The Bettor's Edge

In both matchups, points are well taken

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / January 21, 2011

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It’s supposed to be 10 degrees and snowy in Foxborough Sunday, so Patriots supporters who were hoping to attend the AFC Championship game can at least remain warm.

That’s the only comforting thought I can offer New England fans, though, because if last weekend was difficult, how are they going to feel when the Jets advance to the Super Bowl?

This week’s picks (home team in caps): NY Jets (+3 1/2) over PITTSBURGH: Logic tells us that the Jets can’t beat the Steelers twice in one season in Pittsburgh, but didn’t logic get tossed for most people last Sunday in Gillette Stadium? New York, in fact, has everything in place to advance to the Super Bowl: playmakers on both sides of the ball, a sound defense, and a running game. Quarterback Mark Sanchez is considered a weakness to some, but he just helped direct his team to wins at Indianapolis and New England. Pittsburgh has plenty going for it, particularly its top-ranked defense and home-field advantage, but there’s something missing from the Steelers this season. They didn’t look like championship timber against a decent but not great Baltimore squad. It’s the Jets’ turn. Risking $220 to win $200.

CHICAGO (+3 1/2) over Green Bay: Over the last two seasons, I have taken the Packers several times and I’m always happy to do so. Green Bay has the great Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and this season it has a formidable defense that can be counted on to make plays. The Packers looked like champions while dismantling Atlanta and appear to have peaked at just the right time. But something bothers me about this spread, and it’s the fact that these teams know each other too well for the home team to be getting more than a field goal. These division rivals split during the regular season, the home team winning in each instance, and the Bears defense — especially at Soldier Field — is capable of a stellar performance. Last week I expressed concern about Jay Cutler trying to show off his arm, and while that concern remains, I’m now just as worried about Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz trying to show off his brain. As long as those two keep themselves in check, and the Chicago defense delivers, the Bears can keep this close. The home underdog will bite when least expected. Risking $220 to win $200.

Last week: 3-1, plus $190. Season: 42-29-1, plus $962.

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