NFL Picks: Pro Bowl Opening Odds & Early picks

Jason Lake

Monday, January 21, 2013 6:10 PM GMT

Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 6:10 PM GMT

The AFC is still the boss conference in the NFL – according to the football lines for this year’s Pro Bowl game. But what about all those great NFC teams who will be represented in Honolulu?

Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the 2012 postseason:

5-5 ATS (+0.31 units)

8-2 Totals (+5.91 units)

Profit: +6.21 units

Be sure to check out my Early NFL Picks for the Super Bowl.

Who’s going to win this year’s pillow fight? That’s how the Associated Press described the 2012 Pro Bowl, where the AFC prevailed 59-41 as a 6-point favorite. Even with a morbidly obese total of 75 up on the NFL odds board, the OVER made it to the pay window with little resistance.

The AFC is the favorite again at this year’s Pro Bowl, but the football odds suggest it’ll be a closer contest than last year’s clambake. The pointspread is only handing 1.5 points to the resurgent NFC; we’re still waiting for a total as we go to press Sunday evening.

Mixed Football Assortment

So how many betting units are you going to unload on this baby? I’m going to strongly recommend exactly one unit. It’s the Pro Bowl, which means you’ve got an All-Star collection of AFC players facing an All-Star collection of NFC players, on a neutral field at Aloha Stadium. All those football betting advantages you might look for in a typical NFL game have been washed away.

Well, almost all of them. We can still look at the bigger Pro Bowl picture and see if there are some general betting trends worth considering. And we can still compare the NFC and AFC rosters, in case there’s a significant discrepancy between the two.

Buckle Up 

Strap on that Swiss Seat nice and tight, because it’s time once again to dip into the old NFL odds archive and see what the Pro Bowl has delivered in recent years.

2012: AFC 59, NFC 41 (AFC –6, OVER 75)

2011: AFC 41, NFC 55 (NFC PK, OVER 67)

2010 (at SunLife Stadium, Miami): NFC 34, AFC 41 (AFC –3, OVER 57.5)

2009: AFC 21, NFC 30 (NFC +3, UNDER 66)

2008: AFC 30, NFC 42 (NFC –3, OVER 62)

2007: AFC 31, NFC 28 (AFC +3.5, UNDER 64)

2006: NFC 23, AFC 17 (NFC –4, UNDER 67.5)

2005: NFC 27, AFC 38 (AFC +3, UNDER 66)

2004: AFC 52, NFC 55 (PUSH, OVER 51)

What was that I said about a football betting advantage? Over the past nine seasons, each conference is 4-4-1 ATS. But check out those totals: the OVER is 5-4, and more importantly, the OVER is on a three-game winning streak, even with those totals going supernova.

Hurting in Honolulu 

Betting the total has long been the preferred choice of sharp Pro Bowl handicappers, but adding a small bet on the pointspread to you NFL picks can be justified if one team has a particular edge. Since we’re talking about an exhibition game, the best place to find that advantage is on the quarterback depth chart.

And this is where the AFC might have the edge. Both Aaron Rodgers and Robert Griffin have been injured for the NFC, leaving Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback. Drew Brees and Eli Manning were named as alternates. As for the AFC, all three of their Pro Bowl nominees are healthy and available as far as we know: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Matt Schaub.

As for a comparison, let’s go straight to the DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) stats at Football Outsiders. This is how our Sinister Six ranked among NFL starters during the regular season: 

No. 1: Tom Brady

No. 2: Peyton Manning

No. 5: Drew Brees

No. 7: Matt Ryan

No. 13: Eli Manning

No. 14: Matt Schaub

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, you say. Although it remains to be seen if they will actually make the trip to Honolulu, I’ll have to recommend the AFC. 

My NFL Pick: Take the AFC –1.5

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