Will There be Shockers in the NFL Divisional Round?
Wayne Root: Will There be Shockers in the NFL Divisional Round?
For many years, playoff handicapping was very easy. You took the underdogs over Wildcard Weekend because that group of teams was historically very evenly matched...but then you took the rested bye teams the next week because they were going to win blowouts.
Go back and look at the great performances by favorites in the Joe Montana and Troy Aikman years. The NFL's best would win HUGE and the pointspread just didn't matter.
Those days are largely over. Well...the part about underdogs getting the money during Wildcard Weekend worked out again! WAYNE ALLYN ROOT had all four dogs last weekend, and then Clemson plus the points Monday night over Alabama. A great 80% football weekend! But...the days of the rested bye teams running up the score have been over for awhile. Last year's results are a good reminder of that. Underdogs cashed three of the four Divisional Round tickets a year ago this week...
*Baltimore +7 covered in a 35-31 loss at New England
*Carolina +13 just missed covering in a 31-17 loss at Seattle
*Dallas +5.5 covered in a 26-21 loss at Green Bay
*Indianapolis +9.5 stunned Denver 24-13 in a huge cover
We weren't that far from having a 4-0 week ATS for dogs, or three outright upsets. Dallas still thinks they were robbed of a win in Green Bay. Underdogs offered value a year ago and could well do so again this weekend.
I'm not going to post my official NFL selections for Saturday and Sunday here in a free web article. And, you can't even bet Pittsburgh/Denver anyway because the market is waiting to learn more about Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder. I will talk about upset potential in each of this weekend's four games.
KANSAS CITY is the hottest team in the NFL, so OF COURSE they can win as an underdog Saturday at New England. They beat #1 seed Denver on the road during this 11-game winning streak. And, the Patriots have been dealing with injuries lately in a way that's really messed up their rhythm. This is a classic "dog that can definitely win the game" scenario. On the other hand, Tom Brady vs. Alex Smith is a mismatch in terms of "big game quarterback." And, Bill Belichick vs. Andy Reid is the same at the head coaching position. New England at its best can easily win by more than a TD against the version of Andy Reid teams that fall apart in the playoffs.
GREEN BAY will probably need some help to score an upset. They just got crushed on this field a few weeks ago. Not much has changed since then. If anything, Arizona is better positioned to thrive now because they had a week off to get ready for the postseason. Beyond "you can't ever count Aaron Rodgers out," there's not much to like here about the Packers in terms of an outright upset. Could they be a value bet as a dog to keep it close? No hints from me!
SEATTLE is priced as "the better team" at Carolina because the spread is less than a field goal as I write this. Home field advantage is usually worth at least three points in a playoff game...and the bye advantage itself isn't meaningless. So, the market is telling you that Seattle would be a small favorite on a neutral field if both teams were fresh and rested. Definitely, "the better team" is capable of winning the game. And, this is an underdog that's been to the last two Super Bowls! You have to decide here if Seattle's finally fading from greatness. It goes without saying that they could win the game.
PITTSBURGH is a definite upset threat if Ben Roethlisberger can throw the ball...but much more of a longshot if he's playing hurt or out of the lineup. It's difficult to imagine Landry Jones having a big game on this field against this fantastic defense. And, Roethlisberger is going to take more hits if he tries to play. The case for the dog here is that Denver's offense is suspect...and Pittsburgh can bring a "nothing to lose" mentality the way Indianapolis did last year as almost a double digit dog. Things "could" get interesting. Is that a best expectation?
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is known as THE KING OF UPSETS because I've had more documented upset calls than any other handicapper in the industry's history. You can assume it's likely that I'll be making at least one upset call this weekend. But, DON'T assume that I'll be backing all four underdogs like I did last weekend. Don't forget that I had Alabama (-10) over Michigan State in that 38-0 blowout in the college semifinals. I play favorites too!
You can purchase my BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about which of my services best suits your individual needs, please talk to one of my representatives in the office at 1-877-ROOT-WINS. Be sure you check on combination packages for both football and basketball that go through the Super Bowl or March Madness. Basketball's been on a nice run...and I hit another PINNACLE Tuesday in Northwestern's win over Wisconsin.
Have a great weekend! I'll be back again Monday to either review the NFL or start looking ahead to some big basketball. I'm due to check back in with Pac 12 baskets soon. "Bracketology" currently has eight teams from the league reaching the Big Dance! USC just knocked off Arizona and UCLA in succession. January's a dream month in Las Vegas sports betting. That means it's time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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