Posts Tagged ‘New England Patriots’

By W.G. Ramirez

Instant classic?

Pfft, the Seattle Seahawks looked more like Miley Cyrus, coming through MetLife Stadium like a wrecking ball in their 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos, making the No. 1 ranked offense look more like the Icebox and the Little Giants in their first half against the Cowboys from the 1994 motion picture.

Heck, something tells me Goldie Hawn and Levander ‘Bird’ Williams (Mykel T. Williamson) and the Wildcats from the 1986 motion picture could’ve done better than the Broncos did on Sunday.

The Seahawks’ stealth-like defense was simply too fast, and too much for the Broncos, and while the sharp bettors got well, the sports books made a fortune after bettors plunked down a Nevada record $119.4 million on the game, according to figures released Monday by the Gaming Control Board.

Last year’s $98.9 million was the highest in Super Bowl history, and was simply blown away by the allure of quarterback Peyton Manning and the publicly favored Broncos. Attracting nearly 70 percent of the action, overall, the Broncos went from a 1-point underdog at the open after the conference championship games on Jan. 19, to as high as a 2.5-point favorite on Super Bowl Sunday.

The wiseguys – including renowned sports bettor Billy Walters – closed the gap late, taking the Seahawks plus the points, while a fraction of their wagers were on the moneyline. Though the sharps made their fair share, the state’s 183 books held $19.67 million, a win percentage of 16.5.

While weather forecasters predicted a blizzard a year before the big game, and again forecasted snow just a few weeks ago, the total was never really swayed that much from the opening number of 47. In fact, when weather reports revealed there would be clear skies would and temperatures would be in the 40s, the total was bet up, to 48 at some places, settling in at 47.5 just before kickoff. The game landed on 51 points.

Special point spreads on the Seahawks, such as Seattle -14.5, paid big prices for the underdog bettors. Anyone laying -3.5 with Seattle took in +190; if they laid -7.5 the Seahawks paid +360; and anyone thinking blowout, and laying -14.5 points, got +650 with Seattle.

Proposition bettors who took a shot on a safety occurring third-straight year made money just 12 seconds into the game, when the snap sailed by Manning and into the end zone. The “Will there be a safety” prop paid as high as +600 at some places, and +550 at most other spots.

Ironically, 12 seconds into the second half paid another specialty prop, as Seattle’s Percy Harvin raced the length of the field when he returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. The odds of him scoring a touchdown in the game were +200. Also paying out on that score was “Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown,” at +160.

Another prop that paid a decent plus-price was “Will either team score four straight times.” Seattle helped bettors of that prop out at the 12-minute mark of the second quarter, when Marshawn Lynch plunged into the end zone from a yard out to help the Seahawks extend their lead to 14-0. The extra point made it a surprising 15-0, Seattle.

It should come as no surprise after their dominating win, the Super Bowl champion Seahawks are a 5-to-1 favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz. What is a surprise is that the aging Broncos are second in line, at 7-1. Seattle’s division-rival, San Francisco, is next at 8-1, followed by New England (15-1) and Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, who are both 20-1. The Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, are 50-1 to win next year’s Super Bowl, while Jacksonville and Oakland are the longest shots to win a title, at 150-1.

CELEBRITY/ATHLETE/MEDIA POLL – When it was all said and done, 49 people contributed to my annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll.

Twenty of those prognosticators correctly picked the Seahawks to win it all, including proud Seattle-native Cindy Brunson, the easy-on-the-eyes former ESPN sports anchor who is now an Analyst/Reporter for Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports. Brunson tweeted me to ask if she had won anything for her correct pick, jokingly of course. I did tell her she had bragging rights for a year for her hometown team, to which she replied: “Right on!” Brunson was all over her Seahawks the entire season, and had been calling for a championship via twitter long before the playoffs.

Others picking the Seahawks in my poll were: Mark Anderson (Las Vegas Review Journal), Paul Anka (Singer/Songwriter), Ray Brewer (Las Vegas Sun), Chet Buchanan, (Las Vegas Radio Personality), Steve Carp (Las Vegas Review Journal), Randall Cunningham (Retired NFL Quarterback), Tim Dahlberg (Associated Press), Sean DeFrank (Vegas 7 Magazine), Will Edwards (Late-night talk-show host, Las Vegas), Ed Graney (Las Vegas Review Journal), Steve Guiremand (MyLVsports.com), Paul Gutierrez (ESPN), Matt Jacob (Vegas 7), Anthony Robles (Former NCAA Wrestling Champion), Jeffrey Seals (UNLV Media Relations), Jerry Stackhouse (Retired NBA All-Star), Danny Webster (UNLV’s Rebel Yell), Roy Wood Jr. (Comedian) and Matt Youmans (Las Vegas Review Journal Sports).

For the complete poll, read my BLOG from last week.

By Jesse Granger and W.G. Ramirez

New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks (-8)

Two teams with something to prove will take the field Saturday in Seattle, one looking for revenge from a 34-7 loss last month, the other looking to inch closer to the Super Bowl as the NFC’s top seed. The Seahawks knocked off the Saints in dominating fashion in December, and forced the Saints into a pressing situation right through Week 17. The Seahawks have won and covered five of their last seven against the Saints, who have failed to cover their last four when catching +8 or more points.

JESSE’S TAKE – You won’t hear a single analyst break this game down without getting Seattle’s home field advantage crammed down your throat.  And as impressive as the Seahawks have been in front of the 12th man, they aren’t unbeatable – just ask Arizona. Drew Brees got the monkey off his back with the road playoff win in Philadelphia last week, and will be looking for revenge Saturday.  Seattle’s passing attack has looked abysmal down the stretch, averaging 171 yards per game in the last 4, and I think Brees plays well.  I’m taking over a touchdown with the Saints.

WILLIE’S TAKE – I’m not sure if it’s safe to assume Seattle really is unbeatable at home, or if the Saints are dangerous enough to use their high-octane offense to pull off the upset. Truth is told, the best thing about both these teams this year has been their defensive units. New Orleans ranked fourth overall with its stop unit this season, while Seattle comes in with the No. 1 defense in the league. And if either team is going to do anything significant to get the win today, it’ll be with their rushing games, looking to keep the ball out of the other team’s hands and control the clock effectively. Skip the side here and play this one under.

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots (-7)

Two comeback specialists lead their teams on to the field for the AFC Divisional Round in New England on Saturday, as the Patriots’ Tom Brady has led his team back to 41 wins in games in which they trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter. Luck has already done it 11 times, the most by a quarterback in his first two seasons since 1970, including last week’s comeback against Kansas City. The Colts have covered four of their last five trips to New England.

JESSIE’S TAKE – How you feel about this game could depend on how you view the Colts historic comeback a week ago. Did that game drain the Colts of every ounce of energy in them, or will momentum carry them through the divisional round? Gillette Stadium in January is known as one of the scariest things in sports, but that’s a misconception.  The Patriots are only 2-6 against the spread in their last eight home playoff games. While I do see Tom Brady pulling this game out at the wire, I don’t think New England wins by seven without Gronkowski. The Colts +7 look like the right play in what should be a nail-biter.

WILLIE’S TAKE – It’s too easy to think Indianapolis would let down in this game, after coming back from a 31-point, third-quarter deficit last week. Then again, it’s also a simple slice to taste, in knowing the Colts are good enough to go into Foxboro and steal one. I just have to wonder if anyone is taking into consideration the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of the Colts last season, when Luck threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. I know both teams have made key changes since then, and Luck looks much better this season, but this is still Belichick and Brady. And New England has covered five of its last six as a home chalk. I’m playing the favorite, and would advise anyone doing so to buy the half point down.

There is plenty of good action on the card this week, but for me, the spotlight game is in Indianapolis, where two of the most exciting rookie quarterbacks from last season meet when the undefeated Seattle Seahawks with Russell Wilson take on Andrew Luck and the Colts.

Seattle (4-0) is laying -3 points to the Colts (3-1).

Luck, who was selected by the Colts first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, is 14-6 in his career, a record that matches John Elway for the best 20-game start by a quarterback drafted No. 1 overall. Today he puts his talent and his team’s undefeated mark up against Richard Sherman, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. The Colts have won and covered six straight as a home underdog, and roll into this one on home winning streaks of 10-2 straight-up and 9-3 at the window.

Seattle, meanwhile, is on a perfect 5-0 ATS streak with a suitcase in hand, and Wilson is a major reason for the success. The second-year pro, who was selected by the Seahawks with the 12th pick in the third round (75th overall), comes into this one after leading Seattle from two scores down in the fourth quarter in last week’s 23-20 overtime win in Houston.

Seattle has won nine straight regular-season games and 11 of last 12, while the Colts are 8-2 at home since coach Chuck Pagano took over last season.

Other games of interest and their numbers to note include:

New England (-1) at Cincinnati – The Patriots have won 13 of their last 14 games in the regular season, including six straight while ordering room service. … The Patriots have won their last four games against the Bengals and seven of the last eight. … Meanwhile, the Bengals have won five of their last six at home both SU and ATS.

Detroit at Green Bay (-7′) – The Packers’ 21 straight regular-season wins at home against the Lions, including games played in Milwaukee, is the longest in NFL history. … Including a playoff win, the streak is actually 22. … The Packers have won nine straight at home against all NFC North opponents. … Green Bay is on winning runs of 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS after bye week under coach Mike McCarthy. … The Lions are mired in an ATS road losing streak of 1-6 when catching points.

New Orleans (-1′) at Chicago – The Saints remain one of two unbeaten NFC teams, along with Seattle. … The Saints last won at Soldier Field in 2000, and are 0-3 there under coach Sean Payton, including the 2006 NFC championship game. … The last 5 meetings at Soldier Field have gone over the posted total. Chicago is mired in an ugly 1-7 ATS slide at home.

Denver (-9) at Dallas – The Broncos have won four straight and have covered 7 of 8 against the Cowboys. … The Broncos have won 15 straight regular-season games by seven or more points – the second-longest streak behind the 1941-42 Bears. Since running back DeMarco Murray – a graduate of Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School – became the primary running back for the Cowboys, they’re 11-0 when he carries the rock at least 18 times; they’re 1-10 when he doesn’t. … The Cowboys have the best record in interconference games since 1970, however, they’ve dropped three straight to the AFC West, including two this year to the Chiefs and Chargers. … The Broncos are on winning runs of 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS as a road favorite and 8-1 against NFC East teams.

Houston at San Francisco (-4′) – The home team has won the last two meetings, both by three points. … The Texans are the only NFL team with a top-five offense and defense. … The Texans are mired in a 1-5 ATS slide on the road. … The 49ers have lost 7 of 9 straight-up against teams out of the AFC South.

Speaking of football, in London, this weekend it’ll be the kind we’re used to in America, not the brand the Brits are familiar with.

The St. Louis Rams (3-4) “host” Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (4-3) Sunday at Wembley Stadium in the annual NFL International Series in London.

The Patriots are 7-point favorites over the Rams, while the total is sitting at 47.

First-year coach – but certainly no newbie to the game – Jeff Fisher has seemingly turned this team around, and it’s evident on the defensive side of the ball. St. Louis has the 10th-ranked defense in the league overall, after being 22nd last year.

Prior to last week’s 30-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Rams had stifled their foes to a mere 14.7 points per game at home in the Edward Jones Dome, with impressive victories over the Redskins, Seahawks and Cardinals.

Of course, there might be a question mark against more-formidable opponents after seeing what the Packers did; this week may tell more against the Patriots and their No. 1 ranked overall offense.

The young Rams figure to have their hands full, as is this their first trip across the pond; the Patriots have been here before, beating Tampa Bay at Wembley in 2009. And let’s be real, though the official boxscore will list St. Louis as the home team, the Patriots are by far the more popular team in Europe.

No doubt in my mind the Patriots will get a majority of the support.

That’s not to say I’m ready to lay the chalk with New England, especially after seeing last Sunday’s second-half collapse and overall scare, relinquishing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the New York Jets in a three-point, overtime win. And that was one week after blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Seattle.

I will be intrigued to see how well these two teams defend one another, since Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels held the same position with the Rams last season. Theory being, the Rams might be able to predict some of his tendencies, albeit with guys like Brady, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. And, the Patriots could benefit by McDaniels’ info about the tendencies of the Rams’ offensive personnel.

The ‘under’ is on a 4-1 run in this ‘London game,’ and the Rams were on a four-game ‘under’ streak til last week, when they went over 45 with the Packers, totaling 50 points. They have to know their best chance in this game is to slow the Patriots down, eat up clock by controlling the tempo with a strong rushing game, protecting the football and keeping Brady off the field. I can buy into that philosophy and still see the Patriots win this game.

Again, I don’t want to lay the points, since I could see New England up by 10 late in this one, and the Rams scoring a backdoor touchdown. The Patriots might just put it on Fisher’s boys, like they did the Buccaneers in 2009, in a 35-7 rout.

For my official free play on this game, head over to Chris Jordan Sports where I have a 4* play (based on a scale of 1* to 5*) ready right now.

PREVIOUS NFL GAMES OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

Oct. 2 2005 Cardinals (-3, 44) 31–14 over 49ers, at Mexico City

Oct. 28 2007 Giants 13-10 over Dolphins (+10, 47.5), at London

Oct. 26 2008 Saints (+3, 45.5) 37-32 over Chargers, at London

Oct. 25 2009 Patriots (-15.5, 44.5) 35-7 over Buccaneers, at London

Oct. 31 2010 49ers (-2, 41) 24-16 over Broncos, at London

Oct. 23 2011 Bears (-1.5, 44) 24-18 over Buccaneers, at London

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