Well friends, I did not achieve my goal of a season-long winning percentage of over 50%. I finished the year at 115-113-8, a win percentage of 48.7%. My won/loss percentage though was over the .500 line, so at least I kept my head above water from that respect.
Considering I needed a 37-16-1 finish over the season’s final four weeks to get there, I can at least take solace in the fact that I’m heading into the playoffs with positive momentum…even if this is the worst overall record I’ve had in three years of picking games against the spread.
But the regular season is over and the playoffs are here, so it’s time to wipe the slate clean and look towards the NFL’s second season. There are four games on Wild Card Weekend, all with compelling storylines and spreads, and I’m looking forward to seeing who my winners are. Let’s get to it.
- All times are ET.
- The Patriots, Ravens, Packers, and 49ers are the top seeds and thus on bye this week.
- Spreads are as of Monday morning.
- If you want updated spread info, visit our friends at DocSports: NFL Playoffs Odds and Lines
NFL Playoffs Bettor’s Guide: Wild Card Weekend
Picks – Point Spreads – Over-Unders
Lock of the Week – TV Schedule
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
- Bengals-Texans Date, Time, and TV: Saturday, January 7th at 4:30 on NBC
- Bengals-Texans Point Spread: Texans -3
- Bengals-Texans Over-Under: 39
- Bengals-Texans Spread Pick: I know that the trendy pick here will be Cincinnati because they have the hot young studs in AJ Green and Andy Dalton while the Texans are a mess at QB and have dealt with injuries all year. I’m still picking the Texans though, mainly because they are at home. Houston fans have been waiting for this moment ever since pro football came back to the city. While I don’t think NFL fans can will a team to victory like fans can in college basketball, if there is any place in the NFL that could do it, it would be partisans in Reliant Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Houston still has an effective ground game, plus Andre Johnson back to keep defenses honest. The return of Wade Phillips will also help the defense, as it did in Week 17. And Cincinnati, as exciting as they are with their young talent, still has a lot of young talent in key positions. Their time will come, I think; it just won’t be this day. Bengals-Texans free pick: Texans -3
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
- Lions-Saints Date, Time, and TV: Saturday, January 7th at 8:00 on NBC
- Lions-Saints Point Spread: Saints -10.5
- Lions-Saints Over-Under: 58.5
- Lions-Saints Spread Pick: TAKE THE OVER!!! That’s my pick. Though, I have to say, now that everyone is commenting on how attractive the over is, I’m starting to think this might be one of those games that defies expectation and becomes lower scoring than we think. … Ah hell, what am I saying, not a chance. Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford are going to be directing a spectacular fireworks show on Saturday, and it will make this the most entertaining game of the weekend. I just don’t think it will be particularly close. Atlanta always plays the Saints tough, yet New Orleans throttled them two weeks ago on MNF. Last week, the Saints throttled a Carolina team that had been playing much better football of late. If Detroit couldn’t be the Packers with Matt Flynn at QB and no Greg Jennings, what makes us think they can compete in New Orleans against Drew Brees and a healthy complement of weapons? Regardless though, congrats to the Lions for making it this far. Even with a loss Saturday, this season is an unequivocal victory for Detroit. Lions-Saints free pick: Saints -10.5
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
- Falcons-Giants Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, January 8th at 1:00 on FOX
- Falcons-Giants Point Spread: Giants -3
- Falcons-Giants Over-Under: 48.5
- Falcons-Giants Spread Pick: I tweeted last night that the rest of the NFC playoff teams could not be happy with the Giants beating the Cowboys. This isn’t to say that the Giants are world beaters, but they do have many core players still around from their Super Bowl winning team and they are getting healthy, especially on the defensive line. If this game were in Atlanta, I’d like the Falcons; but in New York, potentially in the elements, I just don’t think this Atlanta team is well-built to beat an elite QB with elite WRs and an elite defensive line. The Falcons are better than I predicted they’d be before the season started, but they are a team that needs to be at home in the playoffs to succeed (and couldn’t even do that last year). Eli is light years better than Matt Ryan has proven himself to be in big games, and that to me is the biggest difference here. Falcons-Giants free pick: Giants -3
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
- Steelers-Broncos Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, January 8th at 4:30 ET on CBS
- Steelers-Broncos Point Spread: Steelers -9
- Steelers-Broncos Over-Under: 34.5
- Steelers-Broncos Spread Pick: So far I have picked all three home favorites to cover the spread. Am I bold enough to go 4-4 picking the favorites, and to make this one a road pick? No. No I’m not. If it were Steelers -4 or -5 I probably would, but nine points is a lot to ask of a team that has a gimpy QB, will likely be without its top RB, and that faces a team that likes to shorten the game with a ball-control, clock-eating style. I don’t think Tim Tebow has any “Tebow magic” left (not that I believed in “Tebow magic” in the first place…), but I do think he’ll play better Sunday than he has the last two weeks. While I don’t think it will be enough to win, I do think it will be enough to make the game somewhat competitive, even if it’s “competitive” in the way yesterday’s 7-3 loss to the Chiefs was competitive…which wasn’t very competitive, but still just a four-point loss. Steelers-Broncos free pick: Broncos +9
Lock Pick of the Week
I’m not a huge fan of big numbers for my lock pick, and I don’t totally trust the Texans without Matt Schaub, so I’m going with the Giants here. They are at home against a team that doesn’t play nearly as well on the road as they do at home. Plus, the G-men are hot, healthy, and experienced in these types of games. And just at the QB spot alone, I think the Giants have at least a 3- or 4-point advantage. So take the Giants -3 and take it to the bank.