NFL Conference Championship Games (Selections and Analysis)
Last week, I posted two plays on Facebook. Both were winners. However, only one of the selections was posted prior to game time (Denver on the moneyline). So, only that pick will be recorded and credited with my season-long record. I also had Seattle-Denver on a teaser (which won). That explains the updated record going into these week’s two conference championship games which is now ahead for the year in the amount of $2,565.
I have three picks for this week’s Conference Championship games, which are posted below.
NOLAN DALLA — 2015 NFL SEASON RECORD
74 WINS – 101 LOSSES — 3 PUSHES
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BANKROLL: $12,565.
NET GAIN/LOSS: + $2,565
BEST BETS OF THE WEEK: 13 – 10 – 2
LAST WEEK: 1 — 0 — 0 (+$1,000)
BEST BET: Arizona-Carolina OVER 23.5 in First Half (-110) — Wagering $1,100 to win $1,000
I was thrilled to see this first-half total fall under the key number of 24, in which case this would have lost too much value. Several factors indicate points will be scored in the first half, with solid reasoning for both offenses. Carolina usually comes into games very well prepared offensively, as evidenced by week’s 31-0 romp at halftime versus a pretty solid Seattle defense. I don’t expect that to change in this game, which is the biggest game of QB Cam Newton’s career. Don’t look for any major adjustments and given Carolina’s peaking at the right moment, one expects they will score, perhaps early and often. As for Arizona, Head Coach Bruce Arians stated to the media this week his team will have to play much more aggressively in the offensive play calling in order to win. Cardinals were pretty conservative in their last two games and QB Carson Palmer’s production fell off. If Arizona returns to its early-game downfield passing game as Arians promises, that should help points being scored. We certainly have lots of talent at skill positions for both teams, a good betting number for an under, as well as weather conditions which should not be a factor.
Arizona +3.5 (-110) — Wagering $550 to win $500
This would be a no play at +3, however +3.5 is enough for me to pull the trigger. It’s difficult to bet against Carolina at this point, especially at home where they’ve won 9 straight. Still, I think Arizona can keep it close and so I’ll take the hook on the field goal and hope we have a tight game. Arizona’s close call versus Green Bay last week was probably a positive, forcing the Cardinals to play a more up tempo game than we’ve seen in recent weeks. I look for Arizona to stay with Carolina every step of the way. Cardinals are just as good on paper at every position and rank similar statistically speaking. One could also make a solid case Arizona has played a much tough schedule while Carolina cake walked to an easy division crown. No one doubts Bruce Arians’ ability as a head coach and I think he’ll have his team prepared. Arizona has also posted a 7-1 road record this season, including a perfect 2-0 in East Coast road games. Take the points.
Denver +3 (-105) — Wagering $525 to win $500
I have to take the home dog in a game of this magnitude. New England is reportedly an overwhelming public choice in the sportsbooks and I tend to be contrarian, so this would likely be a wager on Denver at any number. However, getting a full field goal with reduced vig is simply too generous to pass up. Many Denver backers hoped to wake up and see this number rise to +3.5, but it didn’t. That likely indicates the big money is on Denver but the volume of tickets heavily favors New England. As of yesterday, sportsbooks were reporting public betting Patriots by a margin of 9 to 1. The justification for New England is obvious, given the team’s past record. However, New England hasn’t usually had to win championship games on the road. There are some lingering questions about the health of some players (WR Edelman was clearly not back to full strength last week). Facing the NFL’s top ranked defense on the road, I have enough confidence to wager this should be a close game in which the points come into play. Also, Denver has struggled offensively somewhat due to the QB situation being up in the air. There are serious questions about QB Manning’s ability and doubts as to how much he hads left in his career (could this be his last game?). I don’t expect Denver to game plan everything onto Manning’s shoulders, as has been the mistake of year’s past in similar games. Instead, look for lots of high-percentage passing and ball control. Last week, Kansas City dominated the time of possession by a margin of 38-22 (minutes). Had KC known how to manage a game clock, the Chiefs might have even pulled an upset. If Denver mix it up with the run, and can do the same with time of possession, they should win outright. There are just enough question marks here to bet against New England, which lost in Denver 5 weeks ago. Looking at how New England has closed the season, there’s not many games where they completely dominated (other than against awful teams, such as the Tennessee game). Although due in part to injuries, they struggled on both sides of the ball in the second half of the season. Contrarian play….home dog…..Denver’s solid defense….some questions as to New England’s consistency — there’s more than enough here to play the Broncos.