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The Tenner Bet

The Tenner Bet spent last week's column bemoaning post-Christmas weight gain.

The reason for casting this up again is because it allows for a neat sashay into this week's betting medium. Having taken on the form of an outside linebacker it would only seem right that the column focuses on American Football this weekend. There is the added bonus of it being the NFL play-offs and that should make it easier to find decent value.

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The problem with making that assertion, though, comes with an analysis of recent events. If, for example, you'd placed a bet on last weekend's matches, three of those games would have paid out against the spread with narrow-winning margins the order of the day. The waters were muddied further by San Diego's 16-point win over a Cincinnati team who were seven-point favourites before kick off.

Over the course of today and tomorrow the four best teams in the regular season enter the fray but there is no specific reason why confidence should be emboldened by their arrival. It is worth bearing in mind that six of the last eight Super Bowl winners have come from the wildcard round and it is clear that the team with most of the momentum is San Diego who won four regular season games in succession.

SAN DIEGO @ DENVER

The Chargers are the biggest price of all the teams remaining in the running for a place in the New Jersey showpiece on February 2. Their resurgence can be pinpointed to their 27-20 win in Denver a fortnight before Christmas. The Broncos had hitherto been unstoppable in the AFC West but it should be noted that the franchise that had run them closest in the division prior to that match was the aforementioned Chargers, losing by eight points at a time when the latter were in disarray. There is reason to believe that tomorrow night in Mile High City will be similarly close and, at the 10-point spread being offered, there is enough margin to cover a narrow Denver win and still come out on top. Intriguingly, the team who have opened the season away to the Eagles have gone on to win the Super Bowl for the last four years. This year, the Chargers opened in Philly.

INDIANAPOLIS @ NEW ENGLAND

History and statistics are against the Colts in this one despite a miraculous Andrew Luck-inspired comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend. There is an argument to be made that the Patriots defense is poor and that the offense is dysfunctional, yet they still went 12-4. Tom Brady has been here many times before, and you have to wonder about a Colts defense that gives up 44 points and 513 yards to a Chiefs offense shorn of its best player in Jamaal Charles. There is also the question of whether they can lift themselves after the emotion of last weekend. Play-off teams that score 40 points in the week before the conference championships tend to fare badly with a 3-1 record against the spread since 1998. The Pats are 8-0 at home this season and have won their last three against the Colts.

THE BET

Preference is for a treble including San Diego -10 and New England -7 while in tonight's game between New Orleans and Seattle, it is 10/11 to go under the 46.5-point spread. That bet pays a best-price 5.63/1 with Oddschecker.com.

SEASON'S TOTAL

Well, just as you're counting out the winnings on a bet as Newcastle go 1-0 with 17 minutes to play, Cardiff come along and do the giantkilling thing that you'd completely dismissed during the previous 500-odd words of a column. And so it goes on . . . -£94.70.

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