Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin’ on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

We didn’t exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but let’s not let that distract us from the fact we picked at a 58 percent clip during the rest of the year. We’re going to recap what went wrong this week and as we put a bow on the 2018 season of this column, we’ll look at who presents the best Super Bowl value.

LOSS: Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This was a true beatdown. I’ll be the first to admit that we underestimated just how hot the Colts were. Their offensive line looks impenetrable and Andrew Luck, as a result, looks like an elite quarterback once again. They took Houston out of the game from the jump by rushing out to a big lead. Deshaun Watson and Co. were simply never able to recover.

Watch out for Indy against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, they match up really well against Kansas City. If K.C. isn’t able to generate a pass rush on that tough offensive line, they could be in for a long day, whether they have the league MVP playing at his best or not. Teams surprise us in the playoffs and our first surprise came thanks to Indy.

LOSS: Seahawks to beat Cowboys (-105): Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22.

If only we would have taken the spread, which was Seahawks +2.5, we would’ve had the greatest backdoor cover of all time. Boy, kicker Sebastian Janikowski getting injured in the first half really threw this game through a loop with Seattle having to go for two and having to go for it on fourth down deep inside Dallas territory. Of course, having to go for two (and succeeding) at the end of the game, pushed the final score to a two-point margin instead of four.

However, we took Seattle to win straight up, because that was the better value and Pete Carroll’s unwillingness to pass the ball in the first half bit us right where it hurts. It really doesn’t make sense to be running the ball so much when you have one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league, but what do I know? This was a tough game to watch and an even tougher game to lose a bet on.

WIN: Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 points: Chargers 23, Ravens 17.

For a while there, it seemed like we were solidly in the clear, but scoring picked up in the fourth quarter. Had Lamar Jackson led an improbable comeback drive in the final minute, it would have pushed the over. Let’s be honest, though, that would’ve been pretty cool regardless. Los Angeles held on as they continue to look like a team of destiny and they saved the over by a couple points.

This is the only game we picked correctly this week, which makes it our last correct game pick of the season on this column. Don’t be surprised if the Chargers end up knocking off the Patriots on the road next week. L.A. is now 8-1 on the road this season and is coming for a New England team, which was the only team in the league to go a perfect 8-0 at home in the regular season.

LOSS: Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110): Eagles 16, Bears 15.

Writing this recap makes me physically ill, because I’m a Bears fan. I was in a fit of blind rage for about an hour after Cody Parkey’s game-winning 43-yard field goal attempt clanked off two different posts. While that field goal wouldn’t have won us this bet anyway, it doesn’t make it any easier a pill to swallow.

What we should blame this on is Matt Nagy’s vanilla play calling in the first half. It seemed like he was playing not to lose and didn’t let QB Mitch Trubisky push the ball down the field. That may have been a mistake given the fact he torched the Eagles in the second half, giving him the most overall passing yards of any QB playing on wild card weekend. It still should have been enough as he led the team down for a very makeable game-winning field goal, but a fingertip re-directed Parkey’s attempt and the play that will forever live in Chicago sports infamy was born.

LOSS: Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This game is really the gift that keeps on giving, huh? When one team scores just seven points, you can be pretty certain you aren’t hitting the over. I expected this to be a much closer game in the mid-20’s hence the pick. I couldn’t have anticipated Houston’s offense stalling out for most of the game. Credit to Indy for jumping out to an early lead and not giving it up, but that game flow really put us in a bind.

Since Indy went up so big so soon, Houston had to go into predictable play calls and that hindered them on offense. Up big, Indy just ran the ball and continued running out the clock. It was the perfect storm to lose us the over pretty quickly.

Okay, this bad betting week behind us, let’s jump to some Super Bowl picks. I’ll give you two Super Bowl values I really like and two I don’t like so much as you look to make a longer term bet in the coming weeks. These are all based on teams’ odds of winning the Super Bowl going into the Divisional Round.

Like: Chargers +1000. Yes, I get that the Chargers now have to take on the Patriots on the road to even advance to the AFC Championship, but this is really good value. A 10-to-1 that I really could see going all the way. Since they were a wild card team, it’s easy to forget they were tied for the best record in the AFC this season.

Saints +250. It’s weird to call the Saints a “value” pick, because they are the favorites to win it all. However, even a 2.5-to-1 payout is great for them and here’s why: they have the path of least resistance to get there. With the Bears eliminated, the NFC is now theirs for the taking and that alone, makes them a good value.

Dislike: Chiefs +400. The Chiefs are the most overrated team in football and it’s because they have the league MVP and the league’s most dynamic offense. However, in the playoffs, when games get tighter, you need a defense to win you games and K.C. has the worst defense remaining in the playoffs. They simply can’t slow down opponents in the passing game and they have a less-than-stellar match up this week with the Colts coming to town. They’re tied for the second-best odds to win it all and that’s just bad value.

Rams +400. I dislike this for many of the same reasons I dislike the value of taking the Chiefs. First of all, the team hit a rough patch in the final quarter of the season. They should beat the Cowboys at home, but that’s not a given. One thing they have over the Chiefs is a game wrecker like Aaron Donald. Even with a subpar overall defense, Donald can change a game with a big strip sack at any time. Overall, though, you just can’t convince me they’re going to march into New Orleans and beat the Saints. They, along with Kansas City, are the second-best odds behind the Saints and I just don’t see value in that.

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

We didn’t exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but let’s not let that distract us from the fact we picked at a 58 percent clip during the rest of the year. We’re going to recap what went wrong this week and as we put a bow on the 2018 season of this column, we’ll look at who presents the best Super Bowl value.

LOSS: Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This was a true beatdown. I’ll be the first to admit that we underestimated just how hot the Colts were. Their offensive line looks impenetrable and Andrew Luck, as a result, looks like an elite quarterback once again. They took Houston out of the game from the jump by rushing out to a big lead. Deshaun Watson and Co. were simply never able to recover.

Watch out for Indy against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, they match up really well against Kansas City. If K.C. isn’t able to generate a pass rush on that tough offensive line, they could be in for a long day, whether they have the league MVP playing at his best or not. Teams surprise us in the playoffs and our first surprise came thanks to Indy.

LOSS: Seahawks to beat Cowboys (-105): Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22.

If only we would have taken the spread, which was Seahawks +2.5, we would’ve had the greatest backdoor cover of all time. Boy, kicker Sebastian Janikowski getting injured in the first half really threw this game through a loop with Seattle having to go for two and having to go for it on fourth down deep inside Dallas territory. Of course, having to go for two (and succeeding) at the end of the game, pushed the final score to a two-point margin instead of four.

However, we took Seattle to win straight up, because that was the better value and Pete Carroll’s unwillingness to pass the ball in the first half bit us right where it hurts. It really doesn’t make sense to be running the ball so much when you have one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league, but what do I know? This was a tough game to watch and an even tougher game to lose a bet on.

WIN: Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 points: Chargers 23, Ravens 17.

For a while there, it seemed like we were solidly in the clear, but scoring picked up in the fourth quarter. Had Lamar Jackson led an improbable comeback drive in the final minute, it would have pushed the over. Let’s be honest, though, that would’ve been pretty cool regardless. Los Angeles held on as they continue to look like a team of destiny and they saved the over by a couple points.

This is the only game we picked correctly this week, which makes it our last correct game pick of the season on this column. Don’t be surprised if the Chargers end up knocking off the Patriots on the road next week. L.A. is now 8-1 on the road this season and is coming for a New England team, which was the only team in the league to go a perfect 8-0 at home in the regular season.

LOSS: Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110): Eagles 16, Bears 15.

Writing this recap makes me physically ill, because I’m a Bears fan. I was in a fit of blind rage for about an hour after Cody Parkey’s game-winning 43-yard field goal attempt clanked off two different posts. While that field goal wouldn’t have won us this bet anyway, it doesn’t make it any easier a pill to swallow.

What we should blame this on is Matt Nagy’s vanilla play calling in the first half. It seemed like he was playing not to lose and didn’t let QB Mitch Trubisky push the ball down the field. That may have been a mistake given the fact he torched the Eagles in the second half, giving him the most overall passing yards of any QB playing on wild card weekend. It still should have been enough as he led the team down for a very makeable game-winning field goal, but a fingertip re-directed Parkey’s attempt and the play that will forever live in Chicago sports infamy was born.

LOSS: Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This game is really the gift that keeps on giving, huh? When one team scores just seven points, you can be pretty certain you aren’t hitting the over. I expected this to be a much closer game in the mid-20’s hence the pick. I couldn’t have anticipated Houston’s offense stalling out for most of the game. Credit to Indy for jumping out to an early lead and not giving it up, but that game flow really put us in a bind.

Since Indy went up so big so soon, Houston had to go into predictable play calls and that hindered them on offense. Up big, Indy just ran the ball and continued running out the clock. It was the perfect storm to lose us the over pretty quickly.

Okay, this bad betting week behind us, let’s jump to some Super Bowl picks. I’ll give you two Super Bowl values I really like and two I don’t like so much as you look to make a longer term bet in the coming weeks. These are all based on teams’ odds of winning the Super Bowl going into the Divisional Round.

Like: Chargers +1000. Yes, I get that the Chargers now have to take on the Patriots on the road to even advance to the AFC Championship, but this is really good value. A 10-to-1 that I really could see going all the way. Since they were a wild card team, it’s easy to forget they were tied for the best record in the AFC this season.

Saints +250. It’s weird to call the Saints a “value” pick, because they are the favorites to win it all. However, even a 2.5-to-1 payout is great for them and here’s why: they have the path of least resistance to get there. With the Bears eliminated, the NFC is now theirs for the taking and that alone, makes them a good value.

Dislike: Chiefs +400. The Chiefs are the most overrated team in football and it’s because they have the league MVP and the league’s most dynamic offense. However, in the playoffs, when games get tighter, you need a defense to win you games and K.C. has the worst defense remaining in the playoffs. They simply can’t slow down opponents in the passing game and they have a less-than-stellar match up this week with the Colts coming to town. They’re tied for the second-best odds to win it all and that’s just bad value.

Rams +400. I dislike this for many of the same reasons I dislike the value of taking the Chiefs. First of all, the team hit a rough patch in the final quarter of the season. They should beat the Cowboys at home, but that’s not a given. One thing they have over the Chiefs is a game wrecker like Aaron Donald. Even with a subpar overall defense, Donald can change a game with a big strip sack at any time. Overall, though, you just can’t convince me they’re going to march into New Orleans and beat the Saints. They, along with Kansas City, are the second-best odds behind the Saints and I just don’t see value in that.

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin’ on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Picks

We made it through 17 weeks of the NFL season and as an added bonus, we’re going to give you one more week of picks. Wild Card weekend tends to provide the most interesting matchups of any playoff round, because it often matches up a really hot team with a team that is better on paper. The reason for that is simple. Think about it. Whoever gets the No. 6 seed in either conference had to beat out a handful of other teams and has been in playoff mode for weeks. That’s why the Bears and Texans could have their hands full with the Eagles and Colts respectively. Anyway, let’s get to our picks.

Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105)

Bettors are loving the Colts, who snuck into the playoffs by beating the Titans in Week 17. There’s plenty of reason to believe in this team, whose offense looks to finally be humming entering the playoffs. I alluded to the fact that a hot No. 6 seed often can go on a deep playoff run, but there are a few reasons I don’t think this is happening this week. First of all, the Texans offense has plenty of weapons (ones the Titans didn’t have in Week 17) to outscore the Colts.

Second of all, the Texans have a very stout defense, which should give Indy some trouble. The same could have been said about the Titans, but their defensive efforts week to week were much less consistent than Houston’s. Let’s not forget the Texans were a win against the Eagles away from having home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They’ve been one of the best teams in the AFC all season long and this one just doesn’t scream upset to me. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Seahawks to beat the Cowboys (-105)

This game is essentially a pick ’em as the line is only one point and there are negative odds for picking each to win (Seattle at -105, Dallas at -110). I get that this game is on the road and the Seahawks play differently away from home, but they also have a ton of playoff experience. The x-factor here is really Russell Wilson. In what should be a close game, I trust him 10 times more than I trust Dak Prescott in a pressure situation.

Sometimes, in these games, you have to trust the players who have been there, done that and are better equipped to handle the pressure. This is a dangerous game as each team has shown some flaws in recent weeks, but between these two imperfect teams, there is still a ton of talent. Expect a lot of big plays and an exciting finish. If it comes down to the fourth quarter, as playoff games usually do, the edge has to be given to Russ and Co. who have proven they can get it done in crunch time before. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 (-110)

I just can’t bring myself to pick this game against the spread. The Chargers and Ravens are such different teams and this is a toss up for me. Los Angeles is 7-1 on the road this season, but Baltimore runs the exact type of offense that bleeds the clock and keeps opposing teams off the field that the Chargers hate. It gets them out of their rhythm and that could put them in some real trouble if they don’t stop Lamar Jackson.

Again, I can’t for the life of me decide who I think is going to win this game, but I do think we’re going to see a low-scoring game that comes down to the wire. 21-17 or something along those lines certainly isn’t out of the question and that would get us the under. There isn’t a ton of confidence in any bet involved in this game, but to make sure this one was covered, we’ll take the under as the most confident bet associated with it. $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110)

This game scares me a lot. Full disclosure: I’m a Bears fan. I very rarely like to pick a team I root for, especially under these circumstances, so I’ll tell you why I’m doing so this week. On paper, the Bears are a much better team than the Eagles, much better. Of course, games aren’t played on paper, but we need to remember the Bears have a lot more talent and if we’re defaulting to something, it has to be that. Let’s not forget, the Bears are the first 12-win NFC team since 2014 to not get a first-round bye. Second of all, for as scared as myself and all Bears fans are for playoff Nick Foles, there is reason to believe he won’t duplicate last year’s success.

Chicago allows the lowest opponent’s quarterback rating in the entire league. Essentially, QB’s have their worst performances when they play against the pass rush and secondary of the Bears. With Pro Bowl safety, Eddie Jackson, set to return to the fold, that Bears defense looks even stronger. For the Bears to win, they need to take care of the football. If they don’t turn it over, Philly stands very little chance. Whether or not they cover comes down to Mitchell Trubisky’s performance in his first career playoff game. All they need is a touchdown margin of victory to cover and we’ll trust the Bears enough to do that. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.50.

Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110)

For as much as I talked about how Houston’s defense is going to slow the Colts down, this game could still become somewhat of a shootout. 31-24, or something along those lines isn’t out of the question. In my opinion, holding the Colts to 24 would be a victory for the Texans and would also hit the over as long as Houston won the game. Picking over/unders in the playoffs is tricky, because they’re often dictated by the pace set at the very beginning of the game. If one of these teams scores early, players and coaches start to loosen up and the field opens up. In that case, I love the over.

One thing that could hurt us here is if a few defensive stops are made early on and it becomes a field position battle. That’s entirely possible, but I think that’s the less likely of the two scenarios. Each team has offensive playmakers capable of picking up chunks of yards at a time, so as long as both team converts its red zone trips into touchdowns instead of field goals, I feel good about the over in this one. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

These are the last picks of the year, so let’s hope they’re fruitful like the entire regular season has been for us. One final time, we’ll cross our fingers and hope that we can hit on that elusive five-team parlay we’ve been so close to all year long. Based on the picks above, a $20 five-team parlay would pay out $530.16. For the final time this season, good luck, and we’ll have one more recap column to look at how our Wild Card Weekend picks panned out.

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Picks

We made it through 17 weeks of the NFL season and as an added bonus, we’re going to give you one more week of picks. Wild Card weekend tends to provide the most interesting matchups of any playoff round, because it often matches up a really hot team with a team that is better on paper. The reason for that is simple. Think about it. Whoever gets the No. 6 seed in either conference had to beat out a handful of other teams and has been in playoff mode for weeks. That’s why the Bears and Texans could have their hands full with the Eagles and Colts respectively. Anyway, let’s get to our picks.

Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105)

Bettors are loving the Colts, who snuck into the playoffs by beating the Titans in Week 17. There’s plenty of reason to believe in this team, whose offense looks to finally be humming entering the playoffs. I alluded to the fact that a hot No. 6 seed often can go on a deep playoff run, but there are a few reasons I don’t think this is happening this week. First of all, the Texans offense has plenty of weapons (ones the Titans didn’t have in Week 17) to outscore the Colts.

Second of all, the Texans have a very stout defense, which should give Indy some trouble. The same could have been said about the Titans, but their defensive efforts week to week were much less consistent than Houston’s. Let’s not forget the Texans were a win against the Eagles away from having home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They’ve been one of the best teams in the AFC all season long and this one just doesn’t scream upset to me. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Seahawks to beat the Cowboys (-105)

This game is essentially a pick ’em as the line is only one point and there are negative odds for picking each to win (Seattle at -105, Dallas at -110). I get that this game is on the road and the Seahawks play differently away from home, but they also have a ton of playoff experience. The x-factor here is really Russell Wilson. In what should be a close game, I trust him 10 times more than I trust Dak Prescott in a pressure situation.

Sometimes, in these games, you have to trust the players who have been there, done that and are better equipped to handle the pressure. This is a dangerous game as each team has shown some flaws in recent weeks, but between these two imperfect teams, there is still a ton of talent. Expect a lot of big plays and an exciting finish. If it comes down to the fourth quarter, as playoff games usually do, the edge has to be given to Russ and Co. who have proven they can get it done in crunch time before. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 (-110)

I just can’t bring myself to pick this game against the spread. The Chargers and Ravens are such different teams and this is a toss up for me. Los Angeles is 7-1 on the road this season, but Baltimore runs the exact type of offense that bleeds the clock and keeps opposing teams off the field that the Chargers hate. It gets them out of their rhythm and that could put them in some real trouble if they don’t stop Lamar Jackson.

Again, I can’t for the life of me decide who I think is going to win this game, but I do think we’re going to see a low-scoring game that comes down to the wire. 21-17 or something along those lines certainly isn’t out of the question and that would get us the under. There isn’t a ton of confidence in any bet involved in this game, but to make sure this one was covered, we’ll take the under as the most confident bet associated with it. $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110)

This game scares me a lot. Full disclosure: I’m a Bears fan. I very rarely like to pick a team I root for, especially under these circumstances, so I’ll tell you why I’m doing so this week. On paper, the Bears are a much better team than the Eagles, much better. Of course, games aren’t played on paper, but we need to remember the Bears have a lot more talent and if we’re defaulting to something, it has to be that. Let’s not forget, the Bears are the first 12-win NFC team since 2014 to not get a first-round bye. Second of all, for as scared as myself and all Bears fans are for playoff Nick Foles, there is reason to believe he won’t duplicate last year’s success.

Chicago allows the lowest opponent’s quarterback rating in the entire league. Essentially, QB’s have their worst performances when they play against the pass rush and secondary of the Bears. With Pro Bowl safety, Eddie Jackson, set to return to the fold, that Bears defense looks even stronger. For the Bears to win, they need to take care of the football. If they don’t turn it over, Philly stands very little chance. Whether or not they cover comes down to Mitchell Trubisky’s performance in his first career playoff game. All they need is a touchdown margin of victory to cover and we’ll trust the Bears enough to do that. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.50.

Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110)

For as much as I talked about how Houston’s defense is going to slow the Colts down, this game could still become somewhat of a shootout. 31-24, or something along those lines isn’t out of the question. In my opinion, holding the Colts to 24 would be a victory for the Texans and would also hit the over as long as Houston won the game. Picking over/unders in the playoffs is tricky, because they’re often dictated by the pace set at the very beginning of the game. If one of these teams scores early, players and coaches start to loosen up and the field opens up. In that case, I love the over.

One thing that could hurt us here is if a few defensive stops are made early on and it becomes a field position battle. That’s entirely possible, but I think that’s the less likely of the two scenarios. Each team has offensive playmakers capable of picking up chunks of yards at a time, so as long as both team converts its red zone trips into touchdowns instead of field goals, I feel good about the over in this one. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

These are the last picks of the year, so let’s hope they’re fruitful like the entire regular season has been for us. One final time, we’ll cross our fingers and hope that we can hit on that elusive five-team parlay we’ve been so close to all year long. Based on the picks above, a $20 five-team parlay would pay out $530.16. For the final time this season, good luck, and we’ll have one more recap column to look at how our Wild Card Weekend picks panned out.

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Week 12 Results

It was bound to happen at some point. We had our worst week in months and were the victim of a number of bad beats this week. We went 1-4, but could have easily gone 3-2. It wasn’t pretty, but let’s recap exactly what went wrong and how we can learn from it going into the last five weeks of the season.

LOSS: Redskins +7.5 vs. Cowboys (-110): Cowboys 31, Redskins 23.

Our first bad beat of the week came just as Thanksgiving dinner was settling. Despite a poor showing from Colt McCoy, the Redskins actually gave themselves a chance late in this game. If it weren’t for a missed extra point early in the game, they would have lost by just seven points, helping us get the win.

Of course, our luck ran out and we lost the bet by half a point. This really set the stage for the rest of our bets, because boy, was it a rough weekend. Game after game ended in heartbreak, so one terrible game down, three to go. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Jaguars -3 at Bills (-120): Bills 24, Jaguars 21.

This game was weird and that strangeness did not work in our favor. Down 14-0, the Jags battled all the way back and scored to go up 21-14. However, the call on the field was changed, giving Jacksonville the ball on the one-yard line. In the aftermath of that play, there was an all-out brawl in which star running back Leonard Fournette was ejected from the game. Fournette had been running the Bills over and the bet was essentially dead after that.

With first and goal from the one, the Jaguars had a penalty, Blake Bortles took a sack, and then Josh Lambo missed a 26-yard field goal. It was as excruciating as it gets. Just one year removed from the AFC Championship Game, the Jaguars have now lost seven straight games and are 3-8. Just like our betting from this week, they have plenty to fix. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Patriots-Jets OVER 46 points (-110): Patriots 27, Jets 13.

Oh, yet another gut punch. With the Patriots up 27-13 with two minutes left in the game, the Jets had third and two from the three-yard line. Instead of running the ball, knowing you should probably be able to get two yards in two tries, they had 39-year-old Josh McCown attempt two low-percentage passes to the corner of the end zone. To call the play calling in that situation infuriating would be an understatement.

Of course, a touchdown in that situation would have pushed the game total to 47, giving us the over, but the betting gods didn’t want us to have nice things this week. New England took over and sat on the ball and no more points were scored. Total payout: $0.

WIN: 49ers-Buccaneers UNDER 55 (-110): Buccaneers 27, 49ers 9.

Our only win of the weekend was probably the least exciting game as well. When you’re rooting for the under, sometimes you have to root for a bland game and that’s exactly what we got with Bucs-49ers. There was some scoring early, but San Francisco flatlined by the second quarter. It turns out Nick Mullens may not be the answer at quarterback.

By the fourth, this one was a lock, the Buccaneers already firmly in control. The best thing this game did for us was save us the potential embarrassment of an 0-5 week. In a week where everything went wrong, we’ll take it. Total payout: $5.70.

LOSS: Steelers -3 vs. Broncos (-115): Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

Okay, back to the heartbreak. Denver has been frisky lately, but with the Steelers possessing many more offensive weapons, this seemed like an easy pick. However, Denver made it hard on Big Ben and Co. all day long. Two interceptions helped key the win. First, with Pittsburgh up 17-10, the Broncos picked him off near midfield. Had the Steelers scored on that possession, it would have been the nail in the coffin.

Instead, Denver scored to tie it and then scored again to take the lead. This game seemed destined for overtime with the Steelers looking to punch the ball in from the two-yard line. Instead, Big Ben threw a backbreaking interception that sealed the deal and helped the Broncos to their second straight upset win. Last week, that upset helped us. This week, it hurt us. Total payout: $0.

PIGGY BANK: $257.20 (7.2% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 57.9% (33-24-3)

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Week 12 Picks

Our picks continue to hit week after week and we’ll try to avoid a slump in Week 12. Thanksgiving unders are always a solid bet, but oddsmakers have been catching up to that in recent years, so we will stay away. As we have in past weeks, we will split our money between point spreads and over/unders. For five weeks in a row, we’ve gone at least 3-2, let’s make it six in a row, what do you say?

Redskins +7.5 at Cowboys (-110)

This is the only pick we will have from Thanksgiving and I think it’s a good one. QB Alex Smith being out for the year is a big loss for Washington and it will likely end their playoff hopes (although they do play in the NFC East after all). However, backup Colt McCoy has the confidence of the coaching staff, because he knows this offense as well as anybody. He doesn’t have the same capability that Smith does, the Washington’s strength is its defense anyway.

In a rivalry game, even with the Redskins starting a backup quarterback, getting more than a touchdown spread is too good to pass up. We’ve had good luck betting both against and on the Redskins, so let’s keep the good times rolling. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Jaguars -3 at Bills (-120)

Have the Jaguars majorly disappointed this season? Of course they have. Are they on the same level as the Bills? No, they are not. Jacksonville’s defense reminded us how good they can be after shutting down the Steelers for most of last week. If they have a similar performance Sunday, Buffalo isn’t going to score more than 10 points.

The Jaguars are in the middle of an identity crisis right now and their offense is completely out of sorts, but they should be able to score enough to cover a three-point spread. This might not be the most fun game to watch, but it’ll be a lot more fun if it wins you this bet. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.17.

Steelers -3 at Broncos (-115)

We bet on the Broncos to cover +7.5 against the Chargers last week and they won straight up. Against a Steelers team that just got a scare from the Jaguars, they’re primed for a letdown game. Pittsburgh is pushing for a first-round bye in the playoffs and is the much more talented team. The Le’Veon Bell saga behind them, now the Steelers can focus on this year’s playoff push.

Big Ben and the offense finally got going at the end of their game last week and should be able to pick back up where they left off. If past Broncos games are any indication, this should be a close game, but it’s one Pittsburgh should be able to take care of business in. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.35.

Patriots-Jets OVER 46 (-110)

While the Patriots might blow New York out, the New England defense isn’t very good either. Something like a 30-17 game would push this game over. Tom Brady and Co. haven’t been as prolific as of late, so this looks like a potential bounce-back game for them. Let’s say it ends up 37-20, or something along those lines; we’d be completely fine as far as the over goes.

This bet definitely only works if the Patriots contribute to most of the point total. If they stall out in the 20’s, we’re in trouble. However, if they go up over the 30-point mark as a team, this over is almost a sure thing. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

49ers-Buccaneers UNDER 55 (-110)

Yes, both these teams have put up pretty good offensive numbers lately, but neither is very good overall and I just can’t believe they’re going to combine for 56 points or more. I mean, c’mon, Jameis Winston is starting at quarterback for Tampa Bay. He’s going to turn it over in a few key spots. Nick Mullens has been really solid in the first two starts of his career, but will that continue?

We’ll see if he can impress us again, but I’m not buying it. This over would require both teams outplaying projections of where I see them finishing. It should be a competitive game, but it will be in the 20’s, not the 30’s. After going 2-for-2 in over/unders last week, let’s try to duplicate the feat in Week 12. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Our dream of a 5-for-5 parlay hit would make us a lot of money on a $20 bet. In fact, it would make us a cool $476.93. Keep daring to dream. We’ll check in on these picks early next week.

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Week 11 Results

Well, for the fifth straight week and for the ninth time in 11 tries this season, we won more than we lost out of our five betting picks. Last week, we had the point spreads down and floundered on game picks. This week, we had it the other way around. Either way, another 3-2 week keeps our pick percentage right around 60 percent.

Unfortunately, the Falcons were our most confident pick this week and they couldn’t come through, so we didn’t build on our recent gains.

WIN: Packers-Seahawks OVER 49.5 (-110): Seahawks 27, Packers 24.

Wow, this one was close. As the over/unders so often are, Vegas was spot on here. The Packers and Seahawks battled into a tie in the 20’s, making this a nailbiter for bettors on both sides of the equation. Luckily for us, Russell Wilson came up with some magic down the stretch and despite Aaron Rodgers’ inability to answer, we were primed for the over to hit at the next score.

When Seattle kicked the go-ahead field goal to win it, that’s what pushed it over the edge. We got it by the slimmest of margins, but we’re certainly not complaining. Total payout: $3.80.

LOSS: Falcons -3 vs. Cowboys (-120): Cowboys 22, Falcons 19.

It continues to amaze me how bad the Falcons can be with as much talent as they have on the offensive side of the ball. Steve Sarkisian’s offense just refuses to get off the ground and this entire game was frustrating to watch. Time and time again, Atlanta’s defense got stops to give the offense a chance. Time and time again, the offense sputtered and either had to settle for a field goal or were kept out of field-goal range entirely.

They made things interesting by tying things up at 19 via a 34-yard strike from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, but then Dallas drove right down the field in the closing minutes. We had to root for a missed chip shot field goal to send things to overtime and give us a chance, but it wasn’t to be. Atlanta screwed us over, but we can take solace in the fact the loss likely ended their playoff hopes. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Panthers -4.5 vs. Lions (-110): Lions 20, Panthers 19.

Speaking of frustrating, wow, it was hard to watch how this one went down. Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed an easy field goal and an extra point, which not only cost us four points on the spread, but it ended up guaranteeing we couldn’t win this bet at the end of the game. The Panthers scored with just a minute left and an extra point would have likely sent the game to overtime.

However, with so little faith in their kicker, they sent the offense back out there to go for two and the win. That created a lose-lose situation for us, because the only way for us to win would be Carolina to send it to overtime and have a walk-off touchdown. With this decision, they would either win by one or lose by one, and neither did us any good. Since they didn’t cover, they didn’t deserve to win anyway and Carolina fell to the previously 3-6 Lions to make our day a little worse. Total payout: $0.

WIN: Titans-Colts UNDER 49 (-110): Colts 38, Titans 10.

God almighty, this one was close. When Marcus Mariota went down, it seemed all but locked up until Tennessee’s once feared defense became inept. Andrew Luck and Co. were scoring at will and it got more and more tense as the total approached 49. Indy scored to go up 38-3 and everything still felt pretty good until the Titans found the end zone for the first time, leaving us one fluke play away from losing the bet.

Luckily, with the point total sitting at 48, one below the line, the Titans kicked off to the Colts and they were happy to take knees and run out the clock. This one made us sweat, but in the end, it went our way making us 2-for-2 in over/under picks this week. Total payout: $7.60.

WIN: Broncos +7.5 at Chargers (-120): Broncos 23, Chargers 22.

We should’ve bet the money line! Denver somehow found a way to pull this game out with a field goal as time expired and we would’ve been a lot richer had we had enough confidence in them to win the game outright. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and we won our bet, so we should stop complaining.

While they haven’t been super successful this season, the Broncos have been feisty at times and that’s what we were relying on in this game. They came through and because of that, we finished above .500 for the fifth consecutive week. Total payout: $3.67.

PIGGY BANK: $251.50 (14.3% return on investment)

PICK SELECTION: 61.5% (32-20-3)

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Week 11 Picks

We’re starting to pick games with some swagger now. Being well in the black is nice, so let’s keep the good times rolling. The lines are set pretty well this week, which makes our jobs a little tougher. There aren’t a ton of spreads to like, but we picked out the three you should be able to bank on the most. As far as over/unders, we have one over and one under for you.

Panthers -4.5 at Lions (-110)

Carolina has never burned us before, right? Just kidding, we took them +4 against the Steelers in a game they lost 52-21 last week. That was the only pick we got wrong in Week 10. Even though they’re on the road, there’s plenty of reason to believe they’re a prime bounceback candidate, just like another team we’ll talk about in a minute.

The Panthers have everything to play for with an NFC Wild Card berth well within their grasp. Detroit, meanwhile, has spiraled into free fall and it seems like head coach Matt Patricia may already have lost that locker room. They waved the white flag the moment they traded Golden Tate and there’s no reason to believe they should be competitive. Detroit is 3-6, but two of those wins have come against the Patriots and Packers, so who knows, but the percentages tell us Carolina wins this game handily. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Falcons -3 vs. Cowboys (-120)

This is our biggest lock of the week. Atlanta is another prime bounceback candidate after randomly getting blown out by the Browns last week. They’re in desperation mode and at home. Yes, the Cowboys’ defense presents some issues for the offense, but Dak Prescott simply isn’t going to outgun Matt Ryan on his home field. It’s not happening.

If the Falcons hope to have any prayer of sneaking into the playoffs, they basically need to win every single one from here on out. Unless Dallas comes out with a crazy effort like they did against the Jaguars several weeks ago, it just doesn’t seem plausible for them to grab this road win. If you’re going to bank on any one of these picks this week, make it this one. The bet: $8 for total payout of $14.66.

Broncos +7.5 at Chargers (-120)

Even as I’m typing this, I don’t feel great about this pick, but the Broncos are a competent enough team to cover a multiple-score spread. Of course, that’s what this is. If Denver loses by a touchdown, they cover. The Chargers have been great this season and have flown under the radar, but they generally don’t score points in bunches.

Expect the Broncos to hang around at least for a bit and then we can hope they keep the game within a touchdown. It might be wishful thinking, but it’s our best bet amongst a group of other less promising spreads this week. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.67.

Packers-Seahawks OVER 49.5 (-110)

This is a matchup of desperate teams. The Packers are 4-4-1, the Seahawks 4-5. The loser will start to slip out of the playoff picture entirely. Since the game is in Seattle, expect that to level the playing field a bit. These aren’t your older brother’s Seahawks, whose defense struck fear into their opponents. Green Bay’s defense, especially without Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the secondary is vulnerable as well.

When betting over/unders, you essentially need to guess what the game flow is going to be. This certainly seems like it will be a close game that is relatively high scoring. A 30-20 final score would get us our over and that seems perfectly reasonable for how we expect this game to go. It’s not our most confident pick, but it’s a pretty decent bet. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.80.

Titans-Colts UNDER 49 (-110)

This one is dangerous with the Colts’ offense able to go off at any time, but hey, if the Titans can hold the Patriots defense at bay, they can do the same with the Colts. It’s actually looking more and more like Tennessee has a legit defense, capable of shutting an opponent down. Their offense, while it looked its best all season against New England, is still a work in progress.

All that adds up to a relatively low scoring game, one that keeps us under that 49-point mark. Would anyone be surprised if this game ended 20-17 or somewhere right around there? This over/under seems set really high, so jump on the under in anticipation of a low-scoring game. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

As always, our pipe dream of 5-0 is on the table. We’ve had two 4-1 weeks in our last four, so we’re getting closer. If we nailed all these picks, our parlay payout would be $467.49. We’re going to ride our current hot streak and hope we can get a clean sweep for you this week. Best of luck in Week 11 and we will debrief after the weekend’s action is over. 

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Week 10 Results

We are officially rolling. It’s been more than a month since we’ve had a losing week and we are now into the 60 percent pick echelon. That’s right, we’ve picked at the same rate as the pros over a 10-week period, no small sample size. Now that we’re rolling, we’re well into the black and will be looking to build on that even more in the coming weeks. Let’s recap our super successful Week 10.

LOSS: Panthers +4 at Steelers (-115): Steelers 52, Panthers 21.

This one got away from us in a hurry on Thursday Night Football. Everyone expected this to be a competitive game between two solid teams, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense really took things to another level, especially in the first half. The under was dead by halftime and it was quickly apparent Pittsburgh wasn’t going to give Carolina even a prayer down the stretch.

It happens sometimes and we can’t really predict an offensive performance like we saw Thursday Night. When something like that does happen, you just have to hope it works in your favor. It didn’t this week, but that’s about all that didn’t in an otherwise successful week of picks. Total win: $0.

WIN: Redskins +135 at Buccaneers: Redskins 16, Buccaneers 3.

This line actually somehow moved all the way up to +150 by kick off, but Washington proved why this was another great road underdog pick. Remember, we are now 3-for-3 in picking road underdogs on the money line over the past two weeks. Frankly, this was a gross game; it was 6-3 at half time.

Things got interesting in the second half and honestly, Tampa outplayed Washington for most of the afternoon. Ryan Fitzpatrick and company had more than 400 yards of total offense, but just three points to show for it, because they turned over the ball at the most critical points in the game. After betting against the Redskins successfully last Sunday, we got help from them in the other direction. Total win: $11.75.

WIN: Cardinals +17 at Chiefs (-110): Chiefs 26, Cardinals 14.

This is the second time this season we were handed a three-score spread and took it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence it’s also the second time we’ve won that bet. No matter how bad one team and how good the other, in the NFL 17 points is too much to ignore and Arizona came through for us on Sunday.

If you made this pick like I did, you had a mini heart attack at the end of the game when the Chiefs came up with an interception and started running it the other way. It came very close to turning into a debilitating pick six to push the deficit to 19, but they were pushed out of bounds a couple dozen yards before reaching pay dirt. We’ll thank our lucky stars for that one and move on to the next one. Total win: $7.60.

WIN: Seahawks +10 at Rams (-110): Rams 36, Seahawks 31.

The only dangerous part about this bet was how much worse Seattle plays on the road as opposed to at home. They already lost to L.A. at home, but they were also the more desperate team. Seattle certainly played like it and it put them in a position to be able to win the game. Ultimately, the comeback attempt from Russell Wilson and Co. came up short, but they did their job and covered for us.

It looked like disaster had struck when the Rams strip sacked Wilson, recovered, and then scored a few players later to go up by 12, but Seattle put together a really nice touchdown drive immediately after. They actually got the ball back with time to score, but weren’t able to convert. If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s bet on the Seahawks’ spread, they’ve been great against it. Total win: $7.60.

WIN: Saints-Bengals OVER 54 (-115): Saints 51, Bengals 14.

It sure helps your cause on an over when one team nearly hits the over by themselves. New Orleans was once again possessed on offense on Sunday, leading to a blowout of Cincinnati. Thankfully, each team continued scoring well into the fourth quarter, because even with the Saints’ onslaught, it seemed like scoring might stall out in the third quarter.

At this point, betting a Saints under seems crazy and we were lucky to get on this train before their over/under numbers soar against opponents with strong offenses. This rounds out a really solid week for us and makes us 1-for-1 on over/under picks this week. Total win: $7.40.

PIGGY BANK: $236.43 (18.2% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 61.7% (29-18-3)

Ballin' on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

Ballin' on a Budget Week 10 Picks

Welcome to Week 10 of the NFL season as we have been on a roll with this column lately. Luck never seems to last long in the sports betting world, but we will ride this wave as long as we can. Since we went 3-0 on point spreads/underdog game picks last week, we’re going back to that well heavily today. We’re going to have four point spread picks with one over/under kicker. There are some interesting lines out there this week, so let’s get to it.

Panthers +4 at Steelers (-115)

Both these teams are red hot and this should be one of the best games of the week. For once, we get a really good Thursday Night game. On a short week, both teams are going to be tired and it might be a little sloppier than we’ve seen from Carolina and Pittsburgh the last several weeks. The nod probably goes to Pittsburgh, because they’re at home, but when it’s two really good teams, you have to take the side getting four points.

We’ll be hoping for a Steelers three-point win or even the Panthers to pull this one out on the road and keep their hot play going. Either of those will win us some money, so we won’t be picky. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.61.

Redskins +135 over Buccaneers

One week after picking against the Redskins when they were home favorites, we’re turning the tables and picking them to win straight up as road dogs this week. Washington was embarrassed by Atlanta in D.C. a week ago and to keep pace with the Eagles, this is a game they have to win. Jameis and Tampa have looked terrible as of late and there’s no reason to think that ends this week.

Look for Washington to get back on track and rather than betting on them +3 with a -115 payout, just go for it and bet them straight up to win at +135 payout. It’s much better value and you have to like their chances of winning outright. The bet: $5 for total payout of $11.75.

Cardinals +17 at Chiefs (-110)

No matter how one-sided the match up, I just can’t bring myself to believe that an NFL team can’t cover a three-score spread. We had this same feeling when we bet the Bills +17 against the Vikings earlier in the season. Somehow, the Bills won that game outright, the biggest upset statistically in a few decades. That ain’t happening with the Cardinals, but Arizona’s defense is nothing to scoff at.

While Kansas City has been blowing most teams out of the water, this feels a lot more like a 10-point game, because the Cardinals are going to try and control the clock and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands. If a team can’t cover a 17-point spread, we deserve to lose the bet anyway, so let’s roll with it. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Seahawks +10 at Rams (-110)

Both these teams lost last week and Seattle is now on the brink of falling out of playoff contention. With L.A. losing home field throughout the playoffs for the time being based on their loss to the Saints, each of these teams is going to be playing desperate. Expect the Rams to win this game, but it should be much closer than the spread indicates.

Certainly, Seattle plays much better at home (where they pushed a +3 spread against the Rams earlier this season), but they’ve shown they can hang offensively when they need to. With two opponents so familiar with each other, it’s hard to bet against the team getting 10 points. Betting with the team getting points seems to be the theme this week, but that’s just how the spreads have played out. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Saints-Bengals OVER 54 (-115)

This very well could be an overreaction on my part to the Saints and Rams shattering my under pick last week (it was 60, the teams combined for 80). However, this really does seem like a solid bet. With A.J. Green out, the Bengals offense will be less dynamic, but as long as they get Joe Mixon in space, that will open up passing lanes for Andy Dalton to hit Tyler Boyd and others.

New Orleans should certainly be seen as the favorite in this game and we will be in good shape if they open up an early lead, because that will force Cincinnati to play catch up. That’s what happened to the Rams last week and we saw the end result there. Here’s to righting that wrong and taking the over this week instead of the under when it comes to the Saints. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.40.

As we do every week, let’s calculate our dream scenario where we go 5-for-5. We’ve been on a hot streak, so never say never. In that case, a $20 parlay would make us $598.95. We’ll keep dreaming of that, but I’m sure you’d all be fine going 3-for-5 every week as we’ve been doing all season long. Happy betting and we will check in after this weekend’s games.