It’s getting harder and harder to make a buck these days. As we get deeper into the playoffs, there are fewer games on the NFL schedule, leaving us with fewer options for our NFL picks.
There are still some juicy Divisional Round odds waiting to be scooped up as we go to press. Out of the four games on this weekend’s slate, we’ve identified two “straight” bets (spread, moneyline or total) that have enough potential profit margin to make it worth risking at least one unit of your bankroll.
How much margin is enough? At the standard –110 vigorish, your football picks need to go 11-10 to break even, which works out to roughly 52.4%. Any edge below that demands a recreational-size bet only, either for entertainment or as part of a larger package of bets designed to help you sneak a fat NFL prop past your sportsbook – if they’re the type of book that will limit your sharp action.
As per the Kelly criterion, the higher the potential profit margin climbs above 52.4%, the more of your bankroll you should invest. And we have one Divisional matchup where the margin has blown up enough for a chunky two-unit bet.
Sunday, January 22, 2023 – 06:30 PM EST at Levi’s Stadium
While the games are fewer, each game has the potential to generate some soft NFL lines now that the larger betting public is involved – and that the public appears to be unaware of just how good the Niners are, leaving them available at a bargain -3.5 points (with -104 vig) at FanDuel.
Does East Coast Bias Still Exist?
Yes it does. The Cowboys (13-5 SU, 10-7-1 ATS) may live in Texas, but they are America’s Team, and they do play in the NFC East, so they have a much larger following than the 49ers (14-4 SU, 12-6 ATS) in the NFC West.
These are two quality teams, no doubt, but the Niners are superior in just about every aspect of the game. They have the top defense on the DVOA charts at Football Outsiders; the Cowboys are No. 2. San Francisco’s offense checks in at No. 6; the Dallas offense is No. 15.
That last stat is an eye-opener. At their best, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys fly downfield, as we saw during their 31-14 Wild Card win over Tampa Bay (+2.5 at home). But that was a Bucs team that finished the regular season 8-9. The problem in Big D is the offensive line, which is relatively mediocre compared to years past.
San Francisco’s defense will smell the blood in the water – like they did in their 41-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks (+10 away), a close game that turned into a blowout after a key takeaway in the third quarter. That was a Saturday game, by the way; Dallas played the Buccaneers this past Monday, and will have two fewer days to prepare for their Divisional fate.
NFL Pick: 49ers -3.5 (-104) at FanDuel
Saturday, January 21, 2023 – 08:15 PM EST at Lincoln Financial Field
Our second pick is only worth a single unit of your bankroll, and we’re betting the Under again with the Giants (Under 9-7-2), even though it didn’t work out for our Wild Card Weekend Best Bets.
Is Daniel Jones for Real?
He was last week, that’s for sure. Last Sunday’s 31-24 win over Minnesota (Over 48) was one of Jones’s better performances, but it doesn’t deserve the hype that’s been generated; Football Outsiders gave it 123 Total DYAR, behind Vikings QB Kirk Cousins at 142.
If Jones appeared to have the better day, that’s because he was up against the Vikings defense, which ranks No. 27 overall on the DVOA charts and No. 26 against the pass. This Saturday, Jones will face the league’s top-rated pass defense in the Eagles (Over 10-7).
Having said that, Philadelphia only ranks No. 21 versus the run, and the G-Men have one of the league’s stud tailbacks in Saquon Barkley. But at least all that running around will help keep the clock moving and make it harder to beat that 48-point total at SugarHouse.
Note that Barkley “only” managed 4.4 yards per carry during the 2022 regular season. That’s good, but not great, and he’ll have to do it this Saturday night on what should be a chilly January evening at The Linc. Bet accordingly.
NFL Pick: Under 48 (-109) at SugarHouse