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
Did I goof? When I wrote about the opening NFL lines for the Pro Bowl, I had the AFC listed as a 1.5-point favorite. This was the very early opening, too, before the Baltimore Ravens were done upsetting the New England Patriots in the AFC title game. I thought maybe I’d stumbled upon a good football betting situation with Pro Bowl nominee Tom Brady going to Honolulu instead of Super Bowl XLVII.
Turns out the NFL odds are listing the AFC as a 1.5-point underdog. I’m looking at the line histories of the small handful of books that had an early Pro Bowl line on our NFL odds board, and I can’t find AFC –1.5 anywhere. BetDSI doesn’t have a line up anymore as I write this Tuesday evening, so it may have been taken down. Or I may have misread the line, or the line may have been published incorrectly at first with the AFC designated as the home team. Either way, it’s AFC +1.5. All aboard the Brady Express!
Or not. As I warned earlier this week, it remains to be seen who actually makes the trip to Honolulu, and it turns out that Brady will not be joining the festivities. He’s been replaced by Andrew Luck, while the NFC has replaced Matt Ryan with Russell Wilson. With that in mind, let’s revisit the quarterback depth charts for both conferences, using the DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) stats at Football Outsiders. This is how Luck and Wilson rank when added to our Original Six:
No. 1: Tom Brady
No. 2: Peyton Manning
No. 5: Drew Brees
No. 6: Russell Wilson
No. 7: Matt Ryan
No. 13: Eli Manning
No. 14: Matt Schaub
No. 19: Andrew Luck
So the AFC just got demonstrably worse, and the NFC arguably better. I’ll keep this in mind when I make my final NFL picks on the Pro Bowl's spread, but as far as the total is concerned, there’s less overall QB talent going to Honolulu than originally scheduled.
Pay for Play
Did you know that this might be the last Pro Bowl ever? A lot of people don’t seem to care – except for those football players who would love an all-expenses paid trip to Hawai’i in January. Which is the vast majority of NFL players not named Tom Brady. This is his eighth Pro Bowl nomination; he’s got other things to do with his time.
As for everyone else, this all-expenses paid trip isn’t entirely for free. They do have to play at the Pro Bowl if the coach puts them in, and according to NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, there won’t be any more trips to Honolulu if the players don’t produce a more competitive game than last year’s quilting bee, won 59-41 by the AFC (–6).
Combine that threat with the ginormous total of 84.5 on Sunday’s NFL betting lines, and I think I’ll be taking the UNDER this year. The OVER was the right pick each of the past three Pro Bowls, with the total rising from 57.5 to 67 to 75 points. And I might have recommended it again had the league not fired that warning shot across the players’ collective bow.
I’m not expecting full-contact by any means, but if the players are going to be trying harder, that should have a bigger impact on the defenses, who rely on their motors a bit more than their brains. Replacing Brady with Luck could also take things down a point or two, even if each quarterback is only going to play about a third of the game. And there’s even a 35 percent chance of rain in the forecast. Ever been in a Honolulu rainstorm? That little umbrella in your Mai Tai won’t protect you.NFL Picks: Take UNDER 84.5