Last week was a fairly productive week in my picks against the spread, as I went 2-1-1. It could have been a lot better if Seattle remembered to play the second half against the Saints and the refs weren’t so bad in the Carolina-San Francisco match-up. At the same time, you have to take the good with the bad, as I was lucky with San Diego’s back door cover.
I do believe the best four teams in the league have made it to the championship weekend, and what that means is a very exciting weekend of football. It also means some very tough calls when picking teams against the spread. I’ve studied the teams all season, analyzed the stats from various different angles, and have locked down my picks for the weekend. Good luck, if you ride along.
*Editor’s note-ATS stands for against the spread*
New England Patriots(13-4, 9-8 ATS) at Denver Broncos(14-3, 10-7 ATS) *New England+5.5*
Boy this is the ultimate coin flip. Denver is favored by 5.5 points in this game, which I think is a little high. Most experts have the line at, or around three. The extra points are enticing if your betting on the Patriots. Tom Brady performs well as the underdog with a record of 19-9 ATS since 2003. New England has only lost by more then four points once all year, and in a championship game, I expect Bill Belichick and his coaching staff to have this team ready.
Peyton Manning will have a harder time scoring points against a good New England secondary. Speaking of the secondary, Denver suffered a huge loss when cornerback Chris Harris tore his ACL in the San Diego game. 34 year-old Quentin Jammer is his replacement, and considering he has rapidly declined from his prime in San Diego, Tom Brady will likely look to exploit that situation.
Tom Brady has won 9 out of 13 meetings straight up against Peyton Manning, although Manning has the edge statistically in those games, throwing for more yards(293.9ypg to 235.3ypg) and more touchdowns(27 to 23). Arguably two of the top-five quarterbacks of all-time may be battling for the last time on the playoff stage, so this game isn’t something that you should take for granted.
It’s a tough pick but I’ve made a ton of money riding with Tom Brady over the years, and I think we have one more play here. Denver may win this game, but I do think New England keeps it close.
San Francisco 49ers(14-4, 11-5-1 ATS) at Seattle Seahawks(14-3, 11-5-1 ATS) *Seattle -3.5 spread*
I feel like the media and public have already given the 49ers the Lombardi Trophy, which is amazing considering how badly they performed the first time they came to Seattle this year, when Seattle laid a 29-3 beatdown on the 49ers. In the meantime, I’ll fade the popular pick and take Seattle to make it to the Superbowl. The Seahawks are 3.5 point favorites in this game and are absolutely dominant at home, which means even if the public leans towards the 49ers, I’ll be smart and not get my money caught up in hype.
San Fransisco will have to deal with their demons in a very noisy and hostile environment, playing probably the best all around team in football. They lost 42-13 in Seattle in Week 16 last season, and 29-3 in Seattle in Week two of this season. This is a huge challenge for the defending NFC champions, as Seattle is 16-1 straight up at home since the start of the 2012 season. That said, the 49ers have won two straight road playoff games, and eight total games in a row, so if there was ever a time to believe that the 49ers could win in Seattle, now may be it.
Home teams have won nine of the last 10 games in this match-up and I don’t think the trend stops here. The Seahawks are 24-10 ATS as home favorites since 2007, which is absolutely incredible given some of the large spreads they’ve had to cover over the last couple of years.
I think the Seahawks win this game, but it will be a close, competitive battle, that will be decided by one score. I’m taking the touchdown, not the field goal, which means I have Seattle winning and covering the 3.5 points they’re giving up.