Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the complete 2012 regular season:
51-38-3 ATS (–1.96 units vig)
10-6 ML (+5.82 units)
18-17-1 Totals (–1.71 units vig)
Profit: 16.15 units
Well, I didn’t expect this kind of response. After defending the honor of Vikings QB Christian Ponder, who has performed demonstrably better than most of the nattering nabobs have been saying, I’m a little shocked to see the Vikings getting most of the early support on the NFL betting lines. And I see the OVER is getting 61 percent support on the total of 46. Interesting.
Ponder, Schmonder. First and foremost, there’s that over/under of 46 points. That’s smack-dab in the middle of the NFL scoring spectrum, so there isn’t any real advantage to be found betting OVER or UNDER based purely on the size of the total.
The Vikings (UNDER 9-7) have gone UNDER in four of their last six games, all after the bye week. But if you want to properly divide the season in two for Minnesota, there’s a clear line of demarcation at Week 7. That’s when Adrian Peterson started running like a man possessed. Week 7 was the first of six consecutive games where the possible 2012 league MVP collected over 100 yards on at least six yards per carry. The UNDER was 4-2 before that point and 5-5 after.
The Wrong Stuff
The Packers (UNDER 8-8) have also gone UNDER in four of their last six, and five of seven since their bye week. This has been another tale of two halves for Green Bay; there was that ugly 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS start, which turns out not looking so bad in retrospect given the quality of the opposition. The UNDER was 2-3 in those games and 6-5 the rest of the way.
So far, we have some small, weak and mixed indicators that the UNDER might be a marginally good pick this Saturday (8:00 p.m. ET, NBC). But the efficiency charts show that neither of these two teams is made of the right stuff. The Vikings finished the regular season at No. 14 overall with the No. 15 offense and the No. 21 defense. The Packers were No. 5 with the No. 3 offense and the No. 8 defense. Both teams were better at putting points on the board than preventing them in 2012.
Location, Location, Location
Then there’s that Week 17 matchup between the Vikings and Packers at the Metrodome. Final score: Vikings 37, Packers 34 (OVER 45.5). My goodness. Peterson ran for 199 yards in that game on 34 carries (5.9 yards per carry), but Ponder also threw three TD passes with no picks. In fact, the only turnover of the day was a Green Bay fumble.
Since we’re talking about NFC North rivals here, we also have a Vikings-Packers game from Lambeau Field to look at. That happened in Week 13, and the Packers won that one 23-14 (UNDER 47) in one of Ponder’s worse games: two picks and a fumble that Minny recovered. And that was in relatively balmy weather compared to what’s in store this week: temperatures around 20 degrees at kick-off, with a 15-percent chance of rain thrown in.
Oh boy. Not an easy game to add to your NFL picks this weekend, but considering the weather and the return of Packers DB Charles Woodson (collarbone), plus the removal of Peterson’s motivation to break Eric Dickerson’s NFL record for rushing yards in a season, I’m going to recommend the UNDER. Keep the bet small, and consider waiting until closer to kick-off for a higher total.
NFL Picks: UNDER 46 (–105) at Pinnacle