas. Here are their final rankings
Denver (2nd offensively, 2nd defensively)
Pittsburgh (5th, 3rd)
Seattle (3rd, 5th)
Chicago (8th, 11th)
Washington (7th, 13th)
-- Coming up small in big games has become a Manning family tradition. Eli is taking his place at the table.
But to be fair, Plexico Burress (a notorious Houdini) and Jeremy Shockey (Butterfingers) didn't exactly give Manning much help.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at email@example.com or check out his Insider Page here.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's football picks service.