ESPN’s NFL gambling expert nailed the Wild Card games — here are Cousin Sal’s picks for the divisional round

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 14-4 this season on his “Best Bet” and 3-0 in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

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:

  • Denver Broncos -7 (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers): “This is a big revenge game for the Broncos, over a Steelers team that was brutalized last week in Cincinnati. This line is -7. It could go to 10 or 11 or even higher depending on the status of [Ben] Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. They’re even saying the referees might not let [assistant coach] Joey Porter stay on the field the whole game this week.”

Pick 2:

His second pick is his two-team teaser — must pick both games correctly, but you get a more favorable point-spread in each game.

  • New England Patriots Pick’em (vs. Kansas City Chiefs) and Seattle Seahawks +8.5 (at Carolina Panthers): “How many times have a I told you, if you have a chance to bet the Patriots just to win the game against a team that has lost their last five in Foxborough, you do it! … Julian Edelman, 34 points per game the Patriots score when Edelman is in the lineup. I like them here, even, over the Chiefs … I’m not going to say [Seattle is] going to win the game, because that would be kissing your butt, and no one wants to see that. But it is going to be close. I think Carolina comes out, they’re sluggish, it’s a bye week, the week before. Seattle, [Russell] Wilson to [Doug] Baldwin late keeps it close.”

Pick 3:

This is Sal’s “Best Bet.” He was 12-3-1 with this pick in 2014 and has been 14-4 this season, including 8-1 over the last nine weeks:

  • Arizona Cardinals -7 (vs. Green Bay Packers): “This Arizona offense, it is a scoring machine, 489 points this year. Meanwhile, on the other end, if they can defensively stop Aaron Rodgers’ go-to play, which is snapping the ball quickly while 400-pound defensive linemen run off the field, they’re going to be in good shape. Arizona, 21-9 against the spread in their last 30 versus NFC foes, take the Cardinals minus-7.”

Here is the full segment:

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