Picks for NFL Divisional Sunday

What a game! The Arizona Cardinals 26-20 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers was a violent roller-coaster ride. The Packers miraculously forced overtime with a “Hail Mary”, but weren’t lucky enough to win the all important coin toss at the start of overtime. It was very unfortunate that because of the fate of a coin (that didn’t flip and needed to be re-tossed) Aaron Rodgers didn’t get to touch the ball in OT. In the opening game the New England Patriots led from wire-to-wire to end the Kansas City Chiefs 11-game winning streak 27-20. It was an entertaining game that featured some classic clock mismanagement by the master Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

Today’s games are also pretty tricky. I feel a little more confidently in my pick in the first game.

Seattle Seahawks +2.5 over the Carolina Panthers This line opened up at 2 which I thought was very fishy. I would have thought that the 15 and 1 Panthers would have been favored by around 3.5/4-points at home off their bye week. The line initially jumped out to 3 and was looking like it was going to get towards that number, but it turned around and came into -1.5 and now is drifting out to 2.5. There was some injury news that caused a lot of this noise. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is set to play as is Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart. As you would think with this fishy line 68% of spread, 53% of moneyline and 62% of parlay and teaser bets are on the Panthers. I have to go against the public and with the smelly line. I don’t like the fact I am going with a West Coast team playing at 10am Pacific Time. Seattle is definitely at a disadvantage because of travel playing against a rested team. This should be factored into the line as well making it even stranger. The total is 44 and hasn’t moved all week with 60% of the bets on the over. That is a perfect efficient market at equilibrium. I have zero opinion whatsoever. The weather won’t be perfect with some wind, but it shouldn’t factor.

Pittsburgh Steelers +7.5 over the Denver Broncos I really could go either way with this game. I am going to side with the underdog and fade 69%/59%/67% of spread/moneyline/combination bets on the Broncos. This is a flip-flop from my appearance on SEN yesterday. It is so hard not to go with the Broncos here with the serious injuries to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder, though he is scheduled to start. Big Ben will be without his number one target and maybe the best wide receiver in the league in Antonio Brown. Running back DeAngelo Williams also will not be able to play either for the Steelers. This is against the Broncos defense one of the best in the entire NFL. Peyton Manning will be starting the Broncos. I worry about his lack of mobility and the Pittsburgh defense which looks like it has improved as the season has progressed. This is a rematch of a 34-27 Steelers win in Pittsburgh when Brock Osweiler was QBing the Broncos a month ago. Denver led 27-10 in that game before their defense collapsed. It was Antonio Brown who did the damage with 16 catches for 189 and 2 TDs including the game winner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Broncos 7-point win. Luckily for Denver it won’t be very cold with kickoff temperatures right around 40 F, but will be below freezing at the end of the game. Peyton Manning has struggled in cold weather and there also won’t be much win and will be sunny. That is good for the over which is up from 40 to 41 with bets split. The market is hinting at the over and I would lean that way. I think you could see each of the defenses score and also would expect a few long plays for each of the offenses.

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