NFL Betting: NFC Divisional Previews
by Matt Severance - 01/09/2009
You've probably read by now that the Arizona Cardinals simply cannot win in the Eastern Time Zone. They were 0-5 there this season and have won just two of their past 22 there. But there is reason to hope, and that was a Week 8 loss at Carolina.
Kurt Warner threw for 381 yards in the game, and the Cards led 17-3 in the third quarter before the Panthers scored 14 quick points thanks to an Edgerrin James turnover and eventually won, 27-23. Carolina was 8-0 at home this year, but that result was by far Arizona's best in the east this season.
Bodog has a prop bet on Warner's passing yards at over/under 285.5 for Saturday night's rematch with the Panthers, and that seems like a strong bet for the over. Yes, Arizona found a bit of a running game in the season finale against Seattle and last week against the Cardinals as James has re-emerged as the featured back after losing that role following the Carolina loss. But the Cards, who are the biggest dogs on the board this week, will throw the ball all over the field, don't kid yourself. Arizona averaged about 292 passing yards a game during the season, so just a typical day gets Warner over that Bodog total. And remember that Drew Brees just threw for 386 on that Carolina secondary.
However, will Warner have star receiver Anquan Boldin to throw to? There was good news on Friday as Boldin returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury that he suffered during a 71-yard touchdown in last week's win against the Falcons. Boldin had 12 TD receptions in 12 regular-season games and two scores against Carolina in that first meeting.
No running back in the league has been better than Carolina's DeAngelo Williams in the last half of the season, and Williams had 108 yards rushing and a touchdown in the first meeting with Arizona. His over/under rushing total on Bodog is 99.5. If the Arizona run defense that held Michael Turner in check last week shows up, that total won't be reached.
The Sunday NFC game could be arguably the best No. 1 vs. No. 6 matchup in playoff history. Does anyone really doubt that the Eagles can beat the top-seeded Giants? They did just that in Week 14 in the Meadowlands, 20-14.
Donovan McNabb is playoff-tested and on a roll, throwing for 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions while passing for an average of 243 yards per game in the Eagles' past five wins. And that sack-happy New York defense did not get to McNabb in 66 pass attempts this season after sacking him 15 times in two games last season.
Philly running back Brian Westbrook can break a game open at any time, like he did last week in the fourth quarter against the Vikings. Westbrook has averaged 70.1 rushing yards with seven touchdowns in 12 games against New York and caught 46 passes for 462 yards with five scores. The Bodog over/under for Westbrook's total yards this week is 160.5.
Meanwhile, the Philly defense has scored four touchdowns in the past five games and allowed just 54 points in that stretch. And the Eagles are a sick 4-0 ATS in their past four playoff road games and the underdog is an amazing 8-0 ATS in the past eight meetings between these teams.
But on the positive side, New York is finally fully healthy. Brandon Jacobs had 126 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the first meeting with Philly this year, a 36-31 Giants win on Nov. 9 as New York put up 401 yards of offense on that stout Eagles defense. Jacobs left that second game injured; his over/under for rushing yards this week is 85.5. The G-Men also have won three of the past four meetings in this series and are 5-1 ATS in their past six home games.