NFL Betting: Something's got to give as this season's four best quarterbacks square off


In last week's Divisional games I bucked the home-field advantage for two games, recommending you bet the road dog Steelers and Packers to cover (they both won), the home favourite Falcons to cover (they did) and the road dog Texans to lose but cover (they didn't, even though it looked for a while like they would).

I was four for four straight up, three of four on the spread bets. I was also right about the Falcons leading at half-time and they and the Seahawks going over the 51.5 O/U. So as long as you used those five correct tips, you might have recovered from my so-called 'best bet', the Steelers and Chiefs going over 44.5, when they failed to even crack 30. If you did you were, like Chris Christie in Jerry Jones' box, sitting pretty.

This week's Super Bowl semi-finals match up the four best quarterbacks from this season, and they are both intriguing games. The best defensive team left alive is probably the Steelers, though the Patriots actually allowed the fewest points in the league this year, Pittsburgh has been tough since getting healthier up front, and with their two rookie defensive backfield starters settling down.

 They are also getting insanely young-looking play from the two veteran linebackers, Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison. Pittsburgh is the most physically intimidating team left, but New England have usually not been bothered by that in the Brady-Belichick era. 

And while everyone's talking about the hot hand Aaron Rodgers has shown during the Packers' eight-game winning streak, note that Matt Ryan has actually registered slightly better stats than Rodgers (he also has more tools to work with), and note too the Pats are on an eight-game win streak, and the Steelers have won nine in a row. As the farmer said as he approached his disgruntled cows: something's gotta give.

 

BEST BET: GREEN BAY (+5.5 AT 1.96) at Atlanta: This has gone up from 4.5 during the week. I've picked the Pack to win straight up, but it is awfully easy to see scenarios where the Falcons can as well. So I see the game staying tight, even though it should be high-scoring. A lot depends on whether Atlanta can control Rodgers: I'd expect them to try to make it hard for him to find a receiver, and maybe call on Vic Beasley to spy him and try to hurry him when it looks like he's trapped to pass. The Packers really need a big play on defense: their secondary will be challenged by Julio Jones and the taller Mohammad Sanu and rookie tight end Austin Hooper. 

 

VALUE BET: PITTSBURG (+5.5 AT 1.97) at New England: Again, I've picked the Pats to win, but here the scenarios are even more likely for a close game. The Pats won't be able to get away with the mistakes they made against Houston, which were inevitable after a season where their turnover ratio was phenomenal.

At this level, teams will punish your every mistake. They will also be stretched to defend the Killer Bs: Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, and Ben Rothliesberger: you could argue Bell and Brown are each the very best at their position in the NFL. 

 

OUTSIDE BET: GREEN BAY AT ATLANTA (OVER 60.5 AT 1.91): On Monday I asked if anyone wanted to bet the over/under on the over/under for this game: I was taking over 60. And my friends at Unibet came through with 60.5, which hasn't moved all week. It is the highest for any playoff game I remember, and you're asking for a 35-27 kind of scoreline, but I think that's actually eminently doable. If that worries you, I look at PITTSBURGH AT NEW ENGLAND and think (UNDER 50.5 AT 1.92) is only slightly less likely.