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The Boston Globe

Sports

Ed Ryan’s picks: Falcons, Texans, Broncos, 49ers

Whether it comes from a friend, a financial institution, or someplace more nefarious, be prepared to borrow money if you think that trusting NFL betting trends on a week-to-week basis is a dependable way to supplement your income.

Example: In last weekend’s wild-card matchups, favorites went 4-0 against the spread. Stand down if you think this is a harbinger for underdogs to hit on Saturday and Sunday.

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Perhaps the majority of ’dogs will come in this weekend, but consider the overall view. During the 2012 regular season, favorites were just 122-133 against the spread. Because favorites typically come in over the course of a season at just over 50 percent, let’s keep things simple and assume last weekend’s results helped inch that record closer to even.

Also, I cannot advocate for underdogs when I like three favorites on this slate.

This week’s picks (home team in caps):

ATLANTA (-2½) over Seattle: The Falcons answered ­every challenge in 2012, but now must prove they can advance in January. The Seahawks are the league’s hot team, having won eight of nine, but for a group that seems to flourish in the elements, I’m skeptical about their prospects in a dome. Indoors, Seattle went 0-2 outright and 0-2 against the spread. Risking $110 to win $100.

Houston (+9½) over NEW ENGLAND: I’m aware of what happened when these teams met in mid-December. But New England is 3-3 against the spread when favored by 9½ or more. The Patriots don’t blow everyone out, and I’m envisioning the Texans playing implosion-free football during the first quarter and remaining in striking distance thereafter. Risking $110 to win $100.

DENVER (-9½) over Baltimore: Sometimes a team with a track record of winning puts itself in position for just one opportunity to win a championship. I’ve been sensing the Ravens’ opportunity was last season — and they coughed it up during the AFC title game. In Denver, insurmountable challenges await Baltimore. The Broncos, 3-1 against the spread in 2012 when favored by 9 or more, are balanced and poised to advance. Risking $165 to win $150.

SAN FRANCISCO (-3) over Green Bay: Betting against Aaron Rodgers makes me cringe, but San Francisco’s excellence in all phases of the game trumps the one-dimensional nature of the Packers. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 3-1, plus $190. Season: 36-32-1, plus $417.

Ed Ryan can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @EdzoRyan.
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