NFL Divisonal Playoffs Betting Preview

John GustafsonContributor IJanuary 16, 2010

by John Gustafson,

Well after last week’s 0-4 disaster, I can’t do much worse than this week. I mentioned that last week that this is just a hobby and I don’t bet on the games unless I’m in Vegas. However, I failed to mention that if I were to bet, I would only be putting money on my lock of the week. The other picks are made just for fun. With that said, let’s take a look at the action for the divisional playoff games.

Playoff record: 0-4, lock of the week picks 0-1

Saturday afternoon game: Arizona +7 @ New Orleans -7

This game is tricky for a few reasons. One, the public (62%) is on the Cards and I hate being on the same side as the public. Second, the line opened up at -7 and with such a high percentage being on the Cards, the line should be moving but it’s not which tells me to take the Saints. Third, I have the Cards going to the Super Bowl, so obviously I have them winning this game outright thus making the 7 points a gift. Finally, despite all that, the public does have to win sometime. Otherwise they would never bet. Man I’d love to be all over the Cardinals this week, but this one smells like a trap to me. I’ll forego deeming this my lock of the week, but like a sucker I’ll take the Cards and the points.

My pick: Cards +7

Saturday night game: Baltimore +7 @ Indianapolis -7

This game opened up at 6.5 and the line has moved slightly. I don’t really read into line movement until it’s at least a full point. The betting seems to be about even. Right now on, they have bets distributed at a 50/50 split and I can certainly see why. On one hand, the Ravens are the darling pick of the divisional games and some have the Ravens pulling off the upset. I don’t see the Ravens winning, but they could keep it close like they did earlier this year in week 11 when they lost at home 17-15. With the assumption that they keep it close, the 7 points is a great headstart. If the Ravens can impose their will, the 7 points is a great bet. On the other hand, the Colts don’t need a lot of time to get their offense going. If the Ravens make some mistakes early, then this game could get out of hand and open the door for an easy Colts cover. The Colts have a lot to prove and may come out fired up. If they’re flat, then the crowd could turn on them as a lot of their fans are not happy about the Colts giving up on a chance at a perfect record. I’m staying away from this one as well. If I had to pick, I’d take the Ravens and the points.

My Pick: Ravens +7

Sunday morning game: Cowboys +2.5 @ Minnesota -2.5

This is a game that some would shy away from, but I really like the Vikings in this one. The Vikings -2.5 are my lock of the week. The Cowboys have had success down the stretch, but they only beat one quality opponent. I’m not a believer in their success or chances of winning this game. To me, this number should be around 7 but the Cowboys are one of the most bet on teams in all of sports so oddsmakers probably felt that they could set this number lower and still get action from the Cowboys side. With a little more than half (56%) of the money on the Cowboys, it looks like their strategy worked. Another reason I like this number is because it’s under the -3. I expect this game to be close, but I have the Vikings winning so they’ll only need to win by a FG to cover. Finally, I would not be surprised if the Vikings come out fired up and light up the Cowboys. My hunch is that the Vikings could cover a -7 but oddsmakers set it a little lower to hedge their bet so that in case the game is close, they still have a great chance of winning. There’s a lot I like about the Vikings this week, so they are officially my lock of the week!

My pick: Vikings -2.5 - Lock of the week

Sunday afternoon game: Jets +7 @ Chargers +7

This is another game I’m having a hard time reading. I’m emotionally invested into this game. The Chargers are my 2nd favorite team and I have them going to the Super Bowl. I think that might be clouding my judgment. I could see the Chargers blowing the Jets out and easily covering the number but the way the Jets have been playing, I’m hesitant to go all out and say that. The Jets should be able to keep this close as long as they can sustain long drives and convert that to scoring opportunities. This line started at 9.5 but has since moved to 7 which means a lot of money came in on the Jets. However, there are more bets on the Chargers with 53% of the bets being on the Chargers. This means that the early money loved getting the Jets and almost 10 points. I usually like seeing a number at around 60% before pimping it as a full on public slaughtering but this one certainly has a lot of indications that it could be. I’m going with the Jets and the points but as a Chargers fan, hoping they blow the Jets out.

My pick: Jets +7