THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
The Bettor's Edge

Not about to sit this one out

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / December 31, 2010

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I think of Wade Boggs every time the last weekend of the NFL regular season comes around.

The former Red Sox third baseman, famous for his baseball exploits and uniqueness, sat out the final two games of the 1986 season to preserve his batting title. Boggs’s strategy was memorable because he was criticized for taking the easy way to his accomplishment.

We have more heart than that at The Bettor’s Edge, even though it would be appealing to “pull a Boggs’’ and not gamble because of the staggering amount of unknowns across the NFL slate. Who is playing? Who is sitting? Who is still playing hard and who has golf clubs in their back seat? Let’s sort it out.

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

San Diego (-3 1/2) over DENVER: The Chargers aren’t exactly models of discipline and effort, but when I heard their coach and general manager would return next season, I figured this would be a difficult matchup for Denver. Rookie Tim Tebow was inspiring for the Broncos in a come-from-behind win over Houston, but the Chargers’ defense and the Texans’ defense are about as similar as Wes Welker’s and Rex Ryan’s waistlines. As long as San Diego shows up, and I feel that at least Philip Rivers will, Denver is in trouble. Risking $110 to win $100.

WASHINGTON (+4) over New York Giants: I keep hearing how the Giants need this game, but when have they proven in 2010 that they can simply turn on a switch and win? Risking $110 to win $100.

Cincinnati (+9 1/2) over BALTIMORE: In much the same way the Patriots excelled when Randy Moss left, the Bengals and Carson Palmer seem liberated now that Palmer isn’t required to look in the direction of Terrell Owens on every snap. Risking $110 to win $100.

NEW ENGLAND (-4) over Miami: The threat of the unknown (how long will Tom Brady play?) has caused this line to nosedive, but the Patriots are at home and won’t play for two weeks following the game’s final whistle. New England also seems to care a great deal about dominating its division. The gamble here is that Brady will play longer than expected, and once the Patriots assert themselves and take a lead, Brian Hoyer will be capable of handing the ball off. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 2-2, plus $30. Season: 33-27-1, plus $287.

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