last year's NFC Championship and I, for one, could not be any more excited. For those of you who used to read my old, horrendous Xanga from about six years ago, you know that I have an awful tendency to show how inept I am at predicting football games by making NFL picks every week and then tabulating my record for the course of the season.
This is a terrible idea.
Vegas, you see, sets the lines. And Vegas is awfully good at splitting the action. People often misunderstand the concept behind a Vegas betting line and assume that when the Giants are favored over the Panthers by, say, seven points, which they are this week, that it is an assumption that the Giants are a touchdown better than Carolina and should win by that amount. But in actuality that's not the case. The purpose of a betting line isn't to provide a more-than-likely prediction for the end result of each of Sunday's games. The point is to split the action.
Vegas isn't trying to give you an indication of how much better one team is than the other with any certainty. They're trying to create a situation in which half of the population believes Team A will win by X or more points and the other half of the population believes it will win by X or fewer points. So, really, the Giants aren't likely to win by seven points or more on Sunday. Half of the population just thinks they will.
Now of course there are betting strategies that enable you a better than 50% chance at making money, and various parlays that can help you reap a profit on a more likely scenario than a standard betting line, but for those of us who can't be bothered to really investigate betting with any real intensity or who simply don't care enough to do so, like myself, it is really, really, really unlikely that you're going to do better than 50% over the course of 256 regular season games by any margin that is statistically significant.
And yet, I still make these picks every week, just to open myself to unnecessary criticism. With tendencies like that, it's a wonder I haven't decided to get into politics yet.
So, now that I've prepared you for the explanation of why I'm inevitably going to be wrong nearly half the time this season, I think it's time to talk about all the big games this week, particularly the biggest footy match of them all, the semifinal between Geelong and Fremantle that bounces tomorrow morning at 5:30 ET. After last week's gut-wrenching loss to St. Kilda, the Cats face a win-or-go-home matchup with the upstart Dockers that could send them home or send them one step from another Grand Final appearance.
much of the hope lies with young Joel Selwood, who wears the best number in the world, coming back into form and hopefully putting the Cats back on track for a potential showdown with Collingwood next weekend. It hasn't helped that coach Mark Thompson has had to fend off speculation all week that he'll leave Geelong for his old stomping grounds of Essendon, but after an emphatic "No" this week, hopefully that has been put to rest ahead of the biggest match of the year.
Still with me? Probably not. If you are, however, tune into ESPN3.com tomorrow morning when you wake up to watch some breakneck footy.
And now time for my NFL picks -- that is to say, the football you actually care about. Lines are accurate according to ESPN.com as of Thursday morning.
Last Week: 0-0-0
NEW ORLEANS (-6) over Minnesota
NY GIANTS (-7) over Carolina
Miami (-3) over BUFFALO
Detroit (+3.5) over CHICAGO
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Oakland
NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) over Cincinnati
Atlanta (+2.5) over PITTSBURGH
TAMPA BAY (-3) over Cleveland **
JACKSONVILLE (-3) over Denver
Indianapolis (-2.5) over HOUSTON
Arizona (-4) over ST. LOUIS
Green Bay (+3.5) over PHILADELPHIA
San Francisco (+3) over SEATTLE
Dallas (-3.5) over WASHINGTON
NY JETS (-2.5) over Baltimore
SAN DIEGO (-5) over Kansas City
**If it were possible for both teams to lose against the spread, that would be my pick.
And there you have it, kids. My almost certain to be completely right in every way predictions for Week 1 of the NFL season. Get ready for the excitement. Kickoff is just nine and a half hours away.