Hi all. With virtually nothing in the way of meaningful games in Week 17 I held off on posting last weekend preferring to hold off for the beginning of the playoffs. After 256 games the regular season is now done and dusted but luckily for us there are still 10 playoff games for us to look forward to along with the culmination of it all with the Superbowl on February 5th.
This is probably as good of a time as any to look back on how my tips have fared season long. First the bad; Overall we have had 25 winners from 45 tips (along with two voided bets). This translates into a success rate of 56% which is somewhat down from last year and much lower than I would have hoped. However for the nap or best bet each week the strike rate was a very healthy 12 out of 14 (again with one nap being a void bet) or 86%. For those who followed the recommended bet of a treble each week we struck winners of 6/1 twice, 13/2 and 3/1. In monetary terms had you followed this recommended treble each week at stakes of £20 you will have finished the season with profit of £210!
With wild card weekend about to begin we now just have 12 teams remaining in the hunt. Looking at who out of those 12 can go all the way the AFC side looks fairly cut and dried. A 39-year-old Tom Brady has had a ridiculously good season for the Patriots and without doubt the road for any AFC team to reach Superbowl 51 is going to lead through New England. However this is very much reflected in their odds to be champions having now dropped sub 3/1.
The NFC side is less clear and a case could be made for any of the teams on that side with the exception of the Detroit Lions. In terms of value picks for the Superbowl I would be siding with the Steelers in the AFC who look like the one team there who might halt the Patriots and a resurgent Packers team from the NFC who are playing better than anybody in the league right now. Both can be backed at 13/2. With just 4 games this weekend here are my favourite bets for the wildcard round.
Green Bay Packers -5 vs New York Giants @ 20/23 NAP
In many a season the Giants record of 11-5 would have been good enough to win the NFC east. This year though, given how good divisional rivals the Cowboys have been they’ve had to settle for a runners-up spot and a place in the Wild Card round where they will be a road underdog to a team that they actually have a better record than. As much as i like this Giants team I feel that they are in a tough spot travelling to Lambeau. This season their team has been built on good defence and winning close low scoring games. No doubt they have the weapons on offence to contend with anybody but the problem has been that QB Eli Manning has struggled to find them with the giants ranked just 26th in offense in the NFL and failing to reach even 20 points in their last 5 games.
That is very bad news for the Giants with Manning going toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers who over the Packers last 7 games has thrown for 18 touchdowns and no interceptions. Even against the Giants turnover happy secondary it’s hard to see Rodgers not getting his points in this one when you consider the talented and diverse receiving corps he has to throw to along with a dual threat running back in converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery. The home field advantage and cold weather should also play into the Packers hands and their hot streak should continue here with a victory of a touchdown or more.
Seattle Seahawks -8 @ 20/21 vs Detroit Lions
The Lions looked for set for a home playoff berth before a 3 game skid at the end of the season left them lucky to make the playoffs at all. In that 3 game losing streak they gave up an average of more than 30 points and have failed to cover the handicap in their last 4. While they have surprised many by making the playoffs this season I feel they are a poor team and they have actually trailed in the final quarter of 15 of their 16 games this year. They were dealt a major blow with the season ending injury to running back Theo Riddick and quarterback Matthew Stafford has not been the same player since dislocating his finger in week 14.
That said the Seahawks have also not set the NFL alight this season having somewhat limped into the playoff themselves. However their side is packed with players with playoff experience and they are different gravy playing primetime games at home having covered the spread in 22 of their last 26. They also have a perfect 5-0 record in home playoff game under Pete Carroll. In contrast the Lions have a 0-8 record in wild card games and a 0-10 record in playoff games on the road! While i’d be happier with the line being set at 7 to keep the touchdown on our side i think that Seattle will put pressure on Stafford early on in this one and cause mistakes and i’m trusting them to take the win by double digits.
These two as a double pay out at slightly better than 5/2. In the other two matchups the Oakland Raiders square off against the Houston Texans while the Steelers face the Miami Dolphins. Oakland, with the loss of QB Derek Carr for the season, have gone from a Superbowl dark horse to seemingly playing the Texans for the right to face a beat down from the New England Patriots in the next round! The Texans are favoured by 3.5points on the handicap but given the quarterback in this one my preferred pick would be under 37 total match points. The Steelers despite losing to the Dolphins earlier in the season will take care of business this weekend facing a team now led by Matt Moore but with the handicap having crept up to over 10 points my preference is still with the other two games.
Best of luck,