The NFL Picks last week went 2-2 ATS with the year-to-date mark at 120-117-7 ATS. Note that home teams in the divisional round last year went 2-2 SU and ATS, with New England and Atlanta getting knocked out by the Jets and Packers respectively in front of the home fans.
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker.eu
New Orleans(-3)atSan Francisco – Saturday 4:30 pm ET
New Orleans (14-3 SU, 13-4 ATS) is a very rare favorite in the divisional round. They’re coming off a 45-28 win over Detroit last Saturday that made them a perfect 9-0 SU and ATS at home. There is a question how Drew Brees and company will fare outdoors, although the weather should be nice in the 50s
San Francisco (13-3 SU, 12-3-1 ATS) has the Coach of the Year in Jim Harbaugh who completely changed the culture of the team as well as improve them from 6-10. The 49ers have the eighth-ranked rushing offense (127.8 YPG), fourth-ranked defense (308.1 YPG) and have even made Alex Smith into a serviceable quarterback. That’s usually a winning formula in the playoffs.
These are the NFL’s two best ATS teams even if their offensive styles are polar opposite. You do have to give some juice (-135) to take New Orleans at -3, but it’s worth it as the Saints offense will get the edge over the 49ers defense.
Pick: New Orleans(-3)
Denver(+13 ½)atNew England- Saturday 8:00 pm ET
Denver (9-8 SU, 8-9 ATS) pulled off a ‘Mile High Miracle’ last week in the overtime shocker (29-23) against Pittsburgh as 7 ½-point home ‘dogs. Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards on just 10 completions, including the 80-yard game-winner on the first play of overtime that will live in infamy.
New England (13-3 SU, 9-7 ATS) earned the top seed in the AFC and is thrilled not to play the Steelers. The Patriots are under a lot of pressure, losing in their opening home playoff game the last two years to Baltimore and the Jets. Quarterback Tom Brady and the offense are a top-3 unit along with Green Bay and New Orleans, but the defense has made little improvement since Week 1.
Coach Bill Belichick is going to have a defensive game-plan much different than Pittsburgh. The first goal is to eliminate the long pass from Tebow and force him to be more accurate in mid-range throws – not his strength. Offensively, New England wants to strike first and force Denver to play from behind. However, I think Denver will havesuccess running and keep the final within two TDs.
Pick: Denver (+13 ½)
Houston(+7 ½) atBaltimore- Sunday 1:00 pm ET
Houston (11-6 SU, 10-5-2 ATS) made its first playoff appearance in team history last week and impressed with a 31-10 win over Cincinnati. The Bengals didn’t play too smart in that game and a defensive touchdown by J.J. Watt right before the half swung momentum. The Texans now head on the road where they are5-3 SU and ATS this season.
Baltimore (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) looks like a Super Bowl contender one week and barely a playoff team the next. Fortunately, they have this game at home where they’re 8-0 SU (4-3-1 ATS).Coach John Harbaugh needs to deliver in these playoffs, but quarterback Joe Flacco still has a lot to prove and the defensehas had cracks even while ranking third overall (288.9 YPG).
These teams met back on October 16 with Baltimore winning 29-14 as seven-point home favorites. Houston’s defense is vastly underrated, giving up less yards per game (285.7) than the Ravens. Both teams also want to run the ball which is why the total is just 36 points. I’m taking the points even with a rookie Houston quarterback in T.J. Yates.
Pick:Houston (+7 ½)
NY Giants (+7 ½) at Green Bay- Sunday 4:30 pm ET
The Giants (10-7 SU, 9-7-1 ATS)are coming off a 24-2 home win over the Atlanta Falcons, a dominating performance on both sides of the ball. The team has now won three-straight must win games with the Jets and Cowboys beforehand. The 2007 Super Bowl comparisons are in full force and the players are buying into it – a good sign.
Green Bay (15-1 SU, 11-5 ATS) is the defending Super Bowl champ and the league leader in scoring offense at 35 PPG. They’re even better at home (40.1 PPG) where they went 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS. Receiver Greg Jennings (knee) will play for the first time since Dec. 11 and he’s a key as the Pack battle the imposing Giants pass rush.
These teams met December 4th in the Big Apple with Green Bay pulling out a 38-35 thriller to stay undefeated. That game gives the G-Men a lot of confidence in addition to their recent play. Playing on the ‘Frozen Tundra’ of Lambeau Field is of course a huge challenge, but I’m taking the points.
Pick:NY Giants (+7 ½)