NFL Conference Championship Games
I’ve enjoyed a modestly successful 2017-2018 NFL season. Since posting picks weekly here at my website, I’ve now posted 4 winning seasons, and 2 losing seasons. I’m slightly ahead overall after six years, and that includes more than 1,000 NFL wagers since I began doing this prior to the start of the 2012 NFL regular season (note that I posted picks at other sites prior to launching this site, dating back to 1996…years which were far more successful before picking winners became increasingly difficult).
This narrative isn’t intended to brag, but rather to give readers a broader perspective that beating the NFL consistently over the long haul is an excruciating challenge. Some say, it’s become impossible to win over the long run. It’s certainly true that very few handicappers win from year-to-year, and this includes many experienced handicappers (touts) who charge money for their picks. That’s something I have NEVER done. Show me a handicapper or a website which posts free picks and wins consistently. Please. Go ahead — I’ll wait. I’d love to learn about it. That said, I’m pleased with this year’s record, hitting about 56 percent winners. But I also feel I’ve lost a few chances at having a huge season with some bad plays.
Heading into the NFL’s conference championship games, followed by the Super Bowl coming up in two weeks, the focus on the remaining game intensifies. Many gamblers bet more money on these games, and then go all out on the Super Bowl. That’s a big mistake. I can’t stress more strongly how foolish this is. These are three football ball games scrutinized by tens of millions of gamblers with billions of dollars in action. If you think you have an edge and know something the rest of the world doesn’t, you’re mistaken. If I think I have an edge, I’m mistaken, too. I’d much rather fire a sizable on an obscure college basketball game with 2,500 fans in the stands than any of the remaining NFL games.
That said, I know readers have come to expect my to post an opinion on these games. So, I will comply. But these upcoming games are probably situations I wouldn’t touch if they were played during the regular season. Please keep that in mind.
It pains me to admit this, but I no longer have confidence in my analysis from a betting perspective given how I’ve been spinning my wheels in recent weeks. I’ve been stuck at the +12 games over the .500 mark for two months. Nonetheless, I’ll analyze the three remaining games and try to give some perspective. Take this for what it’s worth.
I made only one wager (so far). Read the details below.
2017 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BALANCE: $11,770. (+$1,770.)
OVERALL W-L RECORD: 58 wins / 46 loses / 3 pushes
Week #1 — 3 wins, 4 losses = net -$250
Week #2 — 1 win, 0 losses = net +$350
Week #3 — 7 wins, 2 losses = net +$1,070
Week #4 — 1 win, 1 loss = net -$20
Week #5 — 7 wins, 3 losses = net +$740
Week #6 — 2 wins, 2 losses = net -$40
Week #7 — 3 wins, 4 losses, 1 push = net -$280
Week #8 — 4 wins, 2 losses = net +$360
Week #9 — 2 wins, 2 losses = net -$270
Week #10 — 9 wins, 6 losses = net +$480
Week #11 — 3 wins, 4 losses = net -$280
Week #12 — 2 wins, 4 losses = net -$480
Week #13 — 4 wins, 2 losses = net +$360
Week #14 — 4 wins, 4 losses = net -80
Week #15 — 2 wins, 2 losses, 1 push = net +$60
Week #16 — 2 wins, 3 losses = net -$370
Week #17 — 1 win, 0 losses = net +$300
Wild Card Week — 1 win, 1 loss = net -$30
Divisional Playoffs Week — 1 win, 1 loss = net -$60
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: Last week, I posted 1 win and 1 loss — for a net loss of -$60 (the vig). This puts me at +12 games over .500. I went 6-5-1 in my “leans” which were posted at the conclusion of the report. Playoff results are 2-2 on four wagers, thus far. My leans are 12-5-1.
THIS WEEK’S PICKS: On to this week’s games (lines current as of Sunday morning). I made just one wager, and also posted my leans in every situation:
Jacksonville / New England UNDER 46 (Risking $330 to win $300)
All the talk centers around Patriots’ QB Tom Brady and the condition of this throwing hand. Brady’s right hand was allegedly injured in practice this week. Those accustomed to head coach Bill Belichick’s mind games and manipulation of injury reports don’t fully trust the diagnosis, which lists Brady as “questionable” for the first time ever in his career for a playoff game. Let’s cut through the bullshit and all agree that Brady will start and play the entire game, provided he has a pulse. We should presume Brady will take every snap. We should also expect he will be in usual playoff form. That said, Brady’s “injury” does present JAX and UNDER bettors with a nice freeroll. If there’s anything to the injury and/or it gets worse during in-game contact, that certainly helps the dog and the under. This total opened at 47 and was bet down to 46 upon news of Brady’s hand, and has dropped to as low as 45 in some places. I still believe this the right number, even with Brady at 100 percent. Here’s to the injury report being real and affecting his throwing ability. Aside from Brady, I think we can agree the Jagaurs’ offensive explosion for 45 points last week was an aberration. Steelers feel behind early last week 21-0 and that changed the entire complexion of the game. Certainly, Jaguars won’t enjoy that early success this week. The game plan will be much more oriented towards burning lots of clock and keeping the Patriots’ offense on the sidelines. Keep in mind Jaguars’ defense is very real, despite surrendering 42 points last week. Nine of 18 opponents (half!) were held to 10 points or less. Meanwhile, Patriots defense has stepped up and played well when they had to. After holding the Titans to just 14 points last week, there’s evidence that same thing could happen again here, especially given the inconsistent play of Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles. Jaguars running game came alive in Pittsburgh last week. But I’m not sure every trick was exposed in that contest, giving Patriots’ plenty of film to study to counter-strategy. I’m also concerned about Jags scoring much given the Patriots enjoyed a pretty easy game last week, after a week off, while the Jaguars had to scratch their way to two wins to get into this championship contest. Looks like a classic case where Jacksonville simply runs out of gas. If I’m wrong on this account, and Jacksonville make a close game of it, that’s likely to be because of defense. Hence, I’ll go UNDER this number based on the expectation that at least one of three things will happen: (1) Brady’s hand is a problem and he can’t throw at 100 percent; (2) Jacksonville’s offense is shut down most of the game; (3) Jacksonville’s defense rises to the occasion and plays well, likely resulting in an UNDER.
Minnesota at Philadelphia
I think Minnesota is the better team on both sides of the ball. However, I’m not convinced they are -6 on a neutral field, which is what this line at -3 (even) suggests). That seems to be a contradiction to prefer Minnesota, but also consider taking the points with the home dog, which appears to have added value. I’m passing on the game because the Eagles must still be concerned about the effectiveness of the offense under backup QB Nick Foles, who hasn’t done much that last 9 quarters he’s been on the field. Eagles produced just 15 points last week in a game they probably should have lost, and would have lost had it not been for their defense (holding Atlanta scoreless in the second half and at the goal line due to Falcons’ horrific play-calling the final four plays). I’m not sure what this Eagles’ offense will do against Minnesota, which has at least a good a defense as Atlanta. I was also very impressed with Minnesota’s preparation last week, jumping out to a 17-0 lead versus New Orleans in the first half. The Saints moved the ball most of the game last week (then again, the Saints move the ball on everyone), but the Vikings tightened up inside the Red Zone. Looks like a much easier task this week to slow down Foles, as opposed to Drew Bress. I see big problems here for the Eagles. Given these factors, I can’t pick either side. I don’t think Minnesota should be favored by -3. But I also want no part of an Eagles’ offense which might not score enough points to win or cover. This game is a pass for me.
LEANS: Here are my leans on the major wagering options, which means bets I have not made, but would consider:
Game Line: Minnesota -3; New England -7.5
Total: Minnesota/Philadelphia OVER 38.5
First Half: Minnesota -1.5; New England -4