January 18, 2019

NFL Conference Final picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

The lines are from Betway.com and the home teams in CAPs.

NEW ORLEANS -3.5 over L.A. Rams

We all know just how well these four remaining teams can put up points on offence, but the biggest advantage that remains is on the other side of the ball. Of the four conference finalists, the Saints’ defence is arguably the top unit on that side of the ball. The Rams were smart enough to steal signs from the Cowboys last week, but won’t be able to pull that trick again. The coaches are fairly evenly matched, but Sean Payton has the edge in experience and there’s certainly no discounting Drew Brees playing at home in the dome. This is also the biggest test of Jared Goff’s career and we’re not entirely sure if he can pull it off. Todd Gurley will see more action this week while C.J. Anderson proved an admirable fill in, but it’s not like the Saints can’t counter with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. This should be a high-scoring affair, but we’re counting on New Orleans making one or two more stops than the Rams do.

New England +3 over KANSAS CITY

It has been well-documented how well the Pats play at home and this game will in the rocking confines of Arrowhead. But just how rocking will the crowd be in frigid temperatures? Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs easily took care of Indy last week in a chilly one, but the Pats aren’t afraid of the cold. Again, both teams can put up points on offence and did when they faced each other earlier this season at Foxboro. Not to take anything away from Andy Reid, but that first matchup will likely help Bill Belichick a lot more in this rematch. We’re not forgetting that of the seven times that the Pats have given up 40+ points under Belichick, it was against Reid, but having seen those working parts in action will certainly help. Sony Michel has provided a strong running game for New England and has finally proved his worth as a first-round pick. Add in James White’s receiving ability out of the backfield and the Chiefs have just as much to worry about on defence as the Pats.

Last week: 2-2

This playoffs: 4-3-1

January 11, 2019

NFL conference semifinal selections

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

The lines are from Betway.com and the home teams in CAPs.

Indianapolis +5.5 over KANSAS CITY

The Colts are looking hot and, despite being the AFC’s sixth seed, might have one of the most complete rosters in the playoffs. The Chiefs defence hasn’t been able to stop anybody for most of the season and should have some trouble with Indy’s balanced offence. Between Marlon Mack, T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron, they can attack in a variety of ways. While Patrick Mahomes is the MVP-elect of the season, it won’t be easy to put up big numbers against a decent Colts defence. Indy will be in a hole for sure on the road in Arrowhead, but the points are too tempting here.

LOS ANGELES RAMS -7 over Dallas

There’s a lot to like about the Cowboys this week, which is surprising considering they’re seven-point dogs. There will be a lot of Cowboys fans at the Coliseum in L.A., their line should be able to create some running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper could have a big game against the Rams’ overrated CBs. But, on the other hand, this is a Rams offence that is as explosive as any in football. They’ll be well-rested after the bye and Todd Gurley should be back in beast mode. If L.A. gets up early, there might not be any coming back for Dak Prescott and Co.

NEW ENGLAND -4 over Los Angeles Chargers

If we’re going purely on talent, the Chargers have the definite edge here, but it’s not just about that. The Pats have home-field advantage, which has been very strong for them this season, and you can’t mess with their experience. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been here before while Anthony Lynn – despite a strong showing last week in Baltimore – is probably the weakest coach in the playoffs.

NEW ORLEANS -8 over Philadelphia

As much as we want to jump on Big Nick Energy, you can’t forget that just a few weeks ago, the Saints absolutely crushed the Eagles. Sure, that was with Carson Wentz instead of Foles, but should that really matter? The Saints will be very well rested, coming off a bye and a Week 17 contest in which few players of consequence even suited up. The Eagles needed a tipped field goal which hit two posts before falling short to even advance this far, so we won’t be surprised if we see the Saints run away with this one early.

Last week: 2-1-1

January 4, 2019

NFL Wild-card picks

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

The lines are from Betway.com and the home teams in CAPs.

HOUSTON -1.5 over Indianapolis

Many are against the Texans for their easy schedule and the amount of sacks that they’ve given up this season, but are they really worse than the Colts? Indy’s pass rush isn’t a big strength and, given it plays in the same division as Houston, their schedules aren’t all that different. You can’t even point to the fact that Indy was one of the hottest teams down the stretch, because the Texans were as well. And while Andrew Luck does edge Deshaun Watson in experience, not much separates them in terms of playoff know-how. The Colts already won once in Houston this season and it’ll be tough to do it again.

Seattle +2 over DALLAS

Where, exactly, does Dallas have an advantage over the Seahawks in this game? The Seahawks may not have Ezekiel Elliott, but have three pretty RBs that can make up that difference. The defences are on even ground and Amari Cooper isn’t leaps and bounds better than anybody Seattle has. And, in two key areas, the Seahawks are considerably better: At coach and quarterback. Home-field advantage is a factor here, but it won’t be enough to help Dallas advance.

L.A. Chargers +3 over BALTIMORE

What the Ravens have done recently, revamping their entire to revolve around rookie QB Lamar Jackson and the running game. It has worked wonders, but now they face a team that has already seen them in action, even if they lost the previous battle. The L.A. Chargers are a better road team and have the weapons to potentially unlock a stingy Ravens defence. Rookie QBs often have a tough time in the playoffs, so we’ll take the points and the savvy Philip Rivers here.

Philadelphia +6 over CHICAGO

The Bears are the better team in this one, especially on defence where Khalil Mack has turned this unit into some Monsters of the Midway. But there’s just something about the Eagles when Nick Foles is at the helm. There is some blowout potential from the host’s side, but this feels much more like a game decided by a field goal.

Last week: 6-10

Season: 117-126-9

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