Free NFL Picks: Handicapping Divisional Round Playoff Props
by Trevor Whenham - 1/14/2011
One of the best parts of the playoffs is the wide range of prop bets that are available for NFL handicappers. There aren’t as many in the earlier rounds as there are in the Super Bowl, but there are still a wide range of creative and thought provoking bets available. They often don’t offer much value, but they occasionally do, and they are fun, too. Here are two that stand out for each game this weekend (all odds are from Bodog):
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Will a team score in the first half of the first quarter? - Betting that the game will be scoreless 7:31 into the game will pay out at even money. That seems like value to me. The game is going to be low scoring, both defenses will be fired up early, and both teams need to establish the run, so there is a solid chance that the beginning of the game will be dominated by defense and methodical play.
Longest TD - over/under 38.5 yards - I really like the ‘under’ here. The Ravens have had no luck passing long against Pittsburgh, and they aren’t likely to break a long run against this run defense. The Steelers aren’t likely to break a long run either. That leaves a big pass for Pittsburgh. It could happen, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be this long if it does.
New York Jets at New England
Mark Sanchez passing yards - over/under 220.5 - I’ll happily take the ‘under’ here. I have very little faith in Sanchez as a QB, I don’t think he has improved as the season has gone along, and he is coming off an underwhelming performance against the Patriots last time -- 164 yards and three picks. The Pats are more than a little fired up right now as well.
Wes Welker receiving yards - over/under 62.5 - Welker is obviously key to this New England team. He hasn’t been as sharp this year as he has in the past, and he went ‘under’ this number nine times in the 15 games he played. The ‘under’ is at a much better price than the ‘over,’ so I’ll take it.
Green Bay at Atlanta
James Starks rushing yard - over/under 50.5 - I’m not nearly as surprised by Starks’ explosive performance last week. I saw Starks play in person once when he was in college at Buffalo, and a few more times on TV. The same thing stuck out each time -- the guy is phenomenal. He fell off the map because he lost his senior year to injury, but there is no question that he has big time talent. All he needed is a chance, and he has gotten it here. Green Bay isn’t likely to move away from their running game this week against a team that can be run on, and Starks is their best option by far. I expect him to go solidly ‘over’.
Team to score first in the game - Both of these teams will be able to score some points because both defenses are good, but not perfect by any means, and both offenses are solid. Basically, then, this one comes down to the coin flip -- or at least it could. Green Bay’s potential payoff is significantly better than Atlanta’s, and I don’t think their chances are any worse than Atlanta’s of scoring first, so I like the Packers here.
Seattle at Chicago
Seattle team points - over/under 14.5 - I don’t see any reason not to be on the ‘over’ here. The last time Seattle played in Chicago -- this season -- they scored 23 points and won. Last week they scored like crazy, so they will be coming in with real confidence. Chicago’s defense is respectable, but a long way from great. That means there is a good chance the Seahawks can score. There is a good chance they will wind up comfortably ‘over’ this mark.
Will Devin Hester score a TD? - Yes pays off at +165. I like bets at better than even money, so I am drawn to this one. But does it make sense? Yes. He scored seven touchdowns on the season, but two came in one week, so he scored in six of the 16 games he played. That means that at these odds all season you would have broken even betting on him to score. He scored in two of his last three games, though, so he’s gaining momentum and seems to be a bigger part of the game plan. Given that it’s at worst a break even proposition and could be better, then the ‘yes’ is definitely the way to go.
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