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Smart money likes Eagles to cover, and other NFL divisional round picks

by: JOSEPH SANTOLIQUITO PhillyVoice Contributor - posted on: 11-Jan-2019

This article is a reprint from PhillyVoice.com. Read the original article.

Each Friday for PhillyVoice, Steve Maltepes, known as “The Philly Godfather,” will impart his gambling wisdom on the Eagles and where the smart money is going on various pro and college football games this weekend. Maltepes is one of the nation’s hottest sports betting experts who appears weekly on national radio.

NFL PICKS

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints, 4:40 p.m. Sunday

Games 307 & 308 on the sports betting screen

The Line: Saints minus-8 | Total: 51

What is the line telling you: The Eagles became the first team in NFL history to go on the road in the playoffs, face the No. 1 defense in the league and lose the turnover battle, and come out with a win. It never happened before. Oddsmakers and offshore made the team with the best odds to win the Super Bowl early 7.5-home favorites over the Eagles, with a combined total set at 51. We saw the cash hit the screen made the number balloon to 9. An avalanche of sharp Eagles’ money forced oddsmaker to push that number down to 8, where you’ll see that across the board everywhere, while the total stays at 51. Throw all of the metrics out the window before Nick Foles saves the Eagles’ season. Throw the 48-7 loss in November out of the window. All of the metrics across the board have been enhanced. New Orleans has struggled recently. The Saints’ offensive line is banged up, and looked average at best. They lost to the Dallas Cowboys, barely beat the Carolina Panthers and got lucky against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

We’re banking on the Eagles being able to score with this team this time around. The Saints’ defense hasn’t been able to stop anyone from moving the ball. They come in ranked 18th for opponent-yards-per-play, a mediocre 14th in opponent-yards-per-game and 22nd in defensive passing efficiency. The Saints ranked dead last in drive points-per-game-allowed, which is a huge number. After witnessing the Eagles’ offensive line in containing the great Bears’ defensive line, they should be able to keep in check the Saints’ pass rush. The last time these teams played, the Saints were on fire, laying seven points against a banged-up Eagles’ defense. We’ll definitely have a ball game here. Everyone talking about a Saints’ Super Bowl better pump their brakes a little bit, because regardless of the fact they have the best odds at plus-250 to win it all this year, there is still a 71.5-percent implied probability that they won’t. Sports books aren’t afraid to offer anyone Saints’ teasers this week, begging the Saints down to winning by a field goal.

Bottom line: The smart money likes the Eagles, but the bigger wager is the over 51.

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Games 303 & 304 on the sports betting screen

The Line: Rams minus-7.5 | Total: 50

What is the line telling you: Oddsmakers and offshore opened this line with the Rams being 6.5-point favorites over the Cowboys with the combined total set at 50. Since then, we’ve seen this side bounce back and forth from 6.5 to the key number of 7. It’s stabilized around 7.5, plus-110 in the desert, while some of the sharper offshore betting houses have juiced this well-rested Rams team set at minus-7, plus-120, or 7.5 and even money. The betting public is slightly on the dog here, with the Cowboys ticket count being high here at 60-40, while the overall money wagered is closer to a 50-50 split.

The Cowboys do create some matchup problems for the Rams, with one of the better defenses in the NFL. Dallas ranks in the top 10 in every defensive metric that carries any weight (opponent yards per play, opponent yards per game, opponent yards per rushing attempt). The Rams’ defense can’t seem to slow anyone down. They’re near the bottom of the league in every major defensive metric. The other problem Los Angeles has is that there are no fans in the stands. They’ve given up a little over 28 points a game at home this year, which is the fourth-highest in the NFL and four points higher than their overall average this season. On paper, the Rams’ offensive metrics are strong. They rank second in yards per play, third in yards per rushing attempt, second in points per game and third in yards per pass attempt. The Rams haven’t been the same since losing Cooper Kupp. They were 9-1 before losing him to injury, 4-2 since then. Jared Goff has struggled, with his passer rating being 30-percent lower without Kupp. Dallas hasn’t played well away, either, at 3-5 and minus-37-point differential on the road. But the Cowboys can cover the number here. As good as Todd Gurley is, the Cowboys are very good at stopping the run.

Bottom line: The smart money likes the Cowboys plus-7.5.

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots, 1:05 p.m. Sunday

Games 305 & 306 on the sports betting screen

The Line: Patriots minus-4 | Total: 47

What is the line telling you: Oddsmakers and offshore opened this line with the Patriots as 5-point favorites over the Chargers and the total set at 47.5. The market immediately disrespected Tom Brady in witnessing a 1-point drop. The total also saw a half-point drop. The total dropped to as low as 44.5, due to a little market manipulation on Monday. That’s when the big boys joined the party and hammered the over, raising it back up to around 47. They went over for the first half and for the game. The side is painted Patriots at 4 across the screen. There is sharp money on Phil Rivers and the Chargers, with 70-percent of the money wagered in Vegas and offshore. But the fact that the betting public is also in love with Rivers and the Chargers, it should cause everyone to pause and reflect a little bit. The Chargers could be a little banged up after facing the Baltimore Ravens last week.

It’s hard to believe that only 30-percent of all tickets punched have been on the Patriots. The Chargers rank over the Patriots in almost every major offensive and defensive metric, but traveling to Foxboro, and facing Tom Brady, the public should be wary. As vulnerable as the Patriots have looked, they’re still undefeated at home, with a plus-130-point differential, with wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts. At this time of year, it gets real cold in Foxboro. In Rivers’ 15-year NFL career, including 10 playoff games, he’s played in only five games with game temperatures of at or below freezing. The Chargers are 1-4 in those games. Meanwhile in that same time frame, the Patriots are 27-7 in games played at or below freezing.

Bottom line: The smart money likes the over 47 and if the line moves down to 3, likes the Patriots.

(Betting lines are subject to change.)