Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the 2012 postseason:
3-5 ATS (–2.21 units)
6-2 Totals (+3.91 units)
Profit: +1.71 units
Well, that’s more like it. After getting crushed 0-4 ATS in a very strange Wild Card weekend, my NFL picks went 3-1 ATS in the Divisional round. The only game I missed was the Green Bay Packers (+3) failing to cover against the 49ers, who won 45-31 and blew out the posted total of 45 points. Speaking of totals, I also went 3-1 against the over/under for the second week in a row, making the 2012 postseason a profitable exercise in football betting. Where’s my Nobel Prize?!
Be sure to check out my "NFL Picks: Ravens vs. Patriots Early picks & Odds" article.
Life of Ryan
So the Falcons (14-3 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) were up 27-7 on the Seahawks at the end of the third quarter, and well on their way to victory as 2.5-point home faves. Then Seattle scored three unanswered touchdowns to take the 28-27 lead with 31 seconds remaining. Too much time, as it turned out. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan calmly threw two quick passes to set up a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. Final score: Atlanta 30, Seattle 28. The Seahawks cover! The Seahawks cover!
The Falcons won’t have to worry about limping into the Super Bowl after an ATS loss. This time they’re the underdogs; the opening NFL odds for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game (3:00 p.m. ET, FOX) have Atlanta getting 3.5 points with a total of 48 – two points higher than the total from the Divisional round.
The 49ers (12-4 SU, 10-7 ATS) are coming off that outstanding win over the Packers, who scored the first touchdown on a Sam Shields interception return and would never hold the lead again. QB Colin Kaepernick atoned for that pick with two TD passes and a pair of TDs on the ground, finishing the day with 181 yards rushing (11.3 yards per carry). That’s the most for a quarterback in any NFL game in history.
The Niners didn’t stop there. Frank Gore ran for 119 yards on 23 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and scored a touchdown. Michael Crabtree caught those two Kaepernick TD passes, and seven other passes as well for a total of 119 yards. It took a last-minute Green Bay touchdown to make the score a little more respectable.
Not Now, John
As for handicapping the NFC title game, it’s not too difficult to plug in the 49ers where the Seahawks were last week. San Francisco also enjoyed a solid second half to the regular season, although their record might not show it at 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS. They dropped the cash in their last two regular-season games without DT Justin Smith, who returned to action and made five tackles in the Divisional round victory over Green Bay.
Looking at the efficiency charts, San Francisco finished the regular season at No. 4 overall (No. 5 offense, No. 2 defense, No. 20 special teams), while Atlanta was No. 10 overall (No. 12 offense, No. 12 defense, No. 16 special teams). Unfortunately from an NFL betting perspective, it’s the away team that’s favored by roughly a field goal this time, which means we can’t rely on the old “three points for home-field advantage” trick like we did in the Seattle game.
But I’ll be taking the Niners anyway. Atlanta is 3-5-1 ATS in its last nine games and could be without DE John Abraham (10 sacks, six forced fumbles), who aggravated his injured ankle against the Seahawks. Not what the Falcons need heading into a difficult matchup.
NFL Picks: 49ers –3.5 (+106)