Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 1 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
Now that we’ve gotten that pesky 2013 regular season out of the way, it’s time to make some real money betting on the NFL. The playoffs bring thousands of casual bettors into the marketplace; their uninformed and fairly predictable actions will move the NFL odds and make it easier for the rest of us to scoop up some of that sweet, sweet cash.
What’s that? You’re a casual bettor? No sweat. Just remember the old 20/80 rule: It only takes 20 percent worth of effort to produce 80 percent worth of results, meaning you can get a major jump on the competition simply by brushing up a little bit on the games in question. Here are the basics you need to know for this weekend’s Wild Card games.
Saturday: Kansas City at Indianapolis (4:35 p.m. ET, NBC)
The Chiefs (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) were the worst team in the league last year, but they moved all the way up to No. 7 overall (No. 15 offense, No. 9 defense, No. 1 special teams) on the efficiency charts at Football Outsiders. The Colts (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS) managed to fight off the regression monsters and repeat as AFC South champions, checking in at No. 13 in efficiency (No. 13 offense, No. 16 defense, No. 17 special teams).
The NFL lines have Indianapolis favored by 2.5 points at home, which suggests the betting market would value these teams equally on neutral ground. The efficiency stats say otherwise. Expect the public to be on the more popular Colts in this one.
NFL Pick: Take the Chiefs +2.5 (+102) at Marathon
Saturday: New Orleans at Philadelphia (8:10 p.m. ET, NBC)
Very interesting – the Eagles (10-6 SU, 8-8 ATS) are also 2.5-point home favorites against the Saints (11-5 SU, 8-8 ATS). The efficiency stats are firmly with New Orleans at No. 4 overall (No. 5 offense, No. 10 defense, No. 24 special teams), four spots ahead of Philadelphia (No. 2 offense, No. 23 defense, No. 25 special teams). However, the Saints are also just 3-5 SU and 1-7 ATS away from the Superdome this year. The forecast calls for temperatures below freezing, although not much in the way of snow or wind. Still a tough road gig for New Orleans.
NFL Pick: Take the Eagles –2.5 (–105) at 5Dimes
Sunday: San Diego at Cincinnati (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS)
It’s a classic matchup of offense vs. defense when the Chargers (9-7 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) visit the Bengals (11-5 SU, 10-5-1 ATS) in another outdoor game in January. This time, the forecast at kick-off calls for a 50-percent chance of rain over Paul Brown Stadium, which should play into the hands of the blue-collar Bengals. Cincinnati ranks No. 9 overall in efficiency (No. 17 offense, No. 5 defense, No. 12 special teams), while San Diego checks in at No. 12 (No. 3 offense, No. 32 defense, No. 15 special teams). I prefer avoiding the warm-weather Chargers and their league-worst defense in this situation.
NFL Pick: Take the Bengals –6.5 at William Hill
Sunday: San Francisco at Green Bay (4:40 p.m. ET, FOX)
This is the game everyone wants to see. The Packers (8-7-1 SU, 7-9 ATS) snuck into the playoffs with the return of QB Aaron Rodgers, winning the NFC North and getting to host another warm-weather team in the 49ers (12-4 SU, 11-5 ATS). The forecast calls for temperatures below 10 degrees at Lambeau Field with a 20 percent chance of snow.
Rodgers’ seven-game absence skews Green Bay’s No. 21 ranking in overall efficiency, but not by much (No. 5 offense, No. 31 defense, No. 19 special teams). The Niners are much better on paper at No. 6 overall (No. 8 offense, No. 13 defense, No. 7 special teams), and they’re certainly capable of beating the football odds as 2.5-point road faves. But I’m going to recommend the OVER, which is 6-0 in their last six meetings and 3-0 for each team heading into the playoffs.
NFL Pick: Take OVER 47.5 at Bet Online