BetDash NFL picks
BetDash NFL tipster Mac takes a look at the NFL playoffs, focusing this week on the final eight teams bashing helmets in the Divisional round.
The Divisional round
Absolutely mouth watering set of games ahead this coming weekend. Once again, two Saturday night and two Sunday night, all live in the UK and Ireland on Sky Sports. You can see the full schedule and the BetDash markets for the games here. The story lines are juicy! Will Ray Lewis be playing his final NFL game ever? Will Houston be blown-out yet again in New England? Can the Falcons get their playoff monkey off their backs? Who will prevail in San Francisco, the student (Kaepernick) or the master (Rodgers)? So many possibilities, so many questions, so much potential for it to be a great weekend’s NFL action. I don’t know about you but the first kickoff can’t come soon enough.
Clever things we said last week
”Green Bay mutilated the Vikings a few weeks ago at home, and they can knock the over-achieving Vikes out of the playoffs.”
Not so clever things we said last week
”Playing inspired by their combative coach Chuck Pagano, and behind the steady play of mature-beyond-his-years rookie QB Andrew Luck, the Colts have no reason to fear this trip to Baltimore.”
Tough week last week, which saw us go 1-3 in the opening round, after a couple of good weeks where we went 22-8 combined. Here’s to a return to that form again for the Divisional round! Good luck and enjoy the action!
Season to date
Last week against the spread: 1-3
Playoffs and Regular season against the spread: 129-117-5
Total winning percentage: 52.4%
Regular season record: 128-114-5
Regular season Winning percentage: 52.8%
Finest Four against the spread overall: 35-32-1
The finest four percentage: 52.2%
The NFL Playoffs Divisional round
Four picks to boost your bankroll
The Game: Green Bay Packers At San Francisco 49ers
Current line: San Francisco 49ers -3
The Science: Two great teams meet in San Francisco, with a host of stories and question marks around both. It may come down to one simple question, however. Ask yourself, future Hall of Fame lock Aaron Rodgers or playoff rookie Colin Kaepernick? Rodgers had an NFL-best 108.0 passer rating and looked a superstar all year long. On the defensive side, everyone is talking about the 49ers prowess in that area, but Green Bay has been bolstered by the return of star linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson returned last weekend too. Dig a little deeper, and you find the Packers are 4-1 in the postseason against San Francisco. Dig further still and you might note that the 49ers are trying to decide which kicked to use, Billy Cundiff or David Akers. Initial word is they are going to switch to Cundiff. Not exactly the stuff to fill you with confidence, is it? This one probably comes down to a matter of trust. Who do you trust more, the future Hall of Fame QB, or the rookie?
The Pick: Green Bay Packers +3
The Game: Baltimore Ravens At Denver Broncos
Current line: Denver Broncos -9.5
The Science: Normally you would think nine-plus points is too many to give to a team like the Ravens, however, this is not a normal situation. The Broncos, who may be one of the quietest Superbowl favourites in living memory, have terrific advantage in their home field, and hold a mesmerizing dominance over Baltimore in the shape of their veteran QB Peyton Manning. Archie Manning’s most famous son has won nine straight games against the Ravens, dressed in either the Colts or Broncos uniforms. That is just pure dominance, and speaks to Manning’s ability to control great defensive players like Ed Reed. Speaking of defensive players, before you say ‘Ray Lewis isn’t going to lose by 10 or more’, ask yourself, then why is he retiring? Lewis has been in a slow and steady decline and will struggle mightily to add any value against the Bronco’s passing game. A big factor in the game may end up being Denver’s defence. The Bronco’s have given up a very stingy 235 yards a game and only 13.5 points a game in a 6 game home win streak. That’s dominant. Add Manning, the Denver D and a steady dose of Knowshon Moreno and frankly it is hard to see the Ravens keeping up. Put it this way as you consider what to do with your BetDash dollars; it would take a heck of a lot of ‘ifs’ to fall into place for Baltimore to win. This looks very much like a 30-17 Denver win.
The Pick: Denver Broncos -9.5
The Game: Seattle Seahawks At Atlanta Falcons
Current line: Atlanta Falcons -3
The Science: Going into the game at Washington, Seattle were 3-5 on the road. Make that 4-5 now but with a huge asterix. The Redskins were 14-0 up and cruising before QB Robert Griffin the third suffered a relapse of a knee injury. Washington’s coaches froze and didn’t bring the backup in, effectively costing Washington the game. You could make a pretty strong argument that Washington lost that game, as opposed to Seattle winning it. The Falcons have no such serious injury issues, and no such lack of direction either (as Washington displayed to their demise). The Falcons passing game is a thing of beauty, led by Boston College standout Matt Ryan, receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. Ryan had a wonderful 2012 throwing for 4,719 yards and 32 touchdowns, and looks primed to take the leap to the next level of QB excellence. Remember, he is still young, and is making terrific progress considering. Look a little deeper and the situation gets murkier yet for Seattle. The Falcons have won three straight over Seattle, and the latter will be without defensive star and sack leader Chris Clemons (torn ACL). One last gut-check before you consider Seattle. Imagine the scene before kick-off. The Georgia Dome will be nothing short of raucous. The Falcons will enjoy a huge home field advantage over a team that went 3-5 on the road in the regular season. Think carefully before you back Seattle, their rookie QB and dubious road record!
The Pick: Atlanta Falcons -3
The Game: Houston Texans At New England Patriots
Current line: New England Patriots -9.5
The Science: How on earth did a team as apparently good as Houston was just a few weeks ago end up with a 9.5 point handicap? It all started with the annual Houston Texans fade, which first came to light with their 14-42 capitulation in, where else, New England. Houston lost 3 of their last 4 and looked bad in doing so too. Their win last weekend in the Wildcard round was akin to sticking a plaster on a massive gaping wound. Imagine you are a Houston defender waiting Sunday night just prior to kickoff in New England. You are facing a bunch of guys that wiped the floor with you just a few weeks ago, and this time they have Rob Gronkowski (he was missing in the blowout)! You are facing an offence that averaged 34.8 points led by a QB (Brady) who threw for 34 TDs and led the AFC with 4,827 passing yards. Further to that Brady is 10-2 as a starter in the playoffs at home. It is not a pretty picture, is it? It is just so hard to see where Houston are going to get any confidence. One of their biggest assets, their vaunted pass rush, was nullified in the blow-out by Brady’s 3 second, quick drop and pass routine. There’s just no way to fix that, without dropping more bodies into coverage, which opens up the running game for the Patriots. One final thought. The Patriots remind me a lot of (a more successful) Arsenal, in that they both stick religiously to a system that, when it works, is terrifyingly good. You know those games where Arsenal are on song and the sky is the limit in terms of goals? If Houston come up against that Sunday night, they simply don’t have a shot.
The Pick: New England Patriots -9.5
Tags: NFL, NFL betting, NFL tips