Updated on 09/16/2011 7:41AM

Eagles, Bears going over


Football bettors play favorites.

And a lot of times they play their "favorites" - as in their favorite team. Whether it's a team you fell in love with as a youth or that you cheered for in a city where you lived when you were older, it's hard to be objective sometimes when making a bet.

I mention this in the interest of fair disclosure. I think the Bears should win at home against the Eagles on Saturday afternoon, but I admit the line value is with the Eagles +3.

Growing up, my team was the Bears. Their playoff highlight of recent years was also against the Eagles on New Year's Eve 1988. You probably know it as the "Fog Bowl."

But enough reminiscing. None of that will help in handicapping Saturday's games.

Eagles at Bears (over 32 1/2)

I don't have the foggiest idea which side to bet in this divisional playoff. But I do like the game to go over the total. This is going against conventional wisdom, because the Bears and Eagles had two of the best defenses in the NFL this season (Bears were No. 1 in points allowed with 203, Eagles were No. 2 with 208). The over/under opened at 33 at some books and was bet down to 32 1/2 by the bargain-seeking professionals in town.

I believe this will be higher-scoring than most people think, however. Both teams are adept at stopping the run and they know they won't be able to put together 80-yard TD drives consistently against each other's defense, so I see them taking more chances down the field. That can lead to long completions or pass interference penalties. Even if the long passes are incomplete, that stops the clock and prolongs the game, which again makes the over more likely.

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb is the reason I think the line value is with Philly, and he also plays into my over selection. He's a big-play guy anyway, but that could be enhanced by the Bears' obsession with him this week. All the talk is about containing McNabb's scrambling ability, and I can easily see a situation in which he starts to scramble, the Bears' linebackers and safeties rush up for run support, and McNabb finds receivers running downfield with a lot of open space.

In addition, both defenses are capable of getting turnovers and scoring themselves. It doesn't take much to surpass such a low total.

Play: Over 32 1/2 for 22 units.

Raiders (+3) at Patriots

A month ago, if you had projected this playoff matchup, you would have assumed it would have been in Oakland with the Raiders about a 6-point favorite. But the Raiders stumbled at the end of the regular season and lost their first-round bye. They broke out of their slump with a 38-24 win over the Jets last Saturday and now have to travel cross-country to visit the surprising Patriots in a prime-time matchup.

While the Raiders look to be back on track (especially on offense with Charlie Garner running wild and Jerry Rice showing his old playoff form), it's hard to gauge the Patriots. They have had a great season, rallying around QB Tom Brady after an injury to Drew Bledsoe. But I can't help think they've lost a lot of their momentum. They had a bye in Week 16, then beat the toothless Panthers 38-6 in a game that could only be called a glorified scrimmage. Now they're coming off another bye and my suspicion is they won't be as sharp as they've been all season, especially with a young QB getting his first playoff experience.

On the other hand, the Raiders are a veteran team and I don't see the travel or the cold (low to mid-30's) being a factor. They feel they've been given new life and they're primed for a Super Bowl run. They could even host the AFC title game if they win and the Ravens upset the Steelers on Sunday.

Just in case . . . be aware that as of Thursday morning, a few sports books have moved the line down to 2 1/2. If you like the Raiders, bet somewhere else.

Play: Raiders for 11 units.

Starting bankroll: 1,000 units.

Bankroll entering playoffs: 810 units.

Last week: 2-2 for net loss of 3 units.

Current bankroll: 807 units.