Archive for the ‘NFL Betting Preview’ Category

49ers @ Falcons

As soon as Matt Bryant’s second attempt at a game-winning field goal split the uprights last week, I got right on my computer and backed the 49ers this week. I called Atlanta a bunch of chokers last week, and they did all they could to piss that game away. Unfortunately for those of you that didn’t get behind the 49ers early, you’re likely going to be forced to give away an extra point or two this weekend if you want to ride with San Francisco as well.

San Francisco’s dismantling of Green Bay was masked slightly by an early pick-six and a garbage time touchdown that boosted Green Bay’s final score. Outside of that, the 49ers did exactly what they set out to do, and that was keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline with their running game, while also putting Colin Kaepernick in reasonable down-and-distance situations so that he would have the freedom to do what he wanted to with the football. On that night he leaned toward the run and didn’t disappoint, smashing the rushing record for quarterbacks.

It’s that type of offensive explosiveness that explains why Alex Smith is on the sideline. Some detractors question whether Kaepernick can replicate this success on the road in the Georgia Dome, but the young man already has a win to his credit in the Superdome, so the bright lights in Atlanta shouldn’t affect him. Frankly, I couldn’t care less whether this game was played in Atlanta, San Francisco, or Cucamonga. Everyone’s money is on the 49ers this week because no one believes the Falcons can stop Kaepernick, and with good reason. In three combined games against Atlanta this season, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson combined to throw for 887 yards and six touchdowns, while also rushing for 262 yards and three additional scores, with only one total turnover in those three games.

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Ravens @ Broncos

A rough way to start the weekend’s football action, as this is by far the least intriguing matchup on the card. We saw these teams play less than a month ago, and it wasn’t pretty. The Ravens hosted that matchup, and they’ll now have to go to Denver for this one. The elevation could be an issue for an aging Baltimore defense, as the team makes the trip to Mile High for the first time since 2006.

If the eyeball test isn’t enough for you, there’s this little thing about Peyton Manning owning the Ravens. Peyton began his career with a pair of losses to the Ravens (the most recent of which came in 2001), and he’s followed those up by ringing off nine straight wins against them, two of which came in the playoffs. The average margin of victory in those games was 14.0 points.

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Well, Wildcard Weekend was a dud. I guess that was to be expected when teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs. Shame on anyone who cheered for those two teams down the stretch this season (unless you’re a fan of those either of those teams, of course—loyalty comes ahead of viewing pleasure).

Anyways, without further ado, here were my thoughts on the Wildcard Weekend games from this past weekend.

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Bengals @ Texans

A month or so ago it would have been difficult to imagine the Texans playing this weekend, let alone playing against the Bengals again, giving away the same 4.5 points that they did a year ago with T.J. Yates playing under center. Wins in seven of eight for the Bengals and losses in three of four for the Texans led to the teams meeting again to open the AFC playoff schedule. Houston had a stranglehold on the No. 1 seed in the AFC until they pissed it away down the stretch. Now they have to play a streaking Cincinnati team that should be able to exploit some of their weaknesses.

Defensive woes plagued the Texans in the final two months of the season, but the bigger concern may be their offense, which has taken a big step backward. Arian Foster runs the show, and he could be wearing down after an unhealthy number of touches over the last two seasons. Outside of a couple games against Indianapolis’ lousy rush defense, Foster failed to rush for more than 3.5 yards per carry in five of six games in the second half of the season. Whether the blame for this belongs to Foster or the Texans’ offensive line which isn’t blocking the way it used to, the fact remains that the team has had to rely on Matt Schaub more than they would like.

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Week 17 is always the toughest week to handicap. There are teams playing for their postseason lives, there are teams that are likely to rest players, and there are teams that have completely mailed it in, and that’s what makes things difficult to predict. There’s a huge variance in each team’s performance in the final week of the season.

Most people often make the mistake of blindly betting on the teams that need to win in Week 17. Frankly, that’s a dumb strategy. Oddsmakers aren’t stupid and they’ve ensured that you’ll have to pay a steep price for teams that need to win, inflating the lines by at least a couple of points. I’m not saying that some of these teams aren’t a good bet, but be aware that you’ll be paying a premium to wager on them. In Week 17 last year, the Raiders, Titans, and Broncos all needed to win their games—none of them covered due to inflated lines.

With that being said, it’s still extremely important that you’re aware of all of the playoff scenarios. For instance, the 49ers and Seahawks are battling for the NFC West crown and they both play at 4:25pm ET this week. Seattle is laying 11-points against the Rams but unless you have a strong feel on the 49ers-Cardinals game, the Seahawks-Rams game isn’t worth a wager. Why? Well, Seattle could head into the locker room at half-time and see the 49ers laying a beatdown on the Cardinals. They’d then be wise to rest their starters in the second half. Conversely, the Seahawks may head to the locker room and see that the Cardinals are giving the 49ers a run for their money. Seattle would then likely pour it on in the second half. That’s just one of the many scenarios that we’re faced with this week.

All in all, this isn’t the best week to be placing a lot of wagers. I’ll do my best to provide my outcomes using all of the information that’s currently available to me, but there’s always the risk that teams go out and do something completely different on Sunday. Head coaches frequently lie about their Week 17 strategies and that’s bound to happen in at least one game this week.

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My Week 15 plays were as average as it gets. I finished the week with a 7-7 overall ATS record, and went 3-3 for a small loss on my recommended wagers. Hopefully things improve this weekend.

I find it particularly difficult to cap games late in the year. A lot of lines are inflated because oddsmakers know that the public will be looking to bet on teams that “need to win”. However, it’s hard to make a case for a lot of the underdogs because they have nothing to play for. It looks as though some teams have already mailed it in, and while it’s tempting to snatch the points with a bunch of them, it’s really difficult to pull the trigger.

Anyways, without further ado, here are my Week 16 selections.

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If you look up the word “mediocrity” in a dictionary, you’ll find my Week 15 picks. I finished Sunday with an overall record of 7-7 ATS, going 3-3 ATS with my wagers. The three wagers that I won (Broncos, Cardinals, and Panthers) all won with ease, while the three wagers that I whiffed on (Rams, Bucs, and Jaguars) never really stood a chance. It was just one of those days.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s my recap from each game in Week 15.

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