It’s the NFC title game we expected from the beginning: the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks. And it’s no surprise that Seattle opened as a 3-point favorite on the NFL odds board.
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 12 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
As my great-grandpappy Ezekiel used to say, sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. Unfortunately, he was right – Ezekiel was eaten by a bear after he got back from the War. But he sure loved his football, and he would have loved this year’s NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers (14-4 SU, 12-6 ATS) and the Seattle Seahawks (14-3 SU, 11-6 ATS). The Seahawks have opened as 3-point home faves on the NFL odds boards with a total of 40. Smashmouth football, folks.
As you’ll hear all week, the Niners and Seahawks seemed predestined to meet this Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, FOX), although I did pick the Carolina Panthers in the Divisional Round. San Francisco spoiled that payday with a solid 23-10 victory, cashing in as a pick ‘em on the closing line, but at least they went comfortably UNDER the posted total of 41 points. Life rolls on.
Meanwhile, back out West, the Seahawks paid off handsomely for Yours Truly in their 23-15 victory over the New Orleans Saints – although they were 10-point home faves by the time the football lines closed. I had them at –7.5; I also had the UNDER on a total of 47.5, which was bet down to 44 points by the close. Those were some pretty big line moves in both contests, which speaks volumes about… the volume. Lots of people bet these playoff games is what I’m saying. Timing your NFL bets becomes even more important in these high-profile situations.
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So we’ve got our third meeting of the season between the Niners and Seahawks, who split their first two games home and away, although the ‘Hawks bagged the cash both times:
Week 2: San Francisco 3, Seattle 29 (SEA –3, UNDER 43.5)
Week 14: Seattle 17, San Francisco 19 (SEA +2.5, UNDER 41)
Guess what my NFL picks are going to be this week? Something significant would have to happen between now and Sunday for me to change direction, like a major injury or a highly unusual line move. Yes, Seattle WR/KR Percy Harvin sustained a concussion against New Orleans and might not be cleared in time for the NFC title game, but he wasn’t active in either of the two regular-season contests. If Harvin is cleared, that’s just one more reason to pick Seattle.
Our consensus reports at press time show 58 percent of bettors preferring the Niners and the points, and 52 percent for the OVER. This would normally be where I throw my hands up and mutter something derisive about the football betting public, but instead, I’m going to have a nice cup of herbal tea and be thankful I’m in the minority. Contrarian betting works because squares do what squares do. Still waiting for the early betting reports from Vegas, by the way, but I suspect the initial (and presumably sharp) action was on Seattle. I’m prepared to be surprised.
Again, let me emphasize that I think the Niners are an outstanding football club – although maybe a small step down from last year’s NFC champions. That’s according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders, which I hope by now you’re looking at religiously before every game. You’ll also find the Seahawks in the No. 1 spot, where they’ve been pretty much all season and a good chunk of last year, too.
Better be watching those weather reports closely, too. We’re looking at a 45-percent chance of rain for Sunday with temperatures in the high 40s. Excellent. More grist for the UNDER. Now let’s see if the NFL betting public manages to move Seattle to –2.5. That would be sweeter than the local Sweet Kush. Or so I’ve heard.
Take the Seahawks –3.5 (+100) at LadbrokesTake UNDER 40 at The Greek