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NFL playoff props

Taking a different angle for betting on the NFL playoffs is Ian Steven, @deevo82. His last contribution to the blog was very successful - tipping the NFL Division winners.

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NFL playoff props analysis
For reference, my betting scale is 1-10.

Ravens vs Broncos

Peyton Manning seemed to defy medical logic by his superb season this year after multiple neck surgeries. Denver shocked the Steelers last year in the wildcard round with Tim Tebow under centre so having an MVP at QB should lead to a deep playoff run, especially with a very stingy defense led by joker backer Von Miller. Manning is the master of reading defences at the line of scrimmage and it will be a constant chess battle with Manning audibling at the line of scrimmage and Baltimore quickly checking out of a pressure package into a cover 1 or cover 3 defense.

The Ravens welcomed back Ray Lewis after missing most of the season with a triceps tear. The linebacker is still not 100% healthy but his leadership skills on the field visibly lifted Baltimore against the Colts last week. The key for John Harbaugh’s men will be the play of Joe Flacco. He is morphing more and more into a game manager who does not revel in being forced to gunsling in a match. The creative spark for the Ravens comes from Ray Rice but the diminutive running back may struggle for space against a very stingy Denver defense.

I can’t see past Denver winning this with home field advantage. Peyton will tear the Ravens apart. Look out for Manning trying to isolate Ray Lewis in man coverage with Jacob Tamme. Mike McCoy will put the ball in his field general’s hands and the former Colt’s QB could well have over 45 passes in the game. Most of his pass calls will be bubble screens or dump offs to the running back so he will have a high completion percentage.

Peyton Manning – over 24.5 completions
2 points @ 1.8 Bet 365

Packers vs 49ers

This is the most evenly matched of the playoff games. The 49ers defeated Green Bay 30-22 in the regular season but the Packers will have learned from their mistakes and they are hitting form just at the right time. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the league and he boasts a glut of talented receivers which makes it tough for opposing defences to rotate coverage to double a perceived danger man. The Green Bay running attack is not the strong point of the offense and with Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith spearheading a talented defense; the Packers will barely acknowledge the running game.

San Francisco are embroiled in an odd quarterback controversy as Alex Smith was one of the highest rated passers in the league when he was forced to the bench due to injury. Colin Kaepernick stepped in and played so well that Jim Harbaugh has kept Smith in reserve. The 49ers will look to ground and pound with Frank Gore and Kaepernick will look to Vernon Davis up the seam as a safety valve as the mobile quarterback will not have enough time to dally in the pocket with Clay Matthews breathing down his neck.

I think the Packers will be the only road team to win in the Divisional rounds. It should be a fairly high scoring game and I think Kaepernick will be forced to air it out with Davis a reliable safety net for him. James Jones has been the go to guy for Aaron Rodgers in the end zone at the end of the season and he is highly likely to catch a touchdown pass once Green Bay get into the redzone. Clay Matthews will be a beast in the playoffs and will be all over the field in Candlestick Park. He could easily notch 4 sacks, let alone tackles.

Colin Kaepernick – over 17.5 completions
3 points @ 2.00 Bet 365

Vernon Davis – over 3 receptions
2 points @ 1.86 Bet 365

Vernon Davis – over 33.5 receiving yards
2 points @ 1.83 Paddy Power

Clay Matthews – over 4 tackles and assists
3 points @ 1.8 Bet 365

James Jones – anytime touchdown scorer
4 points@ 2.8 Paddy Power

Seahawks vs Falcons

The injury report will ultimately be the undoing of Seattle in this match up. Pete Carroll’s men lost their defensive end in Chris Clemons last week to a knee injury in their wildcard thriller against Washington. Coupled to that, their bulldozing running back Marshawn Lynch is nursing a foot injury that caused the former Buffalo player to miss two days of practice this week. Rookie QB Russell Wilson will be forced to pass more than the Seahawks would like and this should play into the laps of the Falcons. The Seahawks defense does have a dominating secondary and Matt Ryan will have to pick and choose his passes carefully. The NFL’s best ever tight end, Tony Gonzalez, will be the primary threat in the red zone. Amazingly, the former San Diego player has yet to win a playoff game in his 15 year career that has seen the 36-year-old voted to 13 Pro Bowls.

I fully expect the Dirty Birds to dominate the time of possession and run the rock early to set up the play action to Julio Jones and Roddy White. Michael Turner will see a lot of the ball and the Hawks defense will tire going into the fourth quarter. Watch out for Asante Samuel picking off Wilson and taking one to the house. The former Eagles and Patriot specialises in playoff interceptions

Marshawn Lynch has missed two days of practice with a foot injury. I don’t think he’ll top 100 yards rushing as I expect Atlanta to take an early lead and Seattle will have to pass to try to get back in it which will inflate Wilson’s passing yards total. Zack Miller is his go to target and the tight end should get more than 33 receiving yards. Michael Turner will be used as a workhorse so jump all over him getting more than 13.5 carries. Injuries to Clemons and Lynch means Atlanta will win this match up.

Michael Turner – over 53.5 rushing yards
4 points @ 1.83 Paddy Power

Michael Turner – over 13.5 carries
10 points @ 1.76 Bet 365!!

Tony Gonzalez – anytime touchdown scorer
3 points @ 1.8 Paddy Power

Russell Wilson – over 220.5 passing yards
3 points @ 1.76 Bet 365

Marshawn Lynch – under 101.5 rushing yards
6 points @ 1.83 Paddy Power

Zach Miller – over 32.5 receiving yards
2 points @ 1.76 Bet 365

Texans vs Patriots

New England are a football machine led by coaching genius Bill Belichick and future hall of famer Tom Brady at quarterback. The mere fact that Belichick has had an extra week to prepare for the Texans removes most of the suspense from this fixture. Brady has a wealth of talent to spread the ball around to, with The Gronk being the most PR friendly of his weapons. The big tight end is a favourite target of the former Michigan QB and he should find space down the seams as he is a match-up night mare due to his size and strength. New England’s running game has been vastly improved this year and they are capable of running a balanced offense that should keep the Texans guessing. The Patriots led the league in yardage per game in the regular season and are capable of moving the ball on anyone.

The Texans were the sexy pick for the Superbowl at the start of the season but a December 42-11 thumping of Houston dished out by the Pats has relegated Gary Kubiak’s men into an outsider role. Matt Schaub is a talented quarterback and he boasts a superb running back in the vegan Arian Foster and one of the all-time great wide receivers in Andre Johnson and they should keep pace with the Pats on paper. The bookies have acknowledged the talents of Foster and Johnson and there is little value in the pair of them. The New England defense cannot be considered elite and Houston could keep things interesting if they can get their zone running game working early which sets up the play action but I get the feeling they will be playing catch up all game.

I can’t see past the Pats after having two weeks to prep for the Texans, a team they have already defeated heavily. The Gronk always shows up when the cameras are on him and he will feature heavily as the tight end is a match up nightmare. He could end up with two or three touchdowns in what should eventually be a comfortable win for the home side.

Rob Gronkowski – over 75.5 receiving yards
1 point @1.83 Paddy Power

Rob Gronkowski – over 5 receptions
3 points @ 1.95 Bet 365

Rob Gronkowski - Anytime touchdown scorer
1 point @ 1.53 Paddy Power

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