NFL Pro Bowl Betting

NFL OddsSports Betting Overview:

What: NFL Pro Bowl

When:
Sunday January 30, 2011, 7:00 p.m. EST

Where:
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Even though the Pro Bowl has no effect on Super Bowl betting, it is still fun to watch the best in the game get on the field one more time before the Super Bowl is played, and football is gone for seven months. This particular season has some added importance to the Pro Bowl because, judging by the way the NFLPA and the NFL are talking, there may not be any NFL predictions to make in 2011 as there may not be a season. But, for now, we look forward to the display of some of the best talent in the league as they kick off one last time in 2010-2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

AFC:

The AFC will send out quarterback Tom Brady to start the game. Brady will be throwing to wide receivers Andre Johnson of Houston and Reggie Wayne of Indianapolis. Let us also remember that San Diego tight end Antonio Gates will be out there as well. Running the ball for the AFC will be Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

On defense it is a combination that would rule the AFC if it ever got together on one team in a real game situation. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork of New England plays between defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis of Indianapolis. It looks like Terrell Suggs of Baltimore will start in place of Super Bowl bound James Harrison at linebacker, while Eric Berry of Kansas City plays safety for Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu.

NFC:

The starting quarterback for the NFC will be Philadelphia’a Michael Vick. No matter what happens, Vick will put on a show for the fans watching the game. Atlanta’s Michael Turner will start at running back, and the wide receivers will be Roddy White of Atlanta, and Calvin Johnson of Detroit. Dallas stalwart Jason Witten makes the team as the tight end.

The NFC defensive line is another dream combination that would make any NFC team an instant Super Bowl contender. Rookie sensation defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Detroit plays between defensive ends Julius Peppers of Chicago and John Abraham of Atlanta. Antrel Rolle of the Giants will get the start at free safety in lieu of NFC champion Nick Collins, and Adrian Wilson of Arizona is the only strong safety on the roster.

Outlook:

The Pro Bowl is normally an offensive explosion, but defense has been taking center stage in the NFL the past few years and that will me a very competitive game. These guys will not go all out to try and win at all costs, but the rivalries built up between wide receivers and defensive backs should make this a great game to watch. The AFC has just a bit more to offer than the NFC, but that will not prevent it from being a good game for fans to watch.

BSNblog Pick: AFC

NFL Pro Bowl Preview: Some Interesting Matchups to Watch

NFL Pro Bowl OddsNot even the best online sportsbook makers are going to give much of an NFL betting line on this year’s Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl is more for people who enjoy watching certain kinds of match-ups in football than for the people who watch the Super Bowl betting lines closely. This game features some interesting match-ups, especially defensive backs versus wide receivers. The price per head betting experts may not put a lot of stock into the Pro Bowl, but there are a few match-ups that football fans will find exciting as the game plays out.

AFC Quarterbacks Versus NFC Secondary

Tom Brady (New England), Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) and Philip Rivers (San Diego) will be throwing the ball for the AFC. The three quarterbacks combined for 13, 310 yards and 99 touchdowns this season. These three quarterbacks are three of the most prolific quarterbacks in the game right now. They will be throwing to receivers such as Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) and Andre Johnson (Houston). This group is a potent offensive bunch.

The NFC starting secondary consists of cornerbacks Asante Samuel (Philadelphia) and DeAngelo Hall (Washington). Just those two players alone are responsible for 13 regular season interceptions. DeAngelo Hall as a pick six to his credit as well. Watching this NFC secondary trying to outsmart the AFC receivers and quarterbacks should be very interesting.

AFC Running Backs Versus NFC Running Backs

The AFC running backs are Maurice Jones-Drew (starter – Jacksonville), Arian Foster (reserve – Houston) and Jamaal Charles (reserve – Kansas City). Once again, these three AFC players are some of the most prolific in the game. The trio combined for 4,407 rushing yards in 2010. Foster and Charles are one and two on the overall rushing leader’s list for the 2010 regular season with Jones-Drew coming in at number five. Needless to say, this trio of wide receivers would be a challenge for any group of linebackers.

The inside starting linebacker for the NFC is Patrick Willis (San Francisco 49ers). Willis finished the season with 101 solo tackles and 27 assisted tackles. He forced two fumbles in 2010 that were recovered by San Francisco. Lance Briggs (Chicago) and DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) are the outside linebackers. While the Pro Bowl is not known for its hard hitting action, these three linebackers are well known for the aggressive way they play the game. It will be fun to watch the AFC running backs trying to navigate their way through this linebacking corps of the NFC.

Shane Lechler Versus Devin Hester

Shane Lechler is the all-pro punter for the Oakland Raiders that will be starting for the AFC in this Pro Bowl. Devin Hester (Chicago) is one of the best punt returners in the history of the NFL, and he will be starting for the NFC as the kick returner. Will Lechler kick it to Hester and allow Hester to put on a show in the pro bowl? Will Lechler refuse to be embarrassed by Hester in the Pro Bowl? It will be interesting to see if the rule of not kicking the ball to Devin Hester applies to the Pro Bowl as well.

Super Bowl Betting – NFL’s Oldest Rivals Meet in Chicago

NFL OddsMost Super Bowl betting players weren’t even thought of when Chicago and Green Bay met for the first time in the NFL, as the Chicago Staleys blanked the Green Bay Packers 20-0 in the Windy City on November 27th, 1921. Of course, the Staleys are now the Bears, and these two will meet in the playoffs for the first time since 1941 as the Bears host the Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Packers vs. Bears Betting – Sunday, 3:00 PM ET

Aaron Rodgers showed little care for Atlanta’s great reputation at home, as Rodgers led the Packers in a 48-21 slaughter of the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. Rodgers was 31-of-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns with no picks as the Packers racked up 442 yards on offense, going 8-of-12 on third down, and they were 4-of-6 in the red zone. It wasn’t just the offense that did their thing, as the defense fed off Rodgers and company, holding the Falcons to 194 yards while forcing four turnovers, and Tramon Williams ran a pick back 70 yards for a score. NFL betting players would probably say this is the best performance of the playoffs so far, and there’s a worry that Green Bay peaked already.

Jay Cutler wasn’t bad at all in his first playoff game since high school, going 15-of-28 for 274 yards and two touchdowns with no picks, and he added two more scores on the ground as the Bears rolled to a 35-24 win over Seattle at home. The Bears also ran for 176 yards, which allowed them to hold the ball for over 37 minutes, and Chicago really controlled this game until a couple of late touchdowns by the Seahawks to make the score more respectable (and scare those who bet on the 10-point spread for the Bears). Many figured Cutler would fall on his face in his playoff debut, but he handled it very well, albeit against a team that isn’t really that good.

Whether it’s worth the price per head or not (tickets are reportedly going for upwards of $900 for this game), it’s going to be a Midwest classic, and the Packers are 3.5-point favorites on the road in Chicago, where they are 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS in their last five trips. The home team won both times when these two played this season, which is why some think it’s strange the Packers are favored. But Green Bay have been playing out of their mind as of late, and Rodgers has been bolstered with the emergence of James Starks, whose presence in the running game keeps the blitz off Rodgers. Meanwhile, we’re not sure how Cutler will handle the Green Bay blitz, as we’ve seen him put up some ducks in the pass when he’s pressured. We’re sticking with Green Bay to cover the sports betting spread on Sunday.

NFL Playoffs OddsSports Betting Overview:

The New York Jets rode their bravado all the way to the AFC championship game for the second year in a row. The NFL football betting world gets to listen to another week of Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his sound bites. What the Jets did show the Super Bowl betting community is that they have a very potent defense. From the defensive line that puts pressure on the quarterback to the famed Cromartie-Revis secondary, the Jets have a very capable defense.

The Steelers had to come back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to beat the Baltimore Ravens in their divisional playoff game. The Baltimore defense held the Pittsburgh offense to relatively few offensive yards, but the Steelers defense completely shut down the Ravens offense in the second half and took the game away from Baltimore. This sets up an interesting price per head AFC championship game.

Offense:

Even though he is a two-time Super Bowl champion, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has show signs of problems in the late stages of the season and in the divisional playoff game against the Ravens. Roethlisberger was making bad decisions in the first half of the divisional playoff game, and he was holding the ball too long. But it was Big Ben that pulled the Steelers out of their slide and brought the team a victory. Roethlisberger is the epitome of a gun-slinger, and the team will win or lose based on what he does.

The Jets offense in the wild card game was all about the running game. Many observers were wondering if quarterback Mark Sanchez could rise to the occasion if he was called on in the divisional game. Sanchez did what he needed to do against the Patriots, and the Jets running game worked together with Sanchez to put the Patriots away. The Steelers may be a bit of a different story than the Patriots.

Defense:

The strongest part of the New England Patriots team is their offense. The Jets defense managed to shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. The Jets are strong all around on defense. New York has strong pass rushers, fast linebackers and a great secondary. But when it comes to a completely unpredictable quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, the Jets are going to need to learn to adjust on the fly. If any defense can adjust to the antics of Ben Roethlisberger, it is the Jets.

The Steelers play a different kind of game than the Patriots do on defense. The Steelers do not have a young and inexperienced secondary. The Steelers do have a very punishing set of defensive linemen and linebackers. This defense that the Jets will face will be much more dangerous than the Patriots defense. If the Jets are going to win this game, they need to win the line of scrimmage. That will not be easy against this Pittsburgh defense.

The Bottom Line:

Pittsburgh will knock the smile right of Mark Sanchez’s face when it gets the chance. The Jets are extremely strong on offense and defense, but if the Pittsburgh defense can get to Mark Sanchez then the tide of this game could turn quickly.

Sportsbooks Odds Free Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl Odds – Bears, Packers Meet For 183rd Time

NFL Playoffs BettingSuper Bowl betting players will get a few history lessons this week when studying up on the NFC title game between Chicago and Green Bay. These two will go head-to-head for the 183rd time in regular and postseason play, but they haven’t met in the playoffs since 1941, and we think there will be a different outcome than that game, which ended in a 33-14 win for the Bears.

Packers vs. Bears Odds – Sunday, 3:00 PM ET)

Aaron Rodgers stole the show with a phenomenal performance in a 48-21 thrashing of Atlanta on the road, completing 31 of his 36 attempts for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He would have had more if not for a couple of drops, but that’s just being picky against the Green Bay offense, which put up 442 yards. From short routes to deep throws, Rodgers was on his game as those watching NFL scores figured it would be much closer, especially in Atlanta. The Packers also forced four turnovers, returning one for a touchdown, and if they play that way in Chicago, Green Bay will be almost impossible to beat.

The Bears are coming off a solid 35-24 win over Seattle at home, and Jay Cutler was excellent, going 15-of-28 for 274 yards with a pair of touchdowns, while running for two more scores for the Bears, who had 176 yards on the ground. That means they controlled the clock for over 37 minutes, and it’s rare that you’re going to lose when the other team has the ball for under 23 minutes. One negative is that the Bears allowed the Seahawks to have a slight glimmer of hope with two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and if they don’t go hard for 60 minutes against the Packers, they stand a very good chance of losing this game.

Betting services have the Packers as a 3.5-point favorite on the road at Soldier Field, where they are 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS in their last five visits. These two met twice in the regular season, with the Packers losing 20-17 in Chicago in Week 3, and then bouncing back for a 10-3 win in the final week of the regular season at home. For us, this game boils down to Rodgers against Cutler, and everything points to Rodgers in this situation. He has a 92.6 passer rating in six games against the Bears, while Cutler has a 65.0 rating in five games against the Packers and was outplayed in both games this season by Rodgers, especially in the last game. We don’t think Soldier Field will be that much of an advantage for the Bears, so take the Packers in your sportsbook odds on Sunday.

NFL Conference Playoffs OddsBetting Online Overview:

The Pittsburgh Steelers are counting their lucky stars that they are still part of the NFL betting circus after being down 21-7 at the half in their divisional game against the Baltimore Ravens. In the second half, Roethlisberger helped move the ball down the filed and running back Rashard Mendenhall helped to punch the ball into the endzone. By the time the game was over, Roethlisberger had thrown for two TDs and Mendenhall had run for two. The defense Ben will face against the Jets is much more dangerous than the one he victimized in the divisional game against the Ravens.

The Jets’ offense stumbled their way to an impressive win over the New England Patriots. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looked shaky in the first half as many of his passes were off target. But in the second half, Sanchez made just enough key throws to put his team into the AFC Championship game. Running back Shonn Greene had a big day for the Jets as he ran for 76 yards and a touchdown. But the Steelers defense offers a significantly larger obstacle than the Patriots did to the Jets’ Super Bowl hopes.

Offense:

It was a sports betting bonus for the Pittsburgh Steelers that Rashard Mendenhall was able to gain yards on the ground. The pay per head sportsbook experts know that the Ravens have a very strong run defense, and the fact that the Steelers were able to gain almost 150 yards on the ground is impressive. What killed the Ravens was Ben’s inability to stick with the play. Roethlisberger puts his receivers out on patterns, and then Roethlisberger makes up the rest of the play. Sometimes it works as it did in the second half of the Ravens game, and sometimes it does not as it didn’t in the first half of the Ravens game. But it is still something that the Jets will have to worry about.

Rex Ryan is an expert at putting together a game plan that plays to the strengths of his offense. The Jets are a running team with a quarterback that is still learning the ropes. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez seems to be gaining confidence, but he was still way off target in that opening half against the Patriots. If Sanchez throws wild passes against the Steelers, safety Troy Polamalu will make him pay. Look for a lot of running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene in this game as Rex Ryan puts his offensive line against the Steelers defense.

Defense:

The Jets defense has finally decided to show up. New York now has the hard-hitting shut down defense it was supposed to have all season long. Darelle Revis looks like he is not having any issues with his hamstring, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie seems to be enjoying the spotlight. The front seven for the Jets is fast and punishing. This is just a good defense.

The Steelers love to rush their linebackers on blitz plays that are sure to give the New York offensive line problems. The reason the Steelers can blitz linebackers consistently is Troy Polamalu. With Polamalu playing the middle of the field, tight ends and running backs out of the backfield are going to have serious problems finding open space to catch the ball.

The Bottom Line:

The Patriots had a weak secondary and the Jets exploited it. The Colts had a weak defensive line and the Jets exploited it. In this game, it is hard to say what weakness the Steelers have that the Jets can exploit. Either way, this promises to be a very good football game.

Sportsbooks Odds Free Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Divisional OddsIn what is easily the biggest playoff upset of the decade, the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks managed to clip the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on their own home turf in the Wild Card round to earn an NFC Divisional round date against the Chicago Bears. It won’t be as easy this time around without the chance that their opponent will underestimate them, and without the 12th man that Qwest Field provided.

NFL Betting: Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

Online Sports Betting Odds: Bears – 10

The Seahawks will be the visiting team this time around, against a heavily favored Bears’ team that won all but three home games this season. One of those losses however, was against Seattle, a 23-20 decision back on Oct. 17.

Why To Bet On The Seahawks

Nobody thought that Seattle would be able to stick around with the Saints in the Wild Card round, and they ended up beating them, so why can’t they cover against Chicago? A revitalized running back Marshawn Lynch will have plenty to prove against his former team after being cut by the Bears two years ago, and after the 67-yard touchdown run he registered against the Saints, he should be right on football betting track to deliver. Speaking of revitalized, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck looked just that with a 404-yard, four-touchdown performance in the Wild Card win. The Bears finished near the bottom of the NFC in passing yards allowed, and if Hasselbeck can have another big game there is no reason to think that another upset is not in the cards.

Why To Bet On The Bears

It won’t be easy though against a Chicago team that has found a way to win all year. The Bears rank in the bottom-half of the league in nearly every significant statistical category on both sides of the ball with the exception of their second-ranked run defense, yet found a way to finish with 11 wins. The Seahawks can be exposed defensively with both the run and the pass, and although the Bears weren’t consistent in either area, they should be primed for a big week after the extra sports betting bonus week to game plan. Chicago’s tough wall up front should be able to slow down Lynch, and after watching Cutler’s three-touchdown performances against the Jets in week 16, this one could get out of hand.

How The Game Will Play Out

The Seahawks benefited from home field advantage and the fact that they were underestimated against a Saints’ team that probably thought they would have their way by simply showing up. That illusion is now gone, and there is no way that Seattle will catch Chicago off guard as they fight for their first playoff win in years. The crowd at Soldier Field will swing the edge to the Bears, and be another key factor as Hasselbeck and company come crashing back down to earth.

Seahawks Bears Betting Pick: Bears - 10

NFL PicksSuper Bowl betting players saw both underdogs come away with the win during wild-card weekend, including a historic win for Seattle. Next, we have the divisional round, where we’ll see a pair of rematches from the regular season.

Packers Falcons Betting – Saturday, 8:00 PM ET

Atlanta, the NFC South champions, are 2.5-point favorites at the Georgia Dome, where they edged Green Bay 20-17 in Week 12 in a game the Packers should have won. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan was definitely outplayed, statistically, by Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers fumbled the ball at the goal line in the second quarter, while Ryan made no mistakes while driving the Falcons down the field in the final 15 minutes. The Packers are coming off a big win in Philadelphia in which their defense put a beating on Michael Vick, and they’re going to have to do the same thing against the Falcons, as they had just two sacks in Week 12. Those betting on NFL odds will surely know about Ryan’s 20-2 mark at the Georgia Dome as a starter, but we’re taking the Packers to pull off the upset on the grounds that their defense is better, and Rodgers won’t make the same mistakes again. The Falcons looked flustered in a late-season loss to New Orleans at home, and there will be even more pressure this week in Atlanta. Take Green Bay on the road.

Seahawks Bears Betting - Sunday, 1:00 PM ET

The NFC North champion Bears are 10-point favorites at home after their bye, and they’ll be out to avenge a 23-20 loss to Seattle in Chicago in Week 6. The Seahawks are definitely pumped up after becoming the first team to win a playoff game despite having a losing record, and on top of that, they did it as 10-point underdogs against the defending Super Bowl champs from New Orleans, making them the NFL pick of the season. However, they were at home in front of arguably the loudest crowd in the NFL (they shook the ground during Marshawn Lynch’s amazing touchdown run), and a few things have changed since Week 6. First, Chicago didn’t have linebacker Lance Briggs in that game, and he’s healthy and ready to go. The Seahawks were coming off a bye heading into that game, but this time it’s the Bears who have a week off. Finally, the Seahawks sacked Chicago’s Jay Cutler six times in that game, and the Bears have since retooled their protection packages to help their quarterback out, not to mention, the linemen have just gotten better. Last week’s game was a nice story for the Seahawks, and it would be great if they won again, but they’re more of a speed team, and that’s not really conducive to the surface at Soldier Field. Take the Bears in your online sportsbook.

NFL Divisional OddsSports Betting Overview:

The NFL betting lines on this game are very close, and for good reason. This game is a football betting enthusiast’s nightmare because it pits two hard-nosed defenses against two completely unpredictable offenses. The NFL pick for this game should be based on the team that is best able to establish a running game and possess the ball the longest. But with these two defenses on the field, neither team stands much of a chance of running the ball.

The Ravens completely shut down the high-powered running attack of the Kansas City Chiefs last week on their way to a 30-7 win on wild card weekend. The Baltimore secondary also kept Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel in check and did not allow him to throw the ball deep. The Steelers thrive on the occasional deep ball, but that option may not be available in this game with Ed Reed patrolling the secondary for the Ravens.

Offense:

The Ravens were solid and balanced on offense against the Chiefs. The running game put up a little over 100 yards for the day, and Joe Flacco completely dismantled the Chiefs secondary for 265 passing yards and two touchdowns. The only problem for the Ravens was that the offensive line could not open up the holes to unleash running back Ray Rice. Rice only had 56 rushing yards on the game, but he was able to pick up critical first down yardage when the Ravens needed it. The Ravens offensive line has been a problem spot all season, and it may be the thing that the Steelers exploit in this game.

The Steelers on offense are hard to judge. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can either be a defensive coordinator’s nightmare by scrambling out of the pocket to create plays, or he can consistently take bad sacks because he won’t get rid of the ball when he should. Running back Rashard Mendenhall is a weapon out of the backfield, but he has yet to have a 100-yard game against the Ravens this season.

Defense:

The Ravens completely shut down the offense of the Kansas City Chiefs last week, and they did it by stopping the run. Once the Chiefs could not run the ball, Matt Cassel tried to find places to throw it. With Ed Reed out in the secondary, there was nowhere to throw the football. The way the Ravens play defense can cause serious problems for Roethlisberger. The Ravens know that the way to beat the Steelers is to get to Big Ben, and they have the personnel to do it.

The Steelers will shut down Ray Rice and the Ravens running game. That will leave safety Troy Polamalu to terrorize Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game. This defensive battle has to go to the Steelers only because their linebackers are more capable of shutting down the middle of the field than Ray Lewis and the Baltimore linebackers.

The Bottom Line:

This will be a great playoff football game. The intensity will be there and the hitting will be on display. In the battle of great AFC defenses in 2010, the Steelers have to be considered the best. In this game, that is all it will take to win.

Sportsbook Odds Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL OddsOnline Sportsbook Preview:

The hardest hitting game of the playoffs will be played in Pittsburgh this Saturday. Even the offshore NFL betting crowd knows that the Ravens and the Steelers each possess the most lethal defenses in the NFL, but the Super Bowl betting odds say that the Steelers have the better all-around team. The Baltimore Ravens may have something to say about that.

The Ravens have been part of the price per head Super Bowl betting picture since the preseason started. With offensive acquisitions such as wide receiver Anquan Boldin, and another year of experience for running back Ray Rice, the Ravens looked ready to challenge for the AFC title this year. As the season played out, the Ravens improved on offense and got healthy enough on defense to become a real threat in this year’s playoffs.

Offense:

The Pittsburgh Steelers biggest weapon is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and their biggest offensive downfall is their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben was sacked 32 times in 12 games played in the 2010 season, and many of those sacks were the result of bad decisions by Roethlisberger. Running back Rashard Mendenhall did not have a 100-yard game against the Ravens this season, and the Ravens showed an ability to shut down the Steelers running game. Between Ben trying to make plays that are not there and Mendenhall getting stopped up by the Ravens front seven, this could be a long day for the Steelers offense.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was the story in last week’s wild card win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Running back Ray Rice enjoyed limited success gaining 56 rushing yards and picking up key first downs. But Flacco’s 265 passing yards and two touchdowns showed that the Ravens passing game can take over when the running game cannot get the ball into the endzone.

Defense:

The Ravens, with safety Ed Reed in the line up, are a potent defense. The front seven can shut down the run, control the middle of the field and get extreme pressure on the quarterback. With Reed patrolling the secondary, as he will be in this game, the Ravens are also able to limit the effectiveness of the opposition passing game. With a gun-slinger like Roethlisberger making up most of it as he goes along, it is possible that Reed could have a huge day as Ben makes ill-advised throws to get away from the Baltimore pressure up front.

The Steelers offer a very significant challenge to the Ravens offense. The Pittsburgh defense has some of the most punishing linebackers in football that can stuff the run and sack the quarterback. Safety Troy Polamalu makes it extremely difficult to get a passing rhythm going because he is never in the same place twice. Matching up against the Steelers defense will be the biggest challenge for the Ravens.

The Bottom Line:

The Ravens look to be in control of their offense. They tried the run to open the game against the Chiefs. When that did not work, they moved to the pass and won the game. The Steelers have a very chaotic approach to their offense that could prove to be their downfall in this game.

BSN Sports Pick: Baltimore Ravens

College Football Betting – Wildcats, Panthers Clash in Alabama

Super Bowl betting is taking all the hype right now as the NFL playoffs are beginning , but it’s still time to go bowling in the NCAA, and we’ll look at the Compass Bowl (formerly the PapaJohns.com Bowl), which features Pittsburgh and Kentucky. Pitt underachieved severely to get here, while the Wildcats snuck in as well, so who will pick up a much-needed postseason win?

Compass Bowl Betting – Saturday, 12:00 PM ET

The Panthers (7-5) were the preseason college football betting favorites to win the Big East, but stumbled to a 7-5 mark and were blown out at home by rival West Virginia in the “Backyard Brawl”. That meant the end of the road for coach Dave Wannstedt, who was replaced by former Miami (OH) coach Mike Haywood. Haywood was then fired after domestic-violence charges, and they still haven’t announced who will coach the team on Saturday. On the field, running back Dion Lewis has been a disappointment, although he did run for 261 yards in the final game of the season, and Tino Sunseri did improve as the year went on. The Panthers may have to lean on their ninth-ranked defense a lot.

The Wildcats (6-6) also underachieved, considering they were in the SEC weak East division. Their 26th-ranked passing attack was led by quarterback Mike Hartline and receiver Randall Cobb, but Hartline was arrested in December and will miss the final game of his college career, leaving little-used Morgan Newton to hold it down. Running back Derrick Locke should be healthy enough, and the Wildcats will need him in this contest. Kentucky is 46th in the country defensively, but 72nd in points allowed, and they allowed seven 100-yard rushers this year, so look for Pitt to target that aspect.

Betting services have the Panthers as a 3.5-point favorite in the Compass Bowl, and this is the first meeting between these two teams. Pitt ended a three-bowl skid with a win over North Carolina last season, which enhanced expectations for 2010, while Kentucky is looking to bounce back from a loss to Clemson in last year’s bowl appearance. You have to wonder what the feeling is like in Pittsburgh with everything that has happened with the coaches, but Kentucky has their own problems with the suspension of Hartline. We’re sticking with Pitt because they do have a solid defense, and at least they still have their players and staff. The Wildcats are missing their quarterback, and they may have a problem getting the ball to their most important player, Cobb. Locke may be rusty, and we don’t trust Newton yet. The upset is enticing because of the coaching problems at Pitt, but take the Panthers in your sports betting picks.
It’s not quite BCS bowl betting, but the Compass Bowl in Alabama features a pair of teams who definitely didn’t play as well as they could have this season in Pittsburgh and Kentucky, a pair of teams who also have some off-field troubles coming into this matchup.

Pitt Kentucky Betting – Saturday, 12:00 PM ET

The Panthers (7-5) were picked by many to run away with the Big East, but they just never got on track and ended up getting romped at home by West Virginia in the “Backyard Brawl”, which lead to the firing of Dave Wannstedt (at least the former Dolphins coach has time for Super Bowl betting now). Then they hired and fired Mike Haywood after he was arrested, leaving the Panthers will no coach. They still have a pair of solid backs in Dion Lewis and Ray Graham, which takes the pressure off quarterback Tino Sunseri. The defense comes in ninth in the country, and the Panthers are 19th both against the run and the pass.

The Wildcats (6-6) snuck into the postseason with six wins, and they should have gotten a couple more playing in a poor SEC East. Kentucky was powered by quarterback Mike Hartline and receiver Randall Cobb, leading the Wildcats to the 26th-ranked offense in the country, but Hartline was arrested in December and will be suspended for his senior-season finale. Also, running back Derrick Locke missed four games in the middle of the season, but he came around at the end and the Wildcats will need him, because Morgan Newton hasn’t gotten many snaps under center. The Kentucky defense comes in 46th, but they’re also 72nd in scoring defense, which is far too many for the amount of yards they allow.

Your online bookie service has the Panthers as a 3.5-point favorite in their first-ever meeting with the Wildcats, and this is a very interesting matchup because both programs have gone through some off-field things since the regular season ended. The Panthers are the team that is more talented, and they have running backs who have each run for over 250 yards in a game this season. We think they can overcome their head-coaching problems, while the Wildcats have to overcome the absence of their offensive leader and most important player (with all respect to Cobb, one of the most versatile players in the NCAA), Hartline. Newton just doesn’t have the experience to deal with the pressure of a bowl game, especially one where a winning season hangs in the balance. Look for Pitt to wear Kentucky down with their running game and roll to a win, so lay a sports bet on the Panthers.

NFL Odds Preview: New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)

NFL Odds and PicksSports Betting Overview:

The NFL football betting community has come to the conclusion that New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is never going to learn when it comes to arrogant talking before a game. Someone on his own team, or anyone in the online football betting world, should have reminded Ryan that it was the Buffalo Bills his team beat in week 17. Beating the Buffalo Bills does not mean that the betting services of the world are ready to proclaim the Jets the best team in the playoffs, regardless of what Ryan says.

The Indianapolis Colts are keeping a much lower profile after their week 17 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Colts secured the third seed in the AFC after beating the Titans, and that is what earned them the right play mighty mouth Rex Ryan and the New York Jets in Indianapolis. The Colts are on a roll, and they are playing well on both sides of the ball. The biggest improvement for the Colts is the play of quarterback Peyton Manning. Indianapolis is in a good spot thanks to the play of their future hall of fame quarterback.

Offense:

The Jets enter the playoffs with the most questions at quarterback. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez played one series in the week 17 win over the Bills, and never threw a single pass. Rex Ryan has been coddling Sanchez for two seasons, and now Ryan expects Sanchez to just walk out on the field in this game and start throwing the ball with precision. Sanchez is making mistakes when he throws the ball, and it would not be a surprise to see veteran Mark Brunell under center before this game is over. Brunell played extremely well against the Bills, and his passes looked strong and accurate. But Ryan has expressed faith in Sanchez all season long, even if Ryan won’t let his quarterback throw the ball.

The Colts offense started to show the glimmer of a running game against the Titans. Running back Joseph Addai is healthy and had he, along with the return of running back Dominic Rhodes, put 92 rushing yards up against a stiff Tennessee defense. The only problem is that the Jets defense is far more punishing against the run, and that means the Colts will have to rely on their passing game. When a team’s passing game is quarterbacked by Peyton Manning, then relying on it is not such a bad thing.

Defense:

When the Colts won Super Bowl XLI, their defense looked weak going into the playoffs. When the playoffs arrived, the Colts defense suddenly turned up and took the team all the way to the title. With players like linebacker Gary Brackett, defensive lineman Dwight Freeney and defensive lineman Robert Mathis; the Colts have the personnel to do the same kind of quick change on defense again this year. The Colts run defense was stout against the Titans but the pass defense looked like it was having problems against the long ball. If the Colts can figure out their defense, they have an excellent chance to repeat as AFC Champions.

The Jets defense has been excellent up front but suspect in the secondary all season long. It would be thought that Peyton Manning may hesitate to throw into a defensive secondary that has cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Darelle Revis. But both corners have been beaten this season, and Manning may have to take chances anyways as the Jets front seven may be too much for the Colts to run against.

The Bottom Line:

The Jets are cocky but they are also 2-3 in their last five games. The Jets are not the best team in the AFC, and neither are the Colts. But the Colts have Peyton Manning, and now Manning has his chance to redeem himself for last year’s Super Bowl flop. Look for Manning to drive his team past the Jets in this game.

BSNblog Free Pick: Indianapolis Colts

Sports Bet Overview:

In fairy tales you often hear of the underdog who suddenly finds super-human strength and overcomes the bigger opponent. In NFL betting, there is no such thing as fairy tales. The online football betting experts are not surprised to see the Seattle Seahawks win the NFC West considering how weak the rest of the division is. But the problem for Seattle is that they won a division that was taken by the team that lost the least rather than a team that won the most. The pay per head sportsbook experts are not giving the Seahawks much of a chance in this game, and that is because fairy tales are not reality.

The New Orleans Saints were riding an incredible wave of momentum until they lost in week 17 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There were a few things that cost the defending Super Bowl champs that game, but the biggest was their attempts to establish a running game that has been non-existent all season long. With players like Chris Ivory, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas carrying the ball, it is hard to imagine that the Saints still rely almost solely on quarterback Drew Brees for their offense.

Offense:

As was mentioned, the Saints have no running game. When you look closely at the stats, you may start to realize why the Saints have no running game. Drew Brees was sacked 25 times in 2010. That is not excessive, but it is the second-highest season total in Brees’ career. When a quarterback as elusive as Brees is getting sacked more than an average of once per game, that means the offensive line is having some problems. There are no holes for the running backs to run through, and the line needs to fix that if they want to win in the playoffs.

The Seahawks let Charlie Whitehurst start in the week 17 game against the St. Louis Rams that decided the NFC West winner. Starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was able to play, but head coach Pete Carroll decided that Hasselbeck was too banged up to be effective. Neither of the Seattle quarterbacks has been very impressive this season, but if Carroll passes over Hasselbeck for the playoff game then that would pretty much sound the end to Hasselbeck’s career in Seattle. Seattle also has no running game, but they do not have the potent air attack that the Saints have to offset their lack of running yardage.

Defense:

The Saints defense showed an aggressive pass rush against the Bucs, but they left the middle of the field open for the pass. The New Orleans linebackers and secondary have been inconsistent all season long. If they were ever going to bring the defense together to play as a unit, now would be the time.

The Seahawks have the 27th ranked pass defense in the league, and that is what will cost them this game. They have no pass rush to intimidate or upset Brees, and their secondary is unable to stay with the Saints receivers. The line up front may be able to contain the Saints running game, but the secondary will not be able to keep Brees off the scoreboard.

The Bottom Line:

The Seahawks backed their way into the playoffs like no other team in history. They are the first team with a losing record to win a division and make the playoffs. The only thing they have going for them is their fans and the noise at Qwest Field. But the Saints play twice a year in the Atlanta Georgia Dome and are more than used to fan noise.

Pick: New Orleans Saints

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