NFL Betting: Wild Card Weekend Value Picks

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 4, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

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

The NFL Playoffs have arrived and the games for the next month or so will be some of the most heavily bet sporting events out of all North American sports all year long, obviously culminating with the most heavily bet sporting event of all, the Super Bowl. And as usual, we will be right here with your NFL picks every step of the way.

There is a lot of fresh blood in the playoffs this season, thanks to three rookie starting quarterbacks guiding their teams to this point in Andrew Luck of the Colts, Robert Griffin III of the Redskins and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks, all of whom will be in action on Sunday. Saturday features two second-year quarterbacks in Andy Dalton of the Bengals and Christian Ponder of the Vikings, with Dalton now reaching the playoffs each of his first two seasons.

Also of note is that Joe Flacco of the Ravens has become the first NFL quarterback in history to reach the playoffs in each of his first five seasons, and Matt Schaub of the Texans will be making his first career playoff start as he was injured for Houston’s first ever playoff run last season. That leaves Aaron Rodgers of the Packers as the only “been there, done that” quarterback playing this week!

Moving on to our Wild Card Round selections, we hope you like underdogs because we see value in three of them! In reality we actually like all four underdogs this weekend, but we opted for the total in the fourth game as we think it has a bit more value. As usual, all NFL odds come from Pinnacle Sports.

Saturday, January 5th
Cincinnati Bengals +4½ (-108) over Houston Texans: The Texans had an epic collapse down the stretch. They were 11-1 after 12 games with most football people conceding the top seed to them, and they had a chance at that time to make a huge statement that they have arrived in a big Monday night game in New England, but instead were embarrassed by the Patriots 42-14. They then beat the Colts at home the following week, putting them in the position of needing to win just one of their last two games to clinch the top seed. Instead, Houston first lost at home to Minnesota and then lost at Indianapolis vs. a Colts team that had nothing to play for, having already been locked into the five-seed, so the Texans slipped to a three-seed and are forced to play this week, and vs. a hot team to boot. The Bengals have won seven of their last eight games and the only loss in this span was by one point to Dallas on a field goal in the final seconds. One knock against the Bengals in the past couple of years was that they could not beat winning teams, and they did have the second easiest schedule in the NFL even this year based on the Sagarin Ratings. However, they did shed their image a bit by beating three teams with winning records in the Giants, Redskins and Ravens with the latter two being fellow playoff teams. The Bengals have possibly the best wide receiver in the AFC this year on offense in A.J. Green and possibly the best defensive lineman in all of football on defense in Geno Atkins, who led a pass rush that produced 51 sacks, one shy of the NFL lead. Atkins can make Schaub’s first career playoff experience an unpleasant one, so we will side with the hotter team as an underdog.

[gameodds]16/154531/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

Minnesota Vikings +9½ (-125) over Minnesota Vikings: This is a rematch of the regular season finale last week, when the Vikings simultaneously qualified for the final playoff spot and prevented the Packers from getting a first round bye, knocking Green Bay down to a three-seed and necessitating this rematch with a 37-34 win in Minneapolis. Now, one school of thought is that Green Bay will play much better at home here, especially with Aaron Rodgers having already won a Super Bowl ring and Christian Ponder being a playoff virgin (although he deserves kudos for landing Samantha Steele, but we digress). However, lest we forget that this is the third meeting between these clubs in about a month, and in the first meeting, the Packers won 23-14 in what would have been a six-point win if the normally reliable Blair Walsh did not miss a short field goal with two minutes left. As it stands, the final nine-point margin would still cover this number, and the problem for the Packers is that, just like other teams Green Bay has been unable to stop Adrian Peterson. Peterson rushed for 210 yards here in Lambeau Field in that first meeting and 199 yards last week at home, and is there really any reason to believe that the Packers will stop him this week? After all, the Packers ranked 17th in the NFL in rushing defense while allowing a very high 4.5 yards per carry. Yes, the Packers have more quick-strike ability with Rodgers, and he did pass for 365 yards and four touchdowns after a slow start last week. However, the Vikings could easily control both the ball and the clock on offense with Peterson and that should enable Minnesota to cover this number.

[gameodds]16/154532/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

Sunday, January 6th
Indianapolis Colts +7 (-116) over Baltimore Ravens: The Colts did indeed “Suck for Luck” last season, going 2-14 to land Luck with the top overall pick, and he turned around the fortunes of the franchise by guiding the Colts to an 11-5 record. In fact, the Colts finished with a better record than their AFC North Champion opponents, as the Ravens finished at 10-6, although the Colts did get to feast on the easiest schedule in the league according to Sagarin. Still, that does not change the fact that Luck was indeed NFL-ready straight out of Stanford, and for those that knock him for his 18 interception, consider that he was asked to single-handedly carry the offense as a rookie without the help of a weak running game as he had a whopping 627 passing attempts, and he did just that while quickly learning the playbook. He is now throwing against a 17th ranked Baltimore pass defense and we expect his dream rookie season to continue. Yes we get that Ray Lewis is back and the Ravens could play with great emotion on defense after Lewis announced his retirement this week. But that does not trump the emotion that the Colts have played with since Coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, going 10-3 both straight up and ATS since the announcement. The Ravens have had an uneven year offensively and Ray Rice was grossly underutilized all seasonn, leading to the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Also, while this is Flacco’s fifth playoff season in five years in the league, he has not exactly risen to the occasion in these big games and the Colts could put an extra man in the box and focus on stopping Rice unless Flacco proves that he can win a playoff game with his arm.

[gameodds]16/154533/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins ‘over’ 46 (-108): We think that the Redskins have a great chance to make this a perfect 4-0 ATS sweep for the underdogs on wild card week, especially since home underdogs are 13-4 ATS in the wild card round since 1978 including Tim Tebow’s Broncos upsetting the Steelers outright last season and the 7-9 Seahawks doing the same to Drew Brees and the Saints two years ago. Still, we prefer the ‘over’ to the side here. First of all, the ‘over’ is 5-1 in the last six Seattle games and 4-2 in the last six Washington games. Secondly, the Seahawks do not play with the same defensive intensity on the road as they do at home, and believe it or not they allowed 4.5 yards per rush overall this season, making this a nice matchup for Alfred Morris, Griffin III and the top ranked Washington rushing offense that averaged 169.6 yards per game on 5.3 yards per carry. And thirdly, we expect Russell Wilson to throw the ball here more than he usually does because the Redskins are ranked 30th in the NFL in passing defense ahead of only the Saints and the Buccaneers, but Washington is actually fifth in rushing defense allowing just 95.7 yards per game on the ground. That is not to say that Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch will be completely shut down, but he will find more running lanes if Wilson has early passing success against the weak Skins’ secondary.

[gameodds]16/156720/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]