The 2009 NFL Picks
The 2009 NFL playoffs… week one and an overview


I could kick this off by talking about how we have repeats of last week slated for the first round of the playoffs. But you know that… the exception is New England hosting Baltimore (and these two teams danced earlier this season). The remaining three games feature six teams that faced each other last week… only the location of New York and Cincy will be different.

But you know all about that.

Instead… for an appetizer… let’s go over here…

Congratulations to Mike.

It was an amazing finish.


After the first week, first place and third place were separated by 5 games. Once results were coming in for week two, that difference shrunk and it would never be that large again. Mike, Dad and I flip-flopped places in some fashion week after week. Heck… if we had gone two or more weeks longer, the Dogs could have grabbed the lead. It was well played and very close.

Mike was two games out of the lead entering the final 16 selections. He erased that deficit with the 1 o’clock games. As the second wave began, there was a 3-way tie at the top. Dad and I had the same picks for the remaining games. No way to separate us. But Mike saw two games differently. He’d need to sweep them to take a lead and hold it.

He did.

And in the very last game of the year, the New York Jets (J-E-T-S… Jets… Jets… Jets…) sealed the deal for him to win the regular season crown for picking against the spread in 2009.

Well done Mike. Well done.

A big tip of the cap to the Dogs. 7-8-1 for the final week left them at 126-126-4 for the year. And as much fun as we have had, and as proud as all three of use are for picking over .500, consider… two dogs, picking for biscuits, finished a 256 game slate with an even record and just 5 games out of first place. (And Molly turned in the best winning percentage of the year. She was at 51.5% for the season in her selections… Mike finished up at 51.1%.)

Even Terry… look… her 114-138-4 record doesn’t look impressive on the surface. But last year she nailed 142 selections correctly. That’s more than 55% correct, and the best record ever at In My Backpack for a season of selections against the spread. When you add in her 114 this year, combine the records Mike and I had for both years, she is still running in first place for her time picking the games with us.

Here are the final 2009 regular season standings…

Mike – last week 10-5-1, overall 131-121-4
Dad – last week 7-8-1, overall 129-123-4
Bob – last week 6-9-1, overall 129-123-4
The Dogs – last week 7-8-1, overall 126-126-4
Terry – last week 7-8-1, overall 114-138-4

Molly – last week 3-5, overall 66-60-2
Gus – last week 4-3-1, overall 60-66-2

And for those of you wondering, two years of records…

Terry – 256-248-8
Mike – 252-252-8
Bob – 247-257-8

The playoffs work two ways here… First, we pick from beginning to end. Second, we pick weekly against the spread. So below, you’ve got an analysis from me on this week’s four games, along with our predictions.

To kick off the selections, let’s take a look at how we see the full playoffs developing. For that I’m just going to give you a simple chart. Since the actual games depend on how the seeds advance (which would involve way too many notes), you’ll see I’ve indicated the first four games essentially as they look with the teams involved, followed it with a conference identification and location of the game for the next four, then two conference championship games and, ultimately, the Super Bowl. After this week I’ll break down what match-ups we all created in each of the playoff columns. (A quick word on the dogs… their selections will flip-flop on which dog picks the spread and which one picks it outright, and both dogs will make one of the picks for each game. As an example, Molly is picking first with the Baltimore – New England game in the beginning-to-end section, and she also gets the Super Bowl for them. Gus will pick Baltimore – New England against the spread this week, and ultimately will make their Super Bowl pick for that.)

Game Bob Terry Dad Mike Dogs
Balt - New Eng Baltimore New England New England New England Baltimore (M)
NY - Cincy Cincinnati New York Cincinnati New York New York (G)
GB - Ariz Green Bay Green Bay Green Bay Green Bay Arizona (M)
Phil - Dal Philadelphia Philadelphia Dallas Dallas Philadelphia (G)
AFC - at Indy Baltimore New York Indianapolis Indianapolis Indianapolis (M)
AFC - at SD San Diego New England San Diego San Diego New York (G)
NFC - at New Orl New Orleans Philadelphia New Orleans New Orleans Philadelphia (M)
NFC - at Minn Minnesota Green Bay Minnesota Dallas Minnesota (G)
AFC San Diego New England San Diego San Diego New York (M)
NFC New Orleans Green Bay Minnesota New Orleans Philadelphia (G)
Super Bowl New Orleans New England Minnesota New Orleans Philadelphia (M)

All right… there you have it… and now for this week…

Baltimore at New England (3½) – It’s funny, but I think three of the four of the places in the conference championships are already wrapped up. That’s obviously just my opinion… and plenty of people will mention all sorts of reasons why the other 9 teams all have a shot. I don’t see it. I think New Orleans, Minnesota and San Diego will be standing after the second round of games… regardless of what team they face next week. I know many people are claiming New Orleans tripped at the end, and that certainly should be considered. But watching that game against Dallas, I simply think the homes games are going to be emotionally charged beyond belief for New Orleans… and the crowd is going to play a huge part in turning the tide in favor of the Saints. I also could agree that the combination of defense and running in Baltimore should be considered, or the ability of Green Bay when playing well. Got it. Still, the only thing I feel comfortable in saying about the top four seeds is that I firmly believe Indianapolis will lose. And… regardless of how things shake out in round one… the other three will protect home field and win. Might not happen. Manning is great. But I felt strongly about it weeks ago… felt more strongly they would open with a loss as talk of perfection swirled and built around them… and a few weeks ago even said they would be 14-2 as they prepared to lose their first playoff game. I’m sticking with that. And there is a reason they play the games. Anyway… what does any of that have to do with this game? Out of the remaining teams there is one… and only one… that I think could compete with the elite to upset the applecart. New England. But… I think the timing of this game, along with the incredible good fortune created by the seeding, is going to allow another team the opportunity to become a factor. Not an applecart-upsetting factor. But a factor, that if they were anything but the sixth seed, wouldn’t be available to them. Long story short… Baltimore wins this week, and then they get to play Indianapolis. You know how I feel about the Colts. And I honestly believe either of these clubs would defeat Indy… and as the sixth seed, only the Ravens would get that chance. Now, I also mentioned the timing of the game. I would love to see New England win this game. If they do, they might be able to get on a roll. Heck… stranger things have happened for teams that didn’t have the greatest quarterback ever to play the game leading the way with one of the greatest receivers ever to play the game taking the field along with a defense that isn’t special but is definitely underrated. The Patriots are a talented club that, when healthy, match up with any other team in the NFL. I’ll be cheering and screaming for them to win. But I think Ray Rice is going to ultimately decide this game. And with Wes Welker out (there’s the timing part)… New England having been inconsistent most of the year (even though the record says they have been good at home)… and a few other questions… Rice becomes the best player on the field. Good enough for a close win. 24-20, Baltimore.
Bob: Baltimore
Terry: New England
Dad: New England
Mike: New England
Gus: Baltimore

New York (Jets) at Cincinnati (2½) – This is the one game where I actually looked at the spread and shook my head, wondering if I should change things. Ready for this? First, the Bengals scored 14 more points than they gave up over the course of the season. That averages out to less than a point per game. Next, out of the 16 games they played, 5 of them were decided by 3 points and another 2 were decided by 5 or less. That means a third of their games could have swung either way based basically on a missed or made field goal… and definitely by a touchdown. Now… third, and moving to the Jets… of their 7 losses, 3 were by 3 or less points, and 5 of them by less than 5 points. I’ve examined this before… the Jets kick alot of field goals. For a team with such a great running attack, I honestly believe they have a hard time finding the end zone. Overall… that leaves me with these conclusions… (1) When New York wins, overall you could say they do it convincingly. (Not a single one of their 9 victories came by under 6 points). (2) When they lose, often it is a close game. (3) The Bengals seem to find themselves in alot of close games. My expectations for this contest is that neither teams crosses the 20-point mark. And, in the final five minutes, the Jets will have the ball, trailing by less than a touchdown. After that, I almost have to throw my hands up. What I expect is that the possession will come with the score 17-13, New York needing a touchdown, and as such they go for it because time is running out. 17-13, Cincinnati.
Bob: Cincinnati
Terry: New York
Dad: Cincinnati
Mike: New York
Molly: New York

Green Bay at Arizona (2½) – When you think of Arizona… what crosses your mind? Is it the high-octane wide receivers that allow Kurt Warner to lead a new and slightly less powerful edition of the greatest Show on Turf? Is it a swarming defense? I mean… seriously… better offense? Better defense? You’re picking Arizona both times… right? Well… hold on. Green Bay scored 86 more points than Arizona this year. That’s a pretty substantial 5 per game. And on defense, the Packers allowed 28 fewer points than the Cardinals. Suddenly, last week’s game might not bee as much of a fluke as the end of the year may have seemed. (Want more? Ok.) Take out the bad loss… Tampa. The other four losses for Green Bay involve two to Minnesota (no shame there… the Vikings are the second seed and a Super Bowl favorite for many), one to Cincinnati (an early season loss to an eventual division winner), and one to Pittsburgh (a ridiculous 1-point loss on the road, that was simply an insane game to watch). For the rest of the season… 4-0 against division opponents, and they defeated playoff teams like Dallas, Baltimore and even Arizona (in three games where they controlled the games pretty convincingly). Arizona is 1-2 against playoff teams at home (lost to Green Bay and Indianapolis, defeated Minnesota), and those are the only playoff teams they faced. They went 6-2 on the road… but this game is at home. Uh-oh… they’re 4-4 at home. Don’t buy the last game being important idea? Ok… they went 2-2 in the last four games. The victories were over Detroit and St. Louis. You know about Green Bay. They also lost to San Francisco… and in the two losses the managed to score a combined 16 points. I just don’t see a second year of unexpected victories for them.
Bob: Green Bay
Terry: Green Bay
Dad: Green Bay
Mike: Green Bay
Gus: Arizona

Philadelphia at Dallas (3½) – If you took all of the other 11 playoff teams and told them they had to go into Dallas, I can think of no better club than Philadelphia to not be concerned by that. San Diego… sure. New England or Indianapolis would relish the challenge. But the reality is, the Eagles are the most likely to play their game and not get distracted. I don’t think that phases them in the least. And to be fair… what we have here is the classic battle between offense and defense. Philly’s ability to score against Dallas’s ability to not give up points. It’s an amazingly complex puzzle to sort out. In two games already played, the Cowboys shut down the Eagles… 20-16 and 24-0. Check out the 11-5 record and you’ll find that every one of Philly’s victories involved them scored 24 or more points… and every time they were below 24 points, they lost. (Seriously… 22 against New Orleans, a loss… 23 against San Diego, a loss… 9 against the Raiders, 16 and 0 against the Cowboys, loss, loss, loss.) So right off the bat we’ve established, the Eagles must have… must have… at least 4 scores to win this game. Only twice all season have the Cowboys surrendered 22 or more… both were against the Giants. (Geez… put it that way and suddenly I’m really questioning my selection.) The thing is… I’m going to go to the quarterbacks here. And in the playoffs, Donavan McNabb has delivered in the early rounds, Tony Romo has not. I may not love McNabb (in fact, as with Favre, I look forward to watching his mistake that costs his team in the postseason when it arrives next week), but I don’t know how much you can trust previous games between division rivals… even though the evidence looks compelling. Why? Well… one reason is how explosive the Eagles can be. In 8 of their games this season, they scored 20 or more in the first half of the game. 3 times they reached at least 30. And my gut feeling… well… I’m wondering how long Dallas can hold the Eagles in check.
Bob: Philadelphia
Terry: Philadelphia
Dad: Dallas
Mike: Dallas
Molly: Philadelphia

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