Totally Covered – Wild Card Weekend NFL Picks

Over/Under play from the Bengals at Colts matchup plus stats and systems to consider from the Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys along with our ATS prediction!

 

Early NFL playoff odds for Baltimore at New England (-7.5, O/U 49) have been announced and so far the lines on today’s games are holding steady, other than the total at Lucas Oil Stadium. After opening at O/U 50, this game has dropped as low as 47 at some online sportsbooks (Pinnacle) while others (5 Dimes) offer a 49.5. It seems like there is some major discrepancy among bettors and that’s a good thing; a lot better than a loaded bus getting ready to tip.

We split yesterday’s picks and our play for this game is on the first-half total.

AFC WILD CARD: BENGALS at COLTS

Wide receiver AJ Green (concussion) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (back) have been ruled out of Sunday’s matchup and that’s likely going to trigger a spike in betting for the Colts side ATS – Read Pick Sixty’s Power Rating play on this game!

It hurts Cinci’s chances but the Bengals have been doing it with the run game of late, ranking fifth in the NFL for rushing the past five weeks (153 RYPG). Hot rushing teams have an impressive 18-10 ATS record this season with 8 overs, 19 unders and a push. Click SDQL Text: season = 2014 and tA(RY, N=5) > 150

We’re not going to put much into the 27-0 shutout Cinci suffered in their previous visit and their 5-2 SU run to the playoffs is off-set by the loss of two offensive playmakers. Cinci’s defense has developed into a force, however, and Andy Dalton’s experience plus the benefit of a strong, two-headed run game give the Bengals a chance to compete. We like this one to start slow and our top total from the week is on this game staying under in the first-half.

TC Pick of the Week: Bengals-Colts UNDER 24.5 in the first-half

Note: You can still find this game at O/U 24 with a dozen online sportsbooks but if you follow the free picks @PickSixtySports on Twitter, you already booked it two days ago – Get on it!

PRIMETIME PICKS: LIONS AT COWBOYS

The Detroit Lions were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons early this week as Ndamukong Suh battled the league and won his right to play against Dallas in the Wild Card finale Sunday evening. In the past couple days, NFL odds reacted to the news by edging off Cowboys -7 to a common line of -6.5 but don’t be surprised if it jumps back up to -7 by kick-off. The sports betting public loves a favorite and they love the Cowboys even more, especially at home. Here are a few things to consider when betting this NFC matchup.

O/U MARGINS

The Lions were 5-11 O/U (-7.31, 31.2%) this season, tied for the third-highest “Under” percentage in the league. At -7.31, Detroit was the clear leader in negative O/U margin and join the Seahawks (-3.2) as the only two playoff teams this season with O/U margins of -2.0 or less.

Road teams with strong ‘negative’ O/U margins have been a good bet against the spread since 2011 (11-4 ATS) and nine of 15 even won the game straight-up. The best part: 13 of those teams were dogs! SDQL Text: playoffs = 1 and tA(ou margin) <= -2.5 and A

Of the eight games with a posted total greater than O/U 40, only two managed to find their way over and the road team’s record was 7-1 ATS. We should note one of the cover/overs was Seattle’s blowout win over the Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl (neutral field). That gives true road teams a mark of 6-1 ATS and 1-7 O/U.

Dogs of more than +6 points like these Lions were 3-1 ATS and all four games were decided in the fourth quarter. The Lions were only outscored in the fourth quarter four times this year but three of them were on the road against playoffs teams (CAR, NE, GB). Dallas started the season 6-1 SU and scored at least one TD in the fourth quarter of six out of seven games. Dallas also finished strong with 10-7-17 fourth quarter points in its last three games.

This is a really tough matchup for the Leos but defense can win championships and the past three Wild Card road dog winners with lines of more than +6 held their opponents to 7-17-10 points. Detroit ranked second this year in YPG allowed (301) and first in RYPG allowed (69). Dallas was 19th at 355 YPG allowed and 8th at 103 RYPG allowed.

PLAYOFF PICKS

Football Outsides ranked the Lions at third defensively and Dallas came in 22nd. There is little question here which group has the better defense but if I had to find one or two things Dallas did better it would be A) Less penalty yardage (10-yd adv) and B) More takeaways per game (1.9 vs. 1.7). The Cowboys time of possession was also slightly better but that’s as much part of the offense as it is defense and each of these teams ranked well this year (better than 31:30 per game possession). Detroit needs its offense to come to life and in what should be a closer game than some are expecting, we took the points.

Pick: Take the Lions to cover

Totally Covered is written by Jarvis Simes, lead handicapper at Pick Sixty Sports. Visit our Facebook Football Betting page for more NFL picks, winning systems and Best Bets throughout the playoffs!