The bettor’s edge

A lot hangs in the balance

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / December 10, 2010

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Take note of my balance. At this point, I can buy a healthy round for a couple of guys at The Mirage on Super Sunday.

That’s progress, but Super Bowl weekend is essentially a long weekend in Las Vegas (aren’t they all?) and I’m going to at least need breakfast, too. So hop on board; that balance needs to grow.

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

NEW ORLEANS (-9) over St. Louis: There is so much to love about the Rams this season, and we can start with their 9-3 record against the spread, but this is a bad spot for St. Louis. New Orleans nearly melted down in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati, giving up 18 points, but the Bengals are capable of moving the ball when they are losing big. The Rams offense, despite all the strides made this season, is incapable of overcoming a big deficit. To complicate matters, St. Louis is playing its third straight road game. The first two were Rams wins, but they are running into a Saints club that is hungry and rounding into form. Risking $165 to win $150.

JACKSONVILLE (-4) over Oakland: The Raiders have six wins, four in their division. The other two occurred at home against NFC West teams (St. Louis and Seattle). This tells me a couple of things: Oakland is a strange team, and Oakland isn’t very good away from the West Coast. In fact, on the road outside their division, the Raiders are 0-4 and have been outscored, 114-48. The Jaguars’ strategy will be simple: Give Maurice Jones-Drew the ball 25-30 times and don’t commit turnovers. Jacksonville knows what’s at stake: It can finish strong and win the AFC South. Risking $110 to win $100.

Green Bay (-7) over DETROIT: The Packers finished strong last year, particularly against the spread, and are trending that way again. Green Bay has covered five of its last six, and the Lions, while improved, have suffered too many injuries. Risking $110 to win $100.

BUFFALO (-1) over Cleveland: The Bills are terrible defending the run, which doesn’t bode well with Peyton Hillis rumbling into Buffalo, but with rain and snow in the forecast, I’m firmly on the side of the home team that has a kicker (Rian Lindell) who has been working in those conditions for eight seasons. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 2-2, plus $30. Season: 26-22-1, plus $37.

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