Straight Cash Homey: NFL Divisional Weekend

Posted: January 10, 2014 in Football, Gambling, Sports, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Well folks, we have made it to the NFL Divisional Weekend.  Many NFL diehards point to this weekend as the best weekend of football, as all the championship “pretenders” have been weeded out and the best 8 teams are still playing.  One quick note on last week’s picks.  Since I try to get this blog up before the end of the work week, the spreads may change.  I had Indianapolis at -2.5 on Thursday, which changed to Chiefs -1 in some books by kickoff.  This is just the nature of the gambling beast, but I will be sure to update the blog if something like this occurs in the future.  Again, my apologies.

To recap last week, I liked the Colts -2.5, Saints +2.5, Saints Money Line, 49ers -2.5.  I also picked the Bengals -7, but would have stayed away from the game due to the Chargers up and down nature.  Anyway, on to this week.

Saints @ Seahawks

Line: Seahawks -7.5

After a full week of talking up the Saints on the road due to matchups and coaching, I am going to pull a 180 and explain why the Saints will not win or cover the spread this week.  First of all, the Saints were matched up with a team that had a defense that ranked anywhere from average to below average.  This week they will face the clear cut best defense in the NFL.  Last week the Saints played a team that has not had much of a homefield advantage the last few seasons.  This week they will go into the stadium that represents the biggest homefield advantage in the game.  According to the tremendous DVOA system of Football Outsiders, both teams are very good offensive teams.  However, Seattle clearly outclasses New Orleans in both defense and special teams.  The Saints are a great passing offense, but the Seahawks are the best passing defense in the league.  Sometimes football matchups are like a rock/paper/scissors game.  The Seahawks are the rock to the Saints scissor.  I see the Saints gearing up to stop Marshawn Lynch in the rushing game, but this will allow Russell Wilson to beat them with both his arm and his legs.  Add in Percy Harvin coming back and potentially making a big play on offense and/or special teams leads me to being very confident that Seattle will win this game comfortably.

Pick: Seahawks -7.5

Colts @ Patriots

Line: Patriots -7.5

Year in and year out, fortunes change in the NFL.  Teams go from worst-to-first and vice versa all the time.  It is not uncommon to even see a Super Bowl champion miss the playoffs the year after winning it all.  This makes the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick Era so impressive.  Since Tom Brady took over as quarterback in 2001, the Patriots have only missed the playoffs in 2002 and 2008.  Every other season they won the AFC East, and in 2008 they missed the playoffs even though they had an 11-5 record and Tom Brady was injured for the season in the first quarter of the first game of the year.  I am saying all of this just to remind everyone how great these two legends are.  But despite ALL that, I am going to pick the Colts to cover this week.  Yes, the same Colts that gave up 44 points at home to the Chiefs last week, got blown out by the Rams this season, and are basically down to 2 playmakers on offense.  But I am doing this is because Andrew Luck is in the midst of taking the leap from good to great quarterback.  Luck is able to beat you with his arm, legs, and brain.  Based on last week’s play calling, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton may finally be willing to admit it is time to put all his chips behind the best quarterback prospect since John Elway.  And when the Colts do run the ball, Donald Brown has performed well, also giving Luck a good checkdown option when his receivers are covered.  While Luck will go up against the great Belichick’s schemes, he will not have to worry about the injured Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Brandon Spikes.  Luck’s newest security blanket TY Hilton will likely have the Pats defensive gameplan centered around him, with ace coverman Aqib Talib shadowing Hilton for most of the day.  While both are legit concerns, the Pats have been carved up by opposing WR1 since Talib hurt his hip in October.  As for the New England offense, they have not been very inspiring without Rob Gronkowski.  Tom Brady averaged almost 100 yards and a touchdown more per game when Gronk was in the lineup.  The Pats went from one of the best red zone teams in the league with Gronk to one of the worst without him.  While I admit the Colts defense is more up and down than the Gummi Bears, I think Chuck Pagano will prepare them enough to keep them in the game.  With the Pats offense looking pretty ordinary, their defense banged up, and the Colts proving their mettle against teams like the Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos, I am picking the Colts in this game.

Pick: Colts +7.5

49ers @ Panthers

Line: Panthers +1

You gotta love when one of the best matchups of the regular season has a rematch in the playoffs.  This time the Panthers get to host the 49ers after beating San Francisco in their own building in Week 10.  Both of these teams have a lot of similarities to each other.  They are physical units that are built on defense with a rushing-first offense that relies on their quarterbacks to make plays with both their arms and their legs.  I think Cam Newton at this point is slightly better than Colin Kaepernick, however I think Kaepernick has better weapons around him.  I like Frank Gore a lot more than DeAngelo Williams and Co., while Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Anquan Boldin are much better than anything Carolina can throw at San Fran.  Finally, while Ron Rivera has done a great job with this unit throughout the year and is willing to take some calculated risks based on his team strengths, I think Jim Harbaugh outclasses him here.  Despite the Panthers winning in San Francisco, having a week of rest, and being the home team, I am going with coaching and Vegas here.  49ers is the pick.

Pick: 49ers -1

Chargers @ Broncos

A divisional matchup on divisional playoff weekend.  Isn’t that just lovely?  Divisional games always seem to be close, which bodes well for the underdog Chargers.  Both games were decided by 8 or less points, with the home team losing each time.  The Chargers have the least amount of “Three and Out” drives in the league, while the Broncos were second.  However, the Chargers forced the Broncos to go Three and Out five times in their last matchup, while the Bolts played keep away with a ball control offense.  Add in that the Chargers seem to be taking the shape of the Packers, Giants, and Ravens of yesteryear, as the hot team that is on a roll into the playoffs and wins it all.  The Broncos defense was already looking pretty bad, and then they lost their most talented player for the season when Von Miller tore his ACL in Week 16.  The Chargers defense has been no picnic itself, but seems to be playing better as of late.  Peyton Manning is perhaps the best regular season player of all-time, but among the most disappointing in the playoffs.  However, it is hard to blame him for last year’s defeat, which was partially due to a Joe Flacco Hail Mary that was answered.  The Chargers will try to shorten the game again with their ball control offense.  Ryan Mathews has run roughshod on the Broncs this season, but is still dealing with an ankle sprain that kept him out of practice and most of the Bengals game last week.  I have a feeling that the Broncos will jump on the Chargers early and Mathews will be extremely limited with his injury.  Peyton has burned me in the playoffs in the past, but I am going to go with him again here.

Pick: Broncos -9.5

As always, thanks for reading and enjoy the games this weekend!

  1. […] Straight Cash Homey: NFL Divisional Weekend […]

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