NFL Conference Championship Round

Yesterday’s bet, Marquette at Notre Dame, was a winner. Taking a bit of a different approach today. I am going to preview both NFL games.

Green Bay Packers (-4) at Chicago Bears (+4), Over/Under 42.5

This is the 3rd meeting between the Packers and Bears this season. They split the first two games. It will be cold (20 degrees) with a chance of snow (as it should be). Green Bay had an injury-plagued season but now enter this game full of momentum. They have an excellent QB and defense.  Chicago found a running game mid-season winning 8 of their last 10 games. Like the Packers, they have a good QB and defense (of course, at this point of the playoffs most teams have those two qualities).

Green Bay (12-6) clinched a playoff spot in the last week of the season. They can thank Chicago for that. The Packers average 6.0 yards per play (YPP) and 14.2 yards per point scored (YPPT) on offense. On defense, they allow 5.4 YPP and 19.8 YPPT. They are efficient. QB Aaron Rodgers averages 8.26 yards per attempt (YPA) with 28 TDs and 11 INTs for a 101.2 QB rating. Rodgers played excellent in both playoff games.  The Packers will need another big game from Rodgers and their run defense to win today.

Chicago (12-5) is likely regretting that final game against the Packers. They won relatively handily last week (more than the score shows) holding the Seahawks to 34 rushing yards. The Bears average 5.3 YPP and 13.7 YPPT on offense.  On defense, they allow 5.2 YPP and 17.1 YPPT. They are efficient on both sides of the ball. QB Jay Cutler averages 7.58 YPA with 23 TDs and 16 INTs for a 86.3 QB rating. Cutler will need a big game and help for his running game to win today. The Bears are a good home team and shouldn’t be overlooked as home-underdog.

The Sagarin Ratings have Green Bay 30.5 and Chicago 25.4. With the 1.9 home advantage, the fair line is Green Bay -3.2. According to, 66% of spread bets are on Green Bay and 58% of total bets are on the Under. The point spread moved from Green Bay -3 to -3.5 early in the week; it is now sitting at -3.5 and -4 depending on where you look.

My NFL model has Green Bay 22.6 and Chicago 20.3 for 42.9 total points. Green Bay has a more effective passing game. The teams are similar in offensive efficiency. The teams are also similar in defensive yards allowed. Packers are better against the pass; Chicago is better against the run. The Packers are more efficient. The key variance contributor is Chicago’s passing yards allowed.  Chicago has to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packer receivers to win.

New York Jets (+4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4), Over/Under 38

The Jets beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh earlier this season. The Steelers out gained the Jets in that game but the Jets won the special teams battle. QB Mark Sanchez had a mediocre game against a Steeler defense missing Troy Polamalu.  Polamalu is playing today. The Jets beat the number 1 seed Patriots last week.  Can they win their 3rd straight road playoff game today? The Steelers faced a physical Ravens team last week. They were down by 14 at the half. Will that physical, emotional win cause a letdown today?

The Jets (13-5) said all preseason its Super Bowl or bust.  Should we be surprised they are one game away? They have been quiet all week following their upset win in Foxboro. New York averages 5.3 YPP and 15.2 YPPT on offense. On defense, they allow 5.0 YPP and 15.7 YPPT. They aren’t the most efficient team. QB Mark Sanchez averages 6.49 YPA with 17 TDs and 13 INTs for a 75.3 QB rating. Sanchez is turnover prone but took a big step forward in the 2nd half last week. The Jets have more offensive weapons but must protect Sanchez (this isn’t the Colts or Patriots defense).  The Jets will need to limit turnovers, have excellent special teams play, and control Roethlisberger and the Steeler passing game to win today.

Pittsburgh (13-4) didn’t look like a playoff team in the 1st half last week. They scored 24 points and held the Ravens to 3 in the 2nd half. They don’t have the momentum that the Jets do, but they have proven all year they can put it together when they need to. The Steelers average 5.7 YPP and 14.3 YPPT on offense.  On defense, they allow 4.7 YPP and 17.8 YPPT. They are efficient. QB Ben Roethlisberger averages 8.23 YPA with 17 TDs and 5 INTs for a 97 QB rating. Roethlisberger is the better QB and has the playoff experience advantage. The Steelers have to get pressure on Sanchez and limit the special teams big plays.  Pittsburgh will be tough to beat at home twice.

The Sagarin Ratings have Pittsburgh 30.74 and New York 28.76. With the 1.9 home advantage, the fair line is Pittsburgh -3.9. According to, 56% of the spread bets are on Pittsburgh and 59% of total bets are on the Over.  The point spread opened at Pittsburgh -3 and has slowly moved to -4.

My NFL model has Pittsburgh 22.5 and New York 17.4 for 39.9 total points.  The teams have similar offensive yardage production; Steelers pass more, Jets run more.  The Steelers are more efficient on offense.  The Steelers have a better, more efficient defense.  The key variance contributor is both teams pass defense.  Whichever team can better pressure the QB and limit passing yards will win the game.


The Packers have momentum entering today. The Bears have steadily improved this season. Green Bay is the better overall team; but the Bears have dangerous weapons and are a home underdog. I think the Packers edge out a close win today but the Bears cover the spread. I modeled the game at Packers -2.3. I think there is value with the Bears. Bet the Chicago Bears +4.

The Jets beat the bet two QBs in the league over the last two weeks. They are living up to their own hype. Pittsburgh comes off a physical, come-from-behind win over a divisional rivalry.  Both teams have a case for deflation. The Jets have better offensive weapons but winning 3 road playoff games is a tall task.  I modeled the game at Pittsburgh -5.1. Pittsburgh will be tough to beat twice at home and has the playoff experience in key positions. Bet the Pittsburgh Steelers -4.

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Bet of the Day – New York Jets at New England Patriots, Jan. 16, 2011

New York Jets (+10) at New England Patriots (-10), Over/Under 45

No bet of the day yesterday.  Never short on commentary, the Jets continued to talk leading up to this game.  They won in Indianapolis last week holding the Colts well below their average yards and points scored.  As we all know, the Patriots embarrassed the Jets when they met in Foxboro earlier this season.  The Patriots had last week off and haven’t said much this week.  They haven’t lost since November 7th and the Jets were their only other loss this season.

New York (12-5) will need a huge defensive performance today in Foxboro.  The Jets average 5.3 yards per play (YPP) and 15.5 yards per point scored (YPPT) on offense.  On defense, they allow 5 YPP and 15.5 YPPT.  The Jets have an above average offense and an excellent defense.  They are 3rd in yards allowed and 6th in points allowed.  QB Mark Sanchez averages 6.49 yards per attempt (YPA) with 17 TDs and 13 INTs for a 75.3 QB rating.  Sanchez played well in the 2nd half last week.  He has to limit interceptions today.  The Jets can move the ball on offense.  New England is effective at limiting TDs and points converted.  The Jets must score touchdowns and not field goals to cover and win today.

New England (14-2) has the best offense in the NFL.  They average 6.1 YPP and 11.2 YPPT on offense.  On defense, the Patriots allow 5.7 YPP and 18.7 YPPT.  New England’s efficiency numbers read more like a good college team.  They average 5 points more per game than the next closest team.  The Patriots do allow a high number of yards per game on defense.  They force 2.4 turnovers per game while only allowing 0.6.  QB Tom Brady has had a likely MVP season.  He averages 7.93 YPA with 36 TDs and 4 INTs for a 111.0 QB rating.  Brady and the Patriots will move the ball and score points.  They are 8-0 at home and will be ready for today’s game.

The Sagarin Ratings have New England 34.11 and New York 27.08.  With the home advantage of 2.07, the fair line is New England -9.10.  According to, 66% of spread bets are on New England and 77% of total bets are on the Over.

My NFL model predicts New England 30.15 over New York 23.47 for 53.62 total points.  New England is clearly the better offense.  They have similar offensive yards, but New England is more efficient.  The Jets allow fewer yards and points on defense.  The key variance contributor is the Jets defensive passing yards allowed.  The Jets have to hold the Patriots below their average passing yards to cover the spread.

Today I am taking the Jets plus the points.  Here’s why.  The Jets were destroyed and embarrassed by the Patriots in November.  The Jets have an excellent defense and their offense has proven they can move the ball against the Patriots.  I modeled the game at New England -6.68.  I expect the Patriots to win, but not cover.  Bet on the New York Jets +10.

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Bet of the Day – New York Jets at New England Patriots, Dec. 6, 2010

New York Jets (+3.5) at New England Patriots (-3.5), Over/Under 44.5

Yesterday’s bet, Steelers at Ravens, was a loser.  Big game in the AFC East tonight.  In the early season meeting, New York won 28-14 and held the Patriots well below their offensive average.  The Patriots are an excellent home team (5-0).  A win for the Patriots would give them clear control in the conference.  The Jets are undefeated on the road (5-0) but haven’t faced a top team in any of those 5 games.

The Jets (9-2) have won 4 straight games.  They average 5.4 yards per play (YPP) and 15.0 yards per point scored (YPPT) on offense.  On defense, they allow 4.9 YPP and 17.5 YPPT.  They are very efficient on defense.  QB Mark Sanchez averages 6.79 yards per attempt (YPA) with 16 TDs and 8 INTs for an 81.9 QB rating.  Sanchez needs to be at his best and limit turnovers for a chance in New England tonight.

The Patriots (9-2) have won 3 straight games; including wins at Pittsburgh and over Indianapolis.  Like New York, they have had a few extra days to prepare for this game.  They average 5.9 YPP and 11.5 YPPT on offense.  On defense, they allow 6.0 YPP and 16.5 YPPT.  Very efficient on offense and decent on defense.  QB Tom Brady averages 7.69 YPA with 23 TDs and 4 INTs for a 105.8 QB rating.  Belichick and Brady at home with extra practice days (and in a key division game) will make New England very tough tonight.

The Sagarin Ratings have New York 26.93 and New England 27.69.  With the 1.68 home advantage, the fair line is New england -2.44.

My NFL model predicts Patriots 29.5 over Jets 28.6 for 58.1 total points.  The teams have similar mean offensive yardage but New England is much more efficient at converting points.  The Jets give up fewer yards and are more efficient on defense.  The key variance contributor is the passing defense for both teams.  Whichever team can better slow down the passing game (relative to their average) should win the game.

Tonight I am taking the Patriots minus the points.  Here’s why.  This is a key division game on Monday night and the Patriots are an excellent home team.  It’s hard to beat Belichick once, it is much harder to beat him twice.  Mark Sanchez is turnover prone; the Patriots don’t make many mistakes.  Bet on the New England Patriots -3.5.

Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

Bet of the Day – Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets, Oct. 11, 2010

Minnesota Vikings (+5) at New York Jets (-5), Over/Under 38.5

Yesterday’s bet, Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys, was a loser.  The 2nd leg of Thursday’s teaser won.  Big match-up tonight on Monday Night Football.  The Vikings had a busy week in the media; acquiring Randy Moss and the much-anticipated Brett Favre scandal hit the newswire (Amazing how the scandal from when Favre was with the Jets hit the week the Vikings visit).  The Jets keep winning; maybe they are who we thought they were?  Expect a good game tonight.

The Vikings haven’t started well.  They are averaging 5.4 yards per play (YPP) and 22.9 yards per point scored (YPPT) on offense while allowing 5 YPP and 21.8 YPPT on defense.  Annual training camp holdout QB Brett Favre is averaging 6.16 yards per attempt (YPA) for 2 TDs and 6 INTs with a 60.4 QB rating.  Favre hasn’t had much help but he also hasn’t helped himself.  The Vikings will improve on offense and will be highly motivated for tonight’s game.  Will they improve enough to hang with the Jets?

The Jets are backing up most of their talk.  They are averaging 5.8 YPP and 12.8 YPPT on offense while allowing 5.1 YPP and 20.2 YPPT on defense.  QB Mark Sanchez is averaging 6.9 YPA for 8 TDs and 0 INTs with a 105.3 QB rating.  What happened to the sophomore slump?  The Jets also get Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis back tonight.  The Jets are one of the best teams in the league.  With all the hype and recent success, all teams are gunning to beat them.

The Sagarin Ratings have New York 26.48 and Minnesota 18.67.  With the 2.57 point home advantage, the fair betting line is New York -10.38.  This indicates the betting value is with the New York Jets -5.  According to, 52% of bets are on the Vikings and the line has moved from Jets -5.5 to -5.

My NFL model predicts New York 23.9 over Minnesota 11.7 for 35.6 total points.  Statistically, the teams are very close on offense and defense.  The difference is New York’s ability to convert points.  A big part of that is they haven’t turned the ball over (once in 4 games).  The Vikings have 8 turnovers in 3 games.  The Vikings will have to finish red zone opportunities and limit turnovers to win.

Tonight, I think situational factors and a motivated Vikings team will make this closer than expected.  I am taking the Vikings plus the points.  Here’s why.  The Vikings played bad in their first 2 games and kept the games close against good teams.  The Jets are coming off 3 straight divisional games.  Worst case, adding Randy Moss is a distraction for the Jets secondary.  Best case, he stretches the field and makes an immediate impact.  The Vikings have 8 turnovers, the Jets have 1; that rate won’t last for either team.  The Vikings need this game much more and are motivated.  Bet on the Minnesota Vikings +5.

Feel free to comment or ask a question below or email me at  Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

Bet of the Day – New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, Sept. 26, 2010

New York Jets (+1) at Miami Dolphins (-1), Over/Under 35.5

Yesterday’s bet, Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks, was a winner.  We also went 3-2 on Twitter picks (252-202-4 to date).  Today’s bet of the day is on the Jets and Dolphins prime time game.  Coming off a big win over the Patriots, the Jets lost Revis  and had a very public DWI arrest for Braylon Edwards.  The Dolphins are now 2-0 and atop the AFC East.  Tonight’s game has plenty of questions hopefully we will have some answers.

The Jets (1-1) throttled the Patriots in the 2nd half last week, flashing the type of play we expect from the much-hyped team.  QB Mark Sanchez played much better throwing for 220 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs for a 124.3 QB rating.  Another step forward will be a challenge against an aggressive Dolphin defense.  The Jets are averaging 4.9 yards per play (YPP) and 13.8 yards per point scored (YPPT) while allowing 4.4 YPP and 23.9 YPPT.  Last week’s offensive performance was better for sure; but the Patriots defense isn’t as good as the Dolphin’s defense.  The Jets’ defense will play well (as they do) but expect some regression on the offensive side of the ball.  The Jets lost both games last year against the Dolphins.  Are they motivated?

Are the Dolphins a surprise 2-0?  Not really, they have won 2 road games (always hard to do) but their opponents weren’t exactly at the top of their game.  Today is a big game; the Home opener against an AFC East Rival.  Starting QB Chad Henne has been mediocre averaging 6.04 yards per attempt for 1 TD and 0 INTs with a 85.1 QB Rating.  The team offensive stats aren’t much better.  Miami is averaging 4.6 YPP and 18 YPPT (Not Efficient!) while allowing 4.4 YPP and 26.5 YPPT (Efficient!) on defense.  The offensive stats aren’t great, but the Dolphins are winning.  They are +2 in turnovers, have 49 less penalty yards, and have a defensive TD; they are a grinding team.  Expect Miami to be up for this game today.

The Sagarin Ratings have Miami 24.01 over New York 23.35.  With the 3.16 home advantage, the fair betting line is 3.82.  With a Miami -1 point spread, the betting value is with the Dolphins.

My football model predicts Miami 17.3 over New York 10.4 for 27.7 total points.  On paper, both teams have excellent defenses.  Despite all the talk, the Jets are more vulnerable to the pass but can stop the run.  Their offensive stats are nearly identical; the Jets score more efficiently.  The key variance contributor is the Jets pass offense.  The Jet’s have to pass the ball with success (similar to last weeks production) to win today.

Today I am taking the Dolphins.  Here’s why.  This is Miami’s home opener against a division rival in prime time.  Miami has a solid defense and doesn’t make many mistakes.  Miami’s Wildcat option is difficult to defend.  The Jets are coming off a big win, have some injury problems, and had team discipline issues this week; are they focused?  Bet on the Miami Dolphins -1.  Follow me on Twitter for all my picks (today’s picks are Jacksonville +3, NY Giants -2.5, Padres ML -125).  Good Luck!

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