Wild Card weekend saw all four favorites cover their respective spreads with the under cashing in each matchup. Are we in for a change of pace now that the league’s top four seeds have joined the party? Let’s take a look at what’s been shaking down in Las Vegas since the opening numbers hit the board.
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*Lines used courtesy of LVH in Las Vegas.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (11-6, 4-4 road) at DENVER BRONCOS (13-3, 7-1 home)
When: Saturday, 4:30pm ET
Open: Denver -8.5/45
Current: Denver -8.5/46
Alternate lines: Denver -9 (Wynn)
Weather: 19 degrees, 20% chance of snow, winds out of the north at 7 mph.
ICONCan bettors trust Joe Flacco to get the job done in the big spot?
Analysis: Can you really trust Joe Flacco? That’s the question bettors need to ask themselves when preparing to make a move on this AFC showdown. In eight road games this season, Flacco is 4-4 with a completion percentage of 56.9%, seven touchdowns, five interceptions and a QB rating of 74.9. That’s about as comforting as a wet blanket when you consider the Ravens will be playing this game at altitude on short rest against Peyton Manning and a Broncos team that has taken no prisoners during their current 11-game winning streak.
Denver has covered the number in four straight games and is 6-1 ATS over their last seven contests following an ATS win. Meanwhile, the Ravens went 3-4-1 ATS on the road this season and were blown out at home by this same Broncos team 34-17 back in Week 15. Anything less than a stellar performance from Joe Flacco won’t be good enough.
Take note: Baltimore is 1-5 ATS over their last six Divisional Round games while Denver is 9-2 ATS over their last 11 games played on a Saturday.
Early betting thoughts: Denver -8.5, Denver in a 6-point teaser
GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-5, 4-4 road) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (11-4, 6-1 home)
When: Saturday, 8:00pm ET
Open: San Francisco -3/45
Current: San Francisco -3/44.5
Alternate lines: This game is listed at -3 across the board
Weather: 56 degrees, 20% chance of rain, winds out of the north/northwest at 6 mph.
Analysis: The Green Bay bandwagon has been taking on significant weight in recent weeks, with LVH going so far as to adjust the Packers’ Super Bowl odds from 9/1 to 6/1 following the team’s 24-10 Wild Card win over Minnesota. The prevailing thought is that “Rodgers vs. Kaepernick” is the reason why the Pack will advance, but let’s not forget about the San Francisco defense. In the Niners’ four losses this season, the opposition ran for an average of 139.0 yards per game. Green Bay ranked 20th in rushing during the regular season (106.4 yds/gm) and mustered only 45 yards on the ground when these two teams met back in Week 1.
As for Rodgers, his numbers have taken a slight hit across the board this season, with the quarterback’s completion percentage, yards per attempt average, passing yards and touchdowns all coming in lower than they did in 2011. And the 51 sacks Rodgers endured in 2012 was a career high, so let’s keep that in mind as well. San Francisco is 14-5-1 ATS over their last 20 home games and has had two weeks to prepare for Green Bay (you don’t think Harbaugh was watching Minnesota tape this past week, do you?). Expect a big effort from the Niners.
Take note: Green Bay is 13-4 ATS over their last 17 games against teams with a winning record while San Francisco is 23-11-1 ATS over their last 35 games overall.
Early betting thoughts: San Francisco -3
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (12-5, 4-5 road) at ATLANTA FALCONS (13-3, 7-1 home)
When: Sunday, 1:00pm ET
Open: Atlanta -2.5/45
Current: Atlanta -2.5/46
Alternate lines: This game is listed at -2.5 across the board
ICONIs this the year Matt Ryan and the Falcons finally break through in the playoffs?
Analysis: So you’re telling me that the No. 1 seed in the NFC, who enters this game off an extra week of rest and is playing a team facing back-to-back trips to the east coast, isn’t even laying the standard three points for home field advantage? Something stinks here.
There’s a big difference in public opinion when it comes to these two teams, as the Seahawks are blazing hot (9-3 ATS over last 12), while the Falcons have never won a postseason game with Mike Smith as their head coach and Matt Ryan under center. The bookmakers were unwilling to open Atlanta -3 because they knew they’d be facing an onslaught of Seahawks money, despite the fact that stud defensive end Chris Clemons won’t play due to a knee injury. Seattle is 5-1 ATS over their last six games overall while Atlanta is 0-4 ATS over their last four playoff games. If you like the Falcons, you have to feel confident that this is the year they finally break through in the postseason. Any doubt and you’re better served passing on the game.
Take note: Seattle is 7-0 ATS over their last seven games against teams with a winning record while Atlanta is 22-7 ATS over their last 29 games following a straight-up loss.
Early betting thoughts: Seattle +2.5
HOUSTON TEXANS (13-4, 6-2 road) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4, 6-2 home)
When: Sunday, 4:30pm ET
Open: New England -9.5/49
Current: New England -9/47.5
Alternate lines: New England -9.5 (MGM)
Weather: 45 degrees, 20% chance of rain, winds out of the south/southwest at 8 mph.
Analysis: New England wiped the field with the Texans back in Week 14 to the tune of a 42-14 beat down, kick-starting a late-season skid that cost Houston a first-round bye. Will it be any different this time around? Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski is back for the Patriots, giving Bill Belichick and Tom Brady another wrinkle to throw at Wade Phillips’ defense.
The big concern for the Texans is their offense, which is averaging just 16.8 points and 339.8 total yards per game over their last five outings, compared to 29.2 points and 389.5 total yards per game over the team’s first 12 starts of the season. New England is going to find a way to get their points, but can Houston find a way to keep pace? Take note that the total for this game has already dropped by 1.5 points, with early money coming in on the under. In addition, the home team is 3-0-1 ATS in the last four meetings between these two franchises.
Take note: Houston is 1-4 ATS over their last five games following a straight-up win while New England is 1-8 ATS over their last nine playoff games.
Early betting thoughts: New England in a 6-point teaser.
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