Bet With Your Head, Not Your Heart
This lesson will be learned the hard way conference championship Sunday. The majority of NFL fans are rooting against perennial favorite New England and defending champ Seattle. As we approach the second biggest Sunday of the season, this has led to a trend of a majority of people taking their rooting interest, the two underdogs. Anytime you start hearing people look for reasons to support a team that are completely nonsensical, you should run from those teams. So far I have heard I should throw out the head to head match ups, ignore the home field advantage, ignore the injuries of the star players involved, and instead put faith in the worse units on the field, the Green Bay defense and the Indianapolis defense. As appealing both Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers are and how historically significant a Colts-Packers Super Bowl would be, if you are looking to make money on Sunday these emotions are in fact the things you need to throw out.
SEATTLE (-7.5) 27 Green Bay 17 Total 46.5
The most recent number I have seen is 64% of bettors are taking the points in this matchup and yet Vegas will not budge off 7.5. I would find that alarming if you think the Packers have a chance in this game. The 36-16 Week 1 drubbing not as close as the score indicated cannot “just be thrown out”. Seattle does not do anything all that fancy on defense, they don’t use any elaborate schemes, they know they are better than you, they cover the shit out of you, and if you do catch the ball you don’t get an inch after the catch. This approach will be no different in Week 20 than it was in Week 1. Both of these teams are known to have a significant home field advantage and Seattle running the table against the spread 7 straight games combined with the late season loss by the Packers to Buffalo sealed the Packers fate come Sunday because this game is in Seattle. The Pack have put up quite a few clunkers on the road this season (@BUF, @NO, @DET, and @SEA). You can’t find one game in the last 3 years in Qwest Field that meant anything where Seattle didn’t control the game. Seattle’s home field advantage is so significant I rate the Hawks 10 points better. You could maybe make a case that the Packers offense is so historically great maybe they could overcome a great Seahawks defense but I truly believe that argument is null and void with Rodgers on one leg. I have actually heard Packers supporters run down all these factors and then at the end they say ah what the hell I’ll take the Packers anyway. Huh? What?! I have a slight lean to the under on the total as I expect Seattle to win with their defense but I have seen it happen so many times where Seattle games manage to go over with defensive touchdowns and short fields (like last week vs. Carolina).
NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) 28 Indianapolis 21 Total 53.5
Yet another AFC Championship Game at The Razor come the third Sunday in January is on tap in the nightcap. Unlike the NFC game, I do think you will see a different approach than the previous head to head matchup from both teams and I do believe the Colts have a better chance than the Packers to pull the upset. Since an embarrassing 42-20 loss on November 16th, the Colts have made some significant changes to their team including improving the offensive line, making far less mistakes playing more conservatively offensively, and seen tremendous defensive improvement led by a series of great games by CB Vonta Davis. You have to assume the Colts will come in with a much better game plan to stop the run that killed them unexpectedly in the earlier matchup and Andrew Luck I would expect to continue to get even better in big spots. All that being said I think that will take a 3 TD Colts loss to just a 1 TD loss, and even that won’t be good enough to cover. I like the Colts a lot as a team but this is one of the better Patriots teams I have seen and I’d put a good amount of the credit to Darrelle Revis and especially a healthy Rob Gronkowski. You can just see it now, the Colts are going to load up against the run and Gronk is going to have a huge game. You may say they didn’t look that good against the Ravens,but I would say getting through that game gives them an extra level of confidence into this one. I rate the Patriots so high I give them a reasonable chance of beating the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and there isn’t a team in the last 2.5 years in a big spot I believed had a chance against the Hawks. The Colts make a decent effort here led by the adjustments they have made late in the season but I’d have to lean with the Pats -6.5. I have taken the under here but don’t have a strong feeling on it. I believe the Pats will start the game using the run that has been so effective in the past and with the Colts being more conservative lately I think we will stay under the huge number.