In the spirit of Jimmy the Greek, we’re going to offer you some stone cold locks this football weekend, or, just some spurious guesses based on cursory analysis and casual observation. Either way, this being Baltimore, we thought we’d hear from our favorite wholesale narcotics importer: the man known simply as “The Greek.”
Greek’s 2011/2012 Record ATS: 30-37-2
Greetings readers. 2-2 ATS for the Wild Card Weekend. Houston and New Orleans both easily covered for my wins. The Falcons offense forgot to show up and keep their side of the bargain and the triage unit known as the Steelers fell short to the Tebows for my losses. Hopefully you took my biased non pick of the GMen -3 and had a 3-2 mark. The Greek’s been running hot at 61% (8-5-1) over the last 3 weeks and I’m looking to ride that momentum into the Divisional Round. Here are the picks.
San Francisco 49ers +3.5 over New Orleans Saints
I’m not exactly sure why, but “wise guys” apparently always take the side of the hook when you’re looking at a 3.5 point spread. That’s not why I am going with the 49ers in this contest, but it does help the ol’ confidence. The Saints have been a different team on the road in 2011 posting a 4-4 mark ATS and going 3-3 ATS as the road favorite. The 49ers have been no slouch ATS all year and have been nearly as nasty at home as the Saints. San Francisco holds a 7-0-1 mark ATS at Candlestick Park and an impressive 3-1-1 clip ATS as the underdog. I’m a little concerned at how good New Orleans has been lately and that San Francisco hasn’t really had a win against a good team since Week 10 against the Giants (Week 15 against the Steelers doesn’t count with Roethlisberger on 1 leg). However, the numbers say Cable Cars over Street Cars this week.
New England Patriots -13.5 over Denver Broncos
All the momentum seems to be with the Broncos right now, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Patriots have won 8 straight. In those 8 games the Pats would have covered the 13.5 points 5 times including an 18 point win at Denver just 4 weeks ago. This is Brady and Belichick with 2 weeks to prepare. The New England defense will give up some points and that’s the concern when the line is this large. However, like last week with Brees, you just hold your nose, jump in and trust that Brady is going to put a ton on the board. Along those lines, I’m also going with:
New England Patriots/Denver Broncos over 50.5 total points
The Patriots have hung at least 30 on the scoreboard in 12 of their 16 games and in 7 of their last 8. 75% of their games have had at least 50 points scored and their last game under 50 happened before Thanksgiving. They dropped 41 on these Broncos in Denver less than a month ago and Brady & Belichick know they need to score in order to make up for their porous defense. Both teams combine for a 21-12 mark on the over this year. A concern here is the Broncos offense laying an egg, but the Patriot defense can be scored on and Denver will probably only need 17-23 to take this one over.
Houston Texans +7.5 over Baltimore Ravens
I believe that Baltimore wins this game outright, but the Texans keep the game within a touchdown. The Ravens are 8-0 at home this year, but only 4-3-1 ATS in those games. A closer look shows that they are 7-7-1 ATS as the favorite. The Texans, on the other hand, are 5-3 ATS away from home and 4-2 ATS as the underdog. The Texans need to lean on their defense and Arian Foster to have a chance here. If the Ravens can force Houston into a pass first offense this could turn into a late Baltimore blowout. However, I think the Texans give them all they can handle.
New York Giants +7.5 over Green Bay Packers
Just like in the previous game, I believe the favorite wins outright, but the underdog stays close enough to cover. The Packers have scary numbers ATS this year. They are 11-5 ATS overall, 7-1 ATS at home and 10-5 ATS as the favorite. The Giants are pretty average ATS overall at 8-7-1, but do hold a 5-3 mark ATS away from Met Life Stadium and 5-2 as the underdog. This pick comes from the Giants getting healthy and playing better at the right time on defense. Tuck, Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora need to get Rodgers or this will be my worst pick of the week. Manning and Big Blue can hang with the Pack on offense as evidenced by the Week 13 shootout. A late New York back door cover is also a very strong possibility here.
Jim Broderick can be harassed about his picks via Twitter @jimmyfromjc