Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 9 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
You can’t blame people for betting the OVER on the Indianapolis Colts this week. They just completed one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 (OVER 48) in the Wild Card round. People also enjoy pounding the OVER whenever Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are involved. So what do we have in store for Saturday’s Divisional Round matchup?
Rain. The latest weather forecast as we go to press calls for a 90 percent chance of showers over Foxborough with winds up to 30mph. Possibly over one inch of rain, too. That ought to slow things down for Saturday night’s matchup (8:15 p.m. ET, CBS). We’ve got a fairly high total of 52.5 points up on the NFL odds board; the consensus reports show 60 percent of bettors lining up for the OVER. Guess which side I’ll be on?
You can see by the numbers up above that I haven’t done too well with totals this year – small sample size and early picks notwithstanding. Might have been a good idea to auto-bet the OVER like a lot of my colleagues – the OVER is 136-122 across the board this year, or 52.7 percent. However, that’s already down from just a month ago; over the past 30 days, the UNDER is 35-32, including 3-1 during Wild Card weekend.
But of course it is. The weather’s turned bad across much of the United States, the players are beaten up, and the more complex offensive schemes that we saw earlier in the year have been solved to some degree. All four of the Divisional Round games are going to be played outside in what should be rather nasty conditions. It’s incredibly freeing to auto-bet the UNDER now. But let’s take a closer look under the hood to see if the Colts (8-8 on totals) and the Pats (OVER 9-7) have enough jam to overcome the weather.
The Tom Tom Club
Under normal circumstances, there’d be a giant blimp flying above Gillette Stadium with “BET THE OVER” flashing on the side. The Patriots finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in offensive efficiency (No. 7 pass, No. 6 rush) and only No. 21 in defensive efficiency (No. 14 pass, No. 27 rush). That’s despite the loss of so many of Brady’s favorite targets.
And even some of his least favorite. WR Aaron Dobson (37 catches, four TDs) didn’t practice Wednesday because of a foot injury, and appears unlikely to suit up on Saturday. That means extra touches for Kenbrell Thompkins (32 catches, four TDs), who is expected to play, even though he was limited in Wednesday’s practice with a hip injury and barely played at all in December.
Da Doo LaRon Ron
As for the Colts, they checked in at No. 13 on the offensive charts (No. 17 pass, No. 11 rush) and No. 16 on defense (No. 13 pass, No. 22 rush), both improvements from their somewhat fortunate 2012 campaign. But Indianapolis has some issues in the secondary; CB Greg Toler (groin) went on injured reserve Monday after an abbreviated performance against Kansas City, and FS LaRon Landry is under the NFL’s concussion protocol, although he did practice in full on Wednesday.
If only the Patriots had an elite target that Brady could use to exploit Indy’s secondary. Maybe a Pro Bowl tight end or two. Unfortunately, Rob Gronkowski is out with a torn-up knee, and the less we say about Aaron Hernandez, the better. I think I’ll stick with the UNDER in this situation.NFL Pick: Take UNDER 53 at William Hill