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Now on to the game. I am not a fan of either team so it is very easy for me to stay neutral in this game. I am a big fan of the Cardinals mainly because they are an underdog and in this game it is very easy to root for the Cinderella story! The problem is this clock has struck midnight. The Cardinals had a great run and I am impressed with Warner and love the fact that everyone now knows who Larry Fitzgerald is, but sorry Cardinals fans the Steelers have the edge here.
Let’s start with experience which almost every Steeler player has and teams playing in their first Super Bowl versus an experienced opponent are 5-11 ATS.That’s not all.
The hardest one for me to ignore is that highly rated defense. Objectors would state that Philly had the #3 defense, but it does not match to this defense and the plan that Dick LeBeau can come up with to counter whatever the Cardinals throw at them. The guy is a defensive genius! He has a game plan that will take some time for Warner and his gifted wideouts to get used to. In the meantime the Cardinals offense will have their hands full because the running game is solid for the Steelers and if that is not enough the passing game behind Big Ben is not too shabby either. He has the reliable Hines Ward and deep threats with Holmes and Co. The Cardinals have to be flawless or they are looking at a hole that they will have to play out of.
It won’t happen and the pressure will cause Warner to go back to his turnover ways and abandon the run. The Steelers are 6-1 ATS off home win and 32-16 ATS off game w/ TO margin of +3 or better. Steelers roll!
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This post season has been a post season for the underdogs and its nice to get a home one for this game. The Cardinals are at home and that to me is a huge, because they have played well here all year. Here is a great stat against the Eagles.Since 1982, teams that knock off the Super Bowl champ are 0-10 straight up and 1-9 against the spread the following week! That is amazing and that just shows you how hard it is to rebound from a big win in the playoffs like that!
The Cardinals have been doing it with defense and running and the fact that no one can stop Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals have’covered seven of their last 10 at home and look great with the points this week!The energy and the crowd will help the Cardinals get revenge for a loss to the Eagles earlier this season.
The Steelers have looked poised all year to make a run at the big game as they have played the best defense in the game. This week they face a Ravens team that they have already beaten twice with a unproven rookie at the helm in Joe Flaco.Baltimore has cashed eight of nine against conference foes and six of seven versus division opponents.
The Ravens are 9-0 ATS coming off an extremely close road win by three points or less as well. Even thought they are at home it will be asking for alot to have a team beat another team for the third time in the season.The Steelers have come up short in four of their last five ATS in conference championship games.Pittsburgh has also dropped nine straight spread decisions after scoring 35 points or more in its last game.Baltimore has won 11 of its past 13 games and is 7-3 on the road, including 2-0 in the postseason. This will be a tough game that will go down to the wire with Baltimore having a real shot of pulling off what seems like the impossible upset. Take the Ravens plus the points as meetings between these two teams always end up close!
I found a great contest and its FREE! If you know of any other good ones for the NFL playoffs let me know! I wanted to post who I am taking today and why too! Here is the NFC, but check back later and I will put up the AFC.
NFC Wild Card Game
Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals 1 / 50.5
This line like all of them this weekend are interesting as home teams are either a dog or a pick’em going into today’s action. That would indicate these teams are somewhat even.
The Cardinals had a great year as Kurt Warner regained his MVP form and they showed they have the best wideouts in the game. They clinched a home game in Arizona for the first time in forever and got the state a buzz with NFL playoff fever. They then hit the skids, getting hammered at home to the Vikings and giving up New England before rebounding late in the season against Seattle, but are they too late?
The Falcons are one of the surprise teams of the year and they have the offensive rookie of the year in Matt Ryan at QB. Michael Turner has been a stud behind one of the better yet lesser known offensive lines in football. They now take their game to the road to see if they can move forward and get a win. Matt Ryan has done well in college post season but it’s another story in the NFL. Unlike the Cardinals the Falcons ride a three game winning streak headed into the playoffs.
Backing a rookie on the road is a scary proposition but its one that I am willing to do here and it’s mostly due to Michael Turner. Teams that can run the ball pounded the Cardinals and pulled away early and with Turner running well that will free up passing lanes for Ryan using play action. In the Wild Card round being at home is not always the best thing as hosts are 8-8 and 6-10 against the spread. Arizona is just 2-7 ATS as an underdog of late. The Falcons laid down in the last game and gave up chunks of yardage on defense but if you look closer you will see they have a pretty decent defense. The Falcons defense gave a flat performance in allowing the reeking Rams to gain 400 yards and are 26-6 ATS in road games after allowing 400 or more total yards in their previous game.
Teams that rush for more yards in a playoff game are 127-40 ATS (76.0%). The team that is ahead typically will run the ball more, but still it is important to know which team can better control the line of scrimmage. Keep in mind though, that the record of this trend last January was just 6-5 ATS.
You would have to think that the Falcons will be able to run the ball better.
There are some pretty decent trends that favor the Cardinals too but I am taking the Falcons in this game.