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Bill Simmons Has A Really Good Perspective On The Game. Probably Shared Already..


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FALCONS (+4.5) over Niners

I don't love this Falcons team. It's hard to think back to their second-half collapse against Seattle — no pass rush, wide-open receivers everywhere, Russell Wilson doing whatever he wanted — without also thinking, If San Francisco is a slightly better version of Seattle, and they watch that Round 2 tape, then why wouldn't they just do for four straight quarters what Seattle did for two?

Throw in San Francisco's superior quickness (always tough to prepare for when you haven't seen it before), the Harbaugh-Smith coaching matchup (I mean, think about how Atlanta handled the last 13 seconds of last week's game, then take a deep breath and try to pick Mike Smith over Jim Harbaugh), Atlanta's sports history (tortured, and then some), Colin Kaepernick's ceiling indoors (just about limitless), the Brady-Bledsoe/Kaepernick-Smith parallels (eerie), how desperately Vegas wants you to take Atlanta in this game (even moving the line to 4½, a startlingly high spread for a road favorite as covered earlier), and the storybook possibilities of a Pats-Niners Super Bowl (Belichick vs. Harbaugh, Brady vs. his hometown team, two of the most successful franchises ever, etc.), and it's really easy to say, "Screw it, I'm laying the points."

And then you remember the following 10 things.

1. There's nothing sharps love more than the betting public overreacting to the previous weekend. San Francisco looked incredible, Atlanta looked shaky … so naturally, the line swung violently toward the Niners (all the way up to 4½). I thought San Francisco and Seattle were dead-even as football teams (and similar in a variety of ways), with the slightest of edges going toward the Niners because of Harbaugh. Seattle was getting 2½ in Atlanta last week. There's just no way San Francisco is six points better than Seattle. You're getting two free points with Atlanta's spread this week (at least).

2. What are the odds that San Francisco is going to play two straight lights-out playoff games in Rounds 2 and 3? The 2004 Patriots, 2002 Bucs and 2000 Ravens were the last three teams that did it (before the Age of Parity). Check out Barnwell's NFC preview for further details on this point.

3. Kaepernick has started eight games — total — and just came off his greatest game and one of the best performances by a QB in playoff history. He spent the next few days with everyone telling him how great he was, with sponsors and agents coming after him, with opportunities getting thrown at him left and right, with everything short of him filming a "My Name Is Colin" video.

Quick tangent: I had dinner with a buddy of mine on Thursday who's close to Jeremy Lin. We started talking about Kaepernick's last week and comparing it to Lin's life last winter after that Lakers game, when his career took off and everyone started coming at him. I asked him how crazy those few days were. "You have no idea," my buddy said, shaking his head. Welcome to Colin Kaepernick's life this week. How could that not affect him on Sunday?

4. If you think Atlanta plans on defending Kaepernick in the same moronic way that Green Bay and Dom Capers did, I have some Manti Te'o draft stock to sell you.

5. Does anyone remember Kaepernick's last nationally televised experience, on the road, with a deafening crowd that made it impossible for him to hear? Your final score: Seattle 42, San Francisco 13. Yes, this happened four weeks ago.

6. Atlanta has shown a habit of winning close games in the ugliest ways possible. Like, Leatherface ugly. Last Sunday was another great example: big lead, sputtered, blew the game, came back and won it. This is what they do.

7. Dome. Home. Deafening.

8. New Orleans hates Roger Goodell, the Falcons and staying sober, in that order. They might have to stomach all three indignities in two weeks. Oh, wait — you're right. There's no way anyone will be sober in New Orleans during Super Bowl week. Still, two of three. Yikes.

9.

Even if the Niners end up winning, the potential for a Matt Ryan spread-covering garbage-time TD is off the charts. You can throw on the Niners. Brady did it, Wilson did it, Rodgers was doing it before they fell too far behind.

10. Atlanta has the biggest "NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!" case in a long time. It's an insulting line. Nobody is giving them a chance. Nobody believes in the Atlanta Falcons even though they're home. We've been here before. I'm tired of getting burned on these games.

The Pick: Atlanta 31, San Francisco 30

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i was actually pizzed he picked the Falcons. i regularly read his columns, and he's been a doubter all year, even in the few games where he picked Atlanta. He picked against ATL in the division round before the opponent was even known (had been talking about how that would be a great bet the week of that round of the playoffs). i was hoping he'd keep it up as a reverse-curse kinda deal.

as for his analysis, it relies a LOT on the 'intangible' things the Falcons have in their favor. Game boils down to whether ATL can stop SF's power run game and whether ATL's OL can protect Ryan long enough for him to exploit the inevitable favorable match-up (every team has to single cover one of Julio-Roddy-Gonzo, yet all demand more attention). The team whose OL best does what they need to do will have a HUGE advantage and, absent unforced turnovers, will decide the game.

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Good article. It seems like the articles that approach the game from a betting standpoint have a better perspective than the regular sportswriters.

Loved this:

8. New Orleans hates Roger Goodell, the Falcons and staying sober, in that order

I am not a big gambler but you're right. I like these guys perspectives much more.

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After picking against us almost every week, he's finally picking us... I don't know how to feel (good or bad omen?)

It's kind of him trying to spite us. He's trying the reverse jinx thing. No way he thinks we're winning this game if you've listened to him the last 3 seasons.

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Good article. It seems like the articles that approach the game from a betting standpoint have a better perspective than the regular sportswriters.

Loved this:

8. New Orleans hates Roger Goodell, the Falcons and staying sober, in that order

Yeah, because the so-called experts don't have to lay down cold hard cash for their dumb *** so-called picks. If they did, you wouldn't hear as much ********.

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I see Mike Smith's gaffes have not gone unnoticed:

"... the Harbaugh-Smith coaching matchup (I mean, think about how Atlanta handled the last 13 seconds of last week's game, then take a deep breath and try to pick Mike Smith over Jim Harbaugh) ..."

The one thing I can say is I doubt he makes that mistake again. While it's easy to forgive because we won I think a ton of coaches would have made that mistake at that moment when you went from what would have been possibly the biggest playoff choke in NFL history (bigger than Houston Buffalo because it all happened in the 4th) to being in a position to win.

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I see Mike Smith's gaffes have not gone unnoticed:

"... the Harbaugh-Smith coaching matchup (I mean, think about how Atlanta handled the last 13 seconds of last week's game, then take a deep breath and try to pick Mike Smith over Jim Harbaugh) ..."

As if this very same thing didnt happen to Harbaugh against the Patriots. It drives me up the wall how they ignore what the other teams have done also that is no different from us. They conveniently forget about that game.

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Bill Simmons just seems like a doosh to me. I dont mind his podcasts and you cant deny his knowledge in regards to the NFL and especially the NBA, but like Kaptain Krazy said, he picked against us almost all year. Plus it's easy to dislike a Pats/Celts fan.

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