NFL Picks: Patriots vs. Broncos Betting the Total

Jason Lake

Thursday, January 16, 2014 7:03 PM GMT

People just can’t help but bet the OVER these days, especially when the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots are playing. But have the NFL totals for this game gotten way too high?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 16 inclusive:

46-41-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

14-19-1 Totals

I do love me some touchdowns. Nobody’s thrown more in an NFL regular season than the two quarterbacks we’ll see this Sunday (3:00 p.m. ET, CBS) when the New England Patriots visit the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. Tom Brady was the first to reach 50 TDs back in 2007, but this year, Peyton Manning blew him out of the water with 55 TDs. Not bad for a 37-year-old man with a bad neck.

But at what point do the football totals just get too damn high? The NFL odds board for Sunday’s matchup has a big fat total of 56; that’s up from 54.5 at the open, thanks to 60 percent of bettors pounding the OVER. And why would anyone expect otherwise? Denver has the OVER at 11-6 this year, with New England doing its part at 10-7. You’re with me, leather.

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Senses Working Overtime

Then again, I’m never terribly excited about the prospect of taking the OVER with a total this high. Yes, these two teams have gone OVER the posted total in both their games since Manning landed in Denver, but let’s take a closer look at those results:

Nov. 24, 2013: Broncos 31, Patriots 34 OT (OVER 54)

Oct. 7, 2012: Broncos 21, Patriots 31 (OVER 50.5)

As you can see, the 2012 matchup would have gone UNDER the total that we’re getting this week. And as for this past November, while it’s true that the game had gone OVER before the extra frame, it still took a furious second-half rally by the Patriots to get there. Denver was up 24-cob going into the dressing room, thanks in part to a defensive touchdown by LB Von Miller, who won’t be in action this week thanks to a torn ACL.

Excruciating

Of course, Miller’s injury does add to the likelihood that Brady will find the end zone on Sunday. There are multiple injuries for both teams on the defensive front; I’ve already mentioned that CB Chris Harris Jr. is out for the Broncos with a torn ACL of his own, and the Patriots have played most of the season with a watered-down defensive line.

That doesn’t mean we can ignore all those injuries on the New England offense – and on special teams, where punter Ryan Allen’s status for Sunday is still up in the air after he was injured during the Divisional Round victory over the Indianapolis Colts. We do know that Allen practiced Wednesday, though, so that’s good news for a special teams unit that ranked No. 2 in efficiency during the regular season. And good news for the UNDER. Field position, you know.

Range Against the Machine

From a weather perspective, Sunday looks like a great day for some offense. The weather report calls for clear skies over Mile High Stadium with not much wind and temperatures in the mid-50s at kick-off. But the absence of bad weather doesn’t have the same impact on the NFL betting lines as the presence of good weather. That is, you shouldn’t be as excited to bet the OVER in good conditions as you would be to bet the UNDER in lousy conditions.

Meanwhile, over at the computer banks, the usual gang of number-crunchers is giving us a range between 52 and 54 points for the outcome of Sunday’s matchup. I try never to let these projections decide my picks for me, but they are part of the overall picture. I’ll take the contrarian side here and go with the UNDER, although it’s not something I’d bet the farm on. Maybe just the haystack.

NFL Pick: Take UNDER 56 at Sports Interaction