What are the odds: Don’t bet against Brees, Brady in championship weekend


Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Los Angeles Rams running back C.J. Anderson picks up yards against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter during the NFL Divisional Round at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

By Colin Martin, Staff Writer

Well, my New Year’s resolution was to stay above 0.500 for this season of sports betting. Luckily, New Year’s resolutions are meant to be broken. I went 4-4 in my picks from last weekend’s NFL Playoff matchups because I thought more with my heart than I did with my head, which isn’t the best tactic for gambling.

My dislike for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots should have been overlooked, but instead, I was rooting for the Los Angeles Chargers to cover the spread. The Patriots made sure that didn’t happen by beating the Chargers more than enough. They nearly covered the 48 point over/under by themselves.

This week, I’m focused on having a winning record of gambling picks. We’ll take a look at both the AFC Championship and NFC Championship games that take place Sunday. The 3:05 p.m. matchup will be the NFC Championship featuring the No. 2 seed Los Angeles Rams traveling to the No. 1 seed New Orleans Saints. Most fans should anticipate a high-scoring shootout between these two top offenses.

For the night game at 6:40 p.m., the No. 2 seed New England Patriots will play in expected single-digit temperatures against the No. 1 seed Kansas City Chiefs. Fans at Arrowhead Stadium are known for being the loudest in the NFL, and hope they can witness their team go to a Super Bowl for the first time since the 1969 season.

Never bet before? Here’s two quick definitions. The spread is a figure that oddsmakers set that predicts by how much a team is expected to win or lose. The over/under is a prediction of the final combined score of both teams.

Los Angeles Rams (13-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (13-3)

Spread: New Orleans -3.5

Over/under: 57

Analysis: The New Orleans Saints ended the miraculous run by Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles last week at home. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore proved why he was worthy of the No. 11 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft when the young star intercepted Foles late in the 4th quarter for his second INT of the day. If he can make the same impact this Sunday as he did last week, then Saints fans can get ready for their road trip to Atlanta for the Super Bowl. However, Lattimore and the Saints won’t be the most talked about defense during the NFC Championship. Their opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, has a star-studded defense led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year — and former Pitt standout — Aaron Donald. He set an NFL single-season record for sacks by a defensive tackle with 20.5 this year.

As good as both defenses are, each team’s real strength lies in its offense. The Rams are led by young quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley. However, look for veteran running back C.J. Anderson to be the star on Sunday. Anderson was signed by the Rams late in December after Gurley suffered a minor injury. It’s Anderson’s third team this season, after playing for both the Carolina Panthers and briefly the Oakland Raiders. Being cut twice in one season has to be the best motivation for the Super Bowl Champion running back. He ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’s win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. The duo of Gurley and Anderson is almost as good as it gets, but the Saints have their own running back duo that is arguably the best in the NFL. Expect Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to wear down the Rams defense, allowing quarterback Drew Brees to beat the weak LA secondary. Brees may have just turned 40 this week, but that isn’t stopping him from going to his second Super Bowl.

Bet: New Orleans covers at home and bet the over.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | For The Pitt News
Projected point total for Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints.

New England Patriots (11-5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

Spread: Kansas City -3

Over/under: 56

Analysis: In October, the Patriots gave the Chiefs their first loss of the season when they won in a shootout, 43-40. New England quarterback Tom Brady threw for 340 yards and had two total touchdowns in the future Hall of Famer’s record 200th career victory.  The Patriots won in classic fashion — a field goal as time expired.

Fast forward a couple months later, and fans are excited to watch a rematch with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. This time, Kansas City will be without its dynamic running back Kareem Hunt, who was released by the team Nov. 30. Despite the huge loss, Kansas City has managed with running back Damien Williams — he had 129 yards and a touchdown in the team’s win against the Indianapolis Colts last week. With temperatures expected to be around zero Sunday night in Kansas City, expect Williams and New England counterpart Sony Michel to have a heavy workload. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be looking to capitalize on his MVP-like season by leading his team to its first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years. On the other hand, Brady is ready to go to Atlanta for his 9th Super Bowl appearance with the Patriots.

Bet: The Patriots cover the spread and bet the under.

Graphic by Anna Goetz | For The Pitt News
Projected point total for Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots.

NBA MVP Odds (Halfway point of the season)

Front runners: James Harden +150, Giannis Antetokounmpo +150

Others: LeBron James +800, Stephen Curry +1100, Kawhi Leonard +1200

Example: A $100 bet for Harden would win $150

Analysis: Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is looking to repeat as NBA MVP, while Giannis Antetokounmpo is leading the Milwaukee Bucks and may be most deserving of the award. The “Greek Freak” is averaging 26.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. His unbelievable season has helped the Bucks to the best record in the Eastern Conference thus far in the season. While Harden has been averaging an NBA-best 35.4 points per game this season, his Rockets team is in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. If the Bucks finish the season with a top-two record in the East, then Antetokounmpo could steal the award from Harden.

For those who feel like taking a risk, then Stephen Curry is your pick for MVP. The Golden State Warriors star is an underdog to win the award, which would be the third in his career. He recently became the first player in NBA history with 8 or more 3-pointers in three straight games. The Warriors are the likely favorite to win the NBA Finals, and if Curry can keep this up his unbelievable shooting, then another MVP trophy may be in his future as well. Curry is the riskier payout, while Harden is your safe option.

Bet: Harden’s scoring will impress voters enough to win the MVP.

Odds taken from https://www.oddsshark.com/nfl and https://www.oddsshark.com/nba.