Wednesday, January 16, 2008

NFL Picks - Conference Championship Games

I was 1-3 in picking winners of the Division Playoff games (Las Vegas was 2-2), the only game I got right was the no-brainer Patriots over the Jaguars, and I missed on the only upset I picked (Seattle over Green Bay). I am 158-106 (60.3%) on the season.

My Chargers persevered and overcame the Colts potent passing attack to win 28-24 in a come from behind victory with QB Philip Rivers (out at end of 3rd quarter) and RB Ladainian Tomlinson on the bench (out in 2nd quarter). The Bolts played a decent game - with enough running offense to keep the Colts defense honest, timely passing, especially on 3rd down, enough defense to make Manning make mistakes in the 4th quarter, and decent special teams. I predicted a Colts win 31-21, but didn't foresee 3 Indy turnovers in the red zone or two 4th down stops at the end - credit the Bolts defense for the turnovers and the stops. The score was 10-7 Colts at half time, and the teams traded the lead after that, ending up 28-24 Bolts. I'm happy to be wrong with my predictions! At least I felt like we earned this win, unlike the Titans game where we got lucky.

Now the Chargers travel to New England to play the Patriots in the cold (with snow??), but the Bolts seem to be an all weather team - good running game, quick receivers, good defense. New England beat the Chargers badly in Week 2, 38-14, but nobody expects that bad of a beating this time around. The Chargers are much improved since then, but the Pats are too, and they have the 17-0 streak going. The Chargers have some injuries to Rivers, Tomlinson and Gates, so the backups may have to carry some of the load. I'm going to predict a Patriots win, 27-20 but I will be ecstatic to be wrong again!

Here are my Conference Championship game picks of winners (Vegas favorites denoted by odds, home team denoted with an H):

NFC Championship:

* Green Bay (14-3) (H) (-7) over New York Giants (13-5). I will guess 24-21 Packers for this one - weather may be a factor, but good defenses on both sides will be a bigger factor.

AFC Championship:

* New England (17-0) (H) (-14.5) over San Diego (13-5). I think that this will be a great game, unless weather plays a big part in it. Defenses will play a huge part in this game, and special teams might also. They key for the Chargers will be to not make offensive mistakes and for the defense to get turnovers. With decent weather, I think the Chargers come close, say 27-20 Patriots.

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