What you see is what you get with Aaron Rodgers, a truly elite NFL quarterback. Anyone who has combed profiles on a dating website, such as Match.com, probably has a sense of false advertising. The photo almost always looks better than the person in reality.
Not that I would know, but I’ve heard stories.
Anyway, Rodgers is the real deal. He has won a Super Bowl, and he was the league’s highest-rated passer this season. When he shows up on Sunday – or, in this case, on Saturday – he looks just like the photo and his profile is legit.
Rodgers’ track record of success, along with his team’s hot streak, is having a magnetic effect on bettors this week. The Green Bay Packers are a chic pick to upset the San Francisco 49ers in the second of the weekend’s four divisional-round playoff games.
"It doesn’t take much for people to hop on the Packers," LVH sports book director Jay Kornegay said, "and we’re seeing Green Bay money showing up for sure."
The professionals are betting the Packers, at least most of them. Erin Rynning, a handicapper for SportsMemo.com and a sharp bettor, is not so certain the Packers are the real deal.
Green Bay has won nine of its past 11 games, dating to a 42-24 blowout of the Texans in Houston on Oct. 14. The Texans, especially quarterback Matt Schaub, can appear to be phonies, but it was a quality win regardless of perception and Rodgers was nearly flawless in that performance.
In last weekend’s wild-card round, in which all four favorites covered, the Packers had what amounted to a bye by beating Minnesota and its backup quarterback, Joe Webb. There’s not much a handicapper can take from that game.
"I guess I’m not quite on board with the Packers, as it seems everybody is," said Rynning, who finished in a three-way tie for 10th in the LVH SuperContest. "I don’t put a lot of stock in them beating Minnesota last week, because to me that was no big deal whatsoever. They were really in a great spot. I’m not really impressed by many of their wins the whole season.
"Rodgers is a great quarterback, and he could beat me in this game, but that offensive line has had a hard time protecting him."
Rynning is siding with San Francisco as his best bet of the weekend. The 49ers are 3-point favorites at most books, but the South Point is one that has pinballed from 2½ to 3 the past few days.
Rodgers can put up some points, Rynning said, so he’s also betting the game over the total of 44½. The 49ers, seeded No. 2 in the NFC and off a bye, went over the total in seven of their final eight regular-season games.
Colin Kaepernick has been San Francisco’s starting quarterback for seven games, posting a 5-2 record, but this is his first postseason start. Advantage: Rodgers.
"Kaepernick is still a little bit of a wild card," Rynning said. "The experience he has been able to gain has helped him."
As far as the defenses, a big advantage goes to the 49ers, and it’s significant that end Justin Smith is expected to play after missing two games with a partially torn left triceps muscle.
"What you need to have in the NFL now is a defensive line or a front seven that can create pressure on a quarterback, and the front seven can create a lot of pressure on Rodgers and maybe beat him up," said Rynning, who also gives San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh the coaching edge.
The 49ers, 5-6 against the spread since mid-October, have "lost some of their fan base at the betting windows, and more people believe in Rodgers now than Kaepernick," Kornegay said.
I suspect Harbaugh’s midseason switch to Kaepernick is going to come back to bite him at some point, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen Saturday.
The support San Francisco seems to be losing at the polls is being picked up by Seattle, a 2½- to 3-point underdog at Atlanta on Sunday. But the Seahawks, on the road for a second consecutive week after taking advantage of a lame Robert Griffin III in a comeback win at Washington, are in a tough spot.
I’m leaning to Matt Ryan and the Falcons to finally break through in the playoffs.
"I think the public will certainly bet Seattle," Kornegay said. "I’m pretty sure we’ll need the 49ers and the two big ‘dogs."
Baltimore and Houston are the big underdogs, each getting 9½ points and 10 at some books. Those lines are filled with helium, and I won’t bet the favorites, but the reality is it would be almost stunning if Denver and New England don’t advance.
The photos and profiles of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady indicate they would make a perfect match in the AFC Championship Game.
Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts "The Las Vegas Sportsline" weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM, 98.9 FM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.HILL WINS COLLEGE BOWL CONTEST
R-J sports writer Adam Hill won the Review-Journal College Bowl Contest published Dec. 14. Hill topped the field of five handicappers by finishing 23-12 against the spread for 23 points.
Kelly Stewart and Dana Lane (DiamondSportsConsultants.com) each went 19-16, with Stewart placing second with 21 points based on her three-point Best Bet winner.