Friday, January 17, 2014

NFL Picks: Conference Championship Picks ATS For ALL TWO GAMES

Wild Card Weekend: 3-1 ATS

Divisional Round: 2-2 ATS; 3-1 O/U

As the NFL season winds down and we are left with fewer and fewer games to choose from each week, it occurs to me that gambling on football is a lot like dating. If you're married and find yourself struggling with the diminishing number of games to choose from each weekend, but also get really excited about the quality and consistency that remains, then this post might make you feel better. If, however, you're a terminally single, commitment-phobe, with an insatiable need for change, diversity, and a new relationship, then you might want to look for your NFL picks elsewhere, or scroll quickly to the bottom to see which teams are getting roses from this bachelor.

Hear me out.

The NFL regular season is exactly like high school - it's the practice field for future dating, with loads of choices every week, and opportunities for success on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Much like the real world of dating and gambling, however, throwing caution to the wind or ignoring options because of outward appearances can have disastrous results. Some girls like the Indianapolis Colts look hot on the outside (11-5 SU) but are really just pretty average and maybe a little too wounded (ReggieWayne) on the inside (8-7-1 ATS). Similarly, there are girls like Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club and a hundred copycat movies in the '90's who are frightening at first glance (Oakland Raiders 4-12 SU) but with a little make up, no glasses, and a strand of hair tucked behind their ears are suddenly junior prom-worthy with tremendous potential (Oakland Raiders 8-8 ATS). 

The rest of the spectrum includes:

A) The hottest girls - hopefully the ones that make a deep run in your personal playoffs - like the Seahawks, Niners, and Broncos, all with solid ATS records. The price of dating these teams is higher, but the long term investment is usually worth it.

B) The unpredictable, crazy girls - like the Dallas Cowboys - who you never really knew what you were getting on a week-to-week basis. Sadly, this was always the most attractive to me when I was younger, which is probably why I'm not a great gambler and married to a Gemini.

C) The less attractive girls (with better odds) like the Houston Texans (4-12 ATS), the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10-1), and the Washington Redskins (5-11 ATS) who, as the weeks go by, become a better and better bets to stay away from. 

D) The one that got away - that unique girl with an equal balance of looks on the outside and virtues on the inside, but because you're too damn young and shallow to appreciate her, she never even makes the post-season. You know what I mean Arizona Cardinals (10-6 SU, 10-5-1 ATS)? What if you hadn't hooked up with the Niners in Week 17? We'll never know but always wonder.

When high school ends, the post-season of pre-marital dating begins. For me, Wild Card Weekends took place in the college dorms of UC Davis. Balancing a more demanding academic schedule, a job, and a social life suddenly distilled thirty-two choices a week down to about eight. Somewhere between the quality of women in my dorm and the amount of alcohol I was consuming on weekends lay the truth that the remaining teams seemed to be of better quality than the ones I'd left behind in the regular season. 

Unfortunately, that also made it harder to choose because not only did the margin of difference between women become smaller, what was important to me as far as a deep playoff run was changing. Sometimes the hottest girl in the room seemed the obvious choice (Cincinnati Bengals), but take her out of her comfort zone (home field or with a lead), and you find out girls (like the Chargers) who you can take anywhere actually have more value in the long run. Other times it's those conservative women (a la Kansas City) who travel well and get the job done, but then get way to conservative when they think they're in control. Wild Card Weekends made it increasingly difficult to decide what I wanted for my future because I could see value in almost every team in the dorms - except the Philadelphia Eagles. Way too fast and easy. Seriously.

The Divisional Round last weekend was more a reflection of real-world dating. While some girls from college disappeared forever, some remained and new girls from work or overlapping circles of friends emerged to fill the void. The girls you hoped would make a deep run into your future (New Orleans Saints) ultimately fell to the stronger, more aggressive girls (Seattle Seahawks), and the sexy Carolina Kitten had to go back home after her year abroad in San Francisco. Leaving college and then dating in the real world was kind of sad. When I graduated from high school I hoped I'd never see the New England Patriots again, and yet here she was making another deep run into my dating/gambling/writing life.

Now - FINALLY (right?) - we have the NFL Conference Championships. The talent level is high, and in some ways the choices have started to look the same. Sure there are glaring holes in every single woman that remains - be it inexperience (Seahawks), a lack of balance (Pariots), arrogance (Niners), or a history of failing in cold weather (you know that type of woman, right?), but the overall quality is there and I'd be lucky to end up with any of these teams. Nonetheless, being more of a Wild Card Weekender at heart, I'm finding this inevitable ending to be bittersweet. Perhaps it's cold feet, but I miss the five-day weekends, the infinite choices, and the Tuesday gambling hangover. In lieu of these things, however, I will award two teams our final roses before the Super Bowl.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-3.5, 39.5) over San Francisco Forty Niners: Red flags (multiple divorces, unemployed, philosophy major, drummer, etc.) are great warning signs as to whether you should continue a budding relationship. In this case, there are way too many red flags steering us away from the San Francisco Forty Niners. First of all, they are the public favorite to the tune of 70%. Everyone, including my mom loves them. If I wanted to date someone my mom loved, I'd date my dad's best friend. Just kidding, but you get the point. Secondly, the hook at 3.5 is begging us to take the Forty Niners. My wife didn't need that kind of hook to get me. She just had to be her wonderfully, duplicitous, Gemini self, and it was like I was marrying two women. The truth is, the Seahawks are not getting credit where credit is due. They've been practically unbeatable at home (15-1 SU) since Russell Wilson arrived while the Niners have been god-awful visiting them the past two years. You think just because Kaepernick beat them at home he can suddenly turn things around in Seattle. We'll take the home team, give up the hook, and take the OVER 39.5.

DENVER BRONCOS (-5, 56) over New England Patriots: Whenever you find a women like the Denver Broncos who almost exclusively score touchdowns with a 5 point edge, you snatch her up. Sure the Patriots might have better looks and a more reliable post-season dating history, but the truth is she's not what she used to be. Plus, with 74% of the public taking her, do you really want to go there? Yuck. We don't. Yes, she still has the brains and the experience, but she's been dealing with injuries all year, and do you really want to head to the alter with someone on crutches or in a wheelchair? No offense if you're into that sort of thing, but we're taking the team that just got the huge playoff monkey off their back, have way more weapons at their disposal, and will probably end up winning this game by seventeen points. We'll be taking the Broncos and cautiously betting the OVER, worried that a jealous Belichick might go all single, white, San Diego female on us.

Good luck everyone and Happy Dating, 

Vinny and Marco

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