Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII Pick: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers

We are down to the final game of the 2012 NFL season and as excited as I am for this Sunday's Super Bowl, I cannot help but have that empty feeling that comes with knowing that opening day for next season is over seven months away.

Winning a Super Bowl is the ultimate prize for all 32 NFL teams and their fans but the harsh reality is that only one team will come away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy and only one city will be able to bask in the glory of having their team referred to as Super Bowl Champions. As a die-hard Eagles' fan this reality has been even harder to accept given the fact that Philadelphia is one of the handful of NFL cities that has never had the opportunity know what it feels like to actually win a Super Bowl. I was not even born in 1960 when the team won the NFL Championship and as I get older, the memory of being at the Vet when Wilbert Montgomery ran all over the Cowboys on the way to Super Bowl XV has already began to fade.

It is a new era in Philadelphia and maybe Chip Kelly is the guy that is finally going to lead our beloved Birds to the Promised Land of Super Bowl glory, but right now I have focused all my energy on dissecting this Sunday's matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. History will be made when the Harbaugh brothers square off against one another on the sidelines in what should be a great game. John Harbaugh has some strong connections to Philadelphia as a former Eagles assistant coach under Andy Reid before getting his big break with Baltimore, so I guess that is as good as any reason to root for the Ravens. I never really liked Jim Harbaugh when he played in the NFL for Chicago, but you cannot help but admire the job he has done in just two years at the helm in San Francisco. Hopefully, Kelly can follow in his footsteps and become another Pac-12 coach to mirror their success at the collegiate level in the NFL.

The bottom line is that this is going to be a close, hard-fought battle that has 'instant classic' written all over it. Since I see this as a three-point game either way I am inclined to take Baltimore and the 3.5 points. However, as the money keeps pouring in on the Ravens this line could easily dip to three points by the time kick-off rolls around.

For my complete preview and prediction for Super Bowl XLVII as previously posted on Bang the Book just click the link below.

Super Bowl XLVII Pick: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers

Monday, January 28, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII "Over/Under" Preview & Free Pick

All season long I have been making "over/under" predictions for my top three NFL games each week for Doc's Sports Service, so I was honored when they asked me to cover this year's Super Bowl and offer my pick for this game.

The Super Bowl is without a doubt the most heavily bet single sporting event in the world with billions of dollars wagered on just about every aspect of the game. The amount of money bet on the total line is second only to the money wagered on the winner of the game itself with the spread. With that kind a pressure to come up with the correct prediction for this Sunday's game, I dug deep into this matchup to try and uncover where the value lies in the actual total line, which right now is anywhere between 47 and 48 points.

The following is a link my complete preview and pick for Super Bowl XLVII's total line in an article that was previously posted on Doc's Sports Service. While there are no guarantees when it comes to wagering on sports, my confidence level for this pick would make it a 5 Unit Play utilizing Doc's Unit Betting System.

Super Bowl XLVII "Over/Under" Preview & Free Pick

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Top NFL Teams Against The Spread (2010-Present)

The Eagles were not only horrible on the field this season with just four victories against 12 'painful to watch' losses, they were extremely hard on the wallet as well with a costly 3-12-1 record covering against the spread. If the NFL used this record for the college draft order, new head coach Chip Kelly would have the first overall pick as opposed to former head coach Andy Reid having it for real in Kansas City.

In 2011 the Birds matched their 8-8 record straight-up with an 8-8 record ATS which still adds up to a losing season when you take into account the 10 percent vig you pay on each wager. The last time the Eagles were north of .500 on the field was in 2010 when they won the NFC East with a record of 10-6. They would have cost you money that year too with a 7-9 record ATS. You have to go back to the 2009 season when the Birds once again won the division with an overall record of 11-5 to find the last time they were over .500 ATS (9-7).

This little exercise proves that the Eagles were definitely a team to avoid (or bet against) over the past several seasons, but it also begs the question as to which NFL teams have been money makers ATS in recent years.

The following is a link to my thorough examination of this very topic in an article I recently wrote for Sporting Charts.

Top NFL Teams Against The Spread (2010-Present)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons NFC Championship Free Pick

The NFL season is down to its final three games (not counting next week's Pro Bowl) with both the AFC and NFC Championships this Sunday and Super Bowl XLVII on Feb.3. While we are all painfully aware of the fact that the Eagles' season ended before it ever really began, the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons are the two teams left in the NFC battling it out for a spot in the big game.

The 49ers started this season as one of the odds-on-favorites to win the conference and Atlanta was clearly the best team in the NFC in terms of wins and losses with overall record of 13-3. In fact, this is the first time in recent memory that the top two seeds met in the NFC title game.

San Francisco comes into this matchup as a four-point favorite on the road and for good reason. It ran all over Green Bay last week in a shockingly easy 45-31 victory erasing any memory of a couple of shaky performances down the stretch in the regular season. Second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked like the second coming of Steve Young and the 49ers' defense showed everyone why it is one of the best in the NFL by coming up with a couple of big plays when it needed to the most.

Atlanta is just plain lucky to even be in this game after blowing a 20-point lead against Seattle last week. It needed a last minute field goal to squeak-out a 30-28 victory over the Seahawks in a bold attempt to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Falcons are a very good team on paper, but too often they play not to lose as opposed to playing to win. This weakness is bound to surface against a 49ers' team that is still bitter over last season's loss to the Giants in the conference title game.

While it is pretty obvious which way I am leaning in this game, if you are interested in reading my complete preview and prediction for this matchup click the link below for my recent post on Bang the Book.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons NFC Championship Free Pick

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chip Kelly takes over nest in Philadelphia

It took former Eagles' head coach Andy Reid less than a week to land another job in the NFL when he was named to the same position with Kansas City earlier this month. It took team owner Jeff Lurie a bit longer than expected to fill Reid's shoes, but in the end all indications suggest that he got his man when Chip Kelly decided that he wanted a shot to coach in the NFL after all.

Philadelphia doggedly pursued Kelly just hours after his Oregon Ducks completed another highly successful season with an impressive 35-17 victory over Kansas State in this season's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. After interviewing with the team, Kelly decided to return to Oregon next season and put the NFL on hold for now. What actually happened between then and now to change his mind remains to be seen, but in a news conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon, he will be officially introduced as the Eagles 21st head coach in franchise history.

Just the other night I was talking with a fellow knuckleheaded Eagles' fan about how I was glad that neither Chip nor Brian Kelly had any interest in the head coaching job in Philly. In a previous post, I opted for hiring a coordinator or assistant coach that was previously with a team that had already won a Super Bowl, similar to what Reid brought to the table when he was with Green Bay.

After a parade of stars worked their way through the interview process, it appears that Lurie never gave up hope of still landing his original choice when the whole process first began. You have to give the Eagles credit for sticking to their guns, but the jury is still out as to whether or not it was the right move.

Kelly brings some impressive coaching credentials to South Philly but they were all honed on the collegiate level with no previous NFL experience of any type. Often times what motivates teams and players in college does not translate to the pro level. Jim Harbaugh did it almost effortlessly in San Francisco, which will be playing in its second-straight NFC Championship Game in his two-year tenure, but he is certainly the exception not the rule.

The one thing that Kelly will bring to the table is a renewed enthusiasm and sense of excitement to not only to a beaten down team but its downtrodden fans as well. What is done is done, so it is time to get on the Chip Kelly bandwagon for better or worse. He will have all the opportunity in the world to be successful in Philadelphia as one thing Lurie is committed to is bringing a Super Bowl title to a city starved for a champion. It is now up to Kelly to hopefully be that one last missing piece to finally get the job done.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers NFL Playoffs Free Pick

The premier matchup in this weekend's NFC Divisional Round playoffs pits the Green Bay Packers on the road against the San Francisco 49ers in a Saturday night showdown for a spot in next Sunday's conference championship.

These two teams met on opening day with the 49ers coming away with a 30-22 victory as six-point underdogs on the road. Since that point, the Packers went on to win the NFC North Division at 11-5 and San Francisco claimed its second-straight NFC West title with an overall record of 11-4-1. It went 6-1-1 at home while Green Bay was an even 4-4 on the road.

This matchup features one of the most prolific offenses in the league going up against a defense that was ranked second in the NFL in points allowed. The Packers racked-up an average of 27.1 points a game behind Aaron Rodgers and an explosive passing game that was ranked ninth in total yards and second in touchdowns with 40. The 49ers' defense was one of the best against the pass this season so it will come down to a matter of wills to determine which team comes away with a win.

The following is a link to my preview & prediction for Saturday night's game as originally posted on Bang the Book.

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers NFL Playoffs Free Pick

Thursday, January 10, 2013

NFL Totals Betting: Divisional Round Over and Under Predictions

I have been making selections on the NFL total line all season long for Doc's Sports Service and while I am far from being a professional handicapper, I did post another winning season with an overall record of 26-20-2 and a 2-1 record in last weekend's Wildcard Round games.

This week, I turned my attention to the four matchups in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to come up with my final three top plays of the year. All four games last week stayed UNDER the total but with teams such as New England and Denver on this weekend's slate it is hard to see that being the case this time around.

Copied below is a link to this week's picks as originally posted on Doc's. Thanks to those who followed my selections over the course of the NFL season and I look forward to getting back at it next season.

NFL Totals Betting: Divisional Round Over and Under Predictions

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins NFL Wildcard Free Pick

The NFL's Wildcard Weekend wraps things up late Sunday afternoon with perhaps the best matchup on the slate. The red-hot Seattle Seahawks come into the playoffs as the sixth seed in the NFC and travel to FedEx Field to face Robert Griffin III and the upstart Washington Redskins.

The Seahawks finished the regular season with a five-game winning streak and a 4-1 record against the spread to wind-up 11-5 both straight-up and ATS on the year. The Redskins actually topped that with a seven straight wins to close out the season while covering the spread in every game. Their 10-6 SU (11-5 ATS) record was good enough to win the NFC East title for the first time since 1999.

The most intriguing aspect of this showdown is the fact that both teams enjoyed this kind of success with a rookie quarterback at the helm. Anyone who follows the NFL is well aware of the big-play capability of RG III with both his arm and legs, but Seattle's Russell Wilson is as equally as dangerous with the ball in his hands. After a slow start to the season, he has worked his way into the discussion for offensive rookie of the year along with Griffin and Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck. Whichever of these two phenoms can elevate their game the best with the dialed-up intensity of the playoffs gives their team the best chance to come out of this game with a win.

The following is a link to my preview & prediction for Sunday's game as originally posted on Bang the Book.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins NFL Wildcard Free Pick

Friday, January 4, 2013

Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers Wildcard Playoffs Pick

The Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers will meet for the third time this season on Saturday night, but this time it is for a chance to advance to the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

Each team has already won this season on its home field with Green Bay upending the Vikings 23-14 as a seven-point home favorite in Week 13 and Minnesota returning the favor last Sunday in a thrilling 37-34 victory as a three-point underdog at home. Overall, the Packers have won five of the last six meetings straight-up and they are 4-2 against the spread. The total has gone OVER in three of the last four meetings.

The following is a link to my preview and prediction for this NFC North showdown as originally posted on Bang the Book.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers Wildcard Playoffs Pick

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who should be hired as the Eagles next head coach?

As expected, the ax fell on Andy Reid this past Monday thus ending his 14-year reign as the Eagles head coach. Since team owner Jeff Lurie has only had to hire two head coaches since buying the team in 1994, he is definitely under the gun to find the right replacement that can finally deliver that elusive Super Bowl title that Reid never could.

The team has already set up interviews with Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, so it appears that Lurie is going the route of trying to find the next, great NFL head coach as opposed to chasing down proven entities such as Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. It remains to be seen if Gruden or Cowher even want to return to the coaching ranks of the NFL after establishing a successful career in broadcasting, but if they do it appears that it will not be in Philadelphia.

This whole process could drag on for quite awhile so the debate over who the Eagles should hire can rage on for now. As for me, I am torn over which direction the team should head in trying to find the best possible candidate. I am not thrilled with the idea of dipping into the college ranks to find a new head coach as for every Jim Harbaugh, there are four or five other busts out there when it comes to a top college coach trying to make the transition to the NFL.

I must admit that Chip Kelly could be an interesting prospect with the wealth of offensive weapons the Eagles currently have. He could be the one coach capable of resurrecting Michael Vick's career but that is a crap shoot at best.

When it comes to hiring a NFL assistant with no prior head coaching experience, the No.1 prerequisite should be a Super Bowl ring in his current or previous role. Reid came to Philadelphia fresh off his experience helping Green Bay win Super Bowl XXXI as an offensive line coach and helped the Packers get back to the title game the following season as the Packers’ quarterback coach. While he could never seal the deal in Philadelphia, he always knew what it took to get there and built his team accordingly based on what he learned from his long-time mentor Mike Holmgren (who happened to get his shot after working for Bill Walsh when the 49ers were winning Super Bowls on a regular basis).

As crazy as it may seem, maybe there is some up and coming assistant lurking in the shadows on Tom Coughlin’s staff in New York or possibly on Green Bay’s or Pittsburgh’s staff from when they won their Super Bowls a few years back. New Orleans won a Super Bowl in 2009 but I would not touch anyone from that staff with a 10-foot pole.

I fully realize that there are many more factors that go into a major decision such as this, but a big part of winning a title is having the confidence along with the knowledge of how to actually get it done. Whether you were or were not a big Andy Reid fan, you do not keep a job in the NFL for that long without doing something right. As I am writing this post it looks like his total time unempolyed as a head coach will end up lasting less than a week as he finalizes a deal to take over the helm at Kansas City.

My only hope is that Lurie thoroughly does his homework so it will be another decade or so before the Eagles have to go through this kind of job search again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

NFL Betting: Three Important Post Season Betting Tips

The NFL postseason gets underway this Saturday afternoon with the first of four Wildcard Round games. I was already correct on my first prediction that the Cowboys and Giants would be at home watching the playoffs along with the Eagles, so it might be in your best interest to pay attention to this post if you want to make some money wagering on the games.

As part of my three part series for SBR Forum on how to bet on the NFL playoffs, I have provided a link (copied below) to the second installment; Three Important Post Season Betting Tips. These are fairly common sense concepts, but a vital part of successfully handicapping a particular matchup in the postseason.

As an added bonus the following are my picks for this weekend's games:

Cincinnati (+4.5) over Houston

Green Bay (-7.5) over Minnesota

Baltimore (-6.5) over Indianapolis

Washington (+3) over Seattle

I know I said that whichever team won the NFC East would be a one and done in the playoffs, I just do not have confidence in Seattle's ability to head all the way out to the East Coast and win on the road as a favorite. The ideal situation would be a one or two point Seahawks' win.

NFL Betting: Three Important Post Season Betting Tips