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
Something strange is happening in the NFL betting marketplace. People are digging deep into their pockets to bet on the Patriots in this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS), even though (a) New England is 0-6 ATS in its last six Final Four matchups; and (b) the Ravens covered in the same situation last year when they lost 23-20 to the Patriots (–7) at Gillette Stadium.
Our expanded consensus numbers from Wednesday night showed 62 percent of bettors preferring the Ravens, but nearly 80 percent of the money coming in on the Patriots. The average bet size for the Pats was $741, more than six times the size of the average Baltimore bet ($116). What the deuce?!
Sixty Mission ‘Cap
Anytime something baffles me, I like to go out for a drive on the information superhighway. And I see there are some mixed opinions out there. I might like the Ravens, but SBR’s own Jordan Sharp and PJ Laferla both prefer the Patriots. Looking at various computer simulations, I see New England projected to win by anywhere from six to 10 points.
This is actually not so unusual. Even if I feel supremely confident about the Ravens, which I do, I would say they have maybe a 60 percent chance of covering the NFL betting lines. That’s primo if you’re a handicapper. But maybe that also means I should expect about 40 percent of my colleagues to pick the Patriots – be those colleagues human or computer.
Eggs, Meet Basket
This is also why it’s vital to exercise proper bankroll management when you bet on the NFL – and proper psychological management, too. If you had a 10-sided die (maybe one of those funky pentagonal trapezohedrons) and you were going to bet on rolling anything between 1 and 6 inclusive, you sure as heck wouldn’t put your life savings on one roll. Okay, poker legend Doyle Brunson said he would risk a large amount for a small advantage, but I’m sure he has plenty of secret money stashed away somewhere.
As for the psychology, there’s no point in either celebrating wildly or beating yourself up over one single NFL pick. Even the best handicappers are “wrong” about 40 percent of the time in the long run – and the NFL regular season is only 16 games, so it should take years to establish how good you really are at this. Make smaller bets more often, stick with the NFL odds that give you the most value, and relax. Have a Fig Newton.
Did I mention New England TE Rob Gronkowski (55 catches, 11 TDs) is out for the rest of the playoffs? He broke his forearm – again – in last week’s 41-28 victory over the Houston Texans (+9.5 away). There’s a Robert Griffin-esque debate brewing over whether Gronkowski was rushed back too soon from his original injury. But I’ll spare you the rhetoric; all we need to know for NFL betting purposes is that Gronk is not playing Sunday.
The Patriots still have Aaron Hernandez (52 catches, five TDs) at tight end, and they seem to do all right as long as one of them is out there wreaking havoc. But New England as a betting commodity is undeniably less valuable without Gronkowski. The scales have just tipped even further toward Baltimore.NFL Picks: Take the Ravens +9 (–108)