WildCard Weekend was a bit hit and miss in the end, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers winning comfortably, while the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers both could literally not have come much closer to losing, before somehow winning to progress to this weekend’s divisional round.
Thankfully, my recommended bet of the Chiefs -3 was never in danger of losing, the very first kick off was returned 106 yards to the Endzone by Knile Davis, to give Andy Reid’s team the earliest possible lead. It proved to be one which the Texans could not get near, as the Chiefs ran out 30-0 winners!
The divisional round of the NFL playoffs are a notoriously difficult betting proposition, naturally home field advantage plays a big part and teams who had a bye week have the benefit of extra rest & preparation coming into this weekend.
However, the teams who played in the WildCard round last weekend now have the benefit of winning momentum which, as we have seen in previous years can power an unexpected team all the way to Super Bowl glory.
Subsequently, I have had a tough time finding a value bet that I feel really confident about for this weekend. I do like the Chiefs again, but playing in New England against the Patriots is a big step up from anything they have faced on their incredible 11 game winning streak. Plus, they will be missing WR Jeremy Maclin which, is a huge blow to their already weak offence.
I also like the Arizona Cardinals to beat the Packers, but after a confidence boosting win in the WildCard round, will Aaron Rodgers be back to his best this weekend? Plus, as good as the Cardinals are, they do not have a great pass rush and the last thing you want to do is give Rodgers time to pick you apart.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks visit the Carolina Panthers but, will the post season winning mentality & experience of the Seahawks prove decisive or can the form, confidence & home field advantage of Carolina overcome Pete Carroll’s team?
Finally, can a banged up Pittsburgh Steelers team go into Denver and upset returning, future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning in his own building? I doubt they can unless both Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are able to play.
Ultimately, I think we can expect three, if not all four of these games to be close and with the best five defences in the game on show, it would be no shock to see low scoring encounters across the board this weekend. Especially, with so many injury doubts surrounding the likes of New England and Pittsburgh.
The Total Points line which I like the best is the 50 point line that bookies have chalked up for Green Bay’s visit to Arizona and that is where my money will be going this weekend.
The Packers did improve on offence last weekend, but scoring 35 points on the Washington Redskins is one thing, going to Arizona and doing it again, just a couple of weeks after they lost there by 38-8 is a near impossible task.
I think the Cardinals are a team that would benefit from their week off last week, they have some veteran players such as QB Carson Palmer & WR Larry Fitzgerald, that need to rest their aging bodies before one final push for the Super Bowl.
Also, the stats are on our side with this bet with five of the Cardinals last six games ending under the points line. Plus, five of the last seven meetings against Green Bay also finished under the line. Finally, Arizona have allowed just 19.6 PPG, while Green Bay, perhaps to some peoples surprise have themselves only allowed 20.1 PPG which, is good enough for 11th lowest in the NFL.
The Cardinals are stacked on offence and so the most likely way this bet loses, is if the Packers D has a bad game and Arizona win big, but the Pack are an experienced post season team and I am confident they will play well enough to keep this game relatively close. That is the reason I am not taking the Cardinals -7 on the spread, although I am sure plenty will and I would expect that the bet ends in a push at worst.
In the other matches I like the Patriots just, but the other two games I am going to stay away from because I really don’t feel confident about any bets on them. I suspect the Seahawks and Broncos will come through in the end but, if the Panthers and Steelers both win, I would not be surprised at all.
Handicap Betting Pick: Under 50 Points in Packers at Cardinals at 1.94 with Matchbook
Prices correct at the time of writing.