Super Bowl XLVII

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The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers are the only teams left standing in the NFL playoffs and after today only one will be called world champion. However, no matter who prevails, one of those champions will be named Harbaugh, as Jim and John Harbaugh square off against one another in the first ever Super Bowl with brothers as the opposing coaches.

“Well, I think it’s a blessing and a curse,” said Jim Harbaugh said via ESPN.com. Jim is 15 months younger than 50-year-old John. “A blessing because that is my brother’s team. And, also, personally I played for the Ravens. Great respect for their organization.

The Baltimore Ravens will represent the AFC and the San Francisco 49ers will represent the NFC in on football’s biggest annual stage in Super Bowl 47.  After jumping over every conceivable hurdle all year long, both teams have rightfully earned their spot in the finale, but the Niners will be the favorite by a four-point margin today.

“I would say this is the most talented team I have been on,” safety Donte Whitner said on the 49ers’ official website. “Not only talented, but guys come and work hard. When you mix talent and hard work, the results are the Super Bowl.”

With two weeks to prepare, the Ravens certainly know what they are up against, but after pulling out upset wins against Denver and New England in earlier rounds, they know they are capable of beating any team on any given Sunday, even in the Super Bowl.

However, stopping the 49ers’ dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be a new type of challenge for a team that struggled defensively at times this season.

Will Ray Lewis go out on the highest note of all?

“We’re going to have to keep him inside and in front of our defense,” John Harbaugh told the Ravens’ official website. “We’re not going to be able to run past him. He’s fully capable of putting 200 yards on you in a second.”

Playing in his final NFL game, Ray Lewis will carry much of the responsibility for helping to slow Kaepernick down, but it’s nothing new for the veteran. He’s been doing it for over a decade, leading the Ravens to their only Super Bowl win in franchise history back in 2000.

The Ravens will need to find a way to contain Kaepernick, but they will also need to find a way to establish the run game against the fourth best rush defense in the league. If they are able to find some room on the ground, they’ll have a better chance at opening up the playbook and more success throwing the ball downfield.

Considering the 49ers arsenal of offensive weapons, the Ravens will have too much to overcome in this game

The Niners should have the edge on both sides of the ball with a rushing attack that was also ranked fourth in the NFL during the regular season, but they’ll have to avoid turnovers because the Ravens haven’t made many during the playoffs and the team with the edge on the turnover margin usually ends up winning the game.

The Ravens overcoming all odds, Lewis playing in the final game of his career and the Hargaugh brothers making history create a myriad of interesting storylines, I don’t think Super Bowl 47 will offer too many surprises. Look for the game to be fairly low scoring, but for the 49ers to win by 4-6 points. The Ravens will battle hard and should have some success with their big receivers, but at the end of the day, the 49ers have too many weapons and the best weapon on the field in the form of Kaepernick.

 

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Super Bowl Sunday Betting Tips

Super_Bowl_XLVII

Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday. Finally.

After a story-rich season that provided surprise after surprise, the NFL finally reaches its marquee game. It’s taken 22 weeks to get here, but now the 75,000– I would say fans but let’s face it, the corporate numbers eliminates the use of that particular term – in attendance and the millions of TV viewers get the chance to hear Alicia Keys belt out the national anthem, Beyonce shake her rump at halftime whilst lip-syncing (possibly), and those $4 million commercials.

Oh and there’s also the small matter of the game between Baltimore and San Francisco.

Welcome to Super Bowl XLVII: the event, the spectacle, the game nobody can pick.

It’s been a long time since a Super Bowl winner was this hard to pick. Ordinarily, there’s a decisive advantage for one team. That team might not live up to that advantage, but there’s an advantage nonetheless. But this year…

Trying to separate the Niners (the team of the stats) and the Ravens (the team of destiny) has been a nightmare. Numbers (they never lie, you know?) favor San Francisco, but Baltimore has been on a crusade to upset everybody this postseason.  Then there’s history. Three of the last five Super Bowls have gone to the underdog. It’s becoming common place to expect the unexpected.

So, who do you pick?

If you’ve waited this long to pick your side, fear not. You’re not the only one. For now, let’s see what Casino Review can conjure up for you.

 

Opening Lines

Two weeks ago, the line opened with San Francisco as the favorite, with the spread at 5. The total opened at 49.

 

Current Lines

Sunday morning sees the spread at four with most bookies, although Bet Online has it at 3.5. The total is 47.5 with most online sites, although Bovada has it at 48.

 

Betting Straight Up

Statistically speaking, San Francisco (11-4-1, 2-0 postseason) has a slight advantage when it comes to the numbers.

Offensively, the Niners compiled more total yards this season, including a whopping 155.7 rushing yards per game (4th in the league). Towards the end of the season – the part where Colin Kaepernick took over quarterbacking duties – the Niners really started putting numbers up.

Baltimore (10-6, 3-0 postseason) was no offensive slouch though. The Ravens outranked the Niners in passing yards and points per game, although the one tenth of a point difference proved these sides would need a well-oiled crowbar to separate them.

These trends have continued during the postseason, although San Francisco has scored 6½ more than the Ravens.

Defensively, San Francisco was a juggernaut. The side limited teams to just 17.1 points per game, second to only Seattle in the regular season. It was the sort of defense we’ve come to expect of Baltimore, only this year’s Baltimore side was middle of the pack when it came to defense. Until this postseason.

Baltimore has allowed just 19 points per game in its three playoff games, while San Francisco has allowed 27.5. It appears that the feared Baltimore defense (and Ray Lewis) turned up at just the right time.

Historically speaking, San Francisco has been to five Super Bowls and won all five. That includes Super Bowl XXIV (Jan. 28, 1990), a game in which the Niners defeated Denver 55-10 at the Super Dome in New Orleans, making for the most lopsided in Super Bowl history.

Baltimore has made one Super Bowl appearance, defeating the New York Giants 34-7 at Super Bowl XXXV (Jan. 28, 2001). One team’s undefeated Super Bowl streak is coming to an end tonight.

Baltimore currently owns a three-game winning streak over San Francisco, with the average game score coming out at 19-6. Some would argue that Baltimore hasn’t faced the 49ers side currently on show, and in terms of the Kaepernick offense, that’s true, but remember: the Ravens took down the Niners last season (Nov. 24, 2011) 16-6. Add to that the fact that San Francisco has only beaten Baltimore once (Nov. 17, 1996; a team that included Steve Young and Jerry Rice) and you have an historical advantage for Baltimore.

Want the waters to get even murkier?

Consider that the NFC representative has the superior record (23-19 since 1970 merger) in the Super Bowl, has won three straight, and is 18-5 when beginning the game as favorite, you surely have to come down in favor of the Niners, right?

But then again, the underdog has won four of the last five Super Bowl games and eight of the last 11. Add to that, the AFC has gone 9-6 in the Super Bowl since snapping a 13-game losing streak in 1998 and things suddenly look to be favorable to Baltimore.

See what we mean by impossible to pick?

And all of this without considering those unfathomable anomalies: will Ray Lewis win a Super Bowl in his final season? Will Colin Kaepernick finish off a fairy tale story? Will an injury play a part? Which Harbaugh brother has the advantage? Or any number of other factors that could impact the game.

So your pick essentially becomes a tossup. Which brings us to…

Take: BALTIMORE – There’s just something about this team that draws you to it. Huge underdog wins against Denver and New England, as well as experience, gives the Ravens a slight edge. An almost indecipherable edge in all fairness, but this just seems like the Ravens’ year now. It certainly didn’t earlier in the year.

 

Betting Against the Spread

Picking Baltimore means we’re automatically taking the side to cover the spread. But if you still inching towards San Francisco, here’re the numbers you need to know.

San Francisco was 9-7-0 against the spread during the regular season. The Niners covered the spread in both playoff games also.

Baltimore recorded a 6-9-1 tally against the spread during the regular season, but the Ravens have gone on to cover the spread in all three postseason games, including two as the underdog.

Historically, the favorite is 26-18-0 against the spread. On only six occasions has the favorite won the game and failed to cover. The favorite is 5-3-1 ATS when the Super Bowl is played in New Orleans. Those are advantages that favor San Francisco, and well worth considering if you’re going to take the Niners straight up.

In this instance, we’re taking Baltimore to be the 14th underdog to cover and win outright.

Take: BALTIMORE – By default.

 

Betting the Total

The total is a really bitch to predict. Consider this; the total has gone over in 22 Super Bowls and under in 23. The more keen-eyed of you will realize that only equates to 45 of the 46 Super Bowl games. Well, there was no total in the first Super Bowl.

During the regular season, San Francisco was 10-6-0 in favor of the total going over. The total has also gone over in both games involving the 49ers this postseason. All told, San Francisco has seen the total go over 66.7 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, Baltimore was 8-7-1 in favor of the over during the regular season. This postseason has seen two Ravens games (vs. Indianapolis, at New England) go under, with one (at Denver) going over. All told, the Ravens have seen the total go over 47.4 percent of the time, the same as it has gone under.

Take: UNDER – Both teams may have favored the over this season but the two defenses take the field in New Orleans can shut a game down. The two previous playoff rounds have seen the total go over in all games, which suggests the under is about to rear its ugly head. There’s a historical presence here also: six of the nine Super Bowl games played in the Big Easy have seen the total go under. Meanwhile, six of the last eight Super Bowls have also seen the total go under. Smart bettors should be thinking knockdown, drag out affair, not offensive spectacle.

 

So there you have it. Now all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy the final football game of the season.

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The Casino Review sportsbook blog provides news and analysis on the online sports betting industry, helping experienced and recreational bettors get the most out of their online betting experience.

Super Bowl XLVII Team Props

Look for the game to be more of a slugfest than bookmakers are advertising

There’s no doubt bettors are gearing up for the biggest sporting event of the season right along with the two teams participating. When the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens clash at Super Bowl XLVII this coming Sunday, there will be more wagers put down than an any other game this year, but if you aren’t made of money, then you have to be more selective in the bets you place. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, but it goes without saying that you still want to win. The spread and the over/under are the easiest and most obvious places to start, but what about team props? Sportsbooks are pulling out all the stops for the big game and offering a massive amount of prop bets, so you’ll want to take advantage. Here are a few of of the best, courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Look for the game to be more of a slugfest than bookmakers are advertising

 Will Their Be a Scoreless Quarter? Yes +240, No -300

Although both teams feature very strong offenses, I think it’s fairly reasonable to say there very well may be a scoreless quarter considering how strong the defenses also are. That’s why the margin on this prop is surprisingly high and something you should definitely take advantage of. Teams often get of to slow starts offensively in the Super Bowl, as both teams try to figure each other. Even the high-octane offense of the Patriots was held in check in their last two appearances. The mere value of this prop is just too good to pass up. Even a small bet on the No side becomes a big winner much of the time. Take the No here and reap the rewards.

Total Touchdowns in the Game – Over 5 1/2 -130, Under 5 1/2 Even

The same theory applies here as with the last prop. While bookmakers are favoring a higher scoring game with six total touchdowns or more, I’m not seeing it. It’s certainly possible, but it’s also very likely that the game will turn into a field position tug-o-war and end up being a 20-17 type game like last year. It’s also fairly likely, with all this time to prepare, that each defense will be able to contain the opposing offense enough to hold them to field goals for much of the evening. There’s no doubt that these offenses will rack up yardage, but they they combine for more than five touchdowns? I’m uncertain enough to like the Under on this one for even money.

 Team to Commit the Most Turnovers – Ravens -115, 49ers -115

Although this ins’t a extremely good value bet, it’s one of the most interesting ones. Bookmakers are obviously basing this bet on the fact that both teams had exactly 25 takeaways and 16 giveaways during the regular season and both teams have been very careful with the ball up to this point in the playoffs as well. Baltimore is three games deep into the postseason and Joe Flacco has not thrown an interception yet and Colin Kaepernick has also protected the rock while rushing and passing, but has fumbled once and thrown one pick in just two contests.

With Kaepernick still being more inexperienced and with Flacco in the zone, look for the 49ers to commit more turnovers, even if it’s only be a margin on one.

 

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Kaepernick Favorite to Win Super Bowl MVP

Having replaced Alex Smith as San Francisco's starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick is now favorite to win the Super Bowl MVP award.

Having replaced Alex Smith as San Francisco's starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick is now favorite to win the Super Bowl MVP award.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the bookmakers’ favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award at Super Bowl XLVII.

Bookmakers have given the second-year triggerman odds of 7/4 to lift the Pete Rozelle Trophy following the game, which takes place at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in New Orleans, La., on Feb 3.

Kaepernick is closely followed by his Baltimore counterpart, Joe Flacco, who has been assigned 5/2 odds of being named MVP.

The fact that the two quarterbacks are favorites to win the award is hardly surprising. In the 46 previous Super Bowl games, 25 have seen the quarterback named the star player. That’s 54 percent of the time.

The previous three games, and five of the last six, have seen the quarterback pick up the award. Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning won the accolade following last year’s game in Indianapolis.

In those 25 instances, all 25 have come from the winning side. In fact, only one player has ever been named MVP on a losing side; linebacker Chuck Howley’s Dallas Cowboys lost to the Baltimore Colts at Super Bowl V in 1971, the first game following the AFL-NFL merger.

With San Francisco currently a four-point favorite, Kaepernick therefore is the leading candidate for the roll.

As an aside, Alex Smith, San Francisco’s starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, has been given odds of 100/1 to win the award. An early injury to Kaepernick could see the “game manager” come into the game and steal the award. That might just be worth a small wager.

No. 3 on the list is Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis. Having returned from injury in time for the postseason, Lewis has led his side to three straight playoff victories, two of which came with the Ravens lengthy underdogs. It would be somewhat fitting for Lewis to win the accolade ahead of his impending retirement, particularly after what he has meant to this Baltimore side.

History might not favor Lewis though. Defensive players have only won the award seven times, although the Dallas pairing of Harvey Martin and Randy White shared the award following Super Bowl XII in 1978, meaning eight players have been named MVP. That’s just 15 percent of all recipients.

On top of that, only two linebackers have ever won the award. Firstly, the aforementioned Chuck Howley in Super Bowl V and secondly, wait for it, Ray Lewis himself in Super Bowl XXXV. Were he to be named MVP, Lewis would be the first defensive player to be named Super Bowl MVP more than once.

Odds of Lewis lifting the Pete Rozelle Trophy currently stand at 6/1.

The next two spots on bookmakers’ lists are taken up by running backs Frank Gore (17/2) and Ray Rice (12/1) respectively.

Gore was the focus of San Francisco’s offense last season, but this year the emergence of Kaepernick as a running threat has loosened the load for the long-time Niner. Rice was the league’s standout running back last season, but Baltimore’s regular season woes saw the former Rutgers man limited in what he could do this season. Whilst neither had their best season, both could break out in the last remaining game of the season, something history is well aware of.

A running back has won the Super Bowl MVP award on a total of seven occasions. That’s 15 percent of the time. That puts the position second to only the quarterback. However, the last running back to win the award was Denver’s Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII following the 1997 season.

Not only is 15 years a long time but we also live in the age of the quarterback, which makes either running back less of an appealing option.

San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree (16/1) is the favored wide receiver heading in to the game, although Baltimore’s Anquan Boldin (18/1) and Torrey Smith (20/1) are not that far behind.

Wide receiver is the third most prosperous position in regards to Super Bowl MVP voting. A wide receiver has taken home the award on six occasions, or 13 percent of the time. The last player to achieve the feat was Santonio Holmes, who in 2009 joined his Pittsburgh teammate Heinz Ward (2006) as a recipient of the award.

Outside of the three main skill positions things look a little bleaker.

Ravens free safety Ed Reed is considered 33/1 to win the award. A safety has won the award twice in history (four percent of the time); Jake Scott (Miami) in 1973 and Dexter Jackson (Tampa Bay) in 2003.

San Francisco’s Vernon Davis is the highest rated tight end (22/1) but in order for him to win the award, he’d need to make history as no tight end has ever been named Super Bowl MVP.

Likewise, no kicker has ever been awarded the accolade, which is bad news for San Francisco’s David Akers (66/1) and Baltimore’s Justin Tucker (75/1).

Other positions to have historically won the award are defensive end (twice), cornerback (once), and kick returner (once).

 

Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII MVP

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Conference Championship NFL Betting Tips

Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens will look to score an upset for the second straight week, as they travel to New England to face the Patriots.

Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens will look to score an upset for the second straight week, as they travel to New England to face the Patriots.

So here we are. It’s game day in the NFL and by the time Sunday rolls into Monday we’ll know the two teams going to New Orleans in two weeks to battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Whilst this weekend won’t feature a Denver Broncos side many expected to win it all just one week ago,  nor will it feature a big do-over matchup between Green  Bay and Seattle – whose Week 3 matchup still sits on the NFL’s results page like an ugly blot – it will feature two very intriguing matchups. That’s two matchups that look easy to pick on the surface, but root around and you’ll find it’s anything but.

Read on to find out how Casino Review will be betting this week, and then take our picks straight to your bookie.

 

San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons

3:00 PM ET

The ongoing indifference to Atlanta (14-3, 8-1 home) has continued this week with bettors and experts alike shirking the Falcons in favor of a more popular side. The Falcons won an opening postseason game for the first time in four attempts last week, knocking off a fan-favorite Seattle side.

San Francisco (12-4-1, 5-3 road) provided an offensive display to rival any that came before it, handing the Green Bay Packers a heavy defeat, with quarterback Colin Kaepernick winning his first ever playoff start. The Niners will look to replicate that result and head to the Super Bowl for the first time since the end of the 1994 season.

Lost in the haze of the Atlanta bashing that has gone on this season is the advantage the historical Falcons take into the game.

Atlanta won the only postseason meeting between the two sides, a 20-18 affair in Jan. 1999. The Falcons went to the Super Bowl that year. Atlanta also owns a 19-18-1 advantage in the head-to-head series when playing in the Georgia city. Granted, one game is not much of an advantage, but this far into the season, any advantage is sought out regardless of how slim it might be.

The Falcons have won two straight against the Niners in Atlanta, with San Francisco’s last win coming on Oct. 14, 2001.

Whilst Atlanta has gone 1-1 in conference championship games, San Francisco has con 5-7. Granted, all five wins have preceded a Super Bowl victory, but that’s still a losing record. Additionally, the Niners are 1-3 in conference championship games played on the road. Only a 1989 win over Chicago saw the side victorious. The win in Chicago was actually the Niners’ last road playoff win; the team has gone 0-5 since.

In the regular season the Falcons had higher averages in points scored, total yards, and passing yards than the Niners. Yes, San Francisco’s bully defense ranked higher, but Atlanta was still excellent when it came to preventing teams scoring, allowing just 18.7 points per game, good enough for fifth in the league.

So, those people that thing Atlanta is out of this one before it even starts might want to reconsider.

Now, will Atlanta win?

The Falcons will be up against a San Francisco side that has been on fire of late. The team has won two straight and four of the last five, and the move at quarterback – with Kaepernick replacing Alex Smith – has sparked a more offensive-minded team; an offensive-minded team that happens to be a beast defensively. Well, except last week, and that’s where San Francisco might come unstuck.

We all know the Packers can score, but Atlanta was right behind Green Bay in points scored this season, so the Niners should beware.

Atlanta however has not fared well against dual threat quarterbacks, with Cam Newton and Russell Wilson having solid outings against the Falcons this side. Injury may have been the only thing stopping Robert Griffin III from having a big day also.

Odds: San Francisco opened as a three-point favorite on the road this weekend, but bettors like the Niners and that number has risen to five. The over/under has risen also, increasing from 47½ at opening to 49½ on game day.

Take: SAN FRANCISCO – The Niners came so close to a Super Bowl appearance last year, and this year, the team is better. More versatile than the 2011 side, expect the Niners to give Atlanta a heavy dose of the running game, something the Falcons were not great against this season. While The Falcons showed a rare glimpse of a running game last weekend, expect the Niners to quash any such attempt this week. This game is likely to be close, but take the Niners to cover the spread by the end of the game, with the total going over.

 

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots

6:30 PM ET

In a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game, Baltimore (12-6, 5-4 road) makes the trip north to New England (13-4, 7-2 home).

The Patriots made short work of the Texans last week, covering a 10-point spread. Bettors pounded that action, with the hapless Houston side entering the game more like a victim than a contender. Whilst the spread has risen to an identical number, bettors are less sure that New England can handle the Ravens in a similar manner.

Baltimore may have crawled to the end of the regular season with four losses from five, but a revitalized side that features Ray Lewis has taken care of business this postseason. Last week’s shock upset in Denver has many wondering if this Ravens side is destined for a Super Bowl win. Of course, destiny plays no part in sports betting.

During this postseason, Baltimore has improved on most of its offensive stats, including points scored, total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards. Believe it or not, the Ravens average more offensive yards per game than the Patriots this postseason.

But the Ravens will be up against history.

New England is 7-1 in conference championship games. That one loss came against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 21, 2007.

Conversely, Baltimore is 1-2 in conference championship games, defeating Oakland on the way to Super Bowl XXXV, and losing to Pittsburgh and New England.

New England is 4-0 in conference games played at home.

Both sides have scored one victory against the other in the postseason.

Odds: New England opened as 7½-point favorites, but that number has risen to 10. The over/under is 52, up from 51 at opening.

Take: NEW ENGLAND – Whilst there is undeniably an urge to go with Baltimore in this one, at the end of the day, New England should get out alive. The Ravens defeated the Patriots 31-30 on Sep. 23, but this New England side has found form since then. Take the Ravens to cover the spread, as they have done in both postseason games against the Patriots. Take the total to go over, as has been the trend for both these sides this season.

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Denver Remains Top of NFL Futures

The Denver Broncos soared to victory in the Mile High City on Sunday, retaining a spot atop the NFL Futures in the process.

The Denver Broncos soared to victory in the Mile High City on Sunday, retaining a spot atop the NFL Futures in the process.

For the second straight week, the Denver Broncos sit atop of the NFL Futures list as favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII.

Following the final week of regular season play, the Mile High team saw its odds of lifting the Lombardi trophy shorten for a third straight week.

Denver (13-3) closed out the season with a 38-3 thrashing off the hapless Kansas City Chiefs, securing an 11-game winning streak heading into postseason play. The win also locked-up the No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Considered 15/1 to win the Super Bowl ahead of this season, the Broncos are now considered 3/1 to win it all.

New England (12-4) retained its spot at No. 2 on the list with a 28-0 shutout of the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots’ loss to San Francisco three weeks ago heavily impacted the team’s Super Bowl odds, but a second straight win has Bill Belichick’s side back on familiar ground.

The Patriots – winners of eight of the last nine – are considered 15/4 to head to New Orleans on Feb. 3 and win the famous trophy.

After being humiliated by the Seahawks last week, San Francisco (11-4-1) returns to the NFL Futures’ top three. The 49ers took care of business on Sunday, defeating Arizona 27-13 to take home the NFC West crown.

Jim Harbaugh’s side also clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC, ensuring a bye during Wild Card Weekend. Odds of the Niners winning the Super Bowl have fallen to 6/1.

If Atlanta (13-3) feels slighted by San Francisco’s leapfrogging the side to move into the top three, the Falcons should at least be used to the feeling. Oddsmakers have continually dismissed the Georgia side this season.

With a No. 1 berth and home field advantage wrapped-up throughout the NFC playoffs, Atlanta lost a meaningless game against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Be it that result or others on the weekend, the Falcons slipped from 6/1 to 7/1 on the NFL Futures list this week.

Winners of nine of 10 heading into play on Sunday, Green Bay (11-5) suffered a mishap, losing to a Vikings side clawing to make the playoffs. The loss saw the Packers fall to 11-5 and a No. 3 berth in the playoffs. The Pack’s odds of winning the Super Bowl also fell from 6/1 to 15/2.

Seattle (11-5) closed out the season with a win over St. Louis, a fifth straight victory and seventh in eight games. It wasn’t enough to catch San Francisco for the NFC West crown, nor was it enough to impress oddsmakers. The Seahawks’ odds of Super Bowl glory fell from 8/1 to 11/1.

Houston (12-4) was this week’s big losers on the Futures front. The Texans tripped up in Indianapolis, losing 28-16 to the Colts and falling away from the top AFC playoff berth. In fact, Houston is now a No. 3 seed and will have to host a game during Wild Card Weekend.

Unsurprisingly, the Texans – losers of three of the last four – saw their odds of winning the Super Bowl increase in the wake of this result. The side is now 15/1 to lift the Lombardi trophy, and seventh on the NFL Futures list, just four weeks after topping the list for 12 straight weeks.

Washington (10-6) completed an unthinkable turnaround season by defeating the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, winning the NFC East title and securing the No. 4 playoff berth in the process. The result saw the Redskins continue to climb the NFL Futures, with Super Bowl odds shortening to 18/1. In a boost for local pride, the Redskins topped nearby Baltimore on the list for the first time this season.

Washington will host Seattle in the second NFC Wild Card matchup this weekend (Sun. 4:30 PM ET).

Baltimore (10-6) continued its late season slump, succumbing to divisional rivals, Cincinnati. The Ravens have now lost four of the last five, a fact that has registered with oddsmakers. The loss has seen the side’s odds slip to 22/1.

Washington wasn’t the only side making good on an unexpected run. Minnesota (10-6) secured a playoff spot with a narrow 37-34 win over Green Bay on Sunday. Although Adrian Peterson came up nine yards shy of beating Eric Dickerson’s record for most rushing yards in a single-season, the Vikings will be jubilant to be playing next week. The side’s Super Bowl odds shortened from 60/1 to 40/1 with confirmation of a postseason berth.

Having beaten the Packers in Minneapolis in Week 17, Minnesota will turn around and visit Green Bay this weekend for the first NFC Wild Card game (Sat. 8:00 PM ET).

Despite defeating Baltimore on Sunday, Cincinnati (10-6) saw its Super Bowl odds increase from 40/1 to 45/1 following this weekend’s action. Winners of seven of the last eight, the Bengals have some serious upset potential however, and will be treated with caution by all in the AFC playoffs.

Cincinnati will visit Houston in the first AFC Wild Card game this weekend (Sun. 4:30 PM ET).

Indianapolis (11-5) – another side that has had an unbelievable season – improved its outlook on the Futures list with a win over Houston. The side is now considered 45/1 to win Super Bowl XLVII, an upgrade from last week’s 60/1. Like Cincinnati – who share the same odds – the Colts could prove a threat this postseason, especially during Wild Card weekend.

Indianapolis will meet Baltimore in the second AFC Wild Card playoff this weekend (Sun. 1:00 PM ET).

Finally, despite winning against Philadelphia and Detroit respectively, the New York Giants and Chicago Bears were both eliminated from playoff contention, and thus removed from the Futures list, after Minnesota upset Green Bay. Dallas’ loss to Washington also ended its hopes of postseason action.

 

Playoffs – Wild Card Weekend

Saturday (Jan. 5) Cincinnati @ Houston (4:30 PM ET) |Minnesota @ Green Bay (8:00 PM ET)

Sunday (Jan. 6) Indianapolis @ Baltimore (1:00 PM ET) | Seattle @ Washington (4:30 PM ET)

 

Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVII

Denver (3/1)

New England (15/4)

San Francisco (6/1)

Atlanta (7/1)

Green Bay (15/2)

Seattle (11/1)

Houston (15/1)

Washington (18/1)

Baltimore (22/1)

Minnesota (40/1)

Cincinnati (45/1)

Indianapolis (45/1)

The following sides have been taken off the board:

Dallas

Chicago

NY Giants

Pittsburgh

St. Louis

NY Jets

Miami

New Orleans

Tampa Bay

San Diego

Cleveland

Buffalo

Carolina

Tennessee

Arizona

Oakland

Detroit

Philadelphia

Jacksonville

Kansas City

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Patriots Host Texans on Monday Night Football

An upset win over the Patriots for Matt Schaub and the Texans will put Houston one step closer to and  AFC South title and home field advantage in the playoffs.

An upset win over the Patriots for Matt Schaub and the Texans would put Houston one step closer to and AFC South title and home field advantage in the playoffs.

In what some believe could be a preview of this January’s AFC Championship Game, New England hosts Houston at Foxboro on Monday night.

Bidding for a bye during the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the Patriots (9-3, 4-1 home) will look to derail a Houston (11-1, 6-0 road) side that is unbeaten away from Reliant Stadium this season. Already in possession of at least a Wild Card berth, the Texans will be looking to take another step towards a second straight AFC South title.

Indianapolis’ come-from-behind win over Tennessee on Sunday afternoon means that the Texans are still not assured of the AFC South division title and won’t be until next week at the earliest, and with two of its remaining three games after Monday night against the Colts, there could be a sting in the tail of this particular story yet.

New England faces no such final stretch intrigue. The Patriots are the runaway leaders – and champions for the ninth time in 10 years – of the AFC East, a division that has seen the Jets, Dolphins and Bills all underachieve. Were it not for the beleaguered AFC West – which has recorded just 20 combined wins this season, 10 of which belong to Denver – the AFC East would be a frontrunner for worst division in football. As it stands, it’s certainly the most disappointing.

Best of the Best

New England has fought its way to a 9-3 record by bludgeoning opponents. Averaging a massive 35.8 points per game, the Patriots have stormed to eight wins over the last nine games, and whilst Miami’s fairly impressive defense limited Bill Belichick’s side to ‘just’ 23 last weekend Tom Brady and Co. don’t look ready to let the foot off the pedal just yet.

The Texans’ offense has had a season to remember also. Behind Matt Schaub’s arm and Arian Foster’s running prowess, the side has averaged 29.3 points per game, second only to the Patriots. The Texans have won six straight, and have only dropped one game – a 42-24 loss at home to Green Bay – all season.

The Texans also enjoy an advantage on the defensive side of the football. Wade Phillips’ defensive unit has conceded just 87.6 yards per game on the ground this season, and gives up only 18.4 points per game, good enough for fourth in the league. New England meanwhile has improved on last year’s poor defensive habits but still concede 21.7 points per game (14th) and 279.9 yards through the air (29th). Only New Orleans, Washington and Tampa Bay give up more air miles than the Patriots.

The Monday night clash will be an excellent chance for fans, players, coaches, experts and bettors alike to judge just how far Houston has come this season, and whether the perennial playoff favorite Patriots can compete again this season. It’ll also offer oddsmakers the opportunity to put some sunlight between the two sides in the NFL Futures, where both teams are currently considered 9/2 to win Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

Looking for an Edge

New England is 14-5 on Monday Night Football since Bill Belichick took over the reins in 2000. Only one of those losses was at home, a 40-21 defeat to Indianapolis in 2005. Over the past six seasons, the Patriots have posted a 9-1 record on the marquee broadcast and are perfect at home.

Houston meanwhile has had only a flitting relationship with Monday Night Football. Neglected for the first six years of its existence, the Texans have since posted a 2-3 record on Monday nights, including a 1-1 record on the road. That sole victory came earlier this season in New York against the Jets.

The two sides have only met three times previously, with New England holding a 2-1 advantage. Houston came up short in its one and only trip to Foxboro, back in 2006. The sides last met on Jan. 3, 2010 at Reliant Stadium, a game that ended 34-27 to Houston.

New England is a four-point favorite ahead of kickoff. Both sides have fared well when it comes to covering the spread this season, with Houston compiling a 8-3-1 ATS record compared to New England’s 7-4-1 ATS.

The over/under is 51½, having dropped a point from opening. The total has gone over in nine Patriots games this season and six Texans games. In the three previous meetings between the sides, the final score has only tipped that mark once. The average final score is 30-20 (in favor of New England) just below the 51½ marker. That being said, with the two sides ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in scoring this season, the total could easily go over.

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