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We’re back for the championship round of the Bet the Farm Playoff Challenge! Which is… what, exactly? The perfect chance for all you degenerates to get your fix without hurting your wallet! Here’s how the game is played:

- Each week we’ll list the current point spread and total for each playoff game when this goes live. Those are the spreads/totals everybody will use for their picks that week, no matter when they pick (even if the spreads/totals change officially).
- You must make one wager on each playoff game. You can wager either the spread or total, but not both, for any single game. You must bet every single game during the postseason.
- You get one point for each Wild Card and Divisional Round game you guess correctly, two points for each correct Conference Championship Game, and four points for the Super Bowl. However, you will make each of these wagers the week of that specific game.
- Once during the playoffs, you may identify one game as your “lock.” If you get that game right, you get two extra points. You only get one lock for the entire playoffs, so the maximum final point total is 18.
- You can jump in at any time (even now), just try to use the same handle throughout the entire playoffs.

Official Standings

* indicates a player has used the Playoff Lock. The first number is total points scored. The number in parenthesis is the number of points scored in the Divisional Round. After total points, participants are listed alphabetically. List any concerns about scoring in the comments.

Danski6*: 7 (5)
King Daddy Crunch*: 7 (2)
Josh Carey*: 6 (3)
Tehol Beddict*: 6 (6)
Blake Fusion: 5 (2)
ichirosan: 5 (3)
Phil*: 5 (2)
Scott P: 5 (1)
TheTinDoor: 5 (3)
Darth Ripken*: 4 (2)
goodfold2*: 4 (4)
Heraldo*: 4 (2)
TheBigAndTheRed*: 4 (4)
VinWins: 4 (2)
Comatose: 3 (-)
Nick S*: 3 (0)
Sky: 3 (2)
Zorboss: 3 (1)
RambleOn: 2 (-)
Tristan*: 2 (-)
Lambeau Leap: 1 (-)

Danski6 is this week’s big mover, with a huge 5 point weekend sending him into a tie for first with last week’s leader, King Daddy Crunch. However, Tehol Beddict was the big winner of the weekend, not only hitting all four games but nailing his Playoff Lock to burst on to the scene with the maximum possible points in a weekend. Thus he jumps right into the second tier. Things didn’t go as well for last week’s 4-for-4-er, Scott P, who dropped down to the third tier with just a single point this week. He’s part of a group – along with Blake Fusion, ichirosan, and TheTinDoor – that are in as good a position as anybody to win the whole competition. Each member of that group sits at 5 points currently (two back of the leader), but retains their two-point Playoff Lock. By hitting the lock with their other picks, they can be assured of no worse than a tie for first place. With (at least) eight points still to be awarded, literally anyone (including, potentially, someone not even in the competition yet) can still walk away with the title. Remember, each of this week’s two picks is worth two points, so a four-point weekend (or six, with a Playoff Lock) remains a possibility.

Bet the Farm Official Lines for the Championship Round

San Francisco -4 at Atlanta. O/U: 49

New England -9 vs. Baltimore. O/U: 51.5

Josh Carey’s Picks

Atlanta +4: Anyone who has been reading all season long knows my love of home underdogs. When using my playoff lock to take the Redskins against the Seahawks, I noted I didn’t expect another home underdog to pop up in the postseason, explaining my decision at the time. If only I had known about this magical game. Let me be perfectly clear: I think the 49ers are an excellent team, I love what they’re doing right now, I’m rooting for them and want to see them in the Super Bowl, and I even think they’ll win Sunday at Atlanta. But I don’t think for one second it will be by more than a field goal. The 49ers are getting too much credit for a once-in-a-decade playoff performance from Colin Kaepernick, while Atlanta’s near-collapse overshadows the fact they still put up 30 on a good Seattle defense. For what it’s worth, Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings predict a one-point San Francisco win – or exactly the situation I described above.

Baltimore at New England UNDER 51.5: This is, I think, the hardest game to pick of the entire postseason (which Zorboss is going to get into below. But I have more points, so I get to go first). It’s another instance of looking at recent results and trying to run far, far away from them, because most bettors have short memories. The fact is, both New England and Baltimore’s defenses have shown the ability to hold lesser teams to two touchdowns or less – even recently. Yes, both squads played high-scoring games last week, but that just serves to provide the inflated line that gives you cover for the under. You might recall, we did this last year, too, with a total of 43 (and even adding in Cundiff’s missed FG, you’d have a decent shot at the game ending on a field goal in overtime and still getting under this year’s number, despite the extra session).

Oh, and sorry for this not being out on Thursday morning. I totally got caught up in all this Manti Te’o stuff. Craziest story ever.

Zorboss’ Picks

Well, I’m down at the bottom of the totem pole with my playoff picks and I can only hope for a spiritual coyote or divine eagle to forge a playoff picks miracle.  I can still use my ‘playoff lock’ in the upcoming weeks, which is somewhere between total consciousness and a snuggie on the “what I got going for me” scale.

Before I get to my picks, I want to talk about my favourite gambling movie – Diggstown.  This movie has everything you would want in a flick:  gambling, boxing, drama, and James Woods.  My favorite line in the movie is when Gabriel Caine discusses the finer points of a good ruse:  “You know the difference between a hustler and a good con man? A hustler has to get out of town as quick as he can, but a good con man doesn’t have to leave until he wants to.”  Word.  Why do I bring up this classic silver screen/Oscar snubbed movie?  I wish the answer was because this is the beginning to an elaborate scheme I had planned all these weeks to run away with the Razzball playoff pickem challenge.  Nope, the real reason I mention this amazing film is because I re-watch it every time I’m in a betting funk.  It gives me confidence, courage, and a clear head.  I implore everyone to go ahead and watch this timeless and exquisite piece of American cinema; after this week’s games that is, as I don’t want everyone to steal my psychic powers.

So, what have we learned after a few weeks of playoff gambling?  When the odds makers have only a few games to set the line on, they do a bang up job at being fairly accurate with their projections; the Atlanta vs. Seattle spread was so close that all bettors on the game were having a major bout of the sweats. It’s hard to find value on either side of the coin.  Of course we can have strong opinions towards one squad and against another, but when we are down to the final four teams, a case can be made for either squad to succeed or falter.  Can I see a scenario where Baltimore keeps the game close and potentially wins outright?  Yes.  Can New England steamroll an aging and bruised Ravens defense to cover the spread convincingly?  Yes.  Can the Niners’ explosive offense and stout defense pave the way to a worthy Super Bowl appearance?  Yes.  Can Atlanta play the role of a home underdog and win a game in an advantageous dome?  Yes.

When it comes to making selections, you have to take into account a lot of different factors.  For example, in this contest, when trailing the majority of the pack, the only way to make up ground and give yourself a chance at victory is to go against the grain.  If I were betting my hard earned money, then perhaps a different approach and no bets may have been in order.  With 60% and 70% of the picks going towards the road warrior 49ers and Ravens, I’m happy to make the home teams my official selections. Well, I hate the Patriots, so I wouldn’t be too torn up inside if they happen to lose in a heartbreaking or dominating way.  Championship Picks:  Atlanta +4 and New England -9.

Now, be a sport and take the opposite of both my selections or else you may bring out the Gabriel Caine/James Woods in me come Super Bowl weekend (fixing my imaginary tie). We’ll be back in two weeks with the final lines for Super Bowl weekend.

  1. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    San Francisco
    New England (Lock)

    My strategy, which has left me at .500, is to always take the team I want to lose. And the worst possible outcome of all would be the Patriots to beat the Ravens, so that is my lock. Unfortunately, with a 9-point spread, it is very possible New England wins and I am wrong on my prediction.

  2. TheTinDoor says:
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    Baltimore +9 (LOCK)
    Atlanta +4

    But I’d take the Pats & Niners money lines. That probably means I’m off on the Atlanta pick, but I see a 27-24 type game.

  3. Comatose says:
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    Oops, forgot to post my picks last week. I’m taking Atlanta and New England (LOCK) this week.

    Josh, just out of curiosity, what did you see that made you like home dogs so much? I looked into it and they beat the spread 42 out of 86 times this year, or less than half, going off odds at wagertracker.com. They were 17 for 27 (62%) through the first five weeks, but then tanked after that.

    • Josh Carey

      Josh Carey says:
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      @Comatose: I’ll admit I don’t have the numbers right in front of me, but I suspect the historic numbers (going back more than one year) are more favorable. It’s as much a conceptual thing as anything else though – home field advantage is generally worth about/a little under 3 points. That doesn’t seem to properly get factored into spreads consistently (Like how Atlanta is +4 when Sagarin’s computer – which I love – says they should be +1).

      • Comatose says:
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        @Josh Carey: Just checked back in to see this reply. I get where you’re coming from and would be interested to see the numbers from years prior to this one. My theory for this year is that home dogs is a good bet early in the season, when the games are less predictable.

  4. King Daddy Crunch says:
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    The King Daddy is still sitting on top of the pile, after two weeks, hoping to still be there going into the Super Bowl!

    My picks:

    Atl/SF – UNDER 49
    NE/Baltimore – UNDER 51.5

    You can make a case for either team in each game to cover the spread. SF tends to keep the scores down in their games, and I am not a believer in the Baltimore offense, which has run hot or cold all season. I am a believer in the wind at Foxboro in January, though!

  5. danski6 says:
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    Atlanta -4
    New England/Baltimore UNDER 51.5

    • Josh Carey

      Josh Carey says:
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      @danski6: Just pointing out it’s Atlanta getting four points, just to clarify what I assume is a typo.

      • danski6 says:
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        @Josh Carey:

        I know the games are now over, but you are obviously correct.

  6. Phil says:
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    I watched the Denver game again and I’m even more shocked they lost.
    If they played 12 more times ,Denver would win all 12 times.
    I think that was the worst loss ever.
    I was so wrong about Houston last week that I just don’t know anymore.
    Atlanta -4
    Atlanta over
    I hate New England ..I hate Balt more…. So no pick

    • Josh Carey

      Josh Carey says:
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      @Phil: Sorry man, but the playoff rules for this contest are one pick for each game. So, you can modify your pick before kickoffs, but otherwise I’ll just take the Atlanta +4 line since that’s what you listed first, as your only pick this week.

      • Phil says:
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        @Josh Carey:
        Sorry….lets go OVER in the New England game.

  7. ichirosan says:
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    Atlanta +4
    Baltimore +9 (LOCK)

  8. Tehol Beddict says:
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    Grettings good fellows. On the morrow I will be betting large on Baltimore and I look forward to winning thousands of dollars. maybe I’ll get off of foodstamps someday. probably not….

    Baltimore Plus 9 (LOCK)
    im gonna go a little unconventional here and take the niners. I have a small bet on falcons in real life but I think Niners might beat the brakes off these falcons. Ill take niners at -4.

    I’m Never wrong

  9. Sky

    Sky says:
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    I’m thinking Harbaugh bowl here as long as Flacco doesn’t get in the way.

    San Fran -4 (lock)
    Baltimore +9

    I am always wrong. At least that’s what my wife tells me.

  10. Blake Fusion says:
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    Atlanta +4
    New England -9

  11. Nick S. says:
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    Atlanta +4
    Baltimore +9

    Go Lions!

  12. Scott P says:
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    I forgot all about this until now. Hopefully I can sneak one pick in. If not, no biggie.

    Baltimore +9 – Playoff Lock

  13. TheTinDoor says:
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    Sooo…how are you playing the SF/ATL push? 1/2 points?

    • Tehol Beddict says:
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      @Tehol Beddict: @TheTinDoor: luckily in real life i bought down to 3 points for niners and won a bunch on that and the ravens was lock of the century as i predicted. damn should have bet waaaaaaaaaay more on that one. my god.

    • King Daddy Crunch says:
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      @TheTinDoor:

      Since the rules said everyone gets points for picks guessed correctly, I’m guessing we all get no points for the SF/Atl push. At least we are all in the same boat.

      • TheTinDoor says:
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        @King Daddy Crunch: of course you vote zero points – you already missed on the under! Should have been addressed in the rules…I think 1/2 points is the most like real betting. It’s a push – you don’t double your stake, but you don’t get zero either

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