The 2012 NFL regular season is approaching its conclusion and surprisingly week 16 has a full slate of games with playoff implications. This week I focused on handicapping 4 games with low point spreads that all have strong playoff implications. These week 16 picks are provided below.
New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens
This is one the easiest picks on the board due to the fact www.bovada.lv has an off-market price of Ravens +3 -115 which is my wager on this game. To comment quickly these teams have followed a similar narrative this season starting out strong and then falling into a slump. On paper this game is practically a deadlock. The Giants lead most the important offensive categories, but the Ravens near fully offset in the defensive categories. The likely reason for the market line is the Giants are coming off a blowout and are in danger of missing the playoffs. The Ravens are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs but still need to win this week to secure the division. The short is the intangibles are not enough to justify this line and Ravens +3 -115 is a solid play.
Free Pick #1: Ravens +3 -115 Risk 1.15 units to win 1 at www.bovada.lv.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This is the game with the largest playoff implication this week. If the Steelers win this week they are likely make the playoffs as a wildcard team. The only way they wouldn’t is if they lose next week to the Browns AND the Bengals beat the Ravens that same week. On the other side: if the Bengals win they clinch at least the wild card, the Steelers are out, and week 17 they host the Ravens with a potential chance to win the division and make the Ravens the wildcard team. No doubt this is a very important game.
On paper almost everything favors Bengals here. There are no standout categories and the teams are as closed to matched as you’ll find on paper. The market is giving the early season rankings far too much credit here, or factoring in how poor the Bengals have been on the road. In an important match such as this one though, where both teams are highly motivated, I have to handicap it straight up. The line I set on this is Steelers -3 50.4% (no-vig). Right now Bovada has +4 -115, and JustBet +3.5 -115 and both of those are +EV.
Free Pick #2: Bengals +4 -115 risk 1.15 units to win 1 at www.bovada.lv.
New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys
The New Orleans Saints are all but eliminated from the playoffs. They would need to win their two final games, have four teams lose their remaining 2 and have the Rams lose at least one of their final 2 in order to make it. It’s unfortunate for the Cowboys this is a 1PM game as the Saints are certainly not going to lie down as they are still mathematically alive and also want to finish the season strong. The Cowboys however matchup well on paper, are in a 3-way tie for their division, have a wildcard chance too and have a lot of momentum plus home field advantage. With a point spread of only two I have to take the home team in this spot.
Free Pick #3: Cowboys -2 -110 risk 1.1 units to win 1 @ www.bookmaker.eu.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
This is a nice Holiday treat on the eve before Christmas Eve. The Seahawks are at home and only a very slight underdog (practically a pick) to win their 10th game on the season with a young team that has played amazing. I’d like to say this was an improbable run but they have proven they do have one of more complete teams in the league that is getting the job done on both sides of the ball. That said, they are outmatched here even with one of the better home field advantages in the league. The 49ers win here and take care of Arizona at home next week and they have a first round bye. Seattle is in great shape to be the #5 seed regardless. While this will be a fun game to watch, I think the 49ers have a clear edge in this one and are the better pick.
Free Pick #4: 49ers -1 -110 risk 1.1 units to win 1 @ www.betonline.ag.