Saturday, January 22, 2011

NFL Conference Championships 1/22/11

In this weekend's games, I am trying to balance factors from a few areas. From my book (see earlier post today), I use an academic and scientific approach to study certain factors and find factors that yield an edge with statistical significance. Some of these factors seem stronger during the NFL playoffs. I also try to consider public sentiment (as always), and other interesting angles such as match-ups and/or traditional handicapping methods.

In the AFC game, I view the Jets as a "Seattle-plus." You may recall that Seattle snuck into the playoffs -- and after a huge win against the Saints -- were beaten fairly easily by a decent (but not great) Chicago Bear squad. The Jets had a good regular season (better in the first half) -- and coasted into the playoffs. The Jets got by an aging Colts team and then played a huge "revenge game" against bitter division rival, the Patriots (who crushed them a few weeks earlier).

Can the Jets play yet another motivated game against the Steelers on the road? The Jets and coach Rex Ryan are generating a lot of media and fan interest. Perhaps the Jets are really that good -- and can sweep a third week in a row against the likes of the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers. But I am not buying the hype -- and am taking the Steelers and giving the -3.5 points.

On the NFC side, this is a great game and a huge NFC North divisional match-up. I just believe -- and the numbers back me up - that the Packers are superior on both sides of the ball. The Bears quietly put together a better record, but Aaron Rodgers has developed into an elite QB who avoids hurting his team. Games are often decided by mistakes, and I like this factor (avoiding mistakes) that one of my favorite blogs talks about a lot. I don't like giving this many points (-3.5), but will take Green Bay.