11/24/2011 2:02PM

Strong NFL matchups may offer some betting value


LAS VEGAS – After having the best NFL Thanksgiving menu of games that anyone can remember, we’ve got the leftovers Sunday and Monday.

But, hey, while some leftovers pale in comparison (Cardinals-Rams, Panthers-Colts, Redskins-Seahawks) there are some that heat up quite nicely (Patriots-Eagles, Giants-Saints, plus whatever games you like).

So, let’s dig through what remains in the NFL Week 12 fridge and try to pick some winners.

Back to the betting board

I went 1-2-1 with my NFL plays last week. It was a roller-coaster as the Panthers looked like a winner against the Lions when they were leading 27-7, but they failed not only to win the game but to cover the 7-point spread as they lost 49-35. Meanwhile, also in the early games, the Bengals (+7) let their game against the Ravens slip away to settle for a push in a 31-24 loss. I lost the Bears-Chargers under later in the afternoon (after it also looked good early), and then closed out the day with the Eagles beating the Giants.

Cardinals +3 vs. Rams

This isn’t the most appetizing game on Sunday’s menu, but I feel it does offer betting value. This game was off the board at several books earlier in the week, but those with a number (assuming Kevin Kolb would not be back and John Skelton would get the start) had Rams –3. I don’t see why. The Rams, having a miserable season (even worse than the Cards), failed as a home favorite against the Seahawks last week. The Cardinals have shown they can travel East (and this is just to the Midwest) and play well like they did two weeks ago against the Eagles. Besides, I usually like rematches when the team that won the first meeting (Cardinals 19-13 in OT) are getting points the next time around.

PLAY: Cardinals for 1 unit.

Browns-Bengals o/u 37.5 points

I finally lost with an under play last week, but I’ll try and get back on the winning track with this game. The Bengals continue to play great defense, and I just don’t see where the Browns (averaging 14.5 points per game) are going to put more than 10 on the scoreboard unless Josh Cribbs returns a kick for a TD, and maybe not even if he does. Besides, if you look at the stats, the Browns actually allow fewer yards per game (305.8 as opposed to Cincy’s 311.1) and points (19.3 to Cincy’s 19.5). This looks like a game where the Bengals, with the much better offense, will get up early and coast the rest of the way.

PLAY: Browns-Bengals under for 1 unit.

Vikings +9.5 vs. Falcons

The Falcons, even with a record of 6-4 and in the wild-card hunt, have underachieved this year and haven’t even been playing as well at home as they have in recent years (last week, they were unable to put away the Titans and settled for a push as 6-point favorites). This matchup was Falcons –7 a week ago in the Hilton’s advance lines, and the only reason I’ve seen for this adjustment is the injury to Adrian Peterson, but as great as he is, running teams usually do just fine with a backup in there (it’s mostly about the blocking at this level). I’m posting this Thursday morning, but I expect the public to bet this to 10 by Sunday.

PLAY: Vikings for 1 unit.

Eagles +3.5 vs. Patriots

This game also has been slow to be posted at some books this week, with the question about whether Vince Young would get a second start with Michael Vick nursing an injury to his ribs, but just like I took the Eagles against the Giants last Sunday night, I’m on them again regardless of who is behind center. Vince Young, despite three interceptions, showed he can still get it done, plus the Patriots’ defense continues to give up plenty of yards, even though they held the Chiefs out of the end zone on Monday night. That won’t happen against Philly’s talent, and I think we’re seeing a case of where the Eagles were overrated early but now that everyone is down on them, they’re actually a value play down the stretch (or until oddsmakers/bettors catch up with them again).

PLAY: Eagles for 1 unit.

Giants +7 vs. Saints

I was watching last Sunday’s Eagles-Giants game with my friend Lou, and we were both on the Eagles. We saw the Saints opened –6.5 for this game at the Hilton, and we agreed that the best scenario would be for the Eagles to beat the Giants (so we won our bets, of course) but also so that the line on this game would go up so we could come back on the Giants here. That’s exactly what has transpired (now we just need the Giants to come through to complete the plan). Both these teams have shown flashes of brilliance this year, but then have also had inexplicable letdowns (Giants against Seahawks, Saints against the Rams). In that way, I see them as very equal, so in my opinion this line should be a lot closer to pick-em, 3 or 4 points at the most. I’ll take the touchdown head start.

PLAY: Giants for 1 unit.

Last week: 1-2-1 for a loss of 1.2 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 12-16-1 for a net loss of 5.6 units.