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Staff Picks: A Split Decision

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Congrats to DDD for locking up the playoff portion of the staff picks, cowardly Falcons hedge and all. Three writers are on the Ravens (and the under), two are on the 49ers (and the over).

Enjoy the game.

Erickson Pianowski Liss Stopa Del Don
Ravens +3.5 vs. 49ers Ravens 49ers Ravens 49ers Ravens
ScoreRavens 23-2149ers 27-2349ers 20-1949ers 38-1449ers 24-21
Last Week's Record 1-0-1 1-0-1 1-0-1 0-1-1 1-0-1
2012 Playoff Record 3-6-1 5-4-1 5-4-1 4-5-1 7-2-1
Playoff Best Best Record 2-1 2-1 2-0-1 1-1-1 1-1-1
2012 Record 110-140-6 125-125-6 121-129-6 143-107-6 123-127-6
Best Bet Record 3-12-2 12-5 7-10 8-9 10-7
Consensus Pick Record 23-30-1
2011 Playoff Record 8-3 5-6 9-2 6-5 7-4
2010 Playoff Record 6-5 5-6 5-6 7-4 8-3
2009 Playoff Record 5-6 4-7 1-10 6-5 5-6
2008 Playoff Record 6-5 5-6 5-6 8-3 4-7
2007 Playoff Record 8-3 3-8 6-5 N/A 2-9
2006 Playoff Record 7-4 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2005 Playoff Record 5-6 N/A 3-8 N/A N/A
2004 Playoff Record 6-5 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2003 Playoff Record 6-5 N/A 4-7 N/A N/A
2002 Playoff Record 6-5 7-4 5-6 N/A N/A
2001 Playoff Record 6-4-1 7-3-1 4-6-1 N/A N/A
2000 Playoff Record 6-5 7-4 6-5 N/A N/A
2011 Record 121-128-7 134-115-7 124-125-7 123-126-7 127-122-7
2010 Record 129-122-5 134-117-5 126-125-5 136-115-5 134-117-5
2009 Record 123-130-3 132-121-3 131-122-3 130-123-3 126-127-3
2008 Record 132-114-10 128-118-10 124-122-10 125-121-10 130-116-10
2007 Record 127-120 118-129 127-120 N/A 130-117
2006 Record 118-129 N/A 139-108 N/A N/A
2005 Record 121-126 N/A 127-120 N/A N/A
2004 Record 124-124 N/A 130-118 N/A N/A
2003 Record 121-126 118-129 124-123 N/A N/A
2002 Record 113-136 123-126 141-108 N/A N/A
2001 Record 124-113 117-120 118-119 N/A N/A
2000 Record 123-117 134-106 141-99 N/A N/A

Consensus Picks

Like last week, we have no consensus picks this week. We're 23-30-1 on the season. Last year we were 30-24-2 on consensus picks.


EricksonI'll take the Ravens if for no other reason, than to be a good negative indicator for Stopa on his bets and Dalton for his team... Seriously, though, I would have preferred this line to be five, but I'll take the points and look for a low-scoring game as my best hope to be on the right side of this equation. If this is a wide-open affair, I don't think it'll end well for the Ravens, but I think they're capable of bogging it down.
PianowskiIt's a competitive matchup that either club can win, but I'll give the Niners the win and cover. I see more paths to a potential San Francisco victory, and Joe Flacco can't play errorless football forever. This is far and away the toughest defense he's faced in the postseason.
LissI have a hunch the 49ers will win, but I don't see this incarnation of the Ravens going down easily, and when you add in the 3.5 and how shaky David Akers has been, I'll take the points.
StopaThe NFC was 100-15 against the AFC this year. OK, maybe not that extreme, but we saw the NFC's superiority all year, even among the AFC's top teams (SF, SEA, and AZ beat NE, ATL beat DEN, and GB and Minny destroyed HOU). So when a middle-of-the-pack AFC team sneaks into the Super Bowl against the NFC's best, why would anyone expect this trend to change? Flacco has been tremendous in the playoffs, but the talent disparity between these two teams is significant on both sides of the ball, so unless Flacco plays at least an A- game *and* Colin Kaepernick struggles, I see this as a two-score game with serious blowout potential. (The Ravens special teams have the potential to bridge the gap as well, but you know you're reaching when you have to mention special teams.) That's why I made a significant bet on SF -17.5 at 5:1. Suffice it to say that betting SF -3.5 might just be my favorite bet of the year. I also like any prop bets with Kaepernick as MVP. After all, if you think SF will win the game, then getting plus odds on him winning MVP is sweet, as, like it or not, QBs always get more credit than they deserve - Tom Brady and Eli Manning's first MVPs are good examples. 49ers 38-14. Thanks, everyone for a great season.
Del Don When looking at season-long stats, it's hard not to view the 49ers as superior. However, it's quite clear this current Baltimore team is different. It's not just that they "got hot" at the right time - there are real, tangible differences (mainly the defense getting much healthier and the addition of an in-shape Bryant McKinnie taking over left tackle, which in turn moved Michael Oher to the right side). The Ravens just won in Denver (while the long TD pass at the end of regulation was lucky, the squad with the best special teams in the league all year allowing two kick return TDs was arguably flukier) and followed that up by dominating the Patriots in New England, shutting out the league's best offense in the second half. Maybe Joe Flacco is playing a bit over his head, but let's not pretend this Ravens team doesn't belong here. As a 49ers fan, I'm already dreading Ray Lewis' dance before the game, and the David Akers factor could easily turn out to be a big deal. Moreover, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks all enter at significantly less than 100 percent. However, ultimately I think it comes down to quarterback, and I'm all in with Colin Kaepernick. Two weeks to prepare for the Pistol offense should benefit Baltimore, but the game being played on turf and in a dome could help San Francisco. I expect it to be competitive and close throughout, with Kaepernick the difference. 49ers 24-21.

The players:

Jeff Erickson: RotoWire Senior editor, 2001, 2008 Staff Picks Champ. Writes the Value Meter. Covers and roots for the Bengals.

Scott Pianowski: Fantasy expert for Yahoo! Sports, and also contributes to 2009 and 2011 Staff Picks Champ. Roots for the Patriots.

Chris Liss: RotoWire Managing Editor, 2000, 2002, 2006 Staff Picks Champ, 2003, 2004 co-champ. Writes East Coast Offense, Beating the Book and Surviving the Week in addition to Staff Picks. Covers and roots for the Giants.

Mark Stopa: Staff Writer, 2010 and 2012 Staff Picks Champ, Writes Working the Wire. Roots for the Bills.

Dalton Del Don: Fantasy Expert for Yahoo! Sports, 2007 Staff Picks Champ. Roots for the 49ers.