Jason Lake was 3-1 on his NFL picks on the total for the Wild Card round. He was also 3-1 in the Divisional round. Too bad his opportunities to bet on the NFL have been cut in half this week.
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 think I see a pattern here. All four of the Wild Card round games went UNDER. Then all four of the Divisional round games went OVER. And the difference between the two rounds was like night and day. The most any team scored in the Wild Card games was 24 points. The fewest any team scored in the Divisional games was 28. Madness!
At least I got most of them right. And it wasn’t because I intentionally followed a zigzag betting pattern, either. There could be some inherent market value in the UNDER this week, but let’s base our NFL betting strategies on something with more backbone.
I Can’t Drive 52.5
Check out the totals up there on our NFL odds board. Sunday’s AFC Championship Game (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS) opened at a very healthy 51 points, but shop around, and you’ll find the over/under available at 51.5, and even a 52.5 from our friends at Sports Interaction. The basic principle of totals is that you want to lean more toward the UNDER the higher the total gets. Even with NFL offenses going supernova in the past couple of years, the UNDER was a combined 5-4 this season with the total anywhere between 51.5 and 53.5 points inclusive.
Of course, the New England Patriots and their supporters are driving the market for Sunday’s game. The Patriots may have gained some haters along the way, but they’re still a very public team with QB/GQ Tom Brady leading the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL. Yes, the Pats have a strong OVER record this year at 11-5. But the OVER was an even 2-2 when New England’s total reached 51 points or higher.
Holliday in the Sun
The NFL betting market may also have been swayed by the Baltimore Ravens and their 38-35 Divisional round upset of the Denver Broncos (OVER 44). I was happy enough to take the OVER at 45.5 points in that matchup, but it wasn’t an easy choice – not with Baltimore’s usually fearsome defense finally getting both Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis on the field at the same time. So what happened last week?
Trindon Holliday happened. Denver’s return specialist took a punt 90 yards to the house in the first quarter, and then doubled up with a 104-yard kick-off return to start the third quarter. Oh, and Baltimore CB Corey Graham had an interception return for a touchdown in between to keep the Ravens close. Did I mention the game went into double overtime? That’s an extra three points right there. That leaves a more reasonable 49 points scored by both offenses in regulation time. And the Ravens offense was responsible for 28 of those points (including PATs).
History Never Repeats
If you hearken back to my article about the opening odds for Sunday’s matchup, I pointed directly at last year’s playoffs, where the Patriots hosted the Ravens in the AFC title game and won 23-20. Baltimore covered as a 7-point underdog, and the UNDER slid below the posted total of 50 points. I believe this year’s rematch is another strong opportunity to grab the underdog-UNDER combo.
Then again, the betting market might be thinking more about Week 3, when the Ravens beat the Pats 31-30 (OVER 48.5). But that was without Suggs in the lineup. And if the public were really thinking about that game, they might not be so keen on betting the Patriots to beat the spread. I think we’re in for some more smashmouth NFL playoff football.
And what’s this? A winter storm heading Northeast? Temperatures dipping below freezing at kick-off with a 15 percent chance of snow? I’ll buy that for a dollar.
My NFL Pick: Take UNDER 52.2