Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to Bet (and Not Bet) on the 2013 NFL Playoffs

Some words of advice: do not ever (and I mean EVER) let a perfect round of wild card picks bloat your betting ego. 

It itould come with a warning label reading: "Caution, May Cause A Sudden Loss of Cash". 

Yes, it happens to the best of us. A quest to pick all 11 NFL playoff games correctly. Hell, even Bill Simmons has never pulled off this beast of a mission. 

So when I started off a perfect 4-4 after the wild card round, (correctly picking the Texans, Packers, Ravens, Seahawks, and yes even RG3's inevitable injury) my sports swag was dangerously high and my bankroll was dangerously low. 

The perfect storm for an illogical, impulsive bet on a game in the next round created by my sudden feeling of sports picking invincibility (don't even try to tell me that you've never been here). 

But, let me tell you, in the next round I was no Mark Wahlberg (and, yes, I just made an Invincible reference).

I felt the next round was filled with easy picks. Pats handle Texans. Duh. Too easy. (Right). 

Packers rely on championship experience and Aaron Rodger's "Eff You Potential" to sneak by the talented, but inexperienced Kaepernick led Niners (RECORD SETTINGLY WRONG). 

Broncos cruise past the Ravens--HORRIBLY WRONG, but an amazing game. I would slip into a tangent about this historic thriller, but I didn't bet on it. So, moving on...

The only tricky pick in the group really was the Seattle/Atlanta matchup, but it was no match for the wild card perfecto high I was riding. 

30 seconds later...Atlanta. 

Boom. Done. 

Yeah, sure I could tell Seattle was going to be a trendy pick by all the experts. Hell, the previous week I, too, enjoyed a trip on the Seahawk Bandwagon. There were Falcon Haters galore. 

"Russell Wilson was too dynamic." "Seattle's defense was too vaunted." "Marshawn Lynch operated solely in Beast Mode and would run all over the sketchy Atlanta D."  "The Falcons had a weak schedule and were not what their 13-3 record and number one seed in the NFC said they were." 

Even supposed statistical prediction whiz Nate Silver (who amazingly predicted all 50 state winners in the 2012 Presidential Election) had announced, that according to his calculations, he was predicting a Seahawks/Patriots Superbowl. 

Shut up. Don't care. 

The Falcons still went 13-3. They still got a No. 1 seed. They still had a rather effective QB in Matt Ryan (5th in QB rating, one spot ahead of , ahem, Tom Freakin' Brady). They still had two electric wideouts in Jones and White. They still had a future Hall of Fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez. 

Yeah, yeah, they had an awful defense. But yet, according to the total defense rankings, still a defense just slightly less awful than the vaunted Patriots. 

And, oh yeah, they were playing at home, where they went 7-1 (their only loss being a fluky one against the Bucs), and had a dominant home field advantage with the noise of their crowd in that dome.

Yeah, sure, Matty Ice had never gotten it done in a playoff game, but that just meant that he was due and would most certainly be playing with an Aaron Rodger-sized chip on his shoulder.

Atlanta was going to win this game. Not by much, but I felt confident it would use the "Nobody believes in us, even though we are still somehow slightly favored by Vegas" mantra to somehow pull this one out. 

For some reason my gut was just screaming Atlanta for this matchup. The feeling was too strong. 

The pick here had to be the Atlanta Falcons, not the trendy Seahawks. 

And what happened? 

The Falcons, of course, squeezed out what appeared to be a laugher as late as the middle of the 3rd quarter. Winning on a gut-wrenching, last second, clutch as clutch can be, brawny boot of a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. 

So, needless to say, I was ecstatic right?

I thought the Falcons were going to take this this one. I bet on them. They won. I double my dollars, thank the football gods for Tony Gonzalez still doing what he was born to do and catching the pass that put the Falcons within field goal range, and walk out of my living room a richer man, right? 


Wait...I bet the line? Why did I bet the line?? Why did I not refuse to take the Falcons on nothing but a straight bet?!!!

And this, my nonexistent readers, is the beauty of what Vegas has been using to meticulously screw over generations of sports bettors: the spread. Which, for this game, was 2.5 points for the underdog Seahawks. 

And the final score? 

Naturally... Atlanta Falcons 30, Seattle Seahawks 28.

The lesson here on sports betting: don't do it. 

Save your money, and your sanity. 

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