Not emotionally invested in game
I don’t find it stressful betting against the Patriots because I don’t care if they win.
I didn’t always feel this way. New England’s run to the Super Bowl in 1986 provided some of my most satisfying memories as a sports fan. In college, I occasionally drove to New Hampshire with my brother to watch the Patriots because the games were blacked out on local television. And I was such a brainwashed homer that, for a time, I thought Hugh Millen was the answer at quarterback.
I wasn’t alone. I knew plenty of people like me, and in the ’90s, we were all vindicated when Bill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe brought legitimacy to a franchise that had been a laughingstock.
But years later, after Mo Lewis steamrolled Bledsoe and New England’s “fans’’ and radio hosts routinely mocked and criticized one of the classiest, toughest, and most talented players to ever wear the Pat Patriot or Flying Elvis logo, I became numb to the team’s fortunes.
Now, I perk up only when I have action on their games. It’s easier this way.
This week’s picks (home team in caps): Baltimore (+7) over NEW ENGLAND: I learned nothing helpful during New England’s annihilation of Denver, except how to collect easy money. Now the Patriots’ postseason begins in earnest, and both teams in the AFC Championship are galvanized. The Ravens have remained hungry after blowing a 21-7 halftime lead in last year’s second round at Pittsburgh, and the Patriots haven’t made postseason headway since their last Super Bowl appearance. With 27 wins between them, and with their flaws on the table, expect these proud squads to stage a memorable battle within this generous spread. Risking $220 to win $200.
New York Giants (+2 1/2) over SAN FRANCISCO: Maddening during the regular season, the Giants now appear to be the most balanced team remaining. Quarterback Eli Manning is a stud and the defense has a head of steam. And, unlike the Saints, the Giants’ defense won’t be embarrassed in a close game. San Francisco did the embarrassing last weekend, and it was impressive. Tight end Vernon Davis played inspired, but he is too inconsistent (just four games this season with more than five receptions). Much like the Texans, the 49ers can’t rely solely on their defense and running game. Quarterback Alex Smith will have to make big plays against a legitimate defense, and that will be San Francisco’s downfall. Risking $220 to win $200.
Last week: 2-2, plus $30. Season: 33-37-3, minus $795.