It's getting crazy out there, folks! Fortunately, I got the information on the Griz and Bulls soon enough to do something about it last night, so while there was a lot of concern for that play in the 4th quarter of the game, the Griz still bailed me out.
It's not been a great opening to the new year so far, and even with last night's split of 2 games, I was still left at 4-5 (0-1 in the NFL and 4-4 in the NBA) for the week, and that drops me even further into the doldrums over the last 3 weeks at 15-18 (5-1 with college football, 1-4 in the NFL and 9-13 in the NBA) so far for the month. Thanks to last year's leap year, we still have 2 weeks left in the month to get things back on track. Let's get started.
THE NFL (2-0 last week and 10-14 so far for the month)
BUTTA (0-1 last week and 1-4 so far for the month)
49ers (-200) over FALCONS - There is no value in the side with the Niners at (-4 1/2) right now unless you're looking to "take" with the Falcons. I'm not because I think the Niners are the better team and will win the game, and that's what I'll bank on. I've sliced and diced the stats for this game 6 ways from Sunday, and they come out about even on either side. Sometimes the numbers don't lead you anywhere, and it's a good idea to just sit that particular game out. There are occasions, when everything looks like a wash, where you just have to trust your eyes, and what I see is a Falcon defense that's suspect against a dual threat phenom like Kaepernick, and a Niner defense that won't let Atlanta run the football like the Falcons did last week. Possibly, the more important of these 2 factors is the latter. If the Falcons can't run, that will put Matty Ice in obvious passing situations, and the Niners can, and will, generate a lot of heat on him. I can't lay the points with the visiting Niners in a conference title game, but I do like them to bounce back from last year's "close, but no cigar" situation in this same spot last year and get the win.
ALL THE REST
Ravens (+8) at PATRIOTS - It looks like the Ravens are the last "team of destiny" standing in this year's playoffs, and maybe that's what ends up keeping this game close. It also doesn't hurt that in the 5 previous times an AFC #4 seed has reached the conference title game, they've gone 4-1 SU, while in 16 tries in the same situation for the AFC's #2 seed, that team has gone only 7-9 SU. I'm not saying the Ravens will win this game, but more than a TD looks like an awful lot in this spot to me. The only thing that bothers me here, and what is keeping me off this game, is once again what my eyes have seen more than what my numbers are showing me. I don't know if anybody else noticed it last week, but Brady, while he still had a solid game to get the Pats to this game, looked a little bit off last week. There were an inordinate number of low throws, wide throws, just basic inaccuracy that we aren't used to seeing from him. If he's back on the beam again today, this game will be more about the Ravens offense trying to keep up with the Pats than it will be about defense because, personally speaking, I don't think either of these teams have a good enough defense to take over a game and win a championship.
THE NBA (4-4 last night, 21-31 for the week and 70-83 so far for the month)
SU WINNERS (5-3 last night, 27-22 for the week and 82-67 so far for the month)
RAPTORS, MAGIC, PISTONS and Thunder
TOTALS (4-4 last night, 26-26 for the week and 84-69 so far for the month)
OVERS - Lakers/RAPTORS (203 1/2)
UNDERS - Mavs/MAGIC (201), Celtics/PISTONS (185) and Thunder/NUGGETS (208 1/2)
BUTTA (1-1 last night, 4-4 for the week and 9-13 so far for the month)
Thunder (pk) over NUGGETS - You have to know that Denver wants to make amends for getting surprised in their own building on Friday night by the Wiz, but I think the Nugs best chance to win this game is if they play totally out of character for them. They need to slow things down and make this a defensive slugfest. Even if they can accomplish this and keep things close, Denver is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the entire league, and ultimately, I think that's their downfall in this game. Thunder 107, NUGGETS 101
ALL THE REST
1. RAPTORS (+5) vs. Lakers - That Raptor Sunday matinee mojo hasn't been working too well for them lately, but the Lakers don't have any mojo either. RAPTORS 116, Lakers 99
2. MAGIC (+3) vs. Mavs - I felt like the Magic's game would improve dramatically once Glen Davis got back in the lineup. So far, that hasn't been the case for them, but I can't work with the Mavs here either. They've been playing much better of late, but have shown no ability to close out games when on the road. MAGIC 101, Mavs 100
3. PISTONS (+1 1/2) vs. Celtics - It will be very interesting to see what kind of impact going all the way to London will have on this Piston squad. Maybe it pulls them down to the Celtics' level right now. The C's are really looking old and tired and a half step slow, and their 4th quarter approach of getting the ball to Pierce, and everybody else get out of the way just isn't working anymore. It might also be interesting to note that the Pistons are 5-2 ATS against the Celts over the last 3 seasons. PISTONS 92, Celtics 87
No college hoops today, and there won't be any more offerings there until Wednesday, but even then, only 1 game will be available to us. Don't worry. Things will really start to crank up very soon. And anyway, who cares? We've got enough going on today to keep our attention.
Have a grand and glorious Sunday, and I'll talk to you again early tomorrow morning as we get ready for a full day of NBA games on MLK Day.