Opening Lines: Championship Weekend

The Patriots opened as 6.5-point favorites as they host the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens.

“I’m sure if we win, I’ll have nothing to do with why we won, according to you guys (the media).” – Joe Flacco

Does he have a point? Let’s see. His QB rating in 2011? 80.9, worse than Kevin Kolb, Matt Moore and Matt Hasselbeck. His completion percentage? 57.6, worse than Tarvaris Jackson, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, and only slightly better than the gold standard of shitty, inaccurate quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez. Turnovers? Eighteen. Oh, and he also had the lowest yards per attempt in the league, worse than, well, everybody who took a snap this year. And this guy wants to complain about a lack of respect? Here’s an idea Joe. Go do something to actually earn some. And handing off to Ray Rice doesn’t count.

Horrific quarterback play aside, Baltimore still has several quality players on defense, and they had among the league’s best pass defenses in 2011. However, they haven’t faced a team that can attack the middle of the field like the Patriots. A healthy Ed Reed would make a huge difference against New England’s tight end tandem, but he’s currently dealing with enough injuries to kill four Laurence Maroneys. Brady won’t throw five touchdowns in the first half like last week, but the Patriots should be able to move the ball and put up a respectable number of points.

With that said, Ray Rice is a bit of a scary matchup for the Pats. I still have nightmares about him breaking into the open field on the first play of that Wild Card game. This edition of the Patriots defense is a bit more stout against the run, so I wouldn’t expect Rice to end up with 150+ yards and multiple scores again.

I like the Patriots to win, but I think the Ravens will cover the spread.

In the other game this weekend, the 49ers opened as 2.5-point favorites as they prepare to host the Giants. After watching Eli and Co. light up the Packers last week, the betting public is going to be all over New York like a hungry dog on a meat truck. I’m not so quick to jump on that bandwagon. The Giants struggle on offense when they can’t run the ball, and the 49ers have the league’s best run defense. Alex Smith had transformed into an effective game-manager, and I don’t mean that in a negative sense. He turned the ball over 7 times all year (think about that … seven turnovers is what Mark Sanchez calls a great month).

The Giants D has been strong in recent weeks, but they are not great against the run. They also have to fight against complacency after knocking off one of the league’s most dangerous teams. I like the 49ers to win and cover the spread.

2010 ATS 25-17

2011 ATS 43-43-4 (I know, blech)