After picking 51 games against the spread this season, I have amassed a record that ranks somewhere between hot garbage and full-blown dumpster fire. My only solace is the fact that I was profitable in every other year, back when I rode my dinosaur to work and recorded my picks with stone and chisel. But despite my struggles this year, all I have to do to return to profitability is nail the winners of 10 out of the remaining 11 contests featuring the most closely matched opponents in the NFL. Piece of cake!
With the Pats taking next week off for rest and reflection on yet another AFC East title and first-round bye, here is a snapshot at the other four games on Wild Card weekend. If I pick against your team and they win, feel free to send me celebratory fruit baskets and modest Pepperidge Farm arrangements for jinxing your opponents. It’s what I do.
Saints (+2.5) @ Eagles
There are few certainties in life that are more concrete than the Eagles raising the hopes of their fans, only to leave them disappointed and disillusioned after dropping the ball in the most critical junctures of the season. Chip Kelly deserves credit for getting this team to the postseason, but lest we forget they got there mainly on the strength of beating up on a weak division and a last-place schedule. Backing Drew Brees on the road makes me a little queasy, but putting money on any Philadelphia sports team in the playoffs would make me immediately vomit all over myself.
Chiefs (+2.5) @ Colts
My favorite line of the week. More than half of Indy’s win this year came against division opponents that will all be picking in the top half of the draft. The Colts won the matchup between these two teams a couple weeks ago, but that was more of a case of Kansas City losing than Indy winning. The Chiefs put the ball on the ground six times and finished -4 in turnover differential while racking up twice as many penalty yards as their opponents in that game, and yet they only lost by two scores. Don’t bet on a repeat. And don’t forget that Indy can’t stop the run. I hear that this Jammal Charles character is quite adept at making defenders look silly. He might not break a sweat in this one.
Bengals (-6.5) vs. Chargers
This has the potential to be the most boring game since the Pats beat up on Tebow a few years ago. You’ll see more scores at a Magic The Gathering meet-up. I think the public will back the Chargers in this one, so I’d wait this line out to see if it drops to about -5.5 or -5 before kickoff. But even at the current odds, I like the Bengals to cover. Cincy is spectacular at home, and there is really nothing special about this Chargers team. Turnovers will likely decide this game, and the Chargers sorely lack impact playmakers on defense.
49ers (-2.5) @ Packers
The much-ballyhooed return of Aaron Rodgers makes me Discount Doublecheck this line, but the putrid Green Bay defense still compels me to back the Niners. The Packers have allowed nearly 33 points per game over their past five contests despite not facing any juggernaut offenses. San Fran has all of their offensive weapons healthy and clicking, so they should put a solid number on the scoreboard. If the 49ers D shows up for this game, they could win in a romp.
2013 Record ATS: 21-27-3
Record ATS since 2010: 127-125-5