This season’s NFL Super Bowl derby kicked off last weekend with the Wild-Card Round of the playoffs. Not only did all four favorites win their game both straight up and against the spread, the total stayed “under” in all four games. After a successful regular season, I carried my winning ways into the postseason with a 2-1 record on last week’s picks.
In my final round of “over/under” picks for this season, I have dug deep into all four matchups to come up a few golden opportunities to cash in on the total line. The following are my top three selections for this weekend’s Divisional Round using lines provided by 5Dimes.
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Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos (4:30 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 46
The return of linebacker Ray Lewis to the Ravens’ lineup helped spark the team to a 24-9 victory over Indianapolis in the Wild-Card Round. While it will be a much more difficult task shutting Peyton Manning down as opposed to Andrew Luck, Baltimore’s defense remains its best chance to win this game.
There is no doubt that Denver rode Manning’s return to form to a 13-3 record and No.1 seed in the AFC, but it also had quite a bit of help from its defense. The Broncos finished the regular season ranked third against both the pass and the run and fourth in points allowed in giving up an average of 18.1 points a game.
Game Betting Trends
The over/under for this game opened at 45.5 points and has climbed in the right direction to 46. The betting public is looking at the 30.1 points that the Broncos put up per game this season, but this matchup has “defensive battle” written all over it. Manning will make his fair share of plays, but points will still be hard to come by. The total has stayed under in five of Baltimore’s last six playoff games, and it stays under in this one as well.
Game Prediction: UNDER 46
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers (8 p.m. FOX)
Total Line: 44.5
The Packers only scored 24 points last week, because that is all they really needed to win. In the Divisional Round, they will look to put as many points as possible on the board to ensure a return trip to the NFC title game after a one-year hiatus. Aaron Rodgers showed he was in playoff form last week with a solid performance. This week, look for him to elevate his game even higher.
San Francisco’s success the past two seasons has revolved around a shut-down defense, but it still averaged 24.8 points a game on offense. Since Colin Kaepernick was named the starting quarterback in Week 11, that number has climbed to 26.3 points a game. The 49ers will rely heavily on their defense to win this game, but in the back of Jim Harbaugh’s mind, he knows his team is probably going to have to put up close to 30 points to actually get it done.
Game Betting Trends
The over/under for this matchup opened at 45.5 points and has slipped down a point on 5Dimes latest board. The first time these two teams met this season they combined for 52 points, and the total has now gone over in the last four meetings. It has also gone over in four of the Packers last five Divisional Round games and in five of San Francisco’s last six games against the NFC.
Game Prediction: OVER 44.5
Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots (4:30 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 47.5
It has been a shaky ride recently for Houston’s vaunted defense ever since jumping out to an 11-1 start, but it returned to form last week in a 19-13 grinder against Cincinnati. With memories of a 42-14 pasting in a Week 14 trip to Foxborough still fresh in its memory, this unit knows that if the Texans are going to have any shot at getting out of here with a win this time around, it will be on the shoulders of JJ Watt and Co.
There is no doubt that Tom Brady is primed for a big game as New England begins its quest for a return trip to the Super Bowl, but one of the biggest reasons for the team’s success this season is the elevated play of its defense. The Patriots still give up their fair share of total yards each game, but they come into this matchup ranked ninth in the NFL in points allowed.
Game Betting Trends
The over/under opened at 48 and has been on a downward trend ever since. For this game, I am going with the betting public primarily based on each team’s defense along with past trends favoring a low-scoring contest. The total has stayed under in seven of Houston’s last 10 road games. It has also stayed under in six of the Patriots last nine Divisional Round games and in 12 of their last 18 playoff games at home.
Game Prediction: UNDER 47.5
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