Baltimore Ravens VS Indianapolis Colts: AFC Divisional Playoffs Pick

As I said in my Just Picks Newsletter, I think Peyton and the Colts will find a way to win this game. And while only rarely do winning teams actually lose against the spread, I think this game will be one of those. The Ravens have everything you want in a touchdown cover team. They have a running game that runs roughshod over opponents, they have a defense that limits the opposing offenses opportunities, and they make big plays on both sides of the ball. Why do I think the Ravens will win? Well, they have Peyton Manning.

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This game has already moved down to -5.5 at one book, and it’s slowly getting lower and lower everywhere else, as only one of the major books I “shop at” holds this game as the Colts favored by a touchdown. So far, 51% of the total bet coming in are on Baltimore to cover, but I see a couple books still show a huge public percentage taking the Colts, between 65 and 70% at some major books. With the spread shrinking and the public bet still staying close to 50%, I’m liking my Ravens pick.

The Ravens have only lost two games by more than 6 points, and their mid-season loss to the Colts wasn’t one of them, as they fell at home to Indy by just two points. They lost to Green Bay by 13 and Cincinnati by 10. And even those games were close. There are a lot of reasons to take the Ravens in this one, and at 7 points, they are always a safe bet.

Baltimore Ravens (+7) @ Indianapolis Colts

Arizona Cardinals VS New Orleans Saints: NFL NFC Divisional Playoffs

How can the Cardinals play as well as they did last weekend? Kurt Warner almost had more completions than he did attempts, and that’s actually impossible. The Saints defense is tougher than it gets credit for, and though they will be missing their starting defensive end, as Grant’s out for the season, they will be as healthy as they’ve been in the secondary in a long time. That will play a big role in this weekend’s tilt with the Cardinals. Because, if I know anything, I know Captain Kurt will be winging that pigskin around.

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The Saints lost their last 5 games against the spread and actually lost their final three games straight up. They were 8-8 ATS this season, just 2-8 ATS over their last 10 games, which means, yes, they were 6-0 ATS to start the season. Aside from their first loss of the season, in Dallas in Week 15, the Saints dominated playoff teams, beating the Eagles 48-22, the Jets 24-10, and the Patriots 38-17. The question is, which Saints team will show up? The team that dominated both sides of the ball during the first 13 games of the season or the team that held on for dear life in the last 3 games, two of which they were actually trying to win?

The Cardinals rarely put two solid games together all season long. They won a few big games against big time opponents (okay, they only playoff team they beat during the regular season was Minnesota) but most of their good wins were either surrounded by losses or followed by them. I expect the Saints to play their best football of the last 6 weeks, and I suspect that will be enough to beat a Cardinals team that won’t be on fire like they were last week.

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints (-7)

Green Bay Packers VS Arizona Cardinals NFC Wildcard Weekend Pick

Green Bay Packers VS Arizona Cardinals NFC Wildcard Weekend Pick: This is my favorite upset of the week, and it has been from the get go. However, looking at it now, it looks as though I’m not the only one picking the Packers to dismantle the Cardinals in Arizona this Sunday. 63% of the public betting on the spread like the Packers to cover, and those are the late numbers. Early percentages were so high that the books responded, moving this spread all the way to even in most sports books as I write this. I see experts taking the Packers at a 2 to 1 clip, and even ESPN’s Suomi likes Green Bay.

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If Anquan Boldin were playing, the Cardinals would have one advantage in this football game, but with him out, the only thing the Cardinals have over the Packers is experience. Arizona made it all the way to the big show last season, playing just one home game, and falling just a few seconds short of taking home the title. But I don’t see that same Cardinals team this season. Arizona has been very inconsistent all season long, and there’s something about the Packers final half of the season that has me admiring their team.

The Packers lost just one game over the final half of the season, as a touchdown pass by Ben Roethlisberger as time expired in Pittsburgh gave the Steelers a 37-36 win. But outside of that, the packers have dominated. During those 8 games, the Packers handled 3 playoff teams, winning by a combined 77-28. Green Bay’s offense has impressed me all year, but it’s their growth in that 3-4 defense that gives them the nod here. Great corners against a less than full strength Cardinals receiving corps, and pass rushers galore -yeah, I like the packers.

Green Bay Packers (+3) @ Arizona Cardinals

Free NFL Playoff Picks: Week 1

After a solid season that saw me finish 20+ games up, I figure I might as well give you my playoff picks as well- you know it’s been a weird season when not a single first round playoff game gives you a favored home team. Craziness!!! But I don’t see the favorites winning all four in Round 1 of the NFL Playoffs – oh no – I have two road winners and two home team victories – which is which is for you to find out… Good luck with your playoff bets!!!

Atlanta Falcons (-1) @ Arizona Cardinals: The Falcons have trouble with prolific passing teams. New Orleans, Denver, and Philadelphia combined to give Atlanta each of their three losses over the last 10 games of the season. Am I saying they can’t beat a passing team? Nope – they ousted the Packers, Saints, and Chargers already this season, so they have it in them, they just have more trouble with pass happy teams. And it doesn’t seem to be the passing game that kills them, but the threat of the pass that seems to really open up the run. The Saints, and Eagles both had big time rushing days against the Falcons, but I don’t see the Cardinals doing that. Even with the awesome production of Edgerrin James last week against the Seahawks, Arizona’s run game still doesn’t scare me much. I also don’t like how the Cardinals gave up just as many points per game as they scored this season, that kind of football rarely gets you wins in January. What else has me going against the home team in this one? How about Arizona’s wins over the last 10 weeks of the regular season? Seattle twice, St. Louis twice, and San Francisco – just barely. Something about that doesn’t excite me. I know Seattle was playing better down the stretch, but the best team in that group is San Francisco, and the Niners weren’t really jelling 8 weeks ago. Atlanta has been tested, and they’ve passed. The Cardinals have to prove to me that they can beat a good team before I go putting money on them to win, even as a home dog.

Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers (+2): The Chargers have always been a tough match-up for the Colts, and San Diego plays well in the playoffs. I know that the Colts have a pretty tough pass defense, but with Rivers out to prove a little something, I have a feeling he has a nice day for the Chargers despite the Colts success at stopping the pass this season. I’m not sure if LT will be 100%, but then again, has he been at the top of his game yet this season? This is a tough one – there probable isn’t anyone in the league playing better than the Colts have over the past 8-9 weeks – but the Chargers have done a little turn around of their own. The Chargers always seem to play their best football against the best teams, and that has me thinking that they are built for the playoffs. They needed one hell of a run to get in, but now they are in, and that can’t be exciting for the rest of the AFC. The Chargers may have won just 8 games, and they had to take all of their final four to get to 8 – but they’ve played plenty of close games, and very well could be 11-5, or 12-4 just like the Colts. The talent is there. The last part of this that really pushes me towards San Diego – it’s hard to beat a good team twice, and it’s even harder to go on the road and beat a good team twice. If the Colts want to make it to the 2nd Round, they have to beat the Chargers in San Diego for the 2nd time this season. I’m betting that doesn’t happen.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) @ Miami Dolphins: Can Baltimore really come in and beat the Dolphins for the second time this season? In Miami? I think so, but only because the Ravens are such a terrible match-up for the run-happy Dolphins. I know Miami has been throwing more, and successfully with Chad, but the Ravens defense doesn’t give up anything for free – and I think it stays that way. In the last 10 games, the Ravens have only lost to the Steelers and Giants. 8 wins, 2 losses, and the 2 losses were to a couple of the best teams in the league. Miami is solid, but the toughest win they’ve had in the last 10 weeks was last week against a flailing Jets club that had lost any identity they had. Both teams are solid – the Ravens are tougher – they may be a tough call as a road favorite here, but their toughness should overcome, and Joe Flacco is playing as good as he’s played all year.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Minnesota Vikings (+3.5): This one is really more of a toss up to me, but I still like the Vikings side more. I know the Eagles have played pretty well in 4 of their last 5 games, but I think they’ve been inconsistent enough to be a tough bet as a 3 point favorite on the road against a physical running team. The Eagles have no run-game anyway and the Vikings have been better against the past since their tough start to the season. The Eagles play much better at home than on the road, and so do the Vikings for that matter- but this game is in Minnesota. Everyone is loving Philadelphia here, but I’m not sure I can buy it. Look at the teams Philly has lost to lately, Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati (tie), and the Giants (Those are the Eagles last 4 losses) – all of these teams have something in common; no matter what they are going to run the ball. Not all of them were super successful running against the Eagles, but all of them ran the ball a lot. Philly has a tendency to break down a bit in games that are physical like that. After coming off that huge party-win against the Cowboys to get in, it will be interesting to see how they come out. Either way, I think +3.5 at home for the Vikes is a solid bet.