Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the 2012 postseason:
3-5 ATS (–2.21 units)
6-2 Totals (+3.91 units)
Profit: +1.71 units
Who said betting on the NFL was hard? All I had to do in the AFC Divisional round was figure out which team was going to cover the 9.5-point spread at home. Lo and behold, it was the Patriots, who flattened the Houston Texans 41-28 and rolled OVER the 50.5-point total. Just like they did in Week 14, when the final score was 42-14. Houston got a couple of late touchdowns this time to threaten the matador cover, but it was not to be.
Off the Wagon
The opening NFL odds for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS) have the Patriots staring down another big spread at home. It’s “only” nine points this time, although some books have it at 9.5 points (–105). The only trick for the Pats this week is they have to play the Ravens, who upset the Denver Broncos 38-35 in overtime last week while facing the same pointspread.
And this is where I’m going to have to get off the New England bandwagon. I’ve made some good money in the past taking the Patriots as favorites – their offense is so good that it defies market expectation, which is very difficult to do when Tom Brady is your quarterback and you’ve won three Super Bowls. But those NFL betting lines sure get clogged up once New England makes it to the Final Four. I’m talking six straight ATS losses, and 2-7 ATS since Brady and the Pats upset the St. Louis Rams at Super Bowl XXXVI.
What about Ravens?
Let’s jump in the S’wayback Machine and visit the dreaded Dark Ages. It was the Year 2012, and the Patriots were 7-point home favorites over the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. Final score: New England 23, Baltimore 20. Just another typical Patriots late-round playoff performance.
If going that far back in time is just a little too scary for you, there’s always last September. The Patriots visited the Ravens in Week 3 as 2.5-point road dogs, and they lost 31-30 in an epic battle that saw rookie PK Justin Tucker sneak in the winning field goal as time expired. As Chad Millman has already pointed out, if that pointspread was fair in Week 3, New England should be about a 3.5-point home favorite in the AFC title game. Market forces are dictating otherwise.
Suggs, Not Drugs
I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t add that LB Terrell Suggs sat out that Week 3 matchup as he was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. I’ve been riding the Baltimore Express all year, generally fading the Ravens when Suggs is out (2-6 ATS) and supporting them when Suggs is in (6-3-1 ATS). Now Suggs and Ray Lewis are finally back together, and playing inspired football with Lewis announcing that this will be his final NFL season. They combined for 27 tackles (!) and a pair of Peyton Manning sacks last week against Denver.
Mind you, that was in the freezing cold. The very early long-range forecast for Sunday’s rematch calls for mostly cloudy skies, but no rain, and a relatively balmy high of 40 degrees. Keeping “warm” and dry should benefit New England’s offense. But history is on the side of the Ravens this week.
NFL Pick: Take the Ravens +9
Be sure to check out my "NFL Picks: 49ers vs. Falcons Early picks & Odds" article.