NFL Playoff Betting Guide
by Robert Ferringo - 01/02/2007
(This is an excerpt of an article that appears in the current addition of Every Edge Magazine)
Thus far, 2007 blows.
I've been up for about 64 of the last 72 hours. I reek of John Daniels and have spent the better part of the last day yelling, "I love me some me!!!" into the faces of complete strangers and firing produce off the 11th floor balcony of a downtown Atlanta hotel. Oh yeah, and I took a god damn beating in Week 17 of the NFL - which I hate more than crabs or waiting in line at the airport - when I backed the wrong dogs. But hey, I'm having a better weekend than the Husseins or just about anyone traveling in Indonesia.
So it goes. But needless to say I'm in no mood to be trifled with.
Anyways, I came up with a short list of New Year's Resolutions that I'd like to share with you. Next week you can tell me yours. Here goes:
2. Quit fucking swearing.
3. Take the points.
4. Don't get involved in any game that has Oakland or St. Louis in it.
5. Join a co-ed dodgeball league.
6. Find Sean Hannity and piss on his leg.
7. Come up with a better list for next year.
I love New Year's Day. It's my favorite holiday - hands down, bar none. It reminds me of that first 15 minutes after Confession. Everything about the concept of a fresh start and a new beginning is appealing and engaging to me. It's about Hope. And see, just the thought of it enough to drag me out of the hangover rage I was in about four paragraphs ago. Good times.
Well the New Season has begun in the NFL. It's the playoffs, and eight teams have a new lease on Life. The regular season can be a general guide, but there is no road map for the NFL postseason. Anything certainly can, and usually will, happen. We need to prepare. We need to be Ready - physically, mentally and emotionally. It's going to be a three-week gauntlet and only the strong will survive.
Since it's still technically the Season of Giving (my Christmas tree is definitely still up) I've got a few tips to help you on your way.
First, quarterbacks and coaches are more important than ever. Don't lay your green on anyone too shaky in a big spot. There's no shortage of disasters-in-waiting in this year's Party. Schottenheimer, Dungy, Coughlin, Rivers, Romo and Grossman should each have someone wandering around behind them with a giant "Stay Away!" sign at all time. These guys are going to present gamblers with more than a fair share of gut-wrenching moments this month.
Second, know that at least one underdog is going to cover (and probably win) in each round. In the past five years, the home teams and favorites are just 8-12 ATS in the first round (5-5 AFC, 3-7 NFC). However, don't bet on an underdog unless you think they can win outright. "Keeping it close" doesn't cut it in January. Either they have the stones to go on the road and rip out the hear of their opponent and their opponent's fans or they don't. Also, beware of road favorites. There better be a damn good reason why you're not putting your cash on a home dog at this stage of the game.
Thirdly, I wouldn't suggest that you ignore the regular season but I would tell you to ignore just about everything that happened before Week 11. Teams playing well over the latter part of the season, especially if they were involved in some intense pre-postseason playoff-type games (Philadelphia), are of much more value than clubs that peaked in October (Indianapolis). Momentum is a demon in January and it's the X-Factor that may keep food on the table in my house.
Next, don't forget that the general public is a bunch of yahoos, tourists, and Justin Timberlake fans. Be sure to bet the exact opposite of anything that seems like a "lock" or anything that Sean Salisbury thinks is a "sure thing". Trust me. If you see a line moving more than a point or so during the week with no obvious reason (injury, arrest, plague) I would suggest going the other way.
Furthermore, don't overvalue home-field advantage. While it may be worth three points during the regular season I think it may actually be worth about one point during the postseason. These teams are all top quality and they wouldn't be still playing if they weren't capable of going on the road and beating a good team. Why do you think Jacksonville isn't still around?
Finally, trust your instincts. Adrenaline and hubris hit mid-70s Arnold Schwarzenegger Levels during the postseason. Everyone's an expert and everyone's going to win money. But reality will hit you like a $462 bar tab when Eli Manning goes 11-for-27 with three interceptions in Philadelphia next week. The time for treading lightly is over. Bet it all. Go for broke. Live like the deranged sex-crazed fiend that you. And have some fun. It's the playoffs and everything is a little bit sharper and a little bit more critical this time of year. Keep your wits about you, and take no prisoners.
Carpe diem, my friend. And good luck.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.