Congratulations if you bet with the tycoon last week. The picks went 3-1 including the way too easy Lucas Lock of the Week. Yes, Atlanta really did score two points. This week gets considerably more difficult as only one line is under seven. Once again I’ll rank the games in order of my confidence level from least to greatest. No Lucas Lock of the Week because I’m not gonna tell you to bet big on something I wouldn’t. Bet for fun and let’s hope for better opportunities next week.
Baltimore* -7.5 over Houston
Despite a few inexplicable losses on the road, the Ravens were awesome at home in 2011 going a perfect 8-0. The Ravens beat the Texans 29-14 before the Schaub injury. Why am I not confident? The line is huge for a second round playoff game. I can easily see the Texans covering on the strength of their defense with an assist from Joe Flacco. I hate betting on a 7.5 point favorite when I don’t trust their quarterback. Not to mention, Houston has a top five defense by most any measure. In the end I’m taking Baltimore because of home field and because I think Yates, a rookie QB, crumbles against a still formidable Ravens defense on the road.
Green Bay* -7.5 over New York Giants
This would be number one if not for the Giants recently healthy defensive line and the Packers suspect offensive line. To beat the Packers you have to generate a pass rush without blitzing and the Giants can do that. However, I think this game is a case of “prisoner of the moment” syndrome. Green Bay put it on cruise control and the Giants have kicked it into high gear. This is a very fair line but I think having Greg Jennings back pushes the Packers over the top in terms of covering the line.
Denver +13.5 over New England*
Statistically this one is hard to back up but isn’t that the story of Tim Tebow? I don’t think Denver wins but I think the offense will play well enough to cover a ridiculously big number. After what the Broncos did to Pittsburgh, the Patriots will have to respect the pass and give at least some help over the top. This should open up the run for what was the NFL’s number one rushing offense. If Tebow really did figure something out in the passing game he could have another big game as New England’s secondary is terrible. I see a backdoor cover here.
New Orleans -3.5 over San Francisco*
It’s tough to bet against a 13-3 team getting points at home. Did I also mention they were 7-1 at home and the team I’m telling you to bet on was only 5-3 on the road? Nervous yet? Here is the good news, the Saints have covered eight straight games including three road games. Their are two major factors in this pick:
1. San Francisco, while terrific on defense as a whole, only ranked 16th in passing yards allowed. They also have not faced any of the elite three passing offenses (Green Bay, New England, New Orleans). Their strength is run defense which is partially mitigated by the fact the Saints do not have a conventional running attack. Stopping Darren Sproles in unlike stopping any other player in the league.
2. The Saints will put up points and the 49ers are built to score field goals not touchdowns. While they led the league in field goals behind the golden leg of David Akers, they were 21st in total touchdowns and that won’t get it done against New Orleans.