Last week overall: 2-2
Last week ATS: 3-1 (+980/+64%)
Overall picks: 170-90 (.654)
ATS Picks: 136-113-7 (+$3660)
Lock picks: 12-5
Upset picks: 34-35 (+1648)
Wild Card Round Recap: I nailed my 3 highest picks and dropped my lowest (Colts for 2 units), earning me $980 (or 64%) over the course of just 4 games. I went 2-2 straight up (also had the Colts winning + didn’t think the Seahawks could actually win), but nailed my upset pick for another $110 (Packers over Eagles), earning me $1090 in the course of 4 games. I’d say that’s a pretty successful weekend. Hope I can keep it up.
Random college football notes: I enjoy bashing on-air commentators so I definitely got a kick out of Brent Musburger’s commentary of the “National Championship” of college football last night. Here were some of the moments.
Referred to the Arizona Cardinals as the Phoenix Cardinals, which they haven’t been since 1993. This was likely an honest mistake, but I find it hilarious considering Brent Musburger is old as shit. There’s a very good chance he still thinks it’s 1993.
Prematurely called a touchdown. This wouldn’t be so bad it the guy was even close to the end zone. Musburger started his call at about the 8 yard line and the caller carrier was stopped at the 3. Also, this wasn’t the first time Musburger prematurely ejaculated on a call. He does this all the time. Here’s the video, so you know what I’m talking about.
Before the game deciding field goal, he said this was for all the Tostitos (Tostitos Bowl). Many bash him for this. I will applaud him for this. He accurately pointed out what this meaningless “championship” game was for. Tositos. The point is college football needs a playoff system. How can Auburn call themselves National Champions when there was another undefeated team (TCU)? Maybe Auburn would have crushed TCU. Key word is maybe. We don’t know. Anyway, here’s the Tostitos video.
Pittsburgh Steelers 17 Baltimore Ravens 16
Spread: Pittsburgh -3.5
Pick against spread: Baltimore 3 units (-330)
Like every game this week, this game is a rematch. Joe Flacco has never beaten Ben Roethlisberger. In Flacco’s career, he has played 7 games against the Steelers (1 in the playoffs). He is 0-5 against Big Ben and 2-0 against all other Steelers starting quarterbacks (Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch). However, it’s not like he’s getting blown out. In those 5 losses, 3 were by 3 points, 1 was by 4, and one was by 9.
Two situations work for the Ravens in this game. One, they are coming off of a road playoff win. Teams coming off a road playoff win in round 1 are 7-2 ATS since 2005. The Steelers are coming off of a bye, a situation teams are 7-13 ATS in since 2005.
I think Joe Flacco can cover this line here, as it is more than a field goal. The Steelers never blow out the Ravens in the Joe Flacco era and they have two key situations working against them. However, I pick Big Ben to win straight up and continue his dominance, though it’s a close matchup. I think this is Joe Flacco’s best chance to beat Big Ben yet after how close he game late in the regular season. I’m taking the points.
Green Bay Packers 31 Atlanta Falcons 21 Upset Pick (+120)
Spread: Atlanta -2.5
Pick against spread: Green Bay 4 units (+400)
The Packers may have lost by 3 in Atlanta earlier this season, and teams are 8-17 straight up in a same site non-divisional rematch against a team they lost to earlier in the season since 2002, but things have changed since. One, the Packers can now run the ball. James Starks rushed for 123 yards on 23 carries against an average Eagles run defense last week. That’s a huge difference from the 22 yards on 10 carries lead back Brandon Jackson rushed for week 12.
The Packers are also more disciplined. The reason they lost week 12 despite outgaining the Falcons by 124 yards was 8 penalties. Penalties were a huge issue for this team earlier this year, but they’ve calmed down in recent weeks with 11 in their past 3 games.
Finally, the Falcons have lost at home. The Saints came in week 16 and beat this team for the 2nd time in Matt Ryan’s career at home. Teams aren’t going to be afraid to go into Atlanta and play the Falcons anymore. In fact, in Matt Ryan’s career, he’s only beaten 3 playoff teams at home, the Panthers, the Ravens (short travel week), and these Packers. I think the Packers can right things this week.
Going back to the trend I mentioned earlier, teams coming off a road playoff win are 7-2 ATS since 2005, while teams coming off byes are 7-13 ATS. Aaron Rodgers is also 8-4 ATS as an underdog.
Even if the Falcons do win, it will be a close game. The Packers haven’t lost by more than 4 all season (and no more by three in games that Rodgers has started and finished), while the Falcons’ 3 wins against playoff teams this season (excluding Seattle) were all decided on the final possession. I know I’m only getting 2.5 points here, but playoff games are normally close so if the Falcons win, this game could definitely be that close.
Speaking of their only 3 wins against playoff teams being decided on the final possession, that shows something. They haven’t exactly dominated playoff teams this year. They are 4-3 straight up, but 3 of those wins were on the final possession and the other was against Seattle.
Seattle Seahawks 21 Chicago Bears 19 Upset Pick (+375)
Spread: Chicago -10
Pick against spread: Seattle 5 units (-550)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t trust this Bears team to win 3 straight games and win a Super Bowl. They’ve had too many games where they’ve just played terribly this season. I certainly don’t trust them to cover a huge spread, especially against a team that beat them in the same location earlier this season. Teams that win a non-divisional game are 17-8 straight up in a same location rematch since 2002 (See: Packers over Eagles last week). The Seahawks certainly qualify for that.
The Bears have had trouble winning games by double digits this year. Of their 11 wins, only 4 were by double digits, Carolina, Minnesota, Tyler Thigpen’s Miami Dolphins, and Joe Webb’s homeless Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks may be the worst team ever in the playoffs, but they’re better than those 4 teams.
Now let’s look at Jay Cutler. Jay Cutler in his career as a favorite of 6+ is 1-8 ATS and 0-3 ATS as a favorite of 9+. Cutler is in his first playoff start. Quarterbacks favored in their first playoff start are 2-12 ATS since 2003. Quarterbacks at home in their first playoff start are 1-13 ATS since 2003. Quarterbacks favored at home in their first playoff start are 1-10 ATS since 2003. It hurts Cutler even more that the guy playing QB for the other side is extremely experienced and has made a Super Bowl. Oh, and I didn’t trust Cutler to cover a double digit spread BEFORE I knew that.
The Bears might also be rusty off of a bye week. As I’ve said before, teams with a first round bye are 7-13 ATS the next week since 2005. This could be especially disastrous for this team because so much of their offense relies on good timing. Last time they were coming off a bye, they almost lost to the then winless Bills.
Teams coming who are coming off of a bye and who lost week 17 are 3-9 ATS in the last 12 instances. This makes sense. That means it’s been at least three weeks since this team won a game. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are coming off a straight up win as an underdog and are still big underdogs (7+). This is a lucrative betting angle in the regular season, but in the playoffs it’s even better. Teams in that situation are 6-1 ATS since 2002.
Overall, these are the reasons why I like the Seahawks to cover. I don’t trust Jay Cutler as a rule. Jay Cutler struggles as a large favorite. Jay Cutler is in his playoff debut and will be a home favorite. That’s a lot of pressure, especially for Cutler. The Bears are coming off of a bye and haven’t won a game in 3 calendar weeks. This especially hurts because of how much their offense relies on timing. The Packers disrupted their timing week 17 and the bye week probably didn’t help. The Bears haven’t beaten any average or better teams by 10+ all year. The Bears lost to Seattle earlier this year in Chicago. Enough reasons for you? 5 units on the underdogs. In fact screw it, give me the money line (+375) as well. Seattle 21 Chicago 19.
An interesting side note. Seattle could win this game. If they do and the Packers win as well, the Seahawks will face in Packers IN QWEST next week. Seattle making the Super Bowl doesn’t sound farfetched. All of a sudden those 20/1 odds that Seahawks wins the NFC look pretty good. Putting down $100 to win $2000 would be a smart move. Quote me on that. That’s adding to my winnings if it happens and subtracting if it doesn’t. Hell, even betting $10 to win $200. There’s a lot stupider things you could do with $10 (like buying a ticket to the movie Tron).
New England Patriots 37 New York Jets 21
Spread: New England -9
Pick against spread: New England 2 units (-220)
The Patriots won this one by 42 in Foxboro in the regular season and Tom Brady is even better in the playoffs, so the Pats should cover with ease right? Well, while Brady is a better winner in the playoffs (still 14-4 career even after an ugly loss to the Ravens last year), he covers at less than a 50% rate (8-10). The Jets also cover well on the road (12-7) and as underdogs (9-5) in the Rex Ryan era.
That being said, I don’t know how much of a chance I give the Jets defense to stop the Pats’ offense. No one has held them under 30 since November 7th, over 2 calendar months and 8 games ago. The Jets defense doesn’t match up with the Pats’ offense well at all. Pay no attention to the Jets holding the Pats to 14 week 2. That was a completely different offense (heave risky deep balls to an aging, lethargic, well covered Randy Moss all game).
The Pats have become a short throw, screen and YAC offense since then. Tom Brady’s favorite target has become the open one rather than Moss, which nullifies the effectiveness of Darrelle Revis and (if he decides to show up this week) Antonio Cromartie. The Jets also like to blitz, which doesn’t do you any good against the Pats amazing offensive line and Brady’s uncanny ability to get the ball out fast to the open receiver short in space against the blitz. The Pats will score 30+ again.
In order to cover if the Pats score exactly 30, the Jets will need 21. However, if the Pats score 34+ as they’ve done in 6 of their last 8, the Jets will need 25+. I don’t know if I trust Mark Sanchez to get those points.
However, the situations work against the Pats. The Jets are coming off a road win, while the Pats are coming off of a bye. Also remember Brady’s ATS record in the playoffs isn’t great. I’m picking the Pats here for 2 reasons, even though the situations say otherwise.
Teams normally don’t do well after a bye. The Pats do. In the Brady/BB era, they’ve had a first round bye 4 times. In 2001, they won by 3 following the bye. In 2003, they won by 3. In 2004, they won by 18. In 2007, they won by 11. This team is just so good when they have an extra week to prepare.
Here’s a stat for you. In the Brady/BB era, they are 22-4 straight up in games in which they got an extra week or more to prepare (off of a first round bye, off of a regular season bye, season opener, Super Bowl). This is excluding 2008, when Brady was hurt, though it’s worth noting they went 2-0 in this situation in 2008 even without Brady. It’s also worth noting they’ve won 15 of their last 16 in this situation, with that one loss coming in Super Bowl 42.
My second reason is that Rex Ryan and Antonio Cromatie both called out Tom Brady this week and called him overrated and an “asshole”. Brady’s going to be pissed and when he’s pissed, he normally destroys teams.