The 2011 NFL Season is fast approaching its conclusion, the field’s been narrowed down to just 8 teams, and that number will be cut in half again this coming weekend. At the time I’m writing this post we’re hours removed from the Denver Broncos pulling off a huge upset to conclude the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. With that match in the books most online betting sites have already released point spreads for all four games of the Divisional Round of the playoffs which start January 14, 2012. In this article I’ll provide a free pick for each of this weekend’s playoff games.
New Orleans Saints @ San Francisco 49ers
This is the most interesting game on the board for the Division Round of the playoffs and it’s also the first one played. The New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers spent much the end of a season battling over the number 2 seed, and this battle was won by the 49ers who go into this match with home field advantage as a result. This could prove significant as the Saints had an 8-0 record at home this season, but only went 5-3 on the road with shocking losses to the Tampa Bay Buccs and Saint Louis Rams to go with an expected one, an opening game of the season loss to the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile the 49ers have an impressed 7-1 record at home and were actually undefeated in regulation. Their sole home loss came week two of the season in a game that was tied 24-24 when the 4th quarter finished, but the Dallas Cowboys got the best of them kicking a game winning field goal in OT.
It’s extremely difficult to ignore the home field advantage factor in this game, but it’s also hard to ignore that the New Orleans Saints have been playing lights out on offense the last half of the season and have now won nine games in a row, five of them against teams who made the playoffs (only one of which was on the road). My personal thoughts on this match, is the San Francisco 49ers taking a week off and playing in a weak division has led to “out of sight out of mind” while we all seen the New Orleans Saints stomp the Detroit Lions last week. A significant home field advantage and extra week to rest and prepare while knowing full well they were extremely likely to face the New Orleans Saints, plus getting 3.5 points free on the point spread, makes the San Francisco 49ers a solid play imo.
Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots
This is my 19th free pick post of the NFL season, and never once have I mentioned tout jargon such as team X is 10-3 ATS (which means Against the Spread) when… This is because such stats are near always datamined variance and are not much different than keeping score in baccarat or tracking roulette patterns feeling somehow this will help in predicting future results. However for this match up there is trend that stands out significantly. This season the Denver Broncos are 6-2 Against the Spread on the road, while the New England Patriots are 5-5 ATS at home when favored by more than a touchdown. New England has been about as average as you’ll find when they are a large favorite covering half the time and failing to cover half the time. The Broncos however in addition to being 6-2 on the road ATS, are also 5-1 against the spread as a road underdog. Small sample size is an issue, but this does hint that the Broncos have either been performing far better than expected or have been extremely lucky. Personally I think luck is not that much of a factor, simply put the Denver Broncos are extremely underrated.
My thoughts on this game are the playoffs are a time where anything can happen and many bookies are expecting to take wagers on the Patriots regardless of the line. My suggestion here is to buy a full point and get on Broncos +14.5 -130 before the line sharpens. We might end up having our money in slightly bad, but I’d rather get in now and lock in +14.5 than to risk the point spread moves to +12.5, which would make buying the through the 14 not possible for a reasonable price.
Sunday, January 15, 2012 NFL Teaser
Not too much write up is required for my final Divisional Round playoff pick as it is a basic strategy teaser – something I’ve written about a plenty this season and you can find in the article I just linked to. The specific play is a 2-team 6-point teaser at -110 @ Bookmaker.eu where currently the Ravens are -7.5 and the Packers -8.5. In the teaser we end up with Ravens -1.5 / Packers -2.5 @ -110. As a reminder, the reason this is a strong bet is the two most common margins of victory in NFL football are 3 and 7. We’re teasing at favorable odds and now winning instead losing if the favorite wins by exactly 3, exactly 7 or any of the margins of victory in between.
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This concludes my 2011 NFL Division Round free picks and predictions. When I return next week it will be for me final free picks post of the season and there will be just two games to cover. It’s been an awesome run and I’ve sincerely very much enjoyed helping The Sports Geek visitors make solid betting profits this NFL Season. I wish you the best of luck on the final weeks of play, where we have just 7 remaining games available to wager.