Ravens vs. Broncos: Betting the Total
Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the 2012 postseason:
0-4 ATS (–4.22 units)
3-1 Totals (+1.9 units)
Profit: –2.32 units
I just went through the entire Denver Broncos roster, and sadly, there’s nobody named “Bigglesworth” on the team. Because that’s how frickin’ freezing it’s going to be at Mile High Stadium this Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS). I’m serious: the forecast says 15 degrees and a 15 percent chance of snow. This is the only game of the four Divisional round matchups where the cold has to be addressed in our NFL betting strategies.
The Orange Order
So you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Self, how does the UNDER perform in Denver in January?” Glad you asked. The UNDER is 1-4 in the past five games, 5-5 in the past 10 games, and 5-10 in the past 15 games dating back to 1988. That includes last year’s 29-23 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers (OVER 34).
Of course, that was with Tim Tebow at quarterback. This is a significantly more dangerous team now with Peyton Manning (105.8 passer rating, 37 TD passes) at the controls. The OVER went 10-5-1 for the Broncos during the regular season, including 6-2-1 since November, as Manning found his groove after missing 2011 to injury.
Denver’s OVER record is pretty impressive for a team with the No. 5-ranked defense on the NFL efficiency charts. But who says the offense has to have all the fun? The Broncos defense scored six return touchdowns during the regular season, plus a couple of safeties, and the No. 13-ranked special teams contributed a pair of return TDs. Points aplenty.
We’re No. 19
Tell it to the Ravens (OVER 9-7). They’ve had something of a defensive meltdown this year, falling all the way from No. 1 on the defensive efficiency charts to No. 19. However, as you’re no doubt aware by now, Baltimore had to do without both LB Terrell Suggs and LB Ray Lewis for much of the regular season. Their 24-9 Wild Card victory against the Indianapolis Colts (UNDER 47.5) was the first time both Suggs and Lewis were on the field at the same time.
If Baltimore is indeed back at something resembling full strength, this is your typical smash-mouth defense-and-running team that, in theory, makes for a good sports pick on the UNDER. Granted, the OVER went 10-6 during the 2011 regular season when the Ravens defense was No. 1, but as the season wore on, the UNDER picked up steam, finishing the year on a 6-2 run including both playoff games. You have to know these things when you’re king.
Boiling the situation down as I see it, we’ve got an OVER team hosting an UNDER team in what should be UNDER weather conditions, although that’s a secondary concern and past UNDER bets haven’t borne fruit, anyway. In my worldview, the home side drives the bus when teams and styles clash, which makes the OVER my first inclination.
But the most important concern of them all is the actual total. Our NFL odds board shows an over/under of 46 for Saturday’s game. That’s a little high for Denver in January; here’s a look at the results around that total:
Less than 44: OVER 6-3
44-46: OVER 2-2
46-48: OVER 3-1
More than 48: UNDER 1-0
Seems like taking the OVER is reasonable enough for our NFL Picks, even with this total – but only for a small sum. It’s still going to be frickin’ freezing. And it’s still going to be Baltimore.
NFL Betting Free Picks: Take OVER 45.5 at William Hill