NFL: Championship Sunday Handicapping

Patriots at Broncos 

The Patriots are a three-point or 3.5-point favorite at the Broncos on Sunday. The same Patriots team that was only a five-point favorite against the Chiefs last Saturday. This line for the AFC Championship Game is saying the Patriots would be close to 10-point favorites if this game was played in Foxboro.

Are the Chiefs five points better than the Broncos? Not a chance. A Broncos are probably the better team and have an advantage at almost every position other than quarterback.

The big question in this game is Peyton Manning. I expect the Patriots to force Manning to beat them with mid-range and long throws. New England will look to stop the run and contain a screen-pass game.

There’s not much value in betting on the Patriots against the spread so I will approach this game by picking against the Broncos defense. I will tweet out official plays but will likely go under the Broncos team total, which is currently posted at 20.5. I will also take a closer look at the first half under for this game.

Cardinals at Panthers

Let’s get this out of the way early. I think the Cardinals are a slightly better team than the Panthers. The Panthers are a 3-point favorite so I think there is some value in the Cardinals.

The first half for the Panthers couldn’t have gone better against the Seahawks. A long run by Jonathan Stewart set up an early touchdown and pick-six by Luke Keuchly put Seattle in an early hole and they could never recover. It was a dream start for Carolina and I don’t think that will happen this week.

I do like the Cardinals to win straight up and think their wide receivers will be able to have success against the Cardinals secondary. Josh Norman has had a very strong season and will likely be able to contain Larry Fitzgerald. I will look at the props for Michael Floyd and John Brown in this game. I think both could be very productive playing away from Norman. Floyd got the headlines last week with his two touchdowns receptions but Brown had more receptions and targets. He didn’t score a touchdown but his a deep threat that could change the game in one play. I will post the props I like on Twitter but they will likely involve Brown over receiving yards and to score a touchdown.

As for the side, I will tweet an official pick on the Cardinals later but will hold out hope the line gets to 3.5-points.

NFL: Divisional Round Handicapping

Chiefs at Patriots (-4.5)

I think there is value in the Patriots with this line. A month ago they would be closer to a field goal favorite. New England had an extra week to get healthy, which includes star wide receiver Julian Edelman. I can see the Patriots taking an early lead and the Chiefs having to chase a lead. Alex Smith isn’t the quarterback you want when trying to close a deficit. The Chiefs looked great last week but they returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and took advantage of five Texans turnovers. The Chiefs might seem tempting but I’m not going to overthink this one. It’s Bill Belichick with a two weeks to prepare against Andy Reid. I’m going to side with the Patriots. Pick: Patriots (-4.5) over Chiefs 

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NFL: Wild Card Weekend Handicapping

Chiefs (-3) at Texans: A lot has changed to since the Chiefs and Texans played in Week 1. Kansas City lost five straight after their win at Houston but followed that up with 10 straight victories. It’s hard to find an impressive opponent in that 10-game stretch. They beat the Steelers with Landry Jones starting and the Broncos in Peyton Manning’s worst game of his career. The Texans started the season 2-5 but have bounced back to win the AFC South. The Houston defense has been dominant down the stretch.

The Chiefs are a field goal favorite on the road meaning they would be about a six-point favorite on a neutral field. This means Kansas City would be a nine-point favorite at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs closed as a 6.5-point favorite last week against the Raiders, and I think Houston is a better team than Oakland. So there’s line vale on the Texans but I don’t trust Houston enough to make this an official pick.

I am going to pass on picking a side in this game. One way I would approach this game is to take the Chiefs to cover the first half spread, and then take the Texans in the second half. The total of this game is 40 and I would only be able to take the under.

Steelers (-3) at Bengals: Four weeks ago the Bengals closed as a one-point favorite at home against the Steelers. Cincinnati still had Andy Dalton but money came in on the Steelers because they faced a must-win situation. Now there has been a four-point line move in a game with the same two teams at the same stadium.

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