Handicapping the NFL Playoffs: Make back the money you lost New Year’s Eve
Note from Ransom: This is the first in what will hopefully be a short series of posts by The Masked Gambler calling the NFL playoff handicaps for your gambling pleasure. As always, enjoy.
The teams are set, the lines are posted, the games are almost here, so the only thing missing is some guy who thinks he knows how to beat Vegas betting his life fortune away on a bunch of teasers, parlays, and reverses.
Luckily, you’re already more intelligent than the average better because you’re reading The Wooder Cooler and are about to get all the picks and analysis you need to have a successful day or two of…”investing.”
I’ll say right off the bat that if you are the type to look at trends and just bet straight off of trends that date back to 1990 (I’ve got a great one, if you’re interested), you probably won’t agree with my picks. I care much more about Alex Smith in 2013 than I do how many times Peyton Manning beat Kansas City in the past 10 years when he was with Indianapolis and the temperature was colder than 25 degrees with a kicker who was perfect on a Saturday. That’s great for a stupid SportsCenter stat. Not for your wallet.
So we’ll kick it off with the first game after the break:
Kansas City +2.5 at Indianapolis, total 47
Kansas City started off the year doing REALLY well against mediocre teams. They closed out the year 2-5 with their only wins coming at Washington and at Oakland. One of those losses, at home, by 16, against those pesky Indianapolis Colts. Those same Colts are 11-3 ATS in their past 14 home games. Seems like I’m going with the Colts here right? As Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friend.”
Indianapolis has been about as consistent this year as the rollout of Obamacare. They can beat teams like Denver, while giving up 40 points to mediocre teams with ease. I struggle to find an area where the Colts have a significantly better matchup. Their win at Kansas City earlier was generously aided by four turnovers, something that will be fixed, I’m sure. Combine that with the fact that Andy Reid loves winning playoff games up until the Super Bowl and that the Chiefs are 7-1 ATS on the road in 2013, I’m taking the Chiefs +2.
New Orleans +2.5 at Philadelphia, total 55
An elderly gentlemen who is enthusiastic about his sports investments told me in September, “The Eagles won’t be able to run the offense and win with Nick Foles as their starting quarterback.” I’ll give you a second and let that one sink in a little bit. Now while Foles did have a remarkable year, I still do need sleep therapy because of the season my beloved Philadelphia Eagles have put me through. Start 1-3, then stomp our rivals from the north. Then 2 weeks later, a miserable performance against the Cowboys, then a loss to the Giants, then win 7 of our final 8. Did I mention we have one of the best offenses? And one of the worst pass defenses?
Here is what I know. I know the Eagles aren’t going to turn the ball over a lot. They just don’t do that and the Saints are the worst in the NFC at creating turnovers. I know the Eagles can’t stop the pass. I know Drew Brees is playing. I know the Saints have trouble on the road. I know the weather will be unpleasantly cold. I know that ESPN is bound to have another sophmoric statistic about Drew Brees’ record on the road in playoff games where it’s below 25 degrees where both teams are 11-5 and he showered in the morning.
Here is what I don’t know. Which Eagles team will show up? Just how bad are the Saints on the road? If I’m a better, I pass on this game. But if your betting compulsions require you to make a wager, buy a half a point to +3 for the Saints and take ’em. They have more postseason experience and they have Drew Brees against the abominable Eagles secondary. I expect that no matter how cold, Drew Brees will decimate the Eagles defense.
San Francisco -3 at Green Bay, total 46.5.
To me, this is the easiest spread to take in this round of the playoffs. Frank Gore, the ageless wonder out of the University of Miami is going to have a field day in Wisconsin. Field day. I get the whole “Aaron Rodgers is back so we’re finally going to win games” philosophy, but no. San Francisco will run the ball against the team that ranks 25th against the run, keep Aaron Rodgers off the field, limit the big plays and come out of Lambeau with a W. Take San Francisco -3.
San Diego +7 at Cincinnati, total 47.
The Bengals haven’t lost at home all year, and this is a tricky one. The first thing to recognize is that San Diego can win the game. Will they? Probably not. But they can. It’s a rematch of the game from December 1st where Cincinnati won by a touchdown. That was the only game San Diego lost in December which includes a win at Denver. San Diego for whatever reason, really finds a way to get up as a road underdog.
In all likelihood, Andy Dalton will be able to connect with AJ Green just enough to put points on the board and rely on their stout defense (which is equally as good versus the run as it is the pass) to take over and win the game, but I think San Diego gets the cover here. Take the points and if you’re a daring fellow, parlay it with the under.
So let’s recap here. We’ve got Kansas City +2.5, New Orleans +2.5, San Francisco -3, and San Diego +7. I know what you’re thinking — no home teams cover? No, no they do not. I don’t care about trends, neither does your wallet.
By the way, all of those people who love said trends so much? Go put $100 on San Diego to win the Super Bowl. We’re sitting on four consecutive years the Super Bowl Champion was the Philadelphia Eagles’ home opener. That $100 would pay out $2,500. Then you can go buy yours truly a nice steak dinner and thank me for these picks.
The Masked Gambler, Tenzing Norgay
Editors Note: The Wooder Cooler and it’s writers are not responsible for any massive monetary losses, first-borns wagered, houses foreclosed, or knuckles mob-broken. We will however take full credit for winnings, to the tune of 15%…er, what I meant to say was that these picks are only hypothetical and should only be used if gambling on sports were legal, which it isn’t, so don’t do it…