Starting Bankroll: $4,335
Last week was a tough week for me and many bettors. I made three money line bets for the Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, and Minnesota Vikings to seal upset wins and live another week to play in the Divisional Playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Houston Texans, the game was over in the first quarter. And more unfortunately for the Houston Texans, there is no mercy rule in the NFL, so their history books will forever show a 30-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wildcard Playoffs. Pretty embarrassing. And a loss for yours truly, because I bet thinking the Chiefs were just a little over-rated and the Houston Texans were a lot better. I was wrong.
Fortunately for me, I was right on the other two games I picked. Unfortunately for me, my picks lost on the most inconceivable plays in the final seconds of each game. Even though you know what I’m talking about, let me rehash painful memories real quick. My therapist says addressing my problems helps me move past them. Ok, I don’t have I have a therapist, just a NFL betting column, and a lot of people get entertainment from other peoples’ pain, and I’m apparently here to entertain you. Let’s look back…
The Cincinnati Bengals were trailing 15-0 to the Pittsburg Steelers entering the 4th quarter. All hope looked lost. They had a rookie quarterback in AJ McCarron, who had only played in a handful of games during the season with Andy Dalton on the bench with an injury. AJ was an incredible quarterback at University of Alabama, and even led them to a National Championship in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game against Notre Dame. You may remember that is the game that made Katherine Webb a household name and got her a gig on some reality diving show, and gave Brent Musberger the 2013 title for Creepy Old Man.
Anyhow, AJ McCarron brought the Cincinnati Bengals back to give them a 16-15 lead. A Vontaze Burfict interception gave the Bengals the ball with less than 2 minutes to go deep in Steelers territory. Most Americans at this point thought the game was sealed, and the Bengals would have their first playoff victory since before any of us had even heard of Saddam Hussein. But the Bengals became the Bengals. Jeremy Hill wanted to be a hero instead of doing his job, and ran up the middle with only one arm protecting the ball, and got stripped for the fumble. Here we go….
But the Steelers at this point only had 1:23 left at their own 9 yard line, and Ben Roethlisberger was back in with only one and a half functioning shoulders from a nasty sack earlier in the game. The Steelers methodically moved the ball, but not well enough to have a chance at a long field goal to win the game, until the Bengals really imploded. In the span of one play they gave up 30 yards in completely unnecessary penalties to put the Steelers within easy field goal range, and they sealed the game. Bengals went home with yet another loss in the playoffs. I went from cashing in for $225 to cashing in for nothing.
And then there’s the Minnesota Vikings. They have a much easier tale to tell. The Vikings were up 9-0 to start the 4th quarter in a very cold game in Minneapolis against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks came back to get a 10-9 lead. And then Blair Walsh had a moment he will never forgive himself for by shanking an easy 27 yard field goal that would have won the game for the Vikings. Instead we get to hear from Richard Sherman about how he and the Seahawks are the baddest team in history. I went from cashing in for $300 to cashing in for nothing on a 1 in 100 missed field goal.
That is a $525 swing for me when games that were easily won, somehow lost.
Such is life in betting on NFL games. We put up money, then sit back and wait for a bunch of athletes to determine our finances. It’s pretty messed up when you think about it. But fortunately, I’ve had another season in the black, so I’m doing better than the stock market.
Now this week’s Divisional Playoff picks. This week is really hard. The teams are getting better. The lines are getting tighter. And the margin for error is getting more slim. And there’s only 4 games.
Carolina Panthers (-2.5) over Seattle Seahawks for $110
The Panthers have been unbeatable in 2015. The Panthers had a BYE to heal up from the regular season. The Seahawks traveled to Minneapolis to play in zero degree weather, and barely squeezed out a win. Then travelled back to Seattle to practice and prepare for the Panthers. Now the Seahawks had to take a cross country flight to play against the best team (by record) in the NFL. And the line is less than a field goal. I like it.
Many people have picked the Panthers making it to the Super Bowl. In fact, most people do. So why are they favored by less than a field goal? Do people really think that they’re going to beat the Seahawks by only 1 or 2 points? Not likely. It could be a close game, but I see the Panthers winning by at least 4.
Everyone is talking about Cam Newton having an MVP season. But the Carolina defense has really been the MVP of this team, giving Cam a chance to be the centerpiece. The Carolina defense will keep Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, and Marshawn Lynch in check. And the Legion of Boom won’t know how to contain a quarterback with the offensive weapons that can effectively throw, hand it off, or even keep the ball for himself.
Do the right thing, and bet on the Panthers to cover.
Pittsburg Steelers (+7.5) over Denver Broncos for $110
Pittsburg Steelers (ML +280) over Denver Broncos for $100
These are really my favorite kinds of bets. The free ones.
The Pittsburg Steelers are going to cover that touchdown plus half point against the Denver Broncos. Seriously, do you really think the Broncos have a blowout left in them. Everyone loves some Peyton Manning, but he is a shell of himself. Manning MIGHT do enough to manage a win. MIGHT. Probably not. We will see Brock Osweiller in this game when Coach Fox pulls Manning when he chooses a win over storyline.
Even though Big Ben Roethlisberger is coming back from a nasty hit to his shoulder at the end of the Cincinnati Bengals game, he is one of the toughest m***** f*****s out there. He will play, he will play well, and he’s going to beat the Broncos defense. Unfortunately for the Steelers, De’Angelo Hall and Antonio Brown are out. But Hall was out last week, and the Steeler still had a running game. And Matarvis Bryant played really well last week after being called out by Big Ben for not being tough enough.
This is going to be both a fun and sad game to watch. Two great quarterbacks, and two great teams, at an altitude where the ball can fly. But it’s going to be sad, because it could very likely be Peyton Manning’s last game. Nobody wants to see Manning play next year when he’s halfway down the hill of his decline. We want to remember him when he’s on top, and having his final game be a playoff game that he starts.
So my bet on the Steelers to cover is a guarantee. That means that my bet for the Steelers to win is free! I love free bets. The worst I can do is Push. But I have the chance to make some serious cash when the Steelers win with a money line at almost 3 to 1!
Green Bay Packers (ML +280) over Arizona Cardinals for $100
I’m going to make this one short and sweet. I truly think that the Arizona Cardinals are going to beat the Green Bay Packers. They have been so strong this season and are coming off a BYE. The Green Bay Packers are a different team than they have been in the past. They have lost a lot of games that I didn’t expect. But Aaron Rodgers is still one of the best in the game. Unfortunately, he’s no Tom Brady, in that if you take away some of his weapons he can’t always find the next man up to win usually. But he’s got a chance. This is purely a value bet, because I don’t think that the Packers are really 3 to 1 underdogs. It’s a coin flip if they even cover, but 3 to 1 for them to win is too tasty for me to pass up. Aaron Rodgers has been here before, so what has happened in the regular season doesn’t matter this week.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
If you’ve been following my picks this season, you know that I never bet New England Patriots games. It would be betting with my heart, rather than betting with my brain. It just doesn’t work. So although my heart believes that the Patriots will crush the Chiefs, my heart also blocks my brain from thinking of this game pragmatically, so I’m laying off. Go Pats!