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Jared Bets the NFL Wild Card Weekend Edition

The Colts/Bills play at 1:05pm EST today, Saturday, 1/9.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

This is not gambling advice. Please gamble at your own risk. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN). 21+.

When this NFL season started, there were concerns that COVID19’s impact on sports would shorten the regular season. It did not. We made it to Wild Card Weekend and every team in the league played every game on their schedule, maybe just not when it was originally scheduled. With exception, these organizations should be applauded for taking the virus seriously, especially since so many people in the United States base their entire lives on the words and actions of a public figure they don’t know, that doesn’t know or care about them and that could really do without them.

Every week this season, I’ve posted a betting article that isn’t meant to be taken super seriously. I could have shown my hand, talked about props, parlays, over/unders, done a deep dive on which betting site to use, but frankly, there isn’t enough money for me to spend the time it would have taken to produce that content. However, my personal goal is to make money never matter again, so for that attitude, I apologize.

For the most part, I am a conservative better. I bruised my knuckles playing euchre, spades, 5-card draw against my family as a kid, and eventually ended up playing 7-10 tables at a time on PartyPoker in college forcing people to muck good hands in No Limit Texas Hold’em with my “one big bet per hour” rule. Ideally, you’re seeing very few hands that cost you more than the blinds.

Take that attitude and apply it toward gambling. Most of the time in the NFL, the home team wins and Vegas knows its stuff most of the time. Up until this season, in fact, the home team wins 63% of its games. This season, however, only about 51% of home teams won their games. In my opinion, lots of sports betting journalists didn’t account for that and I caught that wave early enough to finish the 2020-2021 NFL season up to 58.8% correct using my spread/straight up/”parlay your sure bets” method.

Let’s get to the games!

SATURDAY GAMES (that’s right, there are games today!) Home team in CAPS, pick in bold

Colts vs. BILLS -6.5

I just want you all to know that this line has grown over the course of the week. In fact, it moved a half a point since last night. I find this interesting. Seeing the injury report now and knowing the Bills will have Beasley and Diggs while the Colts will be without struggling Rock Ya-Sin, I can sort of understand the thought behind moving the line, but again, home field advantage doesn’t matter when there’s no one in the stands and the weather isn’t a factor here either. Colts win or keep it damn close! Take the horseshoe and all those points!

Rams vs. SEAHAWKS -3

This line has moved the other way! It was 4/3.5 earlier this week and again, the line moved today around the time that final injury reports come out. It’s an interesting game to play (betting too early/late in a week). However, the bottom line is this. Jared Goff just had thumb surgery on his throwing hand. The Seahawks have the #1 defense in the NFL in the second half of the season AND Russell Wilson. Seahawks by a million.

Tampa Bay -8.5 vs. WASHINGTON

There comes a time when you have to stick your neck out there and show people more than just your hole cards. I don’t like the accolades bestowed on Tom Brady and think he’s been a sub-par quarterback for years now, but has ridden team wins and Super Bowl rings to more money than my entire bloodline, so cheers, I guess? Way to gatekeep the next wave of QBs? I dunno. The bottom line is that football is an emotional game. Washington has a run game to keep it close and Terry McLaurin as a deep threat on offense. Plus, they have Chase Young. I’m telling you, Washington wins or keeps it close! Take the underdog and all those points!

Sunday Games

Ravens -3 vs. TITANS

I’ll just come out and say that I don’t take the Titans seriously and neither should you. Their fanbase are trash, their team is a beatable, two trick pony that will lose this game because they aren’t explosive enough on offense and don’t have the personnel to defend Lamar Jackson on defense. I’m mostly kidding. This is going to be a close game. I just default giving my rivals Hell and think the world of the Ravens as an organization.

Bears vs. SAINTS -10

While I don’t know that the Saints win this game by more than 10 points, and as a result have a hard time betting that spread, I still think the Saints are a touchdown better than the Bears? I’d either take the Saints straight up or the Bears and all those points.

Browns vs. STEELERS -6

The Browns are having a COVID-19 nightmare, either that or they got into the Playoffs and partied before they realized it was finally going to happen for them. Here’s the plain truth, though. Neither of these teams are good enough to win a Super Bowl this year, and I don’t like the Steeler QBs and think Mayfield will have a long-term, successful career. All that to say, I can understand taking the Steelers to win outright, but I was born in Dayton, Ohio. Browns win or keep it close!

To close, I had an exchange on Twitter earlier today where a couple people took the line that you have to pass to win a championship in the NFL and that the idea that you have to run the ball to win is antiquated. I pulled data from Football Reference and showed that 9 of the top 12 rushing attacks made the postseason while only 5 of the top 12 passing attacks made the postseason. “You can’t win if you ain’t in” is my logic here. I’ll ask y’all, who watched Peyton and Andrew tear it up for 20 years for a single Super Bowl ring, which is true? Meanwhile, look at the dominance of the Colts rushing attack for about the first 10-12 years of the Manning regime here in Indy. That’s right, back-to-back-to-back Hall of Fame running backs carried Manning to a ton of wins he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. As for Andrew Luck, he averaged like 60 yards a game rushing. He was a complete football player. That’s why it hurt to see him retire so banged up and so young. He did it all!

Let’s look at last season’s data to confirm my thought process. Hmm, only 3 of the top 12 passing attacks made the Playoffs last season. Also, 6 of the top 12 rushing attacks made the Playoffs. Interesting, so far, 15 of 24 great rushing teams made the Playoffs in the last two seasons. Meanwhile, 8 of 24 great passing teams made the Playoffs in the last two years.

Let’s look at 2018 just to confirm. We need as much data as possible. I’d argue, based on data, that the running game is even more important this season! However, in 2018, it looks like 8 of the top 12 passing attacks made the Playoffs. It looks like 7 of the top 12 rushing attacks made the Playoffs that year. There you go. It took three full seasons of data to find a single season where passing appears to be king in the NFL.

I understand that some people believe that you have to pass to win games, and to that I’d argue that there are plenty of teams in the Playoffs this year doing their damage on the ground. In my humble opinion, there’s only one elite passing team in the NFL and that’s the Chiefs. Brady is 50 years old and the Colts are about to humble young Josh Allen. You pretty much only read it here because something like 6% of all sports writers picked the Colts to win today.