The NFL Lines – Divisional Playoffs

Filed in NFL, NFL Tips by on January 11, 2012

The battle of rookie QBs was one-way traffic as the Texans advanced. Drew Brees and the Saints did their thing in their house. The Giants kept their late-season surge (especially on the defensive side of the ball) rolling, while Tim Tebow did Tebow things and defied oddsmakers once again. These four teams hit the road now to face the Ravens, Niners, Packers and Patriots respectively in the Divisional Playoff round. As always, Nick Tedeschi and Cliff Bingham brak down the games and give you their picks for the weekend ahead.

CB – Again, with the season shifting further into playoff mode now, the form of each team against inferior/ mediocre sides can be tossed out the window. We want to focus who how each team performed when their opposition was strong. Don’t underestimate home field advantage here either, especially with 2 rookie QBs on the road and one dome team headed cross-country to play outdoors this weekend.

Summary of Wild Card Weekend results

NT – 3 selections, 5 units bet, return of 3.88 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -22%

CB – 2 selections, 3 units bet, return of 5.99 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = +100%

Total – 5 selections, 8 units bet, return of 9.87 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = +23%

Summary of Overall results

NT – 96 selections, 140 units bet, return of 123.57 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -12%

CB – 57 selections, 72 units bet, return of 71.70 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -0.4%

Total – 153 selections, 212 units bet, return of 195.27 units, Profit on Turnover (POT) = -8%



(Please note – all times are American ‘Eastern Time’ – add 16 hours to get to AEDST)



New Orleans at San Francisco, 4.30pm

Bookmakers’ line: San Francisco +3 to +3.5

NT – After a disastrous opening week of the playoffs, it may be a little remiss of me to be confident, but I am ultra keen on my beloved San Francisco 49ers. The Saints are a well-oiled offensive machine but they have to travel to the thick grass of Candlestick Park to take on one of the top defensive units in the NFL. The Saints are only 3-2 outside a dome this year and they are averaging 9 points a game less. You know that Jim Harbaugh will stick to his guns and just pound the ball down the throats of New Orleans. This shapes as San Fran's return to playoff glory. Play them for 2 units.

CB –Home field advantage is oft considered to be worth around 3 points, which would make the 13-3 San Fran (including 4-1 against playoff sides) a 6.5 point outsider at a neutral ground and 9.5 point outsider in New Orleans. No way. As Nick said, only 5 outdoor games on the Saints’ 2011 schedule and the 3 wins included close ones at Carolina and Tennessee (to my mind, the most pertinent window into their prospects here – only the Niners exceed the Titans on almost every level this season).

People might argue that the Niners can’t score enough points. My retort: they scored 24 at Philly, 25 at Detroit, 27 when hosting the Giants and 20 when hosting the Steelers – all of whom have superior defences to the Saints. Only against the Ravens did they truly fall in a heap – won’t happen here.

On top of all that, consider this quote from Grantland’s Bill Simmons in his Wild Card picks column last week: “You beat the 2011 Saints (and the 2011 Packers, and maybe even the 2011 Pats) with the old Super Bowl XLII game plan that the Giants used to break my sports heart: Shorten the game, run the ball, move the chains, keep their offense off the field, and when they're out there, hit the crap out of the QB. The Lions don't have that type of team. To say the least.”

Well, guess what? The Niners have EXACTLY that type of team. Which is why I think they win it 23-20 – 1.5 units on them at the +3.5.

PS I’d have given you 5,000,000-1 preseason that I would wilfully wager on Alex Smith against Drew Brees in a playoff game, yet here we are. Make sure your bomb shelter and supply of canned goods are in order before the weekend.


Denver at New England, 8.00pm

Bookmakers’ line: New England -13.5

NT – This whole Tim Tebow thing is getting weird. Real weird. Denver's turnaround to beat Pittsburgh last week was incredible with Tebow throwing it to victory against the top pass defence in the NFL. There is no question that New England should win this. But three things have me wanting to take the huge plus. First, God loves Tim Tebow. Two, New England's secondary is vulnerable. And three, Denver's defensive line can make plays. I'm not confident but I'm going to speculate with a 1 unit play on the Broncos with 13.5.

CB – Reasons for taking New England at the big minus: (1) Denver have played 3 high-powered offensive units in 2011 – losing 49-23 at Green Bay, 45-10 when hosting Detroit and 41-23 when hosting New England; (2) Even after last week, Denver still have a points differential this season of -75, compared to +171 for the New England; (3) The Pats have scored over 30 points in 12 of 16 games this year; and (4) Tom Brady versus a rookie QB travelling cross-country for a playoff game.

Reasons for taking Denver at the plus: (1) Said rookie QB is Tim TEBOWWWW!!!!; (2) New England have been ‘one and done’ in their last 2 playoff appearances; (3) The Pats have surrendered big early leads to Miami and Buffalo at home in their last 2 matches; (4) The Pats have only kept 1 side all season to less than 16 points (the Chiefs, featuring the Tyler Palko Experience at the time); and (5) one more time….. TEBOWWWW!!!

Conclusion: There are too many good arguments for either side, and since Nick informs me that as a non-Catholic I’m going to hell irrespective of my life decisions, best not to second guess any relationship between God and Tebow. I’m staying out.



Houston at Baltimore, 1.00pm

Bookmakers’ line: Baltimore -7.5

NT – TJ Yates going to Baltimore in a must-win playoff game? I don't think so. The Ravens are undefeated at home and have covered all five times at home when they have been favoured by less than a touchdown. Baltimore's defence is going to be too strong and it makes too many plays. 1.5 units on the minus.

CB – In many respects these are extremely similar teams (you could also bundle the Niners and to a lesser extent the Steelers in with them) – real smash mouth teams that play tough defence, run the ball extensively and focus more on their QB not derailing things rather than being the focal point of the offensive unit. Both scored just under 24 points per game in the regular season whilst conceding around 17. Both beat Pittsburgh at home. Including playoffs, both beat Cincinnati at home and on the road. Both pass defences only allowed a QB rating of less than 70. Baltimore’s rush defence have a slight edge in yard per carry conceded, Houston the slight edge in net turnovers.

All sounds like it is breaking nicely for a Houston +7.5 bet doesn’t it? Well, it was headed that way but for 2 factors: (1) the whole ‘rookie QB on the road against a tough defence’ thing; and (2) the record of the 2011 Ravens in big games – in the 4 games against Houston, Pittsburgh and San Francisco to date, the Ravens have 4 wins and a combined score of 103-47. They clearly lift a notch when the heat is on, and things don’t get a lot warmer (metaphorically at least!) than at playoff time. Baltimore 23-16 for mine, and thus no bet.


NY Giants at Green Bay, 4.30pm

Bookmakers’ line: Green Bay -7.5 to -9

NT – My first reaction on this was to go after the Giants. Their defence has been very good, particularly their ability to get to the quarterback. Eli Manning has been quietly super efficient. The Giants' receivers have been excellent. But you can't go against the Packers at home, where they are 8-0 and 7-1 ATS and have scored 35-plus points in seven of their eight games. No play.

CB – I smell a rollicking old shootout coming up here. Don’t get too excited about the resurgence of the Giants defensive unit just yet – they’ve taken down Mark Sanchez, an injured Tony Romo and the rubbish-outside-domes Matt Ryan. Aaron Rodgers is a very different proposition. Both QBs can throw for plenty and neither side is fantastic at stopping the run (the Packers have conceded 4.7 yards per carry and 10 rushing TDs, the Giants 4.5 and 15 respectively), so expect the chains to be moving often.

At the end of the day though, Aaron Rodgers is an A-grade assassin at home and I can’t bring myself to take him on. Can’t you picture a scenario like this? Packers lead 28-20 in the 4thquarter before Eli throws a bomb to Victor Cruz for a TD, the Giants’ 2-point attempt to tie the game fails and then Rodgers turns the lights out on his last drive for a TD and a 35-26 final score. I sure can and thus no bet for me on the line, though an ‘overs’ play on total points may be worth thought.


Recommended Bets

NT – 2 units on San Francisco +3.5 at $1.89 (Centrebet), 1 unit on Denver +13.5 at $1.92 (Luxbet), 1.5 units on Baltimore -7.5 at $1.91 (Centrebet).

CB – 1.5 units on San Francisco +3.5 at $1.89 (Centrebet).


Comments are closed.