Feb 05 '12 6:30p NY Giants vs New England Patriots

I'm on NEW ENGLAND...and here's why:

As you're probably aware, both teams are coming off very "close" victories. The Patriots squeaked past Baltimore, avoiding OT by a missed FG. Meanwhile, the Giants needed OT to beat San Francisco. As you're likely also aware, the Giants beat the Pats at Foxboro in the regular season AND they also beat them in the Super Bowl four years ago. Combine those factors with the fact that the Giants covered in the Conference Finals and the Pats did not AND we're getting a very low pointspread. Indeed, the Pats were laying double-digits when these teams faced each other in the previous Super Bowl. I feel that low number is providing us with excellent value on the "revenge-minded" Patriots.

I won with the Packers in last year's Super Bowl, backing a team which I felt had an excellent QB and an elite coach. The previous year, I backed the Saints over the Colts in large part because I felt they'd have an edge in the coaching department. In this case, both quarterbacks and head coaches have been been here and won here before. While recent head-to-head meetings would suggest otherwise, I still believe the combination of Brady and Belichick is superior to the tandem of Coughlin and Manning. I also believe that both Brady and Belichick are the type of personalities that despise being "shown up. Everyone "expected" them to beat the Giants in the last Super Bow and they came up short. Then, these same Giants snapped their home winning streak. While every player and member of the coaching staff will (obviously) be extremely motivated to win, I expect both Brady and Belichick to "take it to another level," in an effort to "get the last laugh" against these pesky and hated Giants.

It should be pointed out that the Pats are a stellar 7-2 SU and 6-2-1 ATS the last few seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. We saw what they did to the Bills, after Buffalo had beaten them earlier in the season - they crushed them by a score of 49-21 in the "rematch. Going back further finds that the Pats at an outstanding 51-30-4 ATS (63%) the last 85 times that they were in the "revenge" role. While it wasn't a "revenge" situation, it should be noted that the Pats also destroyed Denver, when facing the Broncos for the second time. That kept the Pats perfect when facing a team for the second time this season, winning those four games by 87 combined points.

While both teams had last week off, it should be noted that the Giants had to play an extra game to get here, while flying all over the country, plus had to fight desperately just to make the playoffs. I feel that works in the Pats favor. Keep in mind that the Pats just won by 35 points when getting an extra week off in between games. The last time that the Giants played with two week's rest in between games was way back in October. After their break, they barely beat a struggling Miami team, winning by three as -9.5 point home favorites.

While even most Giants' fans will admit that the Pats possess the more potent offense, the knock against the Pats has been their defense. This group has played much better than people realize though. Allowing an average of only 15 ppg in the playoffs shows they've elevated their level of play on that side of the ball. One could make a convincing case for either team and there are plenty of stats supporting both sides. The legacies of both the QBs and coaches will be on the line. Ultimately, I expect Belichick and the Pats to have the better gameplan and look for Brady to outplay Manning, as the Pats have their revenge, getting the cash along the way.

The play: New England Patriots -2½ -115

Also I see the Giants trying to establish a running game early to keep Brady off the field. This leads to two separate plays I'm really liking.
Play under 27½ for the 1st half!
Play over 61 ½ Total Rushing Yards by Ahmad Bradshaw. In order to leave Tom Brady off the field the Giants will need to run the ball and let the clock run. We should see a heavy dosage of Ahmad Bradshaw early and often and if the Patriots defense can't control the run game Bradshaw has a big game. New England couldn't tackle Baltimore's Rice and Bradshaw is bigger and will be able to dominate the 1st half. Wouldn't shock me to see this prop bet be close to cashing by halftime. Much more scoring in 2nd half as Brady takes charge and the Pats win 31-27.

Five Prop Bets That Say You Have a Problem

Which team will accrue more penalty yards?
Giants: -110
Patriots: -110

One good way to find prop bets that suggest you might have a problem is when Vegas just lists two sides without a spread at -110. What that basically says is, "We don't know what the right side is here, but we also know you don't know, and we're going to collect vig while you and your buddies guess." For what it's worth, the Patriots accrued 815 penalty yards to the Giants' mere 795 during the regular season, but the Giants have been responsible for 163 penalty yards in three playoff games, while the Patriots are at just 25 after two games. People will think less of you if you bet on this!

Which team will use a coach's challenge first?
Giants: -110
Patriots: -110

It's important to note that the team doesn't need to win the challenge, just use it. The Giants used 10 challenges during the regular season and two during the postseason, for an average of 0.63 challenges per game. The Pats used eight during the regular season and haven't used any during the postseason, for an average of 0.44 challenges per game. What do those numbers mean over a sample of 18-19 games? Absolutely nothing. Your girlfriend will use this as a sign that you're not ready to take the next step in your relationship and break up with you if you bet on it.

How will the opening coin toss land?
Heads: -101
Tails: -101

Here's how bad this bet is: Even Vegas feels bad about charging full vig on it. Some offshore books will put each side of this bet at -110, knowing that it's a 50/50 proposition and that they can bank $9 for every $100 that comes in. The LVH has the juice down to 1 percent, but it's still an incredibly stupid bet. You are essentially lighting 1 percent of the money in your wallet on fire if you make this bet.3

How many players will attempt a pass during the game?
Over 2.5: +290
Under 2.5: -350

I can't lie: I love this bet a little bit. The bet here is, essentially, "Will somebody besides Tom Brady or Eli Manning throw a pass?" The Patriots have given Brian Hoyer mop-up work, but we're going to assume that this question basically revolves around the idea that a nonquarterback is going to throw a pass. How rare has that been for these teams? Well, the Patriots haven't had a nonquarterback throw a pass since 2008, when Kevin Faulk threw one, and before that, it was Adam Vinatieri on a fake field goal in 2004. Their last quarterback to throw a pass in the playoffs who didn't have "Brady" on the back of his jersey was Drew Bledsoe. And unless you want to make a joke about Jared Lorenzen, we have to go all the way back to Jeff Feagles in 2006 for a nonquarterback pass attempt from the Giants. That's thousands of chances for a pass by Hakeem Nicks or Aaron Hernandez … and these teams haven't taken it once. Why would they start now? But then again, why would the "Under 2.5" line be so low? Suspicious.

What will the jersey number be of the first player to score a touchdown?
Over 80.5: EVEN
Under 80.5: -120

Divional Playoffs cont...

BALTIMORE (-7') Houston (38) 1:00 PM
You have to be impressed with everything that the Texans have accomplished this season. They finally knocked off the Colts and won the AFC south and made their very first playoff appearance. They won their 1st playoff game this year despite losing their top defensive player and losing their top two Qb's along with other injuries. Last week had to be a thrill for them in front of their home crowd but asking a young 3rd string QB to go on the road and beat by far the best defense he will have faced is asking a bunch. The Ravens, who seem to be a playoff regular finally get a home game and this team should be sky high. The Ravens faced this Texans team back in week 5 and won 29-14 as 6.5 point favs that day and now the line is 7.5 today. I do believe that the loss of Qb Shaub is worth more than a point here. The Ravens were just one of three teams to hold the Texans running game to less than 100 yards. The Texans had less than 300 yards of total offense while the Ravens had more than 400 yards when the 2 met. Since Qb Yates took over the Texans have not scored more than 20 points on the road. I expect the Ravens defense to force Yates into mistakes as I see the Ravens who are ranked #2 vs. the run slowing down Foster and company. That puts all the pressure on Yates and look for the Ravens to pull away in the second half.

Baltimore 27 Houston 10

Divisional Playoffs

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (Saturday 1/14 8:00 PM Eastern)
Pick: BRONCOS +14

The first order of business in breaking down this game is weighing strengths against weaknesses and, at first glance, the Patriots look like body builders. But a closer look finds appearances are deceiving. By putting Bill Belichick under the playoff microscope, the blemishes emerge Consider: a blasé 16-16-2 ATS overall career mark is even more watered down behind a 0-3 ATS log when laying double digits, and just two ATS wins in 12 playoff games when playing with rest further dissipates to 0-6-1 ATS when taking on a foe off a SU and ATS win. Hence, name and reputation can only carry a team for so long, especially when laying this many points behind the 2nd worst defense in the league. Rest assured, the Pats remember last year’s Divisional Round debacle when they lost on this fi eld as the AFC No. 1 seed to the Jets. However, further clouding the picture is the fact the Pats allowed 411 YPG this season while taking on only THREE fellow playoff teams, going just 1-2 SU and ATS in those games. That and the fact that No. 1 seeds in the AFC are only 5-5 SU and 1-9 ATS in this round when playing off back-to-back wins are major causes for concern. Enter the upstart Broncos, a team allowing 35 YPG more than it gains this season, yet brimming with confi dence off last week’s shocker over the Steelers. And speaking of strengths and weaknesses, Denver’s Tim Tebow looks like a 98-pound weakling next to statuesque Tom Brady… especially since Wild Card round victors off one-win exact as an underdog are just 2-16 SU and 6-12 ATS in this round since 1988. Yes, the Broncos look like someone about to get sand kicked in their face but we were raised to fade prohibitive favorites with inferior defenses – and we’re not about to change religions at this stage of our life. Not against Saint Tim.

Bowl Info - New Years Eve

Utah Utes vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-2.5, 49.5)


1. Georgia Tech has lost six straight bowl games, while Utah had its nine-game bowl win streak snapped in last year’s 26-3 loss to Boise State in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.

2. With their spread option attack, the Yellow Jackets rank third nationally in rushing (316.8). The Utes rank seventh nationally in rush defense (98.3) and are familiar with the option from battling Air Force in the Moutain West.

3. The Utes are the hotter team, having won four of their last five. The Jackets lost four of six after a 6-0 start.

4. Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow is Hawaii's new head coach, but will coach in the Sun Bowl.

5. Tech starting CB Louis Young (52 tackles, INT) has been suspended for disciplinary reasons. Nickel CB Jemea Thomas will replace him, with Jamal Golden or Michael Peterson filling in for Thomas.


LINE: Georgia Tech opened at -2.5 and has been bet up to a field-goal favorite.


Subscribe to Mr Pickem RSS