NFL Betting: Divisional Weekend Value Picks

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 11, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

If you want selections on all four divisional round games, you can get them right here as the NFL Playoffs continue this weekend with two second round games Saturday and two on Sunday.

The NFL Playoffs have begun and the betting volume per game will only get larger as the playoffs progress. These will be some of the most heavily bet North American sporting events all year, culminating of course with one of the most heavily bet single-game sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl. And do not forget that we will be right here with your NFL picks every step of the way.

A lot was made of all the young quarterbacks that started in the wild card round, but Russell Wilson is the only rookie quarterback that advances to the divisional round, and that is only because one rookie signal caller had to advance from his matchup with Robert Griffin III. Wilson is actually one of two rookie quarterbacks starting this week as Colin Kaepernick gets his first opportunity after the 49ers had a bye last week

Also of note is that Matt Schaub won his first career playoff start to advance. As for the rest of the quarterbacks starting this week, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady all have Super Bowl rings, Joe Flacco is involved in his fifth playoffs in five years in the NFL and Matt Ryan is in his fourth playoff game, albeit with an 0-3 record thus far.

Moving on to our Division Round selections, we may be playing with fire selecting two underdogs and two ‘overs’ this week after the favorites and the ‘unders’ each went 4-0 last weekend! Then again, maybe we will also profit from regression to the mean. As usual, all NFL odds come from Pinnacle Sports.

Saturday, January 12th
Baltimore Ravens +9½ (-108) over Denver Broncos: The Broncos are the hottest team in the NFL right now having won 11 consecutive games following a 2-3 start to the season and Denver was good to its supporters this season going 10-6 against the spread. However, did the bye week on wild card weekend hurt Denver’s momentum? The bye is supposed top be a reward for the top two teams in each conference, so it is interestg that the teams coming off a bye are only 14-22 ATS in this divisional round since 2003. Keep in mind also that while the Broncos have not lost a game in three months, they also faced a schedule ranked 29th out of 32 NFL teams in SOS and beat just two teams that finished with winning records all year. Yes, these Ravens were one of them while the other was a mediocre Cincinnati Bengals team. Keep in mind though that the regular season meeting between these teams turned when the Broncos’ Chris Harris returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown right before halftime, just as the Ravens were about to cut a 10-0 deficit into a one-score game. Baltimore actually did a good job vs. Manning that day, as he completed 17-of-28 passes for only 204 yards, and if you take away one 51-yard bomb to Eric Decker, he averaging only 5.7 yards per attempt on all of his other tosses Also the Ravens have the running backs to shorten this game by eating up time, not only with Ray Rice but also Bernard Pierce, who rushed for 103 yards in the 24-9 win over the Colts last week

[gameodds]16/217326/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

Green Bay Packers +133 (Money Line) over San Francisco 49ers: Many people consider this contest to be the true NFC Championship Game, and we would tend to agree. As mentioned, Aaron Rodgers already owns a Super Bowl ring while rookie Colin Kaepernick is making is first career playoff start after replacing Alex Smith as the starting quarterback mid-season, and in the end, that difference in post-season experience could end up being the determining factor in the game. Rodgers led the NFL during the regular season with his 108.0 QB Rating as he passed for 4295 yards and 39 touchdown passes while completing 67.2 percent of his passes, and he will probably need to carry the offense here with the running back situation in Green Bay so unsettled, but that is old hat for Rodgers, who has won games entirely on his own many times before. The key here is how much time he will have to throw, and we believe it will be much more time than he had when the 49ers beat Green Bay way back in Week 1 because of the injury to one of the best defensive ends in all of football in the Niners’ Justin Smith. The decline of a great San Francisco defense was obvious after Smith was injured in Week 15 vs. the Patriots as the 49ers allowed 29.7 points and a 376.0 total yards per game in the last three games. Smith has a partially torn left triceps and will now attempt to play four weeks after suffering an injury that usually takes a minimum of 12 weeks of recovery time, so he should be severely limited. Also consider that the Green Bay defense is now fully healthy with Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews back so forget the spread and look for an outright upset.  

[gameodds]16/217224/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

Sunday, January 13th
Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons ‘over’ 45½ (-110): As mentioned, the ‘under’ swept 4-0 last week but the ‘over’ has gone 7-1 in this divisional round the last two seasons and we see that pattern continuing here the way these teams match up. The Seahawks ranked second in the NFL in rushing during the regular season averaging 164.9 yards per game on a terrific 4.9 yards per carry, led by Beast Mode running back Marshawn Lynch and a smart rookie dual threat quarterback in Russell Wilson. That fine running continued on wild card week with Seattle rushing for 224 yards, as Lynch led the way with 132 rushing yards on 32 carries and Wilson added 67 rushing yards on eight carries while expertly running option reads. Furthermore, the Atlanta defense was terrible at stopping the run, ranking 29th in the NFL in defensive rushing average surrendering 4.8 yards per carry. Now normally lots of running would favor the ‘under’ except that the Seahawks have been so powerful running the ball the last five weeks that it has led to an average of 38.8 points per game, and the Seahawks would have gotten into the 30s again last week vs. a Washington defense that actually outplayed the Atlanta defense at the end of the season if Lynch did not lose a fumble near the goal line. As for the Atlanta offense, Matt Ryan will be throwing the ball a lot because the 29th ranked Falcons’ rushing offense does not figure to do much of anything vs. the ninth ranked Seahawks’ rushing defense. That makes for an intriguing matchup between the great Atlanta receiving corps including tight end Tony Gonzalez and a Seattle secondary that may be the best one in football. That should lead to more scoring…for one team or the other!

[gameodds]16/217327/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

Houston Texans, New England Patriots ‘over’ 47½ (-105): The Texans had a well-publicized last season collapse that began with a 42-14 drubbing inflicted by these Patriots, but as mentioned earlier, teams that lost non-divisional regular season meetings have tended to do well ATS in playoff rematches. Still, we would not be confident in backing Matt Schaub over Tom Brady in a playoff game, so we are looking at the ‘over’ instead. The Texans will no doubt try to establish the run early this week, something they failed to do here in Foxboro on December 10th contributing to that game getting out of hand. That may sound easy with Arian Foster as your running back but the Patriots actually ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing defense this season allowing 102.1 yards per game and New England was sixth in defensive rushing average at 3.9 yards per carry. That probably would not stop the Texans from running the ball though as at the very least it would keep Houston in the game by keeping Brady and the New England offense off the field. That seems like sound logic that would favor the ‘under’ except for one problem: What will the Texans do if the Patriots get by at least two scores? The New England offensive line was a concern at the beginning of the season, but it turned out to be a strength and Brady had all kinds of time to throw vs. the normally good and physical Houston pass rush in the first meeting. Brady threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns in basically three quarters and the line opened up enough running lanes for the Patriots to rush for 130 yards. Once the Pats get up by two scores, the Texans will be forced to throw and ‘over’ bettors can start rejoicing.

[gameodds]16/217225/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]