Colts vs. Ravens: Betting the Total
Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the complete 2012 regular season:
51-38-3 ATS (–1.96 units vig)
10-6 ML (+5.82 units)
18-17-1 Totals (–1.71 units vig)
Profit: 16.15 units
So, the team that used to play in Baltimore is playing the team that used to play in Cleveland. Just thinking about the Northeast in January makes me want to bet the UNDER, but proper handicapping isn’t that simple. Neither is dealing with a 46-point total. The NFL betting gods have made 46 the over/under for three of the four Wild Card games. Don’t they know I’m trying to make some money here?
I suppose the prudent thing to do would be to look at the Wild Card results from the past several seasons. I’ve got six of them right here:
2011: OVER 3-1
2010: UNDER 3-1
2009: OVER 4-0
2008: UNDER 3-1
2007: OVER 2-2
2006: UNDER 3-1
Maybe betting on the NFL is simpler than I thought. All I have to do this week is bet the UNDER in every game and I’ll get paid three times. Or maybe the pattern in these records is too noisy to reveal any fundamental truths about Sunday’s contest (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS). I’ll save it for use as a tiebreaker.
Every team has a story. For the 2012 Colts, it’s head coach Chuck Pagano. Even if you’re one of the many people betting on the NFL for the first time this season now that we’re in the playoffs, you’re probably aware that Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year. The Colts were 1-2 SU and ATS before that diagnosis, 10-3 SU and ATS after. The difference is less dramatic with the totals: the UNDER was 2-1 before and 8-5 after, including each of the last three games.
Indy’s inspired performance this year has made a mockery of the efficiency charts. But we can still use them to our benefit when it comes to the total. The Colts were No. 25 in overall efficiency this year, No. 18 on offense and No. 31 on defense. That’s not the ideal mix for an UNDER team. But it does help that the Colts are near the bottom of the league at 3.8 yards per carry, while sitting No. 14 in attempts with 440.
Suggs in the Bucket
What about those run-happy Ravens? Not so happy this year. They’ve only carried the ball four more times than the Colts, although to somewhat better effect at 4.3 yards per carry (No. 12 overall). Combine that with their injury-plagued defense, and the OVER is 9-7 for Baltimore this year.
Those injuries on defense are Baltimore’s top storyline for 2012. There were basically two Ravens teams this year: with Terrell Suggs (4-3-1 ATS, UNDER 4-4), and without Terrell Suggs (2-6 ATS, OVER 5-3). The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is expected back this week after sitting out the season finale; in fact, most of the team’s starters took with the whole day or most of the day off as the Ravens (+5.5 away) lost 23-17 to the Cincinnati Bengals (UNDER 43).
The efficiency charts for 2012 have Baltimore at No. 8 overall, No. 13 on offense and No. 19 on defense. I’m expecting the defense to be better than that on Sunday with Suggs in uniform and Ray Lewis (triceps) possibly joining him at linebacker. Plus, the Colts are driving the bus in every game they play for Pagano until proven otherwise, and they’ve got the UNDER on a roll. Mmmmm… rolls.
NFL Picks: Take UNDER 46.5 at Diamond