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
I only got one total wrong last week, and that was when I picked UNDER 45.5 to cash in between the Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks. Atlanta’s defense was doing its part up until the fourth quarter, when Russell Wilson mounted three touchdown drives to briefly take the lead before Matt Ryan and Matt Bryant saved the Falcons. Final score: Atlanta 30, Seattle 28. Oh well. At least the Seahawks covered.
Quick like Vick
Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick. He rushed for 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers, which broke Michael Vick’s NFL single-game record of 173 yards, a record he set while playing for the 2002 Atlanta Falcons. Was it against the Packers? D’oh, it was against the Minnesota Vikings. So close. Anyway, the 49ers beat the Packers 45-31 and went comfortably OVER 45 points. By a 31-point margin, if my math is right.
That’s the fifth OVER in a row for San Francisco, and the eighth in nine games since Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith in Week 10. So I’m probably going to be picking the OVER again this week. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Provided the total doesn’t climb too high, and the NFL betting odds for Sunday’s matchup (3:00 p.m. ET, FOX) have opened at 48 points. Most books have moved to 48.5 points as I write this late Tuesday evening, but not all of them.
But Can He Sing?
That’s still well within the middle of the spectrum, and tame compared to a certain New England-based team I could mention. I’m fairly convinced that the NFL betting market was set during the first half of the season when the less mobile Smith was under center and the Niners took the UNDER to a 5-2-1 record. The San Fran defense kept four of those eight teams completely out of the end zone. At their peak, the “old” Niners went UNDER 37.5 points in back-to-back victories over the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals.
So why has it taken so long to adjust to Kaepernick? Because he’s not normal. When I was a fresh-faced handicapper in 2002, and Vick was in his first full season as Atlanta’s starter, the Falcons began the year at 9-3 ATS. Vince Young’s 2006 Tennessee Titans were 10-2 ATS in his first 12 starts. Having a dual-threat quarterback who can both pass and run is not unlike being able to use both your hands and feet in a boxing match.
The Pains of Abraham
My motivation for taking the UNDER on the Seahawks-Falcons game was Atlanta’s quality defense (No. 12 in efficiency during the regular season) and the team’s 11-5 UNDER record during the regular season. But that defense started showing some cracks against the Seahawks, whose offense bears some similarity to San Francisco’s with Russell Wilson at quarterback.
The biggest concern is DE John Abraham (10 sacks, seven passes defended), who aggravated his sprained left ankle against Seattle and didn’t play the second half, giving the Seahawks some more room to operate. Abraham’s expected to play this week until they drag him off the field, Robert Griffin-style. CB Dunta Robinson (concussion) and safety William Moore (hamstring) are also operating at less than 100 percent.
It’s been a long season. The Niners are the 3.5-point favorites in this game, and I see them pushing the weary Falcons defense around and extending their run against the OVER. May the prolate spheroid be with you.
My Pick: Take OVER 48