ESPN’s NFL gambling expert is rolling — here are Cousin Sal’s picks for the championship games

Sal Iacono is a writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and better known among sports fans as “Cousin Sal” on Bill Simmons’ podcasts. He’s also making a name for himself as ESPN’s NFL gambling expert.

After going 19-2-3 over the final eight weeks of the 2014 season, Sal is rolling again, going 14-5 this season on his “Best Bet” and 4-1-1 overall in this year’s playoffs so far.

So let’s take a look at who Cousin Sal likes this week along with his thoughts on each pick.

As usual, assume plenty of goofiness and sarcasm that is difficult to transcribe. (You can see the segment here.)

Pick 1:

  • Arizona Cardinals +3 (at Carolina Panthers): “I know they were playing prevent defense in the second half last week, but I don’t like what I saw from those Carolina safeties. They got beat deep and that plays right into the hands of Arizona’s passing game. You have Larry Fitzgerald against Cortland Finnegan in the slot, lots of mismatches defensively for Carolina. Arizona, 7-1 on the road this year, 7-3 in their last ten against the spread as a road [underdog]. I’m taking them. They’re going to the Super Bowl, plus-3 over Carolina.”

Pick 2:

This is Sal’s “Best Bet.” He was 12-3-1 with this pick in 2014 and has been 14-5 this season, including 8-2 over the last nine weeks:

  • New England Patriots -3 (at Denver Broncos): “I was screaming last week about Julian Edelman. They’re 10-0 now, the Patriots are, when he is in the lineup. Chris Harris, Jr., he has to cover him. He couldn’t even raise his arm this morning. They are going to have trouble, Denver. New England is a road favorite. In the last 35 years, there’s been four road favorites in the championship game for the AFC, three of them have covered. New England makes it four. I don’t trust Denver, Peyton Manning with his slinky arm. We’re taking New England, minus-3, 27-13, there’s the final.”

Here is the full segment:

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