Championship week! Two great matchups, and some storylines are already being prepared for the Super Bowl:
- Pats v. Giants? – this is the Revenge for 2008, when the Giants knocked off the undefeated Patriots
- Ravens v. 49ers? – Harbaugh Bowl! They met on Thanksgiving night and it was a tight 16-6 Ravens win.
- Pats v. 49ers? – Brady playing his hometown team trying. East Coat/West Coast.
- Giants v. Ravens? – Um… a rematch of a boring Super Bowl 10 years ago where I lost money betting on the Giants +3
And you know the media is salivating for the Pats/Giants. That David Tyree catch will be replayed ad nauseum, we’ll hear about how the Giants pulled the biggest upset in NFL history. Hearing the hype for matchup will kill me for 2 weeks. I hate the Giants. I hate the Patriots. And I might have to go on a sports blackout for 2 weeks if that happens.
Last weekend we really took it on the chin. I was all over the Packers -7′, even putting Aaron Rogers in my ‘Most Passing Yards’ prop bet. Well, if you watched the game you know what happened. It was pretty much the worst scenario possible. Not only did the Packers get their heads kicked in, they got beat by the Giants. If there is one team I hate above all others, it’s the Giants. Eli Manning? Please. This guy is in my nightmares. That Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half? Seriously? At that point I knew it was over. You just can’t recover from being down 10 points at half when you are laying 7′. The loss dropped us to 24-18 on the season. We’re still above .500, and we’ve hit 8 out of our last 10 picks. So despite the loss last week it’s been a good run at the end of the season.
Anyway, let’s move onto the games this week. I do like the 49ers to win and cover the 2.5 points, but I’m not going against Eli again (did I just write that?). I see better value in the Patriots/Ravens game, and there are some props that look interesting. So here we go…
Bet #1: (a.k.a the “Seriously? Joe Flacco on the road?” pick) Baltimore Ravens +7 over New England Patriots
Hi, I’m Fantasource. You may know me from such gems like this one from Week 15, “You have to respect [Tom Brady’s] record. He wins, and he has been doing it for 10 years.”
You might also remember me from proclamations like this from Week 12, “I said I’d never put my money on Joe Flaccid. But in this one, I’m putting my money on Joe Flaccid (but never again, I swear)“.
But this week I’m throwing emotions out the window, and going completely against everything I’ve said in the past (hey, it’s campaign season, I’m not the only one breaking promises). I’m betting on the team who I think not only has a chance to win, but is also getting 7 points, the Baltimore Ravens.
When you talk about the Patriots everyone talks about the offense, and yes, they are pretty potent. They have the best pair of tight ends since the Barbi Twins (80’s reference). Their QB is in the prime of his Hall of Fame career, their coach is a emotionless, robot who dresses like a homeless person. And all they do is win, win, win.
But the Patriots have a dirty little secret, their defense stinks. They’re ranked 30th at Footballoutsiders.com in defensive efficiency, 28th v. Pass, 28th v. Rush. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Joe Flacco will turn into Joe Montana this week, but I think he can put up decent numbers. They’ll use Ray Rice and sometimes Ricky Williams (yup, that Ricky Williams) to move the ball and keep the Patriots offense off the field.
Last week vs. Denver was not even close to the matchup the Patriots will see this week when they play the Ravens. Denver has a bad offense, no matter how many come from behind wins they pull out of their butts, that Broncos offense is bad. Tim Tebow is not a good QB. Let’s put away the hype and do some #RealTalk for a second, when you can’t move the ball against the Patriots, there is something wrong with you.
The Ravens should be able to move the ball. I’m not saying that they will put up 40 points, but I think they can control the ball with a combination of rushing and short passes. Ray Rice should be able to get 100 yards this week (we have a prop play on that down below). If he can do that, and Flacco can limit turnovers and bad throws, the Ravens have a chance to pull the upset.
Tom Brady and the Patriots offense are playing well, you can’t argue with that. They’ve put up 37+ points in 8 of the past 9 weeks. They rolled over Denver last week in a very impressive display of passing, Gronkowski and Brady had that game locked up by halftime. But Denver was #24 v. the pass, so you had to see that coming.
But now in come the Ravens. They have the #1 defense in the NFL, #1 v. pass and #7 v. run. They shut down TJ Yates last week (I know, that’s not saying much). The Pats schedule seems pretty light, and their losses have been to good teams. They lost to both the Giants (at home) and the Steelers (in Pittsburgh). Baltimore beat the Steelers twice this season,
I think the Ravens defense will try to pressure Brady and hit him hard every chance they get. That’s the formula that teams have used to beat the Pats. Knock Brady around, let him know you’re there and keep coming back for more. There is also a rumor going around that the Ravens are offering $50k to the guy who knocks out Brady. Who knows if it’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were scheming something like that.
I see this as a tight game. The total is 50.5, I would lean UNDER but I’m not giving a play on that, I’m going with the Ravens plus points. Right now the line is Patriots -7, I see that line going up to -7’ by gametime. So if you wait long enough, when the public money comes in on the Pats you could see a 7’, that’s when you grab it.
The line opened at -9 and the sharps came in early in the week, bet the Ravens and pounded this line down to -7. I expect Patriots money to come in at -7, hopefully the line will move up for us and we can get -7’. If I don’t see 7’ then I’ll be buying a half point and getting it myself (at higher juice).
Let’s say Flacco is good enough not to lose, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed shut down the high-powered Patriots offense and the Ravens hang in there. Ravens lose, but they cover? I can see that. Patriots 24-23.
The Line: Patriots -7 over Ravens
The Pick: Ravens +7
Game Trends (via Covers.com): New England: 1-5 ATS in their last 6 playoff games as a favorite. Baltimore: 5-1-1 ATS vs. teams with a winning record.
Championship Week Props
I looked over some props at Sportsbook.com, and not just “Most rushing yards”, etc., these individual props can offer some value if you look hard enough, and here’s what I like this week:
Ravens vs Patriots – Shortest Touchdown of the Game
Shortest TD: over 1.5 yards (-105), under 1.5 yards (-125)
I really like the ‘OVER 1.5 yards’. The only way you’ll lose if someone scores a TD from the 1 yard line. I’ll take my chances that it won’t happen.
Ray Rice (Ravens) Total Rushing Yards
Rushing Yards: over 87.5 yards (-115); under 87.5 yards (-115)
I’m going OVER. 87.5 yards? Ray could get that by halftime. I gotta think the Ravens will use him alot. They aren’t letting Flacco throw it 40 times, so Ray should be able to get 88 yards no problem. Patriots are 28th vs. the rush. McGahee got 76 yards last week in a blowout, so Rice should get 88 yards. Rice only got 60 yards last week, but the Texans had the #6 rush defense.
Tom Brady (Patriots) Total Completions
Completions: over 25.5 (-115), under 25.5 (-115)
I like UNDER 25.5. Brady had a HUGE week last week vs. Denver and only had 26 completions vs. 24th ranked pass defense. Now he goes against the #1 pass defense. I’ll take the UNDER.
Season Record: 24-18. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.
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