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.

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):

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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 Follow him on Twitter @EdzoRyan.