2009 NFL Divisional Playoffs – Previews and Picks

Divisional Round Best Weekend in NFL
By David A. Lane of Predictem.com

For some reason this particular weekend of NFL football has become my favorite one to watch every season. There’s no doubt that the competition level in the Divisional Round is always high, that the players all have a lot to play for, and the wagering action is also magnified since there are only a handful of games left, all of which add to the games’ enjoyment. Moreover, heightening it all is the fact that the games are played on both Saturday and Sunday and that the start times are staggered just right so even last minute bettors rarely get shut out.

January 10, Saturday 4:30 Eastern - Baltimore Ravens (12-5) at Tennessee Titans (13-3) Line Tennessee by 3, total 34.5 - This one is absolutely too good for Saturday, but what a way to kick off the Divisional Round. My hunch is the Ravens might actually be the best in the AFC thanks to Safety Ed Reed who is a big play guy and a game changer. Both teams have very good rushing offenses and very strong defense- usually a winning recipe and what it takes to be a champion in this league. Even though the Ravens are the sixth seed while the Titans are the first, Tennessee beat them during the regular season at home 13-10, and the fact that the Titans have been ahead of them in the standings all season, this Ravens squad has come up with some clutch wins on the road lately against such foes as the Dallas Cowboys (9-7) and the Miami Dolphins (11-5) just to make the playoffs and the feeling is here that they will keep rolling. Take the three points they’re giving and beware the under in the whole game only because it’s very low as it should be- but this game will turn on takeaways and a big play by the Ravens that could push it over late.

January 10, Saturday 8:15 Eastern- AZ Cardinals (10-7) at Carolina Panthers (12-4) Line Carolina by 10, total 48.5 - Although on paper this tilt looks like a route, it all depends on which Cards (3-5 road) team shows up for this one. The one that beat the Atlanta Falcons last week could surely cover the 10 point spread, however, this is the Panthers they are playing now who are 8-0 at home thus far and whose defense should get to QB Kurt Warner early and often. The Cards having beaten only one winning team all season- last week at home against the Falcons- is an important stat that means to me to take the Panthers and give the points. Trend says take the over in this one as the Cards and the Panthers each have gone under this total only three times in the last 10 games.

January 11, Sunday 1 PM Eastern- Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) at NY Giants (12-4) Line New York by 4, total 40 - This is the third meeting between the two with both teams winning on the road against the other during the regular season- NY’s only loss at home this season. The Giants on offense are number 7th ranked in total offense including leading the league in rushing yards and being fourth in points scored (26.7) while their ‘D’ is fifth in total yards and fifth in points allowed (18.4)- giving the Eagles quite a challenge here. Philly is no slouch either being fourth in points allowed (18.1) and sixth in points scored (26) making this match-up an extremely competitive one. Though on paper there is no clear cut favorite, take the defending champion Giants in this spot and give the points because they will prove again they are clutch. The total is a tough one but feel a lean toward the under.

January 11, Sunday 4:30 Eastern - San Diego Chargers (8-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) Line Pittsburgh by 6, total 38.5 - Though they played to the only 11-10 score in NFL history in a Steeler victory earlier this season, look for this one to include more scoring as my hunch says take the over here. The Chargers last seven games would have gone over this total while the Steelers would have split over their last ten. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisburger’s fog from last week’s concussion will clear up enough for him while LaDainian Tomlinson looks doubtful (listed as lower body??) in this one that the Steelers will find a way to dominate with their number one ranked defense. Give the six points and take the over 38.5 here to cash tickets.

All of these games should be decent to watch at least for awhile. Look for futures or prop bets as well that you feel strongly about because there are some great ones out there on the net or Vegas. One example is this one from Stations Casino’s that pays 11 to 1 for a Ravens-Giants Super Bowl that looked like a winner to me. Special point spreads can be fun too this time of year as well hitting a couple of them helped last week- one was on the Eagles by 10 that paid 2 to 1. No matter what, enjoy the games during this best two days of pro football- there aren’t any weekends with this number of tilts left- and look for ‘bargains’ before you wager. Good luck!

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