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

December 28, 2018

NFL PICKS: Bilicki’s Week 17 selections

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

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

BUFFALO -3.5 over Miami

The weather won’t be too bad for the Floridians, but the Bills repeatedly have shown good fight and should get some revenge for their last-second loss in Miami. The Fins are freshly eliminated and reports are that there will be plenty of change this off-season.

GREEN BAY -8 over Detroit

The reports about coach Matt Patricia are concerning, but he should be back next season – for better or worse. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers should be able to put up some yards through the air while the Lions’ offence has looked toothless.

Jacksonville +6.5 over HOUSTON

The Texans may be bound for the playoffs, but this is a banged-up team and the Jags are playing for what little pride they have left. In spite of Blake Bortles making his probable final start for Jacksonville, getting nearly a TD seems a bit too much here.

New York Jets +13.5 over NEW ENGLAND

The Pats do need the win to clinch a bye, but shouldn’t need to go all out to get it. It’s very easy to see the Jets getting the backdoor cover here.

NEW ORLEANS -8 over Carolina

Even the Saints backups shouldn’t have trouble with the Panthers these days. Carolina has an undrafted rookie QB starting – their third-stringer – while New Orleans will be playing Teddy Bridgewater for most of the game. Neither side will risk much, but the Saints still have more talent.

NEW YORK GIANTS -6 over Dallas

Locked into the fourth seed, the Cowboys have nothing to play for and nothing to risk against the Giants. New York has little motivation either, but Saquon Barkley needs a huge day to up his stock in the rookie of the year race.

Atlanta +1 over Tampa Bay

The Bucs got a push in Dallas thanks to a garbage time score while the Falcons offence has kicked into gear far too late in the season. This should be a high-scoring affair and we think that Julio Jones caps off an underrated season in style against a team he usually dominates.

Cleveland +6 over BALTIMORE

Baker Mayfield is exactly the type of QB that would love to crash the Ravens’ party and potentially knock them out of the playoffs. Are the Ravens really that much better than what the Browns have become down the stretch? Can Mayfield and Co. get a little revenge against the team that used to call Cleveland home?

L.A. Chargers -6.5 over DENVER

Will the Broncos put up a fight for lameduck coach Vance Joseph? We wouldn’t bet on it. And losing Phillip Lindsay to a serious wrist injury really saps any joy you could potentially get from watching Denver’s offence. Chargers need a win and some help to get the top seed and should do their part.

Oakland +13.5 over KANSAS CITY

Since Kareem Hunt was cut loose, the Chiefs have not been the same juggernaut. Patrick Mahomes is still leading them to wins, but they’re no longer blowing out teams. The Raiders have shown some fight in recent weeks and could sneak in a backdoor cover here.

San Francisco +10 over L.A. RAMS

There’s a lot to like with this 49ers team, which has made a habit of getting better in December under Kyle Shanahan. The line is far too high for us to be spotting double-digits on the road against a decent opponent with a Rams team that will be relying on C.J. Anderson at RB once again.

MINNESOTA -4 over Chicago

This line opened at -6, so we’ll happily go against the tide and take the cut-rate price. The Bears could easily see the Rams leading at half time and decide to go out of the break with backups playing. We’re not excited about the Vikes’ record against winning teams, but this is a special circumstance.

PITTSBURGH -14.5 over Cincinnati

The Steelers are going to sneak into the playoffs. Or, at the very least, do their part by blowing out a Bengals team that gets thinner by the week.

SEATTLE -13.5 over Arizona

The Cards are another case of a weak team headed by a lameduck coach. It’s a big line a meaningless game, but Seattle should cover it.

Philadelphia -6.5 over WASHINGTON

Imagine if Josh Johnson keeps the defending champion Eagles out of the playoffs. Now that is a dream we don’t see coming true. Philly’s defence will need to step up against the run and Nick Foles should continue his heroics in this rivalry game.

Indianapolis -3 over TENNESSEE

Marcus Mariota or Blaine Gabbert, it likely won’t matter who starts for the Titans. The Colts are the superior team and should be bound for the playoffs in the final wildcard spot.

Last week: 9-6-1

This season: 111-116-9

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