NFL Divisional Round Picks Against The Spread


Dec 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips (90) watches as San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) reacts in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Now that our cherished Eagles are out of the playoffs, it’s time to get down to business and try and make some green on the rest of these playoff match-ups.

For a long time, the NFL road to the Superbowl had become somewhat predictable and you could ride with a team straight to the podium, giving your wallet some extra thickness. However, the last few post-seasons have been very unpredictable, with any team having a chance to go the distance. Parity has reached the NFL with any franchise having the ability to go from first to last (Houston), or last to first (Philly), in a matter of one season. This parity has led to some uncertainty in the playoff rounds, as to which team is a serious contender, and which team could burn a hole in your wallet, rather than adding to it.

A few seasons ago, I was tempted to open a website offering betting advice on NFL football. The catch for the site would be, I’d make predictions and picks on games and you would bet against me. Fortunately that didn’t happen because I wasn’t too hot back then. Luckily, I only do this for fun nowadays or that run may have cost me the house, car, the wife and the kids. And of course now that I only do it for fun, I’m actually getting the picks right.

The moral of the story is that predicting the outcome of sporting events is not a science or formula that one can simply obtain, but a very measured, calculated risk. With risk, comes  an occasional, or not so occasional, loss. Last week I was only 1-3 against the spread, reminding me of those dark days a few years back, and why I only risk what I can afford to lose on these calculated gambles.

With that said, let’s get back on track with this weeks Divisional Round picks (ATS stands for against the spread).

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks(-8)

In their last visit to Seattle on December 2nd, the Saints got crushed 34-7 by the Seahawks. Drew Bress had an average of 3.87 yards per attempt, while Russel Wilson was 22-30 for 310 yards and an average of 10.33 per attempt. Even after the win in Philadelphia, the Saints are still a poor team on the road.

New Orleans will have to deal with Seattle’s formidable secondary that seems to have Brees’ number. Seattle is only 5-3 ATS at home, which is kind of surprising, but New Orleans is 2-7 ATS on the road. Road teams coming off a win are 10-3 ATS in Round 2 since 2005, but I can’t side with the Saints on this one. I’m giving up the 8 points and taking Seattle at home.

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots(-7)

Too much is going against the Indianapolis Colts for them to put up much of a fight against the Patriots on Saturday night. Just imagine what Tom Brady can do to the Colts secondary if Alex Smith was able to light them up?

I am also expect a huge day from LeGarrette Blount on the ground against a run defense that has been weak of late.

The Colts are not a bad cover team on the road going 6-3 ATS during the season, but New England is a powerhouse at home going 6-2 ATS. The Patriots are not a great cover team in the playoffs, covering the spread only twice in their last twelve playoff games. However, the Colts have suffered blow-outs in several games this season and I just don’t think their offense can keep up to Brady and company playing such a weak defense. I’m picking New England to cover the 7pts.

Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers(-1) at Carolina Panthers

Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

This is a revenge game for San Francisco, and I hate betting against teams in those types of situations. I think the line is way off, as these are two evenly matched teams with elite defenses. Carolina should be giving points in this situation,  and I think making the home team a dog is bizarre. So what that tells me that the odds makers are favoring the popularity of the 49ers.

Cam Newton will have his hands full in his first career playoff game and quarterbacks tend not to do so well in that situation. However, I can’t resist the blotched line in this game and I’m taking the Panthers(+1). Make sure that Steve Smith is suited up for this game if your taking Carolina, as he’s still questionable with a left knee injury.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos(-9)

San Diego beat the Broncos 27-20 in Denver a little less then a month ago. That was also Von Miller’s last full game of the season, before he suffered a torn ACL, that will point him out for the rest of the season, a week later. That hurts an already struggling Denver defense that now has nobody that can effectively get pressure to Rivers on Sunday.

There is also the Peyton Manning factor to consider in this tilt, the MVP is not so MVPish when it comes to winning playoff games. He’s 9-11, straight up, all time in playoff performances with some really good teams, including eight one-and-outs. Expect to see a lot of Ryan Mathews in this game as he rushed for 129 yards the last time these two teams met. Speaking of rushing, Denver only managed 18 yards on the ground in that week 15 game.

The line is so skewed for this game that the I have to take the underdog Chargers. They haven’t lost a game by more then 10 all season and I’m hoping this won’t be the first.

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports