NFL Betting Trends – Week 12
The Thanksgiving Holiday traditionally marks the start of the stretch run in the NFL regular season. The colder weather starts to set in and the contenders continue to separate themselves from the pretenders. In the NFC, the Green Bay Packers at 10-0 and the surprising San Francisco 49ers at 9-1 are clearly the front-runners for the top two seeds in the conference. Both have manageable schedules to close out the season and the only interesting race here is if the 49ers can grab the top spot if the Packers stumble along the way.
The AFC is still a bit more jumbled with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and New England all dead-locked at 7-3. Houston is also in there at 7-3, but losing Matt Schaub for an extended period of time could really test the Texans’ ability to hang with the lead dogs. The Ravens have the inside track to one of the top seeds by virtue of their two victories over the Steelers, and the Patriots just have a knack of winning games when they have to.
As far as odds go for which two teams will make it all the way to Super Bowl XLVI, Bodog has the Packers as the prohibitive favorite at 11/10 to come out of the NFC with the 49ers at 9/2, New Orleans at 5/1, and Dallas at 9/1.
Of the three, the Saints probably have the best chance at knocking-off Green Bay with an offense that can keep up in a track meet, but they would need some help. Lambeau Field in January provides the ultimate edge in home field advantage, so New Orleans would need the road to the Super Bowl to somehow go through San Francisco as opposed to Green Bay. The 49ers have the defense that can possibly slow down the Packers, but even then they would probably need to score at least three touchdowns to win the game. Dallas is a fashionable pick at this point, but really does not have a horse in this race.
Turning to the AFC, Bodog still favors the Patriots at 3/2 probably due to the action from the betting public. New England’s offense can score on any defense in the league, but it still has some major problems on the defensive side of the ball, especially against the pass. The key to a return trip to the Super Bowl is home field advantage throughout the playoffs, as they would need every possible edge to return after a three-year absence.
The next favorite to come out of the AFC are the Steelers at 4/1. This is a team that is built to play anywhere under any conditions and while home field advantage would probably seal a return trip for Pittsburgh, it can still get there if it has to go on the road. The problem the Steelers face is having to take the Wildcard route if they cannot win the North. The extra game could takes its toll in a championship game at Foxborough.
The Ravens are the third-favorite at 9/2 and probably offer the best value of the three. They already own the tie-breaker with the Steelers and have an extremely manageable schedule down the stretch. Baltimore is also a tough place to play in January, and the Ravens would love nothing more than to face the Patriots on their home turf for the title . The major kink in this plan could be a potential third game this season against Pittsburgh in the Divisional Round. Everyone knows how hard it is to beat a team three times especially in a rivalry as heated as this one.
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