Couldn't agree more. Berman is one of the top 10 (wait...let's double check ESPN's roster...), top 5 talents ESPN has. In fact, I propose a White House petition to bring back, back, back, back, back the Berman/Jackson NFL Primetime.
NFL Picks (2009): 149-119-9 (+$4,530) NFL Picks (2008): 136-125-6 (+$4,330)
If you don't quite understand the line, total or anything else, go to my
Sports Betting FAQ.
Vegas betting action updated Jan. 17, 12:30 p.m. ET.
NFL Week 18 Recap: If you include sides and totals, I went 6-2. Not bad. Unfortunately, that didn't matter because I lost my January NFL Pick of the Month, as the choking Bengals lost to the Jets. From Carson Palmer's dozen overthrows, to Marvin Lewis' drunken challenges, to Chad Ochocinco's dropped touchdown, to Shayne Graham's two missed chip-shot field goals, the game was very frustrating to watch. And then came the hate mail.
Vegas Recap: There was only one lopsided game last week, and that was the Packers-Cardinals thriller. Everyone and their evil stepmother bet on Green Bay because of how the Packers trashed Arizona the week before. As the Cardinals won in overtime, Vegas just smiled and collected its money.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE: Everyone is assuming this is going to be a shootout. As Chris Berman said on the real NFL Primetime on Sunday night (thank God it's back - even if temporarily), "Get your abacuses ready." And just look at the total - it's freaking 57.5!
I don't think this is going to be a shootout. In fact, I think the Saints will struggle to put points on the board. Now, before you call the mental hospital and ask them to lock me in a padded room, hear me out.
The Saints didn't play last week because of their playoff bye. The week before, Drew Brees sat out because he wanted to preserve the single-season completion percentage record. That's two weeks that New Orleans' starting offense hasn't played together.
It gets worse - in the two contests before that, the Saints scored only 17 points against the Cowboys and a terrible Buccaneers defense. So, right before they took their two-week hiatus, the Saints were struggling to put up points on the scoreboard? Yeah, that's not good.
Arizona's defense has its problems, but something it does well is apply pressure on the quarterback. The Cardinals had 43 sacks in the regular season and got to Aaron Rodgers five times. We saw Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod struggle late in the year, and if he continues to allow defenders to run by him, Brees will have major problems moving the chains consistently.
ARIZONA OFFENSE: Unlike the Cardinals, I don't think the Saints will be able to put consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. New Orleans lost defensive end Charles Grant, who was second on the team with 5.5 sacks. With only one solid pass-rusher (Will Smith), the Saints will have to blitz Kurt Warner if they want to get to him. And blitzing Warner is just asking for trouble.
Chris Wells will keep New Orleans' defense honest. The Saints excelled at stopping the run early in the year, but really struggled against it after Sedrick Ellis suffered an injury in that infamous Miami game. New Orleans has allowed at least 119 rushing yards to nine of its previous 11 opponents.
Ellis is a dominant tackle and the Saints' most important defensive player, so not having him in the lineup was huge. He's back, but I'm not convinced he's 100 percent. Ellis tried to return multiple times toward the end of the year, but had problems with his knee. He just wasn't effective at all.
If Wells is able to run wild, I really don't see how New Orleans will contain Arizona's offense. Warner and his receivers are just too good for the Saints to match up against even without worrying about a dangerous rushing attack.
RECAP: The Saints dug their own grave when they sat Brees in Week 17. They would have been better off trying to establish some sort of momentum.
The following teams rested their starters in Week 17 before a playoff game. This chart, which goes back to 2002, when the divisions re-aligned, shows how each squad performed in its initial postseason contest. The asterisks denote teams that had first-round byes, like the Saints.
2009: Saints* - ???
2008: Titans* - Loss SU (straight up), Loss ATS (against the spread)
2008: Colts - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2007: Colts* - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2007: Jaguars - Win SU, Loss ATS
2007: Steelers - Loss SU, Win ATS
2007: Buccaneers - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2006: Eagles - Win SU, Loss ATS
2006: Saints* - Win SU, Loss ATS
2005: Colts* - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2004: Steelers* - Win SU, Loss ATS
2004: Chargers - Loss SU, Loss ATS
2004: Eagles* - Win SU, Win ATS
2002: 49ers - Win SU, Loss ATS
In short, teams resting their starters in Week 17 are 6-7 straight up and 2-11 against the spread in their first playoff game (as long as they're not playing the same team as in Week 17). You may look at that and say, "Well 7-7 straight up isn't so bad!" Wrong. Every single team on that list, save for one, was a favorite. Going 7-7 when you're expected to win isn't exactly a good thing.
The Saints were already struggling before they rested their starters. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are red-hot. They have extensive playoff experience, and Warner, who is secretly one of the best postseason performers in NFL history, will not be rattled in the Superdome.
Arizona is 6-1 against the spread as underdogs this year. I say that improves to 7-1. Not only will the Cardinals cover; I think they win outright.
The Psychology. Edge: Cardinals.
The Cardinals are red-hot. The Saints are ice-cold after resting their starters and struggling down the stretch.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Arizona: 52% (208,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
Worst Bye: Playoff teams coming off byes are 7-17 ATS since 2003 (4-12 since 2005).
Cardinals are 6-1 ATS as underdogs in 2009.
Saints are 27-42 ATS at home since 2001 (10-6 since 2008).
Saints are 20-31 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
Saints are 8-21 ATS in December home games since 2000.
1. What an exciting Sunday! Not only did I go 2-0; we also got to see some Rebecca Grant cleavage! It was a playoff miracle! Here were some comments when it happened:
E-mailer Blake H.: "OMG on FOX there was just a huge Rebecca Grant cleavege sighting.... allelujah!"
Forum member PiazzaJordan2: "Rebecca Grant showing her playoff spirit!! Go Cleavage! I mean Packers!!"
Forum member EllijayFalconsFan: "My uncles opinion of Rebecca Grant.. 'I bet she could suck the chrome off a damn trailor hitch.'"
2. For some reason, someone felt the need to interview Mike Martz last week. Martz was asked if he would be interested in coaching for the Chicago Bears:
"Absolutely, of course I would (be interested)," Martz said. "But I've never talked to anybody or been contacted by anybody."
I wonder if Martz is spending every single day at his house waiting for the phone to ring. A typical interaction between Martz and his daughter if he catches her on the telephone with her boyfriend:
MARTZ: "Get off the damn phone! The Bears or some other team might call me!"
MARTZ'S DAUGHTER: "Dad, it's been a year and you haven't gotten a single phone call from an NFL team! Give it up!"
MARTZ: "But I am a genius! I turned Jon Kitna into a 4,000-yard passer. It's only a matter of minutes before someone hires me!"
MARTZ'S DAUGHTER: "You also took 15 years off Kitna's life. No one wants their quarterback killed anymore, dad. Just quit already, and stop doing interviews with low-level newspaper people who are desperately looking for a story to increase newspaper sales."
When the Patriots beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl five years ago, I was convinced that Tom Brady was the second coming of Joe Montana. He already had three Super Bowl rings and wasn't even 30 yet. He was obsessed with winning, and seemed like it was his life mission to prove everyone wrong for letting him slip to the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
I don't know who this guy is quarterbacking the Patriots, but it's not the Brady of the early part of the previous decade. I'm not saying Brady stinks or anything; he's still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. However, Brady just seems like he's lost his mental edge. Instead of focusing completely on championships, he's posing on magazine covers, dating supermodels and making cameos on Entourage.
Brady will be better next year. He'll be another season removed from that nasty knee injury. And maybe he'll win a fourth Super Bowl one of these years. But if I went back in time to 2004 and told my 22-year-old self what would become of Brady, I wouldn't have believed myself.
4. Oh, and speaking of Brady, If you weren't in our Live In-Games Threads this past weekend for the playoff games, you missed a hilarious picture that forum member Puppy Puncher posted:
BALTIMORE OFFENSE: In my Saints-Cardinals write-up, I mentioned how difficult it was going to be for New Orleans' offense to get back on track after taking two weeks off. Well, what about the Colts? Not only did they sit their starters in Week 17; they also benched some of their main guys in Week 16.
Steve Young always said that for each week you take off, you need a quarter to get back on track. Well, if you go by that theory, with Indianapolis' three weeks of rest, they're going to be flat for three quarters! That's not good!
Without playing in a long time, I don't think the Colts will be able to match the physicality of the Ravens. They were already weak versus the run; now, they're being asked to stop Baltimore's incredible ground attack after resting for three games. It would shock me if Ray Rice didn't run all over them.
For the second week in a row, the Ravens won't be asking Joe Flacco to do much. But even if Flacco has to convert third-and-medium situations, I have faith in him; he was 23-of-35 for 256 yards and an interception against the Colts in a Week 11 meeting. Flacco will be protected well with Jared Gaither and Michael Oher.
INDIANAPOLIS OFFENSE: Of course, Indianapolis' offense will also be stale. If you're thinking that I'm talking out of my a** right now, I have proof to back it up.
There have been three occasions in Peyton Manning's career where he has rested for two weeks. The Colts averaged just 19.3 points after that - a low number for a Manning-led squad - and all three of those games were losses.
There have been six instances in Manning's career where he has rested in Week 17. Indianapolis has averaged 20.7 points in the follow-up playoff game - a number that is skewed by a 49-point outburst against a dreadful Broncos defense. That number is fluky because Denver and Indianapolis played the week before, and the former needed a win to get into the postseason. Tony Dungy carefully watched everything the Broncos did and created the perfect game plan against them. Something that Marvin Lewis couldn't do because he was too busy figuring out how to waste his challenges.
Now, Manning's in even more trouble because he perennially struggles against 3-4 defenses in the playoffs. Just check these numbers out: Manning has played in 15 postseason contests. Against 4-3 formations, he's 6-3 (and on a 6-0 run). But when going up against a 3-4 base, he's just 1-5, which includes a loss against the Billy Volek-led Chargers at home in 2007.
I'm not going over the matchups at all. In a regular-season contest, the Colts could typically score well into the 20s against most teams (though they managed only 17 points at Baltimore in Week 11). But things just change drastically for Manning in the playoffs - especially if he's coming off rest.
RECAP: Having said all that, I LOVE the Colts. Just kidding. I think I've made my case for the Ravens. And if you're not convinced yet, this might do the trick:
Since 2005, seven teams have won a road playoff game in Round 1. Those seven teams are a perfect 7-0 against the spread in Round 2. That's amazing.
The Psychology. Edge: Ravens.
The Ravens are red-hot. The Colts haven't played a real game since June.
The Vegas. Edge: None.
Percentage of money on Indianapolis: 59% (206,000 bets)
The Trends. Edge: Ravens.
Road Warriors: Playoff teams coming off a road win in Round 1 are 7-0 ATS in Round 2 since 2005.
Worst Bye: Playoff teams coming off byes are 7-17 ATS since 2003 (4-12 since 2005).
Ravens are 12-7 ATS on the road under John Harbaugh.
Peyton Manning is 2-8 ATS in the playoffs (excluding games against terrible QBs: Jake Plummer, Trent Green, Rex Grossman).
Peyton Manning is 1-5 SU vs. 3-4 Defenses in the playoffs (6-3 SU vs. 4-3 Defenses).
Prop/Teaser/Parlay Picks A list of some of my favorite team/player prop picks this week (Offense & defensive ROY picks to be counted
whenver winners are announced.) Picks carried over on a week-to-week basis will be in black.
Note: For legality purposes, this Web site does not promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only.
Last Week's NFL Picks Against The Spread (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 2-3 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 (+$200)
Last Week's 4-5 Unit NFL Picks (Week 21, 2015): 0-0 ($0)
Last Week Over-Under (Week 21, 2015): 1-0 ($0)
Last Week's Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks (Week 21, 2015): -$580
2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0) 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
1999 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 27-41-3 (39.7%) 2000 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 128-123-8 (51.0%) 2001 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 127-122-7 (51.0%) 2002 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 123-136-7 (47.5%) 2003 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 146-126-8 (53.7%) 2004 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 157-123-8 (56.1%) 2005 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 156-126-11 (55.3%) 2006 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-135-9 (52.8%) 2007 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 162-135-10, 54.5% (+$2,550) 2008 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 148-140-7, 51.4% (+$2,620) 2009 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 151-124-9, 54.9% (+$3,370) 2010 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$6,080) 2011 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 137-133-12, 50.7% (-$1,925) 2012 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 130-145-8, 47.3% (-$5,760) 2013 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 144-131-8, 52.4% (+$5,580) 2014 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 143-133-7, 51.8% (-$1,885) 2015 Season NFL Picks Against The Spread: 134-138-12, 49.3% (-$2,360)
2002 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 41-49-2 (45.6%) 2003 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 52-51-2 (50.5%) 2004 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-44-3 (59.6%) 2005 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 77-61-1 (55.8%) 2006 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 65-61-4 (51.6%) 2007 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 83-59-5, 58.5% (+$4,110) 2008 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-57-3, 43.6% (-$3,510) 2009 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 49-35-3, 58.3% (+$2,260) 2010 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 51-38-4, 57.3% (+$3,180) 2011 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 44-51-3, 46.3% (-$2,715) 2012 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 45-50-2, 47.4% (-$2,130) 2013 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 38-42, 47.5% (-$2,890) 2015 Season 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 47-44-1, 51.6% (-$820)
2002 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 11-12 (47.8%) 2003 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 16-13-1 (55.2%) 2004 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 18-11 (62.1%) 2005 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 25-22-1 (53.2%) 2006 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 21-29-1 (42.0%) 2007 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 35-30-2, 53.8% (+$420) 2008 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 39-26-2, 60.0% (+$4,055) 2009 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 29-26, 52.7% (+$330) 2010 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 32-22, 59.3% (+$4,790) 2011 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-14, 50.0% (-$1,260) 2012 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 14-21, 40.0% (-$3,650) 2013 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-9-3, 65.4% (+$2,970) 2015 Season 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 17-16-2, 51.5% (-$1,120)
2001 Season Over-Under: 3-2 (60.0%) 2002 Season Over-Under: 121-91-3 (57.1%) 2003 Season Over-Under: 126-132-2 (48.8%) 2004 Season Over-Under: 139-124-4 (52.9%) 2005 Season Over-Under: 117-145-4 (44.7%) 2006 Season Over-Under: 129-132-5 (49.4%) 2007 Season Over-Under: 136-145-3, 48.4% (-$1,900) 2008 Season Over-Under: 137-125-6, 52.3% (+$860) 2009 Season Over-Under: 128-135-4, 48.7% (-$3,195) 2010 Season Over-Under: 128-135-5, 48.7% (-$5) 2011 Season Over-Under: 131-131-5, 50.0% (+$135) 2012 Season Over-Under: 125-121-5, 50.8% (+$30) 2013 Season Over-Under: 132-130-5, 50.4% (-$340) 2015 Season Over-Under: 143-119-5, 54.6% ($0)
2007 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,035 2008 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$1,775 2009 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$865 2010 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$200 2011 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$590 2012 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$1,685 2013 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: +$2,245 2015 Season Prop/ML/Teaser/Parlay Picks: -$855
2006 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3 (50%) 2007 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$400) 2008 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-1, 85.7% (+$3,720) 2009 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$640) 2010 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,810) 2011 NFL Picks of the Month: 5-2, 71.4% (+$1,870) 2012 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-2, 60.0% (+$560) 2013 NFL Picks of the Month: 6-0, 100% (+$3,900) 2014 NFL Picks of the Month: 2-4, 33.3% (-$1,350) 2015 NFL Picks of the Month: 3-3, 50.0% (-$100)
Career NFL Picks Against The Spread: 2,291-2,116-129, 52.0% (+$8,150) Career 2-3 Unit NFL Picks: 741-668-34 (52.6%) Career 4-5 Unit NFL Picks: 305-267-13 (53.3%) Career Over-Under: 1,823-1,765-51 (50.8%) Career Second-Half NFL Picks: 22-15-1 (61.1%) Career NFL Picks of the Month: 33-22 (60.0%)
My Team-by-Team ATS Record This section shows how well I do when picking each team this year. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not
displayed. Winning/losing streak in parentheses.