NFL Conference Championships Handicap Betting Preview – Sun 24th Jan by @DarkDyson

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – Sports Authority Field at Mile High live at 20:00 on Sky Sports 1

The top two seeds from both the AFC and NFC have progressed to the conference championship playoffs, they now stand one last win away from a trip to San Francisco to play in Super Bowl 50!

First up is the AFC clash between the reigning champion Patriots and number one seeded Broncos in Denver. The media naturally have entitled this as Manning v Brady 17, as the two future Hall of Fame QB’s go head to head one more time, before Peyton Manning retires, as everyone expects.

Despite being the number one seed and having the advantage of playing at home, the Broncos have been chalked up as three point underdogs to claim the AFC Conference crown tonight. To be honest, I think that three point spread is a touch generous.

New England, are getting all their best players back from injury just at the right time and Tom Brady is playing the game at an incredibly high level. Peyton Manning is not and even with the Broncos formidable defence, I cannot see how they will be able to live with a healthy Patriots team.

The one big factor that could swing the balance towards the Broncos is the weather, it is going to be cold, very cold and could snow which is not good news for the Patriot pass heavy offence. Earlier in the season the Patriots lost here against Denver, again in cold and snowy conditions.

However, the Patriots defence has been a strong point for them this season, especially when they were struggling to overcome multiple injuries on their offence. Now, with the likes of Julian Edelman and Sebastian Vollmer returning, the defence should not be under as much pressure to keep the team in games.

Ultimately, these teams are relatively even overall but with Brady playing at a significantly higher level than Manning, I expect the Patriots to get the job done and take another step towards defending their Super Bowl crown.

Handicap Betting Pick: New England Patriots -3 at 1.99 with Matchbook

 

tom-brady

Tom Brady

 

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers – Bank of America Stadium at 23:40 live on Sky Sports 1

The NFC Conference game looks like it could be a close and highly entertaining affair, as two well balanced and high powered teams meet for the first time this season.

Again the difference between these two could well be the QB’s, Carolina’s Cam Newton has this season become virtually unplayable, with records tumbling as he destroys opponents using the full range of passes and devastating, athletic running out of the backfield.

Arizona’s Carson Palmer has himself, played at a near MVP level, but was worryingly under par in last week’s 31-24 win over Seattle. As you might suspect, I think that Cam will be the difference here and he will lead the Panthers to a fully deserved appearance in Super Bowl 50.

However, with injuries to their secondary, the Panthers are susceptible to quality air attacks such as the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd and David Johnson are sure to have some success downfield against the previously solid Panthers DBs.

In a game where both teams have very strong defences, it seems a little strange to be backing Over 47 points but, Carolina are the league leading offence and when you combine this with their current weakness in the secondary, a high scoring encounter is entirely possible.

Both games should be hugely entertaining and any combination of teams would make a great Super Bowl 50, but the one most neutrals would want to see, has to be New England v Carolina and that is what I think will happen.

Handicap Betting Pick: Split Stake on Carolina Panthers -3 at 1.94 & Over 47 Points at 2.02 with Matchbook

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @DarkDyson

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Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals Handicap Betting Preview – Sun 17th Jan by @DarkDyson

Packers at Cardinals – University of Phoenix Stadium at 01:15 live on Sky Sports 2

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.

 

Carson Palmer

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.

By @DarkDyson

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Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans Handicap Betting Preview – Sat 9th Jan by @DarkDyson

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans – NRG Stadium at 21:35 live on Sky Sports 1

I love Wildcard Weekend, we get to see teams in clutch situations with the season and often jobs on the line. Plus, we get an indication of which teams are building up that Super Bowl momentum as we get stuck into the ‘main course’ of the 2015/16 season.

First up is the AFC clash between the 9-7 AFC South Champion, Texans and the 11-5 Wildcard Chiefs. For me this game is the most one sided of all the games this weekend, although the bookies do make the Seattle Seahawks a shorter priced favourite than the Chiefs, because the Texans really only have two star players and very little to offer on offence.

Despite having a great defence led by double Defensive Player of Year, JJ Watt and in my opinion the leagues number one WR this past season, in DeAndre Hopkins. They simply do not have the weapons on Offence to trouble Andy Reid’s Chiefs.

 

AndyReid

Andy Reid

They do have home field advantage, which as we all know can make or break a playoff run, however they are up against a team which ranks third in Opponent Points Per Game and on top of that, the Chiefs are on an incredible 10 game winning streak right now.

Over that streak the Kansas City Defence has given up just 12.8 PPG and although the only high powered offence they faced over this period was the Pittsburgh Steelers, they limited Big Ben and co to just 13 points.

The Texans ranked a lowly 22nd in the league, with just 21.2 PPG and it really is hard to see how they will be able to score enough points to win this contest on Saturday night. They have notched over 30 points in their last two games, but the combined defences of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans, would not put up as much resistance as the Chiefs D.

To top it off, QB Alex Smith has got his Offence into a nice rhythm during this amazing winning run. They have averaged 27.8 PPG during their 10 game streak and all without superstar RB Jamal Charles in the backfield.

Coming into the game, there is one key injury which could have a huge impact on which way this game goes. Houston’s left tackle Duane Brown tore his quad in the final game of the season and with the Chiefs potentially welcoming back sack master Justin Houston from injury, it could be a long and painful night for Texans QB Bryan Hoyer.

The Chiefs have improved on Offence that is clear from their rushing stats of 127.8 YPG on the ground, which is good enough for 6th best in the NFL. However, with JJ Watt leading the Texans D this should be a low scoring and close contest to the end.

Ultimately, the Chiefs are a better team in every area except for Watt and Hopkins but it would take a performance for the ages from both of them and a stinker from all the Chiefs for this game to go to the home side.

It is the playoffs and anything could happen, plus you have to respect the Texans in their own building, but I am happy to back the Chiefs to continue their streak and win their 11th game in a row this weekend.

I would also not put people off backing Under 40 Points in this one, as the defences should dominate but two things hold me back from taking that bet are, both defences are capable of scoring points of their own and with the season on the line, both teams might have to open up their offence if they want to win.

The other teams I like to progress to the Divisional round of the playoffs are: Steelers, Seahawks and Redskins. Plus, they should all cover their handicap lines.

Handicap Betting Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -3 at 1.82 with Matchbook

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @DarkDyson

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