There is a strange, eerie calm before the NFL Week 2 playoff storm.
The lines aren’t moving.
The San Francisco 49ers still give 7 points to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday. The Baltimore Ravens remain 9.5-point picks against the Tennessee Titans Saturday night.
Kansas City gives 9.5 to the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon, and the Green Bay Packers are still a 4-point pick against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday night.
It’s a game of who’s going to blink between the bettors and the actual lines. Those who like the underdogs have picked up on the early action, but not enough to move the lines yet. And if you like Baltimore and Kansas City, what’s the rush to lay 9.5 points? See if it moves.
No, we will see more on parlay betting in the next couple of days. A nice return at places like Draft Kings, William Hill, FanDuel and Play Sugar House is a player to score and that team to win. Good value exists, especially with a fringe player scoring in a blowout game.
Keys to the games
What about the actual contests?
Will Fuller returns as wide receiver for Houston, which will help in its battle with Kansas City. The Texans beat the Chiefs 31-24 in midseason and face them in the postseason as 9.5-point dogs.
Minnesota, which stunned the wager world with its upset of New Orleans last week, sees limited mobility from wide receiver Adam Thielen. He was a major cog last week with 129 receiving yards, but has an ankle injury that he’s playing through. This will affect him on any deep routes.
Baltimore has looked unstoppable, but its key players have, in effect, received a double bye. They were rested in the last week of the regular season because the game wasn’t needed and they had the top AFC and did not need to play last week. If the Ravens have a question mark, that could be it. Two weeks off is a long break, regarding timing.
Seattle receiver D.K. Metcalf opened up Seattle’s offense against the Eagles last week, propelling the 17-9 victory. Other than quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are average in other offensive respects.
Green Bay has been just getting by because of injuries at skill positions all year. But the Pack had a one-week bye and may returned refreshed.
This week’s lines and over-unders
Courtesy of DraftKings
San Francisco -7 vs Minnesota, 44
Baltimore -9.5 vs Tennessee, 47
Kansas City -9.5, vs Houston 51
Green Bay -4, vs Seattle 47
This week’s picks
Selections, against the spread, excerpted from Beat the Degenerates, which I co-host with Brian Cahill and Scott Cronick, director of entertainment publications for The Press of Atlantic City. The show is 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays on Newstalk 1400-AM, WONDRadio.com and 92.5-FM. Catch the next one 5 p.m. Jan 15.
Cronick: Green Bay
The Posse, all picking Baltimore:
Ky Carlin, WOND correspondent
Da Kipster, general manager at Tennessee Ave. Beer Hall
Dave Weinberg, Weinberg Extra Points
Dan Skeldon, meteorologist: San Francisco
Tom Sullivan, general manager of McCullough’s Emerald Links: San Francisco
Last week’s takeaways
The New England Patriots, playing on fumes because of its lack of skill-position players, signaled the end of their dynasty late in the first half. Leading 10-7, the Pats had first-and-goal from the Tennessee 1-yard line. And they didn’t get in. Uncharacteristic for them.
Tennessee responded with a touchdown on the next possession and never trailed again.
A nugget for in-game bettors. Three teams scored a TD in their last possession of the first half last week to take the lead in their games. All three teams won. None of them ever trailed after that.
If there is a lead change just before the half, that’s a wager to consider.
The Eagles gave it all they could last week. They rallied and played well behind Josh McCown after the injury to Carson Wentz, but could not find the end zone. Wide receivers and a power running back will be priorities for Philadelphia in the draft.
Cahill gave us the pick of the week in the first playoff round, selecting Minnesota against New Orleans and hinting he liked the game outright.
PlaySugarHouse.com reported that a mere 16 percent of its bettors took the Vikings on the moneyline last week and were rewarded handsomely.
This week, 40 percent of their bettors took the Vikings straight up, even as the Vikes are getting seven.
Last week’s results
Weinberg with Seattle, Cahill with Minnesota, Skeldon with Tennessee
Bontempo and Carlin with Eagles, Cronick and Sullivan with New England, DaKipster with New Orleans