The divisional round of the NFL playoffs was the best set of playoff games in recent memory.
All four games were decided by a total of 18 points. From a betting standpoint all four underdogs covered with two of them winning. Total players saw an even 2 over games and 2 under games.
The top two teams in the AFC were knocked out, which sets up the game everyone wants to see, Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, the Colts vs. the Patriots. In the NFC the top two seeds advanced, which means that of the final four contestants left, the team with the best regular season record is in the NFC, the Bears, who finished 13-3.
If the Patriots hope to advance to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the last six years they will have to do so by winning on the road. This game will mark the second straight week they will be facing a team who has not lost at home this season. The Colts were a perfect 8-0 straight up this year, as were the Chargers, but the Colts were an average 5-3 against the spread. The Patriots were 7-1 on the road during the regular season and 7-1 against the spread.
The first game this Sunday will be played in Chicago at noon, (yes! our time), where the Saints will attempt to make their first trip to the Super Bowl. The line on the game favors the Bears by 2 1/2 with the total hovering between 43 and 44.
These teams were definitely the best teams in the NFC, so it is fitting they will play for the conference championship. The public sentiment will lean heavily toward the Saints in this game and it would be difficult to say they were wrong. I will defer from making a selection on the side in this game until I see what happens with the number. The pick I will make on this game is under the total.
I find it difficult to see a total in the mid 40s in a Bears game in January and not go under. It was just a year ago that the total in a Bears game did not head north of 35. Now we are getting 43 or better, which is an extra touchdown and it will take more than six touchdowns to surpass that number.
The late game Sunday, as mentioned earlier, will be the game nobody will miss. The Colts finally get a playoff home game against their Lex Luthor, the New England Patriots. They did play earlier this year in New England with the Colts coming away with a 27-20 win, a game in which Tom Brady uncharacteristically threw 4 interceptions.
The line on this game favors the Colts by 3 with the total set at 48. The statistic that jumps out is the playoff records of both quarterbacks. Manning is 5-6, while Brady is 12-1.
I think there is a little kryptonite left in the satchel to pull off the upset in Indy, take the Patriots on the money line which should be around +$1.30. The Patriots were 3-0 as underdogs this year. I also will recommend the over in this game. When one team falls behind in this game it will take to the air, causing quick scores or clock stoppages.
So there you have it; three picks this week. Last week we were a split 2-2, losing both games on Saturday and rebounding with a couple of wins on Sunday. So far the post season record is 3-3, to go along with a regular season record of 21-11.
Jason Kolenut is the Casino Fandango Race and Sports Book supervisor.