An exciting wildcard line-up has assembled for the first round of the NFL playoffs. We look at the total odds in order to determine over-under NFL picks for each and every game this coming weekend.
Cardinals vs. Panthers O/U 38.0
Regular season trends reveal the Panthers are 8-8 in over-under betting this season while the Cardinals are 5-10-1 in over-under betting. Combining those two records and the perceptible lean is towards the UNDER 38 for your NFL picks. For our NFL picks, we're leaning towards the OVER 38 and here's why.
To examine a smaller cross section, made up of form in recent weeks along with glaring developments in each camp we begin with the Panthers. On the defensive-side of the ball, Panthers' defense has all of a sudden resurfaced down the stretch. In their four-game winning streak, they've allowed just 10.75 points per game. In tandem with defense resurfacing, the Panthers running game has also perked up as the O-line is putting up an average of 27.75 points per game. The last game of the season, Panthers beat the Falcons 38-3, singlehandedly covering the very same total bookies have rolled out for this game.
On the flipside of the coin, two things have us leaning towards the OVER a) Cardinals weakening defense against the rush and b) an inexperienced third-string quarterback that is prone to mistakes, a tendency that is sure to be exaggerated in a high stakes playoff game. Cardinals defense, all of a sudden, is struggling to defend the rush, with the yardage mounting in their last five games, reaching a high of 267 yards against the Seahawks a fortnight ago. Lindley, meanwhile, is averaging two interceptions a game in his two starts (1 against Seattle and 3 against San Francisco). His interceptions outweigh the two touchdowns he has to his credit in two starts. Not encouraging numbers at all.
Free NFL Picks: Over 38.0 at 5Dimes
Ravens vs. Steelers O/U 46.5
Both meetings between these teams were lopsided affairs with the Ravens winning 26-6 at home to cash on the UNDER and the Steelers winning 43-23 to cash on the OVER. In the latter game, Big Ben had six touchdowns and went 25-0f-37 for 340 yards. On the season, the Ravens are 7-9 in over-under betting while the Steelers are 9-7 in over-under betting. On home turf, however, the Steelers have dictated the tempo with a 6-2 over-under record. And the Ravens have cashed on the OVER in four of their last six road games. Past trends between these two divisional foes also tip towards the OVER with six of their last nine meetings in Pittsburgh going OVER.
In the last four games, the Steelers have put up an average of 29 points and conceded an average of 17.5-points, which puts us right smack on the total line of 46.5 odds makers have rolled out. Ravens offense has averaged at least 20.25-points over their last four games and defense has allowed 15-points per game. It comes down to which team and which side of the ball dictates the game. For our money, we're banking on Big Ben and the Steelers' offense to put up the points and account for most of this total.
Free NFL Picks: Over 46.5
Bengals vs. Colts O/U 49.0
The Colts are 9-7 in over-under betting this season but just 4-4 in over-under betting at home. As far as total yards and various offensive stats go, however, they are right up there. They are the top passing offense in the league with 305.9 yards per game. Luck leads the league with 40 touchdowns through the regular season and is third after Brees and Roethlisberger on average of 298 yards per game. Overall, Colts are averaging 28.6-points per game and conceded 23.1-points per game.
Bengals are 6-10 in over-under betting this season, and 1-7 on the road in over-under betting this season, which marks the most successful UNDER performers on the road. On average, the Bengals have put up 22.8-points per game but have also conceded in almost equal measure, an average of 21.5. The most concerning aspect about the Bengals is their playoff performances to date behind Andy Dalton: putting up just 10, 13 and 10 points, respectively, in three appearances.
Initially, our instinct was to back the UNDER on this game, simply because the Bengals have been the equivalent of a deer in headlights when on the playoff stage. What's more, the Colts beat the Bengals 27-0 in their regular season meeting. However, the Bengals have to be tired of all the criticism. They must have a chip on their shoulder and come into this game to try and prove they can compete. If they can overcome their stage fright, they could make a game of this. On the flipside of the coin, the Colts boast the No.1 passing offense that should give the Bengals' 20th ranked passing defense fits. And Andrew Luck can put up points in a hurry. Last season, he carried the Colts to a 45-44 victory over the Chiefs, all while erasing a 28-point deficit. All that and more has us leaning towards going Over the NFL odds for our NFL picks.
Free NFL Picks: Over 49.0
Lions vs. Cowboys O/U 48.0
Detroit Lions have been consistent UNDER performers this season. Overall, they are 5-11 in over-under betting and on 1-7 in over-under betting on the road. They boast a top rushing defense that could be a good matchup for the Cowboys' top rushing offense. In five of their last seven games, they held opponents to under 20-points, the exceptions were a 30-20 loss to the Packers and a 34-9 loss to the Patriots. Therein lies the block to tip the scale towards the OVER. Against high-flying offenses, the Lions defense is taxed sorely. Dallas are exactly such a high-flying offense that could buck Detroit's perceptible trend to cash on the UNDER.
Cowboys boast the second best rushing offense in the league and the 16th passing offense. In recent weeks, however, Tony Romo has elevated his play so much so that he's surpassed Aaron Rodgers on the rating scale to sit lotus atop with a 113.2 rating. In their last four games, the Cowboys have averaged 41.25-points and conceded 19.75 points per game. If they dictate play in accordance to these recent trends, this game should go OVER 48.0 easily.
Free NFL Picks: Over 48.0