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Super Bowl XLVIII Pick & Props (Recap)

And that is how you close out a season…

Between the Championship Round and Super Bowl Sunday, we took in a +12.30 units haul, going undefeated on all game wagers and on SB XLVIII props (only pushing on 1 prop in large part due to an injury).

While we couldn’t quite overcome our putrid start to the 2013-14 NFL season in the same dramatic fashion that we were able to overcome a terrible start and take in a net haul for our 2012-13 NFL betting season, we did a fabulous job in basically making the season a virtual wash, when all was said and done.

3* SEATTLE SEAHAWKS +110 v DENVER BRONCOS

As for Super Bowl Sunday, there really isn’t a need to go into detail.  We all saw the Seahawks’ utter dismantling of Peyton Manning and the Broncos, 43-8, a victory noteworthy not only in its dominance from the very first play from scrimmage, but also in the Seahawks’ mastery of the Broncos in all three phases of the game.  The write-up simply couldn’t have been more spot on.  The Seahawks proved, without a doubt, in the process that they were indeed the finest team in football in 2013-14 with a future that looks ever so bright.

PROP BETS

2* Knowshon Moreno: Over 3 receptions (-120)
2* Percy Harvin: Under 4 receptions (-110)
2* Total QB sacks made in game by both teams: Under 4.5 (-145)

In my three recommended game props, we went 2-0-1 (+4.00 units).  Perfection eluded us, as Knowshon Moreno caught 3 passes for the push but had to leave with a back injury in the 3rd quarter and never returned.  Bad luck for us there.

But, the write-up was spot on with regard to Harvin, accurately predicting both his impact, but also his likelihood to catch under 4 passes in the prop.  Harvin, in fact, was hugely successful on the ground on offense and, of course, as a KO returner, taking back the opening kickoff of the second half to the house to put the Seahawks up 29-0 and perhaps destroy Denver’s dreams, once and for all.  But, as projected, he only mustered 1 catch for 5 yards.  And, we also easily hit on the sacks prop above, as Russell Wilson was never sacked and Peyton Manning was sacked but once.

NON-GRADED PROP

Bruno Mars: Will he wear a hat?  No at +150

Gave this out at +250 on my podcast and cashed it for subscribers at +150, but because you had to have an account specifically at Bovada.lv, this will not be graded as a win for us.  But it sure was fun for anyone who was able to make a play on it.

Again, the lesson, as always, don’t ever challenge me on a Bruno Mars prop.

And that is how our 2013-14 NFL season comes to an end.  Though it didn’t match the haul of 2012-13, I’m very pumped about the flourish at the end.  Nothing disastrous about a season that basically ends up pretty much right down the middle.  If that’s a down year, we’ll take it every time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed and profited from the analysis along the way.  I have certainly been humbled by your continued support throughout and hope that you’ll hop aboard next season.  If we can avoid that slow start, given our torrid runs down the stretch of each of the last two seasons, I have no reason to think we won’t have a huge 2014-15 NFL betting season.

Thank you.

Super Bowl XLVIII: 1-0 (+3.30 units)
Super Bowl XLVIII Props: 2-0-1 (+4.00 units)
2013-14 Season: 38-39-4 (-4.55 units)

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Super Bowl XLVIII Pick & Props

It all comes down to this…

Super Bowl XLVIII

For almost two weeks now, we’ve been inundated by the national media with the sexiest of story lines.  That is, that Peyton Manning, he of the NFL record 55 TDs and 5,444 passing yards during the 2013 regular season and leader of the most prolific offense in NFL history (37.9 points per game) is set to take on the Seahawks’ #1 ranked defense in the NFL (tops in total defense, pass defense, scoring, takeaways, red zone defense, total QBR allowed, and expected points).  In fact, as it’s the first time that the league’s #1 offense is facing the league’s #1 D in a Super Bowl in 23 seasons, it’s quite justifiable that the pregame hype is all about that side of the ball.  More on that matchup in just a bit, but I believe any analysis of the Broncos-Seahawks clash ought to start with what will happen when the Seattle offense and Denver defense is on the field.

3* SEATTLE SEAHAWKS +110 v DENVER BRONCOS

From Mike Sando of ESPN comes this gem:  since realignment in 2002, 384 offenses and 384 defenses have been fielded in the NFL.  While the Broncos offense ranks #1 in points scored among those 384 and the Seahawks defense ranks #7 out of those 384 (yielding just 14.4 points per game), the Seahawks 60th ranked offense will be up against the Broncos’ 312th ranked defense.  Add to that the absence of LB Von Miller and CB Chris Harris, and Denver’s defense is that much more hamstrung.  Naysayers will point to the Broncos’ improvement on defense in the postseason as Manning has engineered longer, sustained drives on offense, helping to prevent the Denver D from getting gassed.  But, facing the Seahawks’ D, the Broncos will only be able to wish they had that luxury.

With Harris on the field this season, opponent QBs (in 1016 snaps) have thrown for a 58% completion rate and 6.7 yards per attempt with 21 TDs against 15 INTs.  With Harris off the field (160 snaps), those numbers all rise to a 62% completion rate and 9.3 yards per pass attempt with 11 TDs against just 2 picks.  Add to this still further the presence of Seahawks gamebreaker Percy Harvin.  While the average bettor will try to mute the significance of Harvin’s presence, citing the Hawks’ success without Harvin for almost the entire season anyway, that is any entirely a different proposition than noting how much more dangerous and tough to prepare for the Seattle attack is with him on the field.  Even if Harvin doesn’t light up the box score on Sunday (and I’m not saying he wont have a huge play or two) his presence as a decoy spreads the field and opens up things for QB Russell Wilson underneath and for RB Marshawn Lynch at the line of scrimmage.  Don’t let Wilson’s late season dip in numbers take you off the scent.  He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to post a passer rating of at least 100.0 in his first two seasons.  I expect a canonizing of Wilson after this ballgame even though little, relatively speaking, is being said about him beforehand.

But about Manning and that Broncos offense agains the Seahawks D.  Manning has posted a Total QBR of 79.5 on throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage this season (including playoffs), the highest in the NFL and 4th highest in a single season since 2009.  But in the Seahawks, he will find his kryptonite.  Seattle has allowed a league low Total QBR of 31.1 (including playoffs) in defending such passes.  The Seahawks are unique in the sheer size and physicality of their secondary and are the one team in the league that can match up with the Broncos diverse offensive attack.  Manning has never faced Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, or Earl Thomas, let alone any of the Hawks’ 8 secondary members.  He will wish he still hadn’t after Sunday.

According to Football Outsiders, using their proprietary DVOA stats, the Seahawks have a Top 5 special teams unit, as well.  The Broncos special teams unit is not in the league’s top 20.  So, lest we forget about the third element of any football game, throw that into the mix, as well.  And speaking of Football Outsiders, they do a wonderful job of charting every play in every game in the National Football League.  In fact, they’ve done so as far back as 1989 with previous years to come.  Right now, they have the 1991 Washington Redskins as the greatest team of all time and the 2007 New England Patriots as the second best.  Who is the 5th best you ask?  These 2013 Seattle Seahawks.

A week ago when Vegas was projecting possible Super Bowl lines, the Seahawks were an underdog to no one, neither to the Patriots nor the Broncos.  Then came last Sunday, with the Seahawks eking by the 49ers and the Broncos coasting past the Patriots.  We got both of those games right, and in doing so were well aware of how overrated the overachieving Pats really were and, by contrast, how formidable an opponent the Niners were.  But the public is oh so impressionable and they’ve taken the bait once again.

Ideally, the bet is to take the Seahawks at +3.  If you can find that anywhere, by all means, pull the trigger on it.  Short of that, if you can’t get the full 3, the play is on the moneyline.  The Seahawks are headed to their first Super Bowl title.

PROP BETS

2* Knowshon Moreno: Over 3 receptions (-120)
Peyton Manning is going to have to check down quite a bit in this game.  Moreno is the logical choice to be the biggest beneficiary of that.

2* Percy Harvin: Under 4 receptions (-110)
Harvin first has to be targeted 5 times for this one to lose.  I’m not even sure that’s a lock.  My hunch is that Harvin will make a huge play in this ballgame, but it’s no guarantee that it won’t be as a rusher or return man.  For him to grab 5 of Russell Wilson’s passes in this game, fresh off his concussion, would be an upset indeed.

2* Total QB sacks made in game by both teams: Under 4.5 (-145)
Manning is, of course, the QB that is most difficult to sack in all of football, and expecting him to get dropped even twice is a stretch.  I can’t see Wilson being chased down 3 times on top of that.  -145 seems like it’s a premium to pay, but it’s actually a price teeming with value in this case.

Bruno Mars: Will he wear a hat?  No at +150
This one won’t be an officially graded play for us because it’s not widely available, but if you have an account at Bovada, grab this one.  I mentioned it on the Betting Dork podcast when it was at +250 and it has already moved to +150.  Mars appeared at the Grammys this past week with a freshly cut pompadour haircut after wearing his hair out for months.  No way he’s donning a hat with this cut.  It’s too well-coiffed to mess up.

And you just won’t find that kind of insight anywhere else.

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Championship Round Picks (Recap)

Ahh, the difference a week makes.

The Seahawks 3.5 (-105) got it done for us in our 3*, spotting the Niners a 10-0 lead, then erasing a 7 point deficit in the 4th to win a thriller in Seattle, 23-17.  Unlike their two most recent blowouts of San Francisco at CenturyLink, this one wasn’t decided until a Richard Sherman tip of a Colin Kaepernick pass fell into the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith in the end zone with :22 left.

But all of those trends cited in the game write-up held form.

“San Francisco will be playing their fourth straight road game.  Only 1 team has ever won 4 straight road games in the history of the NFL and that was in 1966!  If you like trends, here’s one that buttresses our position even further.  According to Dr. Bob Sports via Spreadapedia, teams that are playing in their third or more consecutive road game that did not lose their last two, are just 42-90-1 ATS against teams with a win percentage of .375 or higher, including a 16-33-1 ATS mark in the playoffs. That includes 0-3 ATS in the playoffs in that fourth straight road game, specifically (all having won and covered a playoff road game the previous week in their third straight road game).

The Seahawks have won 6 straight home playoff games.  I expect it to be 7 in a row, while getting us the cover in the process.”

Add 1 in the loss column in all of those.

Our 2* was far easier, as the Broncos downed the Patriots, 26-16 at Denver.  Echoing the write-up again, Denver still hasn’t won a game at home in Peyton Manning’s first two seasons by less than a TD.

And in this, the year of the trend, add 1 to the loss column in all of these:

“-The Patriots scored more than 38 points last week (43-22 winners over Indianapolis) and playoff teams coming off a playoff win in which they scored more than 38 points are now 4-24 ATS with that Indy loss last week.
-Non-division road teams up to +7 underdogs after winning by more than 10 and scoring 38 or more at home and that are now visiting a winning team are 23-52-6 ATS (6-13-1 ATS in the playoffs).
-Teams that scored 31 or more in 3 straight games, which the Pats have, are 22-46-2 ATS and 1-5 ATS in the playoffs.”

Though it hasn’t been my practice to simply quote the write-us in these recaps, I think after a day in which we all watched every second of each Championship game, for this one instance, that ought to suffice.  Quite a nice weekend that was for us.

With the Super Bowl two weeks away, I want to extend a big thank you to you for entrusting me with NFL analysis this season.  The 2013-14 performance was indeed a far cry from an epic 2012-13, as we were never quite able to make up entirely for the poor start to the season (over 23 units in the red at our nadir).

We’ll look to finish strong in the Super Bowl, whether with a play on the side and/or with prop bets.  If you are a monthly or weekly player on a recurring payment, please remember to cancel that this week.  I will still send my Super Bowl package to you, free of charge, the week leading up to the game.  Again, no payment necessary.

Championship Round: 3-0 (+5.00 units)
2013-14 Season: 35-39-3 (-11.85 units)

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Championship Round Picks (Final)

No question we’ve had our share of hard luck results already this postseason (thanks, Chiefs and Broncos).  Let’s see if we can’t make them stick on Championship Sunday…

Championship Round Plays

3* SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -3.5 (-105) v San Francisco 49ers

Off our push on the Seahawks last week, we’re backing them once again.

For the sake of being thorough, we should reiterate that the Seahawks, who are 16-1 SU and 12-4-1 ATS in the Russell Wilson era at home, led the NFL this season in total defense, pass defense, scoring, takeaways, red zone defense, Total QBR allowed, and expected points.  The Niners, for their part, have averaged just 15.5 points allowed and 304.9 yards over their 8 game winning streak.

The tit for tat continues.  Colin Kaepernick has a Total QBR in 3 games v Seattle of 27.3.  Against everyone else, it’s 78.0.  Russell Wilson has a Total QBR of 42.9 v SF, 75.9 against everyone else.

But, the Seahawks have dominated the 49ers the last two times they’ve faced each other at CenturyLink Field by a combined score of 71-16 while forcing 7 turnovers.  Kaepernick completed just 50.0% of his passes for 371 yards combined while Frank Gore could only muster 44 rushing yards on 15 carries in those two games.

Two games is just two games, though, regardless of the amazing and unique home field advantage the Seahawks have there.  So let’s stretch it to the last 6 games between these two teams.  Again, it’s just 6 games, but a telling 6 games, nonetheless.  The Niners are 4-2 SU in those games (obviously neither of these starting QBs were even in the league for the first two) but have only exceeded 19 points in one of these 6 games (the first of the six) and that involved two Ted Ginn return TDs on special teams.  In fact, the Niners have only mustered 5 offensive TDs over the course of those games (3 offensive TDs in the last 4G v Seattle).  The Seahawks have scored 14 TDs in those 6 games.  We can dismiss these numbers as insignificant, but in the biggest rivalry in the NFL right now, I believe that drawing a conclusion that Pete Carroll’s D may have the Niners’ number, isn’t exactly the most hasty thing in the world.

For the Seahawks to win, Russell Wilson doesn’t have to be great.  He has proven that over recent weeks.  His ability to steer clear of costly mistakes is more than enough for the Hawks to be successful.  Colin Kaepernick does have to be great for the Niners, though.  His performance to date in this stadium simply hasn’t been close to good enough, and while Kap is playing with confidence, the Seahawks are his kryptonite.

San Francisco will be playing their fourth straight road game.  Only 1 team has ever won 4 straight road games in the history of the NFL and that was in 1966!  If you like trends, here’s one that buttresses our position even further.  According to Dr. Bob Sports via Spreadapedia, teams that are playing in their third or more consecutive road game that did not lose their last two, are just 42-90-1 ATS against teams with a win percentage of .375 or higher, including a 16-33-1 ATS mark in the playoffs. That includes 0-3 ATS in the playoffs in that fourth straight road game, specifically (all having won and covered a playoff road game the previous week in their third straight road game).

The Seahawks have won 6 straight home playoff games.  I expect it to be 7 in a row, while getting us the cover in the process.

**Feel free to wait and bet this game Sunday, as there’s a definite possibility this line could go down to -3.  For our grading purposes, we’ll use -3.5, though.

2* DENVER BRONCOS -5.5 v New England Patriots

Since we’re on the subject of trends and, in many ways, the 2013-14 NFL season has been the year of trends coming through more often than not, here are a slew favoring the Broncos, furnished, once again, by Dr. Bob Sports through Spreadapedia:

-The Patriots scored more than 38 points last week (43-22 winners over Indianapolis) and playoff teams coming off a playoff win in which they scored more than 38 points are now 4-24 ATS with that Indy loss last week.
-Non-division road teams up to +7 underdogs after winning by more than 10 and scoring 38 or more at home and that are now visiting a winning team are 23-52-6 ATS (6-13-1 ATS in the playoffs).
-Teams that scored 31 or more in 3 straight games, which the Pats have, are 22-46-2 ATS and 1-5 ATS in the playoffs.

It should be noted that the Patriots have only been beaten by more than a TD just twice in their last 63 games.  But, you’d only have to look back as far as last season’s AFC Championship v Baltimore to run into one of those two exceptions, a 15 point defeat at the hands of the Ravens.  So, if you can’t picture Bill Belichick and Tom Brady losing big ever, keep that in mind.  It has actually happened.  Of course, we don’t need to win by nearly that much here to get the cover.

In the teams’ first meeting this season, the Broncos built a 24-0 lead on the strength of what ended up being a 224 yard rushing day for Knowshon Moreno.  The Patriots famously stormed back to win it at Foxboro in OT, thanks in part to a key special teams gaffe by Denver’s Wes Welker.  The Broncos were also without TE Julius Thomas in that game.  I believe Thomas poses the single biggest matchup threat to New England’s defense.

What Brady and Belichick have done with the undermanned Patriots this season has been nothing short of remarkable.  But the run stops here.  Even with the absence of CB Chris Harris, Peyton Manning and the Broncos get it done in this ballgame.  In Manning’s two seasons in Denver, the Broncos haven’t won a home game by less than a TD.  It won’t happen here either.  Broncos win and cover.

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Divisional Round Picks (Recap)

I texted a buddy of mine Friday night and said that I thought that this would be the weekend where the public gets too cute with their modern day, more educated willingness to take the underdog.  Nothing wrong with laying points when the numbers dictate it.  Well, after what very well could have been a 3-0 turned into a 1-1-1 for us, the results ultimately don’t bear me out.

As mentioned last week, this isn’t the 2012-13 season for us, so if something can go wrong it will.  Again, playing the Packers the game Aaron Rodgers got knocked out on the first drive or playing the Chiefs last week when they lost a fleet of players helping to dissipate a 28 point lead (both of which we were on) isn’t exactly a sign that this is your year.

Perhaps we can add to that a hard luck push on the Seahawks (-8) in our 3* and the Broncos (-9) somehow not covering v the Chargers.

Seattle dominated the Saints for the first 30 minutes with the Hawks’ D fully living up to expectations, but only had a 16-0 lead to show for it at the half.  Credit has to be given to the Saints D for a stout performance, holding Russell Wilson to just 9 completions on the entire day.  In the end, though, the Saints made a 23-8 deficit with under two minutes to play disappear on what at the time seemed to be a garbage TD, and then recovered an onside kick to even make us fear momentarily that what looked to be a sure win might actually end up being a loss.  In that respect, perhaps the push is exactly what we deserved.  Then again, as indicated in the write-up, much of this was predicated on Percy Harvin making a huge impact, but because of two jarring hits, he only ended up in the game for a handful of snaps.   Again, what can you do.  Final score: Seahawks 23 Saints 15

Our one highlight: The Colts spotted the Patriots (-7) a 14-0 lead, but hung around for much of the game until Andrew Luck’s tally of 4 picks was just too much to keep pace.  I wrote, “Imagine what Tom Brady and his four-headed backfield of Ridley, Blount, Bolden, and Vereen might do against this Colts D.”  Well, not sure I imagined 4 TDs from Blount, but the spirit of the thought played out anyway.  Patriots win it going away, 43-22.

But then came the Broncos game Sunday evening, a near mirror of our Seahawks push.  Denver (-9) dominated the Chargers in the first 30 minutes, but up 14-0 in a goal-to-go situation w less than a minute to play in the half, Peyton Manning threw a pick in the end zone after the football caromed off of WR Eric Decker.  We should have known that was a portent of things to come.  The Broncos still could have covered easily were it not for a mammoth Chargers 4th down conversion in the 4th quarter.  Or perhaps if they could have recovered an onside kick late.  But alas, those moments just aren’t going our way.  Broncos win, but don’t cover, 24-17.

Divisional Round: 1-1-1 (-0.20 units)
2013-14 Season: 33-39-3 (-16.85 units)

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Divisional Round Picks (Final)

After the Chiefs coughed up a 28 point second half lead at Indianapolis, thanks in large part to a slew of in-game injuries that pretty much threw our Wild Card weekend in the toilet in the process, we look for better results in the Divisional Round.  This weekend is marked by chalkiness.  It’s not a hallmark of mine and I’m certainly not proud of it (nor will it ever be a habit), but that’s how the numbers came up this week…

Divisional Round Picks

3* SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -8 v New Orleans Saints

The Seahawks led the NFL in total defense, scoring, takeaways, red zone defense, total QBR allowed, and expected points allowed this season.  On December 2nd v New Orleans as 6.5 point favorites, Seattle held Drew Brees to 147 yards passing — his fewest since 2006 — and the Saints to 188 total yards, the fewest ever under Sean Payton.  The 34-7 romp also matched the lowest scoring output by the Saints since Payton took over in 2006.

Of course, none of that ensures that the Seahawks will cover 8 points come Saturday.  But Seattle is remarkably consistent against opposing QBs in the best of ways.  While picking off 28 passes on the season and leading the NFL in pass defense, the Hawks had an opponent passer rating of 63.4, one of just 15 teams since 2000 to hold opposing passers to 65.0 or less.  Chances are that even if Brees can break that barrier in this one, it won’t be by much.

But it’s the other two facets of the game that clinches it for me.  Seahawks QB Russell Wilson finished the regular season with 4 straight games with a QBR of 50 or lower, but despite struggling v Arizona in the Seahawks’ lone home loss of the season, managed to throw for 7 TDs against just 1 INT over Seattle’s last 4 home games.  Now, Wilson gets Percy Harvin back in the lineup, and while Harvin has only played in one game this season, his impact should be huge, spreading the field for Wilson and allowing Marshawn Lynch to regain his beast mode level.  That addition could also help on special teams, where the Seahawks unit is already one of the five best in football, according to advanced stats metrics, while the Saints’ special teams rank in the bottom quarter of the league.

It’s never particularly fun laying more than a touchdown, home game or not, but I’ve attended a playoff game in the rain in Seattle before.  I can assure you it is unlike any other experience in football.  Given all of the above, along with the unparalleled atmosphere of CenturyLink and 100% chance of rain forecast for Saturday thrown in, the Seahawks are the play.

2* NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -7 v Indianapolis Colts

Mr. Chalk over here, I know.  And make no mistake, there are reasons to like the Colts getting a TD here.

But I simply can’t shake the fact that with no Reggie Wayne, it will be that much easier for the Patriots to stifle the production of T.Y. Hilton in much the same way that the Pats took away Jimmy Graham of the Saints by matching his physicality with that of Aqib Talib.  The only difference, of course, is that the Saints have multiple weapons on offense and can rely on others to make plays.  The Colts, not so much.

Put Talib on Hilton and it could be lights out for the Indy receiver, who not only scored twice v the Chiefs, catching 13 passes for 224 yards, but has 379 receiving yards over his last two games.  CB Logan Ryan has been fabulous opposite Talib, as well.  And keep in mind, Andrew Luck and Hilton found their stride v KC without the Chiefs best corner, Brandon Flowers, on the field in the final quarter-and-a-half of that game.  Even with some New England defensive deficiencies, I simply don’t see where Luck will go to get any kind of consistent scoring.

A Chiefs team on the road that was without their biggest offensive weapon in Jamaal Charles after the first drive last week still put up 44 on these Colts.  In fact, over a 5 game road stretch this season just prior to their last road contest, the Indy D yielded 10 TDs and collected not a single pick.  The QBs faced during that stretch: Case Keenum, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Ryan FitzPatrick, and Philip Rivers.  Imagine what Tom Brady and his four-headed backfield of Ridley, Blount, Bolden, and Vereen might do against this Colts D that also happens to be banged up in the secondary.  Throw in a big advantage to the New England special teams, as well, and the deal is sealed.

No heroics for Luck here.  I’m taking the Pats and giving the points.

2* DENVER BRONCOS -9 v San Diego Chargers

Ah, the difference a week makes.  Seemingly forgetting that the Chargers were fortunate to even get into the playoffs and deemed unworthy by most, all it took was a win at shaky Cincinnati to make the Chargers a darling of bettors this week against the famously suspect postseason version of Peyton Manning.  I’m not buying.

The Chargers 5-game winning streak has largely been on the strength of a solid running game, averaging 170.2 yards per game over that stretch, but it’s unclear how much RB Ryan Matthews (ankle) will be able to contribute Sunday.  The Chargers beat the Broncos at Denver back on December 12th with Manning ailing with bum ankles, and both WR Wes Welker and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out with injuries.  That trio is back and at full strength for this one.

No one is more aware of Manning’s postseason troubles than Manning himself.   The Broncos’ QB has, in fact, lost his last 3 playoff games.  For that reason, though, I think he’ll be relentless in not stepping off the gas in this one.

San Diego has beaten the Giants, a banged up Broncos team, the Raiders, a Chiefs team playing second-stringers, and an off-the-charts horrific Andy Dalton last week at Cincy.  I don’t want to take all credit away from the Chargers on their run, but you get the point.  In the altitude, give me the Broncos at -9.

For the second straight week, I’m not playing the one game involving the San Francisco 49ers.  That proved to be a good “no play” last week as their game at Green Bay fell right on the number at the gun.  Same here at Carolina.  It’s a pass.

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Wild Card Round Picks (Recap)

Sometimes, and some seasons, it’s just not meant to be.

After the Chiefs (pk) 45-44 loss in our 3* to the Colts after being up 38-10 in the 3rd quarter, it’s a tough conclusion to avoid.  Reminiscent of our 3* play on the Packers this season v the Bears (the game in which Aaron Rodgers went down in the 1st quarter with a broken collarbone that eventually kept him out for almost two months) the Chiefs lost their best player, Jamaal Charles, in the 1st quarter and seemingly tossed our play into the abyss from nearly the outset.  Tell me we lose Rodgers or Charles on the first drive of the game and obviously, neither bet is made.  Charles, after all, accounts for more of his team’s offensive production than any other player in the league.

But, the Chiefs pressed on, dominating the Colts.  Until they lost WR Donnie Avery.  And, most significantly, CB Brandon Flowers.  And backup RB Knile Davis.  And LB Justin Houston.  Honestly, had the Chiefs won, I’m not sure what kind of team they would have been able to field next week anyway.

Some losses you deserve.  Others there’s just no point in beating yourself up about.  This would be one of them.

I certainly can beat myself up about the other two, though.

Despite winning the turnover battle (+2), the Eagles (-2.5) simply couldn’t get it done v the Saints.  New Orleans was 7-13 on 3rd down conversions and amassed 434 yards of offense to edge Philly, 26-24.  This, despite not having RB Pierre Thomas and committing 7 penalties as a team, as well.  And, in a game that was the most lopsided of the weekend, Andy Dalton and the Bengals (-6.5) were dominated by the Chargers, 27-10, in our 1*.  Have a -4 turnover differential, which the Bengals did, and chances you aren’t winning any football game.  Keep in mind, the Bengals’s Giovanni Bernard fumbled at the San Diego 4 yd line late in the 1st half.  If that doesn’t happen and the Bengals score to go up a TD there, maybe the day plays out entirely differently.  Instead, the Chargers rolled in the second half behind a trio of Dalton gaffes (2 INTs and a fumble).

All told, we probably deserved the wash for the weekend, given the Chiefs debacle.  Instead, a terrible result.  Only thing we can do is recognize that, not overreact, and press on.  I fully expect next weekend to be much different.

Wild Card Round: 0-3 (-6.60 units)
2013 -14 Season: 32-38-2 (-16.65 units)

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Wild Card Round Picks

The playoffs have arrived and that’s an exciting time around here as we are historically very successful at this time of year. That includes a 6-3 ATS mark in the 2012-13 postseason for +8.55 units. Let’s see if we can’t keep that trend moving forward in the 2013-14 playoffs, beginning Wild Card weekend…

Wild Card Picks

3* Kansas City Chiefs Pk @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

I’m a big believer in trying to identify what is and what is not sustainable in the performance of a team, and trying to exploit the false perception that the unsustainable often creates for the average bettor. I do this in both baseball and football, but it’s particularly noteworthy in the NFL where recency rules greatest and does so with a market flooded with a betting handle that baseball bettors can only dream of.

Enter the Colts, who won their last 3 games by generating 8 turnovers, 4 of which came against these very Chiefs in Week 16 (+4 turnover differential that day). The Chiefs turned the ball over a grand total of 18 times all season, so 4 in one game is quite an aberration. In other words, let’s not allow the Colts 23-7 win that day as 7.5 point underdogs at Kansas City lead us off the scent. Indianapolis also held its final three opponents (Hou, @KC, Jax) to a 9-37 (24.3%) 3rd down conversion rate. Again, not something they can count on sustaining against this Chiefs team that will be getting Dwayne Bowe and Braden Albert back on offense.

The Chiefs were 6-1 SU on the road this season with Alex Smith at QB, and he threw 11 TDs against just 1 INT in those games. Unlike Andrew Luck, who has done a wonderful job cutting his interceptions in half this season, Smith has the benefit of having a dominant back in Jamaal Charles to lean on. And while Charles is a dual threat, to be sure, it’s his rushing that will make the difference in this one. Both teams give up an average of 4.5 yards per carry on defense, but with KC having the decided advantage in the backfield, the key to victory here is very clear. If the Chiefs run, they will win, and I believe they will do just that. They were 8-1 when they had 25 or more carries this season, 3-4 when they had fewer than 25. Taking the pressure off Smith will allow the Chiefs’ signal caller to make a handful of big plays, as well.

If the Chiefs have Tamba Hali back on defense, all the better, but I like KC as my biggest play of the weekend, either way.

2* PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -2.5 v New Orleans Saints

And then there’s the other side of that turnover coin. Nick Foles has a 0.6 interception rate this season (2/317 passes) w 27 TDs against just those 2 INTs. With Chip Kelly’s offense spreading the field, it makes sense that an accurate QB with a handle of that system would be at risk for fewer picks, and Foles has been fabulous.

Since Week 9, the Eagles, in fact, have turned the ball over a league low 5 times. They’ve gone 7-1 SU over that stretch. The Saints, by contrast, since Week 9, have collected a league low 4 turnovers and have gone 5-4 SU. Having to cover wide space and account for Shady McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and company, doesn’t portend much of a change in that department. Plus, with all the talk about the Eagles offense, and justifiably so, Philly allows just 3.77 yard per carry on defense, the lowest average among playoff teams.

So, the question becomes, can Drew Brees keep up with an Eagles attack sure to put up their share of points? I’d say, to a point. The Saints averaged 34.0 points per game at home, going 8-0 SU at the SuperDome. But away from the friendly confines, they were 3-5 SU while tallying just 17.8 points per game. New Orleans lost their final 3 road games by a total score of 78-36 (@Sea, @StL, @Car). There’s no question Brees will be fired up for the challenge Saturday, but the Eagles lead the NFC with 247 plays of 10 yards or more this season on offense, and the Saints simply don’t match that type of production off turf. The Eagles get it done.

1* CINCINNATI BENGALS -6.5 v San Diego Chargers

The Bengals are 8-0 at home, having accomplished that on the strength of 24 sacks at Cincinnati while limiting opposing QBs to a 60.6 passer rating with 9 TDs against 15 INTs. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco have all come to Cincy and lost this season.

Enter Philip Rivers with his career high 69.5 completion percentage. The Chargers are 2-6 when Rivers QBR was 65 or lower this season. The Bengals are 7-4 in games in which they’ve held the opposing quarterback to a QBR of 65 or lower. The bet here is that Rivers is held in check by a Bengals D that was 2nd in the NFL in expected points added (EPA). Now that the spread has ticked below -7, the play is triggered.

I have no recommended play on the 49ers/Packers game.

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Betting Dork: Charmane Star on the Adult Film Industry, Debating NBA Analytics with Yahoo!’s Marc Spears

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