In Week 17, our picks went 10-6 ATS and yours truly (131-120 ATS for the season) is ready to move into lead against the pick ‘em league leader Beantown Brawlers (133-118 ATS). I’m currently in 2nd in the pick ‘em league, 2 games behind the leader, with 11 games to play. Hopefully, you were able to build up your bank roll with some of Brandon’s Bowl Picks. Oregon and Texas A&M were two easy winners as well in the last two days. Here is what we have on tap for NFL Wildcard Saturday.
HOUSTON TEXANS (-4) over Cincinnati Bengals
I like the Texans here. The public is split here 50/50. The line moved from Texans (-4.5) to Texans (-4).
I don’t have a whole lot of conviction with the Texans since the Texans December performance has been poor, but keep in mind that they already locked up a playoff spot by that time and likely just slacked off the month of December. A lot of players on their team were pretty banged up so I’m sure that their players who were nursing injuries were only playing at a 75% level. Houston finished the season 1-3 SU and ATS.
The Bengals have been on fire lately with a 7-1 record SU and ATS in their last 8. Remember that these teams faced each other in the playoffs last year and the Texans wiped the floor with them winning 31-10. Houston was a 4-point favorite in that game as well. Andy Dalton thew 3 INTs and 0 TDs. A.J. Green was targeted 12 times and had just 5 catches for 47 yards. The Bengals were held to a mere 76 rushing yards a well. T.J. Yates was also the QB for the Texans during that game.
I expect the Texans to get their act together and pull off another big win, but the margin will definitely be tighter this time around. I’m not as confident as I would be if the Texans were currently playing the way they were in the beginning of the season, but this is the Texans game to win, and I think you’ll see a 100% effort from them. The Texans are a much different team at home vs. on the road. I think the fact that the Texans have an answer for A.J. Green is why you see them win this game. They shut him down last time. The fact that Andy Dalton forces the ball to him only makes matters worse as Dalton was picked thrice in his last playoff game against the Texans.
PICK: Texans -4 (Confidence: 7/10)
PREDICTION: TEXANS 24 – BENGALS 17
Minnesota Vikings (+9.5) over GREEN BAY PACKERS
I like taking the points here, it’s just too many to pass up. 63% of the public is also taking the points. I was expecting this line to be Packers (-6.5). This is a division game, so it’s likely going to be close. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on last week either when the Vikings beat the Packers 37-34. It’s a completely different game when it’s played in Minnesota vs. Green Bay. When these teams met in Green Bay, the Packers won 23-14. Adrian Peterson rushed for 210 yards in that game, but the Vikings fell short based on a poor performance from Christian Ponder (12/25, 119 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT). Ponder played like a stud last week against Green Bay (16/28, 234 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INT) and A.P. did his thing with 199 yards on the ground.
The question in this game will be which Christian Ponder shows up? Is it the Christian Ponder that spreads the ball around, moves the chains, protects the ball, let’s A.P. grind out the tough yards, and sets up scoring opportunities. Or will it be the Christian Ponder that we’ve known as a rookie who forces throws and turns the football over. Ponder has been better since that last Green Bay game back in week 13. He’s thrown 4 TDs and just 1 INT, which was against the Bears. He’s faced Bears, Rams, Texans, and Packers in the last four weeks, is 4-0 SU and ATS and has an average QB rating of 85 in that stretch. I also like the way that Vikings defense played against the Packers in both games.
Aaron Rodgers can put a smacking on any team and is certainly capable of winning this game by 10+ points. In the last three weeks, Rodgers has thrown 10 TDs, 0 INTs, and has a 100+ QB rating in all three games. The guy’s on fire right now. I would much rather tease this spread down to Packers (-2.5) to pair with the over 39 points than take the Vikings (+9.5). I feel that a Packers victory in the area of touchdown is what’s in store for this game.
PICK: Vikings +9.5 (Confidence: 6/10)
TEASER PICK: Packers -2.5/Over 39 (Confidence: 8/10)
PREDICTION: PACKERS 31 – VIKINGS 23