January 22, 2012

NFC Championship Game - New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers

Vegas Line: Giants + 2
Rob’s Line: Giants + 0.5
As much as I’m looking forward to the AFC Championship Game that precedes this, this is what I really can’t wait for. Interestingly, the line hadn’t moved all week and we were able to back New York +2.5, but money has obviously been flooding in on the Giants as there’s been a small shaving of half a point which, in a game of this magnitude, is pretty seismic. I view this as a very even matchup and am only offering the Giants the narrowest margin possible because they’re the road team. So, where to start? Eli Manning? Alex Smith?

AFC Championship Game - Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

Vegas Line: Ravens + 7
Rob’s Line: Ravens + 5.5
This matchup brings together the two elements of perhaps the most famous adage in NFL history: offense wins games, defense wins championships. To touch on the betting angle early, the line opened at 7.5 in Vegas so some folks somewhere have clearly had a nibble on Baltimore and brought the line in a little…and I’m not surprised.

January 15, 2012

NFC Divisional Playoff - New York Giants at Green Bay Packers

Vegas Line: Giants + 7.5

Rob’s Line: Giants + 8.5

Last night’s hammering of Denver handed out by New England Tom Brady taught us something heading into this one. Popular opinion had the Broncos and New York Giants taking the momentum gained from last weekend’s wild card wins on the road and advancing to next week’s Championship Games. Lest we forget that the Patriots and Green Bay Packers aren’t current NFL powerhouses for no reason.

AFC Divisional Playoff - Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

Vegas Line: Texans + 7.5

Rob’s Line: Texans + 6.5

For all you Baltimore fans out there, thank Heavens it’s now the playoffs, eh?! No more having to look over your shoulder at Pittsburgh…not after the wonders of last Sunday, anyway. I haven’t actually bothered to look up any press coverage from, say, The Baltimore Sun, during this past week, but I’ll bet both my bottom dollar and yours that there was more than a couple of celebratory column inches devoted to Tim Tebow, the man who practically single handedly orchestrated the demise of the hated Steelers, and all this after his offense had conspired to collate the grand total of 8 yards in the first quarter; the thought that a city that once adored its hometown stable of Colts was last weekend rabidly supporting a herd of supposedly ragged Broncos lends itself to a poetic equine balance being restored to the resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, after whose poem these Ravens are named.

January 12, 2012

AFC Divisional Playoff - Denver Broncos at New England Patriots

Vegas Line: Broncos + 13.5

Rob's Line: Broncos + 12.5

Who'd have thought it? Well, me...almost. That Denver beat Pittsburgh last Sunday night justified my faith in the nine point spread afforded the Broncos by Vegas and it did look just too big from the very beginning. As I wrote, I didn't expect Denver to actually emerge triumphant, but the fact that they did means a week long Tim Tebow story and I for one am not growing sick of it at all.

January 11, 2012

NFC Divisional Playoff - New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers

Vegas Line: 49ers + 3.5

Rob's Line: 49ers + 1.5

How good does this look to begin Divisional Playoff weekend? Regular readers will know that I wished for this matchup at this stage of the postseason, only in the Superdome. It would've been a no contest and I will have to confess here straight away that I want New Orleans to win. Why? There's a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I've been talking up the Saints all season and I actually believe the 31-21 debacle in St. Louis in Week 8 to be a good thing; they haven't lost a game since, winning nine in a row and they've only been pushed close on two of those occasions.

January 08, 2012

AFC Wild Card - Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos


Vegas Line: Broncos + 8.5

Rob’s Line: Broncos + 5.5

I’ve held back my bet of the week until last. One thing to add to that is that while Vegas seem to be completely writing off Denver, you can actually still snare 9 points on the Broncos at bet365, which I find astonishing. One of the first reasons for my inredulity is because Pittsburgh are 2-6 covering the spread over their last eight and they also come into this one a little banged up. I do have to admit here that it’s not all plain sailing for the home team, believe me, but more of that in a while. Let’s focus on the defending AFC Champion Steelers.

NFC Wild Card - Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants


Vegas Line: Falcons + 3

Rob’s Line: Falcons + 2.5

Just three weeks ago the Washington Redskins went on the road and defeated the New York Giants 23-10, a result that didn’t put the Big Blue in a good place. That was their fifth loss in six games and the sole victory, over Dallas, was a crazy (yet thrilling) come from behind win as they scored two touchdowns in the final three and a half minutes to take pole position in the NFC East ahead of those Cowboys.

NFC Wild Card - Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints


Vegas Line: Lions + 10.5

Rob’s Line: Lions + 12.5

In exactly the same fashion as the Bengals/Texans encounter preceding this one, these two teams have met already this season when New Orleans overcame Detroit 31-17 in the Superdome five weeks ago. The week after that, the Saints squeaked past the Titans 22-17 on the road, but they flew home from Tennessee knowing that their remaining three games would keep them inside, the environment where they excel (ahem, the 31-21 shocker of the century in St. Louis aside, that is), with home games against division rivals Atlanta and Carolina following a trip to the Metrodome to take on the Vikings.

AFC Wild Card - Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans


Vegas Line: Bengals + 4

Rob’s Line: Bengals + 2.5

Welcome to the business end of the NFL season. The serious stuff of loser goes home doesn’t get any more real than this and wild card weekend kicks off today when Cincinnati and Houston renew hostilities in the same stadium that hosted their Week 14 matchup just four short weeks ago. There’s some interesting things to look at here, including the spread, which, yes, I believe to be too far in Houston’s favour, but I’ll come to that in a little while.

Week 17 Picks - Part 2

TAMPA BAY at ATLANTA – The Falcons were almost taught a footballing lesson in the Superdome last Monday night and they’ll be smarting from that. The Buccaneers have lost their last four games by 19 27 16 and 32 points so there’s no way I’m betting on them plus 11.5; I would only be tempted by them with a start in the region of 15 or 16. It is dangerous backing Atlanta after an emotional loss last week, but I can’t see any other course of action. I take the Falcons to get last week out of their system before a likely trip back to New Orleans on wildcard weekend.

Week 17 Picks - Part 1

Hi NFLers

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and the football served up. Well done to those of you who managed to catch the Bears/Packers game live on the 25th…I had to rely on NFL Game Pass the next day and it’s been a time of having to catch up whenever I can.

Week 16 Picks

I may need to plead with you for patience initially as I attempt to make sense of the Vegas spreads over December 24, 25 and 26. I say that as you may at first wonder what the connection is between the NFL, Christmas and Ian Dury. Quite simply NFLers, it’s reasons to be cheerful, which brings me straight on to the game that’s top of my Christmas list, San Francisco’s trip to my beloved Seattle.

Week 16 Power Rankings

Hi NFLers

Welcome to my weekly NFL Power Rankings, a look at how I rank the 32 NFL teams after the Monday Night Football fallout. The figures to the right of the logo denote each team’s current record while the number to the left in brackets is where I had them placed last week.
The biggest opportunity missed last week wasn’t Green Bay’s shocker in KC that leaves the ’72 Dolphins as the only unbeaten team in the modern era. No, step forward the Pittsburgh Steelers, the unlikely winners of an accolade as dubious as Doing All You Can To Win The Super Bowl The Hard Way.

Week 15 Monday Night Football Thoughts

Won’t you just take a look at these two? The team of the ’70′s visiting the team of the ’80s on Monday Night Football. Christmas come early for us football fans. These two can boast eleven Super Bowl victories between them (Pittsburgh six, San Fran five), which equates to what is basically a quarter of all the Super Bowls played. Not bad going that and this year could see one of them make it twelve victories out of forty six, which is remarkable.

Week 15 Picks - Part 3

For most football followers, the game in DENVER this week is mouth watering. Tim Tebow did it again last week. Again just won’t go away and neither will these Broncos. Tebow doesn’t know when he’s beaten and his teammates’ belief in him is unshakeable. The combination of the two is potent, but you have to think that should they make the playoffs, it’s a formula that won’t get very far.

Week 15 Picks - Part 2

The NEW YORK GIANTS are hot right now. WASHINGTON, well, they kind of are. Barring their capitulation late on at home to the Jets two weeks ago, they’re playing well. Vegas is asking the Giants to cover by a touchdown (6.5 points, if I’m going to be precise), which, on paper, looks attractive.

Week 15 Picks - Part 1

Hi NFLers

Sadly, there’ll have to be a different look to proceedings this week. I say sadly because, as we enter the festive period, I’m immersed in time constraints at every turn and that includes both professionally and outside of that. I’ve had to give some thought as to the best approach to take and what I’ve decided on is to hopefully look at as many games as I can in one post as opposed to addressing each game separately.

Week 15 Power Rankings

Hi NFLers

Welcome to my weekly NFL Power Rankings, a look at how I rank the 32 NFL teams after the Monday Night Football fallout. The figures to the right of the logo denote each team’s current record while the number to the left in brackets is where I had them placed last week.
With Green Bay standing alone, unbeaten, as they have all season, we have six teams vying for second spot with 10-3 records. New Orleans retain second place and I’ve been unequivocal in keeping them there for the past few weeks; only after this week do I finally feel vindicated.

Week 14: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys


Vegas Line: Giants + 4.5

Rob’s Line: Giants + 4.5

This is quite the spectacle to put on primetime on Sunday night as the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys battle for NFC East supremacy. What both teams do know is that whichever of them ultimately comes out on top at the end of the season will definitely be playing on wildcard weekend.

Week 14: Buffalo Bills at San Diego Chargers


Vegas Line: Bills + 7

Rob’s Line: Bills + 7.5

Having looked woefully out of their depth when losing heavily to Dallas and Miami by a combined score of 79-15 over Weeks 10 and 11, the Buffalo Bills have brought some respectability back to their franchise with better performances the past two weeks against the Jets and Titans, despite both being losses.

Week 14: Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers


Vegas Line: Raiders +11.5

Rob’s Line: Raiders +9.5

This was difficult. I do consider the Vegas line to be a little high, but I was torn on offering Oakland what I have or going a point higher. I settled on 9.5, but I do realise that they travel to the world champions on the back of being humiliated in Miami last week.

Week 14: Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos


Vegas Line: Bears + 3

Rob’s Line: Bears + 5.5

What will Tim Tebow conjure up for the hometown faithful this week? This was potentially a wonderful matchup heading in to the crucial weeks leading up to the playoffs, but Chicago losing quarterback Jay Cutler (possibly for the rest of the season) and now the best football player in the NFL, running back Matt Forte, for an indefinite period makes them infinitely weaker and that was borne out by last week’s disappointing 10-3 reversal at home to Kansas City.

Week 14: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals


Vegas Line: Cardinals + 3.5

Rob’s Line: Cardinals + 5.5

What’s going on here? Are Vegas really asking San Francisco to win by just four points to cover the spread? How can that be? Granted, I’m only offering Arizona plus 5.5, but my spread was 6.5 until it looked as though the 49ers will have to make do without inside linebacker Patrick Willis. Now, I can’t speak for the oddsmakers in Nevada , but from what I’m able to make out, the line opened at 3.5 and hasn’t moved.

Week 14: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens


Vegas Line: Colts + 16.5

Rob’s Line: Colts + 15.5

As if Indianapolis weren’t having a difficult enough season as it is, they travel to Baltimore this week on the back of games against Carolina and New England. Carolina, I hear you say. Yes, you read that right. Cam Newton hasn’t just broken the record for rushing touchdowns in a single season by a quarterback on the roll of a dice.

Week 14: Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals


Vegas Line: Texans + 3

Rob’s Line: Bengals + 0.5

There you have it. One of those previews where you know straight away where my hard earned goes. This is a tricky one to call and I wouldn’t argue if you felt Houston should be a half point underdog, but three point underdogs? It seems a lot to favour the Bengals by and there’s no way I’d be anywhere near a spread like that.

Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets


Vegas Line: Chiefs + 10

Rob’s Line: Chiefs + 8.5

Consider that with five minutes remaining in Washington last week, the New York Jets trailed the Redskins 16-13 before scoring 21 points in a crazy end to the game. I believe Vegas to have overestimated that win. Sorry, my mistake…I believe the public to have overestimated that win because this line opened up with the Jets minus nine.

Week 14: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions


Vegas Line: Vikings + 10

Rob’s Line: Vikings + 7.5

Let’s try something here. You miss a game - you’re busy or you just plain didn’t fancy it. You look at the scoreline a little later (or the next day in some cases here in London). In the next few seconds how many of you try to assume what a particular player’s stats were? Let’s assume that the game we missed was last week’s Saints/Lions matchup.

Week 14: New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans


Vegas Line: Titans + 3.5

Rob’s Line: Titans + 5.5

Go check out Tennessee’s last three results. And what’s scarier is that this game could also very easily end up 23-17…to New Orleans, if I may be so bold. Let’s address perhaps the most talked about issue here: Titans running back Chris Johnson.

Week 14: Philadelphia Eagles at Miami Dolphins


Vegas Line: Eagles + 3

Rob’s Line: Eagles + 4.5

Regular readers of my posts (I’m hopeful that there’s at least two of you out there) will know that I’m kind of in love with the Miami Dolphins right now. I have them pegged twelfth in my weekly Power Rankings so yes, a 4-8 team are ranked higher than a handful of playoff hopefuls. For as long as Miami keep themsleves in games until the death, I’ll keep harping on about the run they’re on.

Week 14: New England Patriots at Washington Redskins


Vegas Line: Redskins + 7.5

Rob’s Line: Redskins + 9.5

Oh, how Washington made me look stupid last week. Having looked to be on a run of form after playing hard against the Cowboys and Seahawks (and that was a trek and a half for the ‘Skins), I couldn’t see any way that they weren’t going to cover the spread at home to the Jets, especially as Vegas were offering a field goal start.

Week 14: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers


Vegas Line: Panthers + 3

Rob’s Line: Falcons + 0.5

Whereas I have to believe, as a handicapper, that some teams look beyond the game immediately at hand to games ahead on the schedule, there’s no chance of that happening with these two this week. Carolina does have to travel to Houston next Sunday, which gives Cam Newton the perfect opportunity to gauge just how far he’s come this season against the Texans’ quite outstanding defense (currently ranked number one in the league), but this game is far more important to them.

Week 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars


Vegas Line: Jaguars + 2.5

Rob’s Line: Buccaneers + 0.5

Apologies to fans of Tampa and Jacksonville, but what is there to like about this FMM Bowl? No, FMM isn’t another sponsor attaching its name, college football style, to a game. It’s ‘Florida Minus Miami’ and features two of the most unattractive teams in the league right now.

Week 14: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers


Vegas Line: Browns + 14

Rob’s Line: Browns + 14.5

Of the three primetime games this week, one of them’s a humdinger. The other two look to be awful matchups, not really worthy of the national spotlight if truth be told, and it all begins at Heinz Field on Thursday night. And no, this isn’t the humdinger. Look towards Dallas for that beauty.
Baltimore beat Cleveland on the road by a comfortable 14 points last Sunday…ahem, did I say comfortable? The Ravens annihilated them and the 24-10 scoreline seriously flatters the Browns.

Week 14 Power Rankings

Hi NFLers

Welcome to my weekly NFL Power Rankings, a look at how I rank the 32 NFL teams after the Monday Night Football fallout. The figures to the right of the logo denote each team’s current record while the number to the left in brackets is where I had them placed last week.
Something strange this way came in Week 13. The teams ranked 1-7 all won, those ranked 8-13 all lost. You’ll see no change to my top nine, meaning that the Falcons and Cowboys are perhaps fortunate to retain their top ten status. However, there’s a big addition to that decemvirate: my word, yes, it’s Tebow time in the rankings. The marmite of all football players helps catapult the Broncos to a position I never, ever envisaged this season.

Big love for: Broncos, Jets, Dolphins 

No love for: Bears, Buccaneers
1. (1) 12-0 Eighteen wins on the bounce dating back to the end of last season. You want the really scary news? They have the tools to go unbeaten through the end of next season, too.

2. (2) 9-3 The divisional round of the playoffs needs a Saints/49ers showdown before the winner goes to Lambeau. If it ain’t happening, we’re being robbed of a modern classic.

Week 13: San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars


Vegas Line: Jaguars + 3

Rob’s Line: Jaguars + 3.5

The last time the Jaguars were here, on Monday Night Football, they recorded one of their most memorable wins in recent memory. To the neutral, the 12-7 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7 won’t be remembered as the prettiest game on the eye, but personally, I was enthralled. So, despite this matchup offering less tension than its predecessor, I say welcome back Jacksonville!