Starting Bankroll: $4,335
The Divisional Playoffs were almost a very profitable week. The Panthers game was an easy call, so I’m sorry for everyone who bet on the Seahawks, but please stay away from sports books and don’t donate money to the them any more. Same goes for the New England Patriots over the Kansas City Chiefs, which I laid off because of being a Patriots fan.
Why was it almost profitable?
Well, Aaron Rodgers, the one man team, almost pulled off one his amazing comeback victories with a Hail Mary to send the game to overtime. Then the Cardinals offense was too much for the Packers tired defense. If the Packers won, that would have been a nice +280.
And the Pittsburg Steelers were a lot closer to the beating the Denver Broncos than the scoreboard said. A CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman engineered 8 point drive to take the lead in the 4th quarter was enough to seal the game. And the Broncos defense securing yet another win by forcing that Fitzgerald Toussaint fumble when Big Ben was taking the Steelers down the field to put them ahead. I’m not saying that the Broncos didn’t deserve to win…neither team really did. Actually, the Broncos were lucky they played the broken down Steelers to earn a trip to the Conference Playoffs and play the New England Patriots for a game full of storylines.
Enough rehashing the past. Let’s get to this week’s picks.
Arizona Cardinals (ML +155) over Carolina Panthers for $100
The Conference Playoffs and the Super Bowl are two games where almost anything can happen. The adrenaline in these two games are at an all time high. It almost doesn’t matter who’s favored, the games are toss ups.
The two teams that deserve to be playing for the NFC Championship are playing this weekend. If you’re not excited for this game, you’re not American.
What is more fun than seeing two warm weather teams (one who even plays in a dome), forced to play less than 24 hours after a snow and ice blizzard? This will be real football, the way god intended.
The Carolina Panthers had an historic season. They pulled off a 15-1 record that nobody saw coming. And watching their offense destroy opposing defenses, they deserved that record. But Superman Cam and the Panthers aren’t invincible. They lost to the Atlanta Falcons, who were nothing more than average this season. This weekend, they are playing on the biggest stage they have ever played as professionals. Adrenaline and butterflies. Go big or go home.
The Panthers had a great defense this year. But I’m not so sure they’re prepared for the Carson Palmer / Larry Fitzgerald offense. Not prepared enough to be favored by 3 points, at least.
3 points means that the books consider these two teams to be equal, and the 3 points is home field advantage. The residents of Charlotte don’t know cold. They won’t be able to yell when their defense is on the field. They will be in the concession line getting another cup of cocoa. This is no home field advantage this week.
I like the Cardinals and the positive money that comes with it.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – no bet
If you’ve been reading my column for a while, you know that I don’t bet on New England Patriots games. That would be betting with my heart and not my brain. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have an opinion on this game.
Let’s take history out of the equation. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two great quarterbacks. And there’s no reason to have a discussion about who is actually the better quarterback. They are both extremely competitive quarterbacks and will do anything they can to lead their teams to the Super Bowl. And let’s not forget that there are 51 other guys and entire coaching staffs who want to play another game on February 7.
Some facts are undeniable. Both teams finished the season with the same record, yet the Broncos won head to head so they have the number 1 seed. That’s fair.
The Broncos played a good part of the season with their backup Brock Osweiller and without Peyton Manning. The Broncos defense won their games. Every game the Broncos won was due to the defense and that is not questionable. Brock was a very capable backup. Manning was a shell of his former self. But that defense was impenetrable. Their defense is healthy, and their defense will show up against the New England Patriots.
The Patriots played most of their season with backups at some of their most important positions. Yeah, Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, and Chandler Jones, and some other key players went down with extended injuries. But so did the offensive line whose goal it was to protect Tom Brady. And they brought out their practice squad when they played the Broncos, and they actually almost won. Every team sees some bad refereeing, and that game against the Patriots was no exception, and it’s also no excuse.
Both teams are almost at 100% health for this game. That was thanks to the injuries coming mid-season, and the benefit of having the first round BYE. There will be no excuses this game for injuries. We will see if Peyton Manning still has enough gas in the tank. We will see if Tom Brady and Bill Belichick really are the football whisperers and can figure out the Broncos defense.
All season, I have been saying that the Broncos are over-rated. I’ve said that there is no way that the defense can single handedly give their team another win. They won’t this week.
I think the Patriots will win. I think the Patriots will win by a lot. But I don’t know if I’m saying that with my brain or my heart, so my wallet stays in my pocket for this game.