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  1. #46
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    NFL
    Long Sheet

    Division Round

    Saturday, January 14

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SEATTLE (11 - 5 - 1) at ATLANTA (11 - 5) - 1/14/2017, 4:35 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    ATLANTA is 8-18 ATS (-11.8 Units) as a favorite over the last 3 seasons.
    ATLANTA is 30-49 ATS (-23.9 Units) off a win against a division rival since 1992.
    ATLANTA is 12-28 ATS (-18.8 Units) in home games after 2 or more consecutive wins since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    ATLANTA is 1-0 against the spread versus SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons
    SEATTLE is 1-0 straight up against ATLANTA over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    HOUSTON (10 - 7) at NEW ENGLAND (14 - 2) - 1/14/2017, 8:15 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NEW ENGLAND is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) as a favorite of 10 or more points over the last 2 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 13-3 ATS (+9.7 Units) in all games this season.
    NEW ENGLAND is 13-3 ATS (+9.7 Units) in all lined games this season.
    NEW ENGLAND is 12-3 ATS (+8.7 Units) as a favorite this season.
    NEW ENGLAND is 11-3 ATS (+7.7 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 11-3 ATS (+7.7 Units) in home lined games over the last 2 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 9-1 ATS (+7.9 Units) in all games where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points this season.
    NEW ENGLAND is 10-2 ATS (+7.8 Units) against conference opponents this season.
    NEW ENGLAND is 16-6 ATS (+9.4 Units) in home games against AFC South division opponents since 1992.
    NEW ENGLAND is 11-3 ATS (+7.7 Units) in home games in games played on turf over the last 2 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 8-2 ATS (+5.8 Units) after 2 or more consecutive wins this season.
    NEW ENGLAND is 113-81 ATS (+23.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992.
    NEW ENGLAND is 79-53 ATS (+20.7 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    NEW ENGLAND is 2-0 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
    NEW ENGLAND is 2-0 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
    2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sunday, January 15

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    PITTSBURGH (12 - 5) at KANSAS CITY (12 - 4) - 1/15/2017, 1:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    KANSAS CITY is 2-11 ATS (-10.1 Units) in playoff games since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    PITTSBURGH is 2-1 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
    PITTSBURGH is 2-1 straight up against KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
    2 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    GREEN BAY (11 - 6) at DALLAS (13 - 3) - 1/15/2017, 4:40 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    GREEN BAY is 230-188 ATS (+23.2 Units) in all games since 1992.
    GREEN BAY is 230-188 ATS (+23.2 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
    GREEN BAY is 18-9 ATS (+8.1 Units) against conference opponents over the last 2 seasons.
    GREEN BAY is 93-65 ATS (+21.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992.
    GREEN BAY is 70-41 ATS (+24.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    DALLAS is 2-1 against the spread versus GREEN BAY over the last 3 seasons
    GREEN BAY is 2-1 straight up against DALLAS over the last 3 seasons
    3 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    NFL
    Short Sheet

    Division Round

    Sat – Jan. 14

    Seattle at Atlanta, 4:35 PM ET
    Seattle: 19-8 OVER in road games after gaining 175 or more rushing yards last game
    Atlanta: 15-31 ATS off a home win against a division rival

    Houston at New England, 8:15 PM ET
    Houston: 4-8 ATS after a win by 10 or more points
    New England: 12-3 ATS as a favorite


    Sun – Jan. 15

    Pittsburgh at Kansas City, 1:05 PM ET
    Pittsburgh: 9-1 ATS after gaining 6.5 or more yards/play in their previous game
    Kansas City: 2-11 ATS in playoff games

    Green Bay at Dallas, 4:40 PM ET
    Green Bay: 14-3 ATS after allowing 99 or less rushing yards in 4 straight games
    Dallas: 1-6 ATS after having won 8 or more out of their last 10 games




    NFL

    Division Round

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Saturday, January 14

    4:35 PM
    SEATTLE vs. ATLANTA
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Seattle's last 6 games when playing Atlanta
    Seattle is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing Atlanta
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Atlanta's last 5 games at home
    Atlanta is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games at home

    8:15 PM
    HOUSTON vs. NEW ENGLAND
    Houston is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 6 games on the road
    New England is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games at home
    New England is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games


    Sunday, January 15

    1:05 PM
    PITTSBURGH vs. KANSAS CITY
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Pittsburgh's last 7 games on the road
    Pittsburgh is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Kansas City
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Kansas City's last 7 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kansas City's last 6 games when playing at home against Pittsburgh

    4:40 PM
    GREEN BAY vs. DALLAS
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Green Bay's last 5 games
    Green Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
    Dallas is 13-2 SU in its last 15 games
    Dallas is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Green Bay
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #47
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    Playoff Rookie Quarterbacks
    January 10, 2017


    The NFL playoffs continue this weekend with the divisional round as four teams that rested last week will hit the field. One of those squads will feature a rookie quarterback making his playoff debut as Dak Prescott will look to lead Dallas past Green Bay on Sunday. Rookie signal-callers aren’t exactly the best bets in the NFL postseason as history tells us by owning a substandard record both straight-up and against the spread.

    Prescott becomes the 16th rookie to quarterback a playoff game since 1983, but his predecessors have compiled an 8-15 SU and 11-12 ATS record. Six of these quarterbacks have won their playoff debut with the last one being Seattle’s Russell Wilson in the 2012 Wild Card round at Washington in a 24-14 victory as three-point favorites. Wilson joins a group alongside Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Ben Roethlisberger, Shaun King, and T.J. Yates that picked up a postseason win in their first opportunity.

    Plenty of successful quarterbacks (and one Hall-of-Famer) didn’t fare as well in their first playoff start as a rookie. Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Bernie Kosar, Jim Everett, Andrew Luck, and that Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino all lost in their postseason debuts in their first season. The most recent quarterback to start a playoff game was Oakland’s Connor Cook, who was thrust into that role after Derek Carr and Matt McGloin each were injured late in the season. Needless to say, Cook struggled by throwing three interceptions in a 27-14 setback at Houston.

    Cook was making his first professional start against the Texans, which hurts the numbers for rookies, while former Raiders’ first round bust Todd Marinovich made his second career start in the 1991 Wild Card round loss to the Chiefs. Yates outdueled fellow rookie Dalton in the 2011 Wild Card round as Houston beat Cincinnati, 31-10 as four-point home favorites.

    Not one rookie quarterback has ever reached the Super Bowl, but Flacco, Sanchez, Roethlisberger, and King all went to the conference championships in their first season. Flacco led Baltimore to a pair of road victories at Miami and Tennessee in 2008 before bowing out to Pittsburgh as six-point underdogs in the AFC Championship. The next season, Sanchez paced the Jets past the Bengals and Chargers in the first two rounds before losing to the Colts in the AFC title game.

    Three active quarterbacks that started as rookies in the postseason are still alive in these playoffs (Ryan, Roethlisberger, Wilson). Out of that trio, Roethlisberger is the only quarterback that made his debut at home, beating the Jets in the divisional round before getting blown out by the Patriots in the AFC Championship in 2004. Bringing it back to Prescott, who faces Green Bay at home, rookie QB’s own a 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS at home, including a 1-3 ATS mark in the home favorite role.

    From a totals perspective (not doubling up on Yates/Dalton and Wilson/Griffin matchups), the OVER has cashed in 10 of 19 opportunities. Only one game had a total of 50 or higher as Ryan and the Falcons lost to the Cardinals on the road in 2008 by a 30-24 count on a 52 total. The total on the Cowboys/Packers matchup is currently sitting at 52.

    In his first start against the Packers back in Week 6 at Lambeau Field, Prescott threw three touchdown passes in a 30-16 victory over Green Bay. In seven of eight home games, Prescott didn’t throw an interception, while owning an 11/1 touchdown to interception ratio at AT&T Stadium. However, Dallas closed the season on a 1-5 ATS run, while Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers owns a solid 5-1 ATS mark as a road underdog in the postseason.

    NFL ROOKIE QB'S IN PLAYOFFS SINCE 1983

    Quarterback Year/Opponent Score/Line ATS Result Total Result


    Dan Marino, Mia 1983 vs. Seattle 20-27 (-8) L/L OVER 36.5

    Jim Everett, LA 1986 vs. Washington 7-19 (+4.5) L/L -

    Bernie Kosar, Cle 1986 vs. Miami 21-24 (+10) L/W -

    Todd Marinovich, LA 1991 at Kansas City 6-10 (+5) L/W UNDER 35

    Shaun King, TB 1999 vs. Washington 14-13 (-5.5) W/L UNDER 44.5

    Shaun King, TB 1999 at St. Louis 6-11 (+14.5) L/W UNDER 44.5

    Ben Roethlisberger, Pit 2004 vs. N.Y. Jets 20-17 (-9) W/L OVER 35

    Ben Roethlisberger, Pit 2004 vs. New England 27-41 (+3) L/L OVER 35

    Matt Ryan, Atl 2008 at Arizona 24-30 (+1.5) L/L OVER 52

    Joe Flacco, Bal 2008 at Miami 27-9 (-4) W/W UNDER 38

    Joe Flacco, Bal 2008 at Tennessee 13-10 (+3) W/W UNDER 34

    Joe Flacco, Bal 2008 at Pittsburgh 14-23 (+6) L/L OVER 35

    Mark Sanchez, NYJ 2009 at Cincinnati 24-14 (+2.5) W/W OVER 34

    Mark Sanchez, NYJ 2009 at San Diego 17-14 (+9) W/W UNDER 43

    Mark Sanchez, NYJ 2009 at Indianapolis 17-30 (+8) L/L OVER 40

    Andy Dalton, Cin 2011 at Houston 10-31 (+4) L/L OVER 38

    T.J. Yates, Hou 2011 vs. Cincinnati 31-10 (-4) W/W OVER 38

    T.J. Yates, Hou 2011 at Baltimore 13-20 (+7.5) L/W UNDER 37

    Robert Griffin III, Wsh 2012 vs. Seattle 14-24 (+3) L/L UNDER 44.5

    Russell Wilson, Sea 2012 at Washington 24-14 (-3) W/W UNDER 44.5

    Russell Wilson, Sea 2012 at Atlanta 28-30 (+3) L/W OVER 46.5

    Andrew Luck, Ind 2012 at Baltimore 9-24 (+7) L/L UNDER 48

    Connor Cook, Oak 2016 at Houston 14-27 (+4) L/L OVER 37.5
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #48
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    AFC Divisional Notes
    January 10, 2017


    Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017

    Houston at New England (CBS, 8:15 p.m. ET)

    Line Movement: The Patriots opened as 14 ½-point home favorites and the number jumped to as high as 16 at some books. Most shops are holding New England -15 ½ as of Tuesday. The total has dropped from an opener of 46 to 44 ½.

    Houston Road Record: 2-6 SU, 2-6 ATS
    New England Home Record: 6-2 SU, 6-2 ATS

    Head-to-Head: These teams have met eight times since Houston came back into the league in 2002 and this series has been dominated by New England. The Patriots have gone 7-1 and that includes a run of five consecutive victories. New England has covered six of the seven wins and five have come by double digits, which includes its 27-0 victory over Houston in Week 3 this season. The Patriots have scored the Texans 150-49 in the four meetings at Foxboro.

    Playoff Notes: Bill Belichick has gone 22-9 in the playoffs with the Patriots. At home, the team has gone 15-3 SU and 9-5-1 ATS during this span while the ‘under’ is 10-8. In the last eight postseason games played at Foxboro, the Patriots are 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS with four of the victories come by double digits. Including last week’s win over Oakland, Houston is now 3-3 all-time in the playoffs and that includes a 0-2 record on the road. New England defeated Houston 41-28 in the 2012 playoffs as a 9 ½-point home favorite.

    Total Notes: The ‘over’ has gone 6-2 in the eight meetings between the pair but the ‘under’ has gone 2-0 in the most recent encounters. New England watched the ‘under’ go 10-6 this season, which includes a stalemate (4-4) from Gillette Stadium. The Texans saw the ‘under’ go 4-3-1 on the road behind an offense that only averaged 14.8 points per game as visitors. New England enters this game with the league’s best scoring defense with 15.6 PPG.

    Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017

    Pittsburgh at Kansas City (NBC, 1:05 p.m. ET)

    Line Movement: The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened Pittsburgh as a 2 ½-point road favorite but the number flip-flopped quickly. Most books have Kansas City now listed as a 1 ½-point home favorite as of Tuesday. The total in this game also dropped, going from 46 ½ to 44 ½.

    Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) has been upgraded to ‘probable.’

    Pittsburgh Road Record: 5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS
    Kansas City Home Record: 6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS

    Head-to-Head: The Steelers blasted the Chiefs 43-14 on Oct. 2 as 3 ½-point home favorites in wire-to-wire fashion. Pittsburgh led 36-0 behind five touchdown passes from QB Ben Roethlisberger and Kansas City added two meaningless scores in the fourth quarter. Including that outcome, Pittsburgh has now won four of its last five against Kansas City and the lone loss occurred last season when Landry Jones stepped in at QB for an injured Big Ben.

    Playoff Notes: Pittsburgh improved to 12-6 in the playoffs with Big Ben as QB after last week’s Wild Card win over Miami. The Steelers have gone 6-3 away from home during this span and all three of the losses have been decided by seven points or less. Kansas City went 1-1 in the playoffs last season and the victory over Houston was the first for the franchise since 1994 and also the first for head coach Andy Reid with the Chiefs. Reid owns an all-time 11-11 record in the playoffs, which includes a 1-2 with KC. The last playoff win at Arrowhead Stadium took place in 1994 when coincidentally the Chiefs beat the Steelers 27-24 in overtime behind legendary QB Joe Montana. Since then, KC is 0-4 in its last six playoff games at home and 0-6 ATS in the previous six.

    Total Notes: The Steelers have seen the ‘under’ 11-6 this season and that includes a 6-2 (75%) mark on the road. Kansas City has also been a very strong ‘under’ wager (10-6) and that includes a 6-2 lean to the low side at Arrowhead. Pittsburgh has scored 18 and 16 points in two playoff games on the road last season, both resulting in ‘under’ tickets.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #49
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    NFC Divisional Notes
    January 10, 2017

    Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017

    Seattle at Atlanta (FOX, 4:35 p.m. ET)

    Line Movement: The Falcons opened as 3 ½-point home favorites last Saturday and the line has been pushed up to 4 ½ at most betting shops as of Tuesday. The total also jumped up, going from 48 ½ to 51 ½.

    Seattle Road Record: 3-4-1 SU, 3-5 ATS
    Atlanta Home Record: 5-3 SU, 3-5 ATS

    Head-to-Head: These teams met in Week 6 and Seattle rallied for a 26-24 win over Atlanta from CenturyLink Field as the Seahawks outscored the Falcons 9-0 in the final five minutes of the game. Atlanta had a chance to earn the win but they couldn’t move the football late and didn’t get help from the officials, who missed a questionable pass interference call on Seattle. Despite not winning, the Falcons managed to cover as seven-point road underdogs. The previous meeting between these teams came in the 2013 regular season as Seattle earned a 33-10 road win at Atlanta as a three-point road favorite.

    Playoff Notes: Atlanta defeated Seattle 30-28 in the 2012 playoffs, which was the second career playoff start for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. The Falcons built a 20-0 lead at halftime and were up 27-7 entering the final quarter but the ‘Hawks scored 21 unanswered points. Atlanta regained its composure and managed to win on a late field goal.

    Including that loss, Seattle has gone 8-3 in the playoffs with Wilson as its starting quarterback which includes a 3-3 mark away from home. Coincidentally, QB Matt Ryan’s only playoff win came in the aforementioned victory over Seattle. The signal caller is 1-4 all-time in the postseason and that includes a 1-2 mark at the Georgia Dome.

    Total Notes: The Falcons were the best ‘over’ bet in the NFL season, going 13-2-1 and that includes a perfect 8-0 mark at home. Atlanta’s averaged 33.8 points per games and the offense was very balanced, ranked third in passing (295.3 YPG) and fifth in rushing (120.5 YPG). Including last week’s result in the Wild Card round versus Detroit, the Seahawks have seen the ‘ under’ go 9-8 and 4-4 on the road. The Seahawks have made three trips to the East Coast and they ‘over’ went 2-1 in those games. Seattle has seen the ‘over’ go 6-5 in 11 playoff games with Wilson and the ‘over’ is 4-2 in road and neutral games. Ryan and the Falcons are 4-1 to the ‘over’ in his five career playoff starts.

    Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017

    Green Bay at Dallas (FOX, 4:40 p.m. ET)

    Line Movement: The Cowboys opened as four-point home favorites last Sunday and the number is now 4 ½ as of Tuesday. The ‘over’ got some early action with the opener going from 51 to 52.

    Injuries: Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson (ribs) is listed as ‘doubtful’ for Sunday’s game.

    Green Bay Road Record: 4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS
    Dallas Home Record: 7-1 SU, 5-2-1 ATS

    Head-to-Head: Dallas defeated Green Bay 30-16 as a five-point road underdog in Week 6 behind a strong running game (191 yards) and an opportunistic defense that forced four turnovers (3 fumbles). Rookie QB Dak Prescott tossed three touchdowns for Dallas, two of the scores going to WR Cole Beasley. Prior to this outcome, Green Bay had won five straight (4-1) games versus the Cowboys with four of those victories coming at Lambeau Field. The Packers captured a shocking 37-36 win at Dallas in the 2013 regular season behind backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who was filling in for the injured Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay outscored Dallas 34-10 in the final two quarters.

    Playoff Notes: Including last week’s 38-13 win over the Giants, the Packers are now 9-6 in the playoffs with Rodgers at QB. The signal caller has gone 5-4 in games away from home in the postseason and three of the losses came in overtime. Dallas is 2-8 in its last 10 playoff but went 1-1 in the 2014 playoffs. The loss came against Green Bay, a 26-21 decision at Lambeau Field.

    Total Notes: The ‘under’ has gone 4-2 in the last six meetings between the pair, which includes the Week 6 matchup earlier this season. Green Bay enters this game on a 5-0 ‘over’ run and its offense is averaging 35 PPG during this span. The Packers have also seen the ‘over’ 6-2 on the road this season. Dallas has leaned to the ‘under’ (10-6) and that includes a 4-4 mark at AT&T Stadium.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Seahawks headed back to Atlanta
    January 10, 2017


    RENTON, Wash. (AP) Four years ago, the Seattle Seahawks walked out of Atlanta after a defining moment that shaped what has taken place since.

    A 30-28 loss to the Falcons in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs stung and lingered.

    To this day it's still a touchy subject after Seattle was unable to hold on to the lead in the final 30 seconds.

    But that loss also became the foundation for two NFC championships, a Super Bowl title and two more playoff appearances.

    And while the people involved have changed significantly since that game, the circumstances are just as meaningful for Seattle when it travels to Atlanta for a divisional round playoff game on Saturday.

    Except instead of trying to create the foundation of being among the elite, Seattle is trying to prove it still is among the elite in the NFC.

    ''It's one of those games,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday of the loss in January 2013. ''It's one of those games you store away, but it doesn't have anything to do with what's going on now.''

    Seattle was an upstart during the 2012 season. Led by then-rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks earned a wild-card spot in the NFC and knocked off Washington in the opening round.

    Against Atlanta, the No. 1 seed in the NFC that season, Seattle appeared outclassed, falling behind 20-0 at halftime and 27-7 entering the fourth quarter.

    That's when Wilson pulled off one of his greatest rallies to date, leading Seattle on three fourth-quarter touchdown drives to take a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left after a 2-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch.

    Wilson finished that day throwing for 385 yards, still a career best, but Atlanta hit two long pass plays in the final 30 seconds and Matt Bryant's 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left won the game for the Falcons.

    ''We felt like we were far, but we still had a long way to go,'' Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. ''Kind of like woke us up, but it definitely made us hungry too because when you feel like you have a great team that should win it all and you lose ... and you sit there in the offseason and watch the other teams win, it gives you that hunger to come into the next season prepared and I think that's what happened.''

    K.J. Wright echoed Wagner's feeling about the game. Wright is among a handful of key players that remain on Seattle's roster despite the Seahawks constant churn. He believes Seattle doesn't get to a Super Bowl without that loss.

    ''I believe that we weren't quite ready yet to take it all the way,'' Wright said. ''I'm kind of glad that happened to us because we learned from it. We won the Super Bowl the following year so we learned from that moment.''

    While their experience and knowledge has grown in the seasons since, the memory of that game remains fresh, especially this week when the scenario is very similar.

    Atlanta is again the higher-seeded team with a multifaceted offense that was among the best in football, and Matt Ryan directing the charge. The Falcons are the rightful favorites then and now.

    But the situation is significantly different for Seattle.

    The Seahawks were the upstarts then; young, brash and looking to prove they belonged.

    Now, they're trying to continue their legacy and prove even with a resume that includes five straight appearances in the divisional round of the playoffs, they are still the powerhouse of the NFC.

    ''I still remember that game, me and (Bruce Irvin) sitting at the end, watching,'' Wagner said. ''It wasn't a great feeling. We want to make sure that doesn't happen again.''

    NOTES: RB C.J. Prosise practiced on Tuesday for the first time since suffering a broken shoulder blade in November. Carroll said it would go all week before a decision is made if Prosise will play. ''He's going to have to go full speed and let it rip. If he's holding back, he won't play,'' Carroll said. ... FB Marcel Reese should be able to play after suffering a foot injury in the opening-round win against Detroit.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    McCarthy steers Pack to playoff power
    January 10, 2017


    GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) For all the postseason appearances that the Green Bay Packers have made in coach Mike McCarthy's tenure, this year's run to the playoffs might be the most unique yet.

    The Packers were considered a likely Super Bowl contender in the preseason. They look like a Super Bowl contender now going into the divisional round game on Sunday against Dallas.

    In between, the middle of the season resembled a roller-coaster ride. But the Packers are peaking at the right time.

    They haven't lost since falling to 4-6 following a 42-24 defeat to Washington in Week 11. Just like other teams, Green Bay had to make adjustments after losing key players.

    They got healthier on defense. They have quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is playing perhaps the best football of his career .

    Through the ups and downs, McCarthy's confidence didn't waver, even as some fans took to social media to question his job security following a four-game skid. There were no apparent outbursts in the locker room, no rash decisions.

    ''I'm not into shock and awe, or a torch-the-landscape-type person. I'm a builder, I'm a developer. I've said that since the first day I arrived here,'' McCarthy said on Nov. 14 , the day after a 47-25 loss at Tennessee. ''You build a program, culture is what makes it go, you have to invest in that culture every single day, and that's my big-picture focus.''

    The steady leadership made an impact, left tackle David Bakhtiari said.

    ''I think he stayed true to who he was, and we stayed true to who we are,'' Bakhtiari said on Monday when asked about how the culture developed by McCarthy aided the team's rebound.

    ''It got rough, you know? With everyone outside, all the outside noise. We just understood that it's about us. It's about everyone in here. We know what we're capable of,'' Bakhtiari added. ''Let's go do what we do, don't worry about them.''

    Bakhtiari has been to the playoffs in each of his four seasons in Green Bay. The Packers have been to the postseason eight straight years - the Patriots are the only other team to do so - and in nine of McCarthy's 11 years overall in Titletown.

    Green Bay won the Super Bowl in the 2010 season. The team hasn't had a losing record since going 6-10 in 2008, Rodgers' first year as starting quarterback.

    Rodgers has called criticism of McCarthy ''ridiculous,'' citing the high standards that the Packers have set for themselves through the annual success.

    ''I think if anything after the Washington game, he became even more of a players' coach. He was even more positive and listened even more, and just kept encouraging us that we were close to kind of getting over the hump and starting to win games,'' Rodgers said last week.

    ''So he took some crap from everybody, but he stayed the course for us in the meeting room and the locker room.''

    On the field, McCarthy turned to former receiver Ty Montgomery to help fill the void in the backfield left by Eddie Lacy's season-ending ankle injury in October. The return of tight end Jared Cook from injury gave Rodgers another option in the passing game in the second half of the season.

    ''We had to fine-tune our game plan, had to find our rhythm with the people that we had, with the guys that were stepping up,'' center Corey Linsley said. ''We found our rhythm, we found what works.''

    Now the Packers might have to make a major adjustment again if top receiver Jordy Nelson can't return against Dallas from a rib injury.

    But they also rallied without him to defeat the New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game on Sunday, the Packers' seventh straight win going back to the regular season.

    ''I think it's what makes it so good,'' Bakhtiari said about the team's run. ''We know what adversity is.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    QB Ryan looking to fill void on resume
    January 10, 2017


    FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Matt Ryan's poise under pressure has produced 25 fourth-quarter comebacks, a ''Matty Ice'' nickname and his first All-Pro selection.

    The Atlanta Falcons' quarterback also is a leading MVP candidate .

    The glaring void on Ryan's resume is his 1-4 postseason record. At 31, Ryan may not have many more chances to change his reputation as a quarterback who comes up short in the playoffs.

    Ryan's only playoff win came against Seattle after the 2012 regular season, and he'll have another shot at the Seahawks in Saturday's NFC divisional round game.

    Ryan said Tuesday he has never been better prepared for the playoffs.

    ''I feel like as you get experience throughout your career, you try to learn from all of it and you try to use it to make you better,'' Ryan said. ''I feel like I've done that throughout my career. Both positive and negative, I've learned from all of those experiences and ... I feel like I'm just playing my best and playing better than I ever have.''

    No matter his stats, Ryan ultimately will be judged by his team's success. The Falcons led the NFL in scoring while winning the NFC South, but a loss in their playoff opener would lead some critics to conclude they were just another regular-season fad that was not built for the postseason.

    A loss also would leave an even larger void on Ryan's record.

    Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he talked with Ryan about the extra playoff pressure placed on the quarterback.

    Quinn said this is a different Ryan than the one who lost to the 49ers in the NFC championship game after the 2012 season and also suffered one-and-done playoff losses to Arizona in his 1998 rookie season, to Green Bay in 2010 and to the Giants in 2011.

    Quinn believes Ryan is ready for postseason success.

    ''For him I think you can't truly be relentless until you've been right close to it and you didn't get it,'' Quinn said Tuesday. ''I know from my experience you learn so much from a loss and what you gain from it. What I can tell you is Matt's a far different quarterback today than he was a few years ago.''

    Quinn said Ryan's ''ability to attack, his ability to be ready'' in this season's offense ''has nothing to do with'' past playoff failures.

    Ryan said he doesn't dwell on past playoff letdowns.

    ''I don't worry about it too much,'' he said. ''One thing I've learned throughout my career is if you spend time worrying about that, you're not spending time worrying about the things that are going to make a difference on Sunday.''

    The approach is working for Ryan. He had a career-high 38 touchdown passes and a low with only seven interceptions this season. He finished second in the league in TD passes and yards passing. His 117.1 passer rating leads the NFL.

    Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Ryan's success following a startling dip in production in 2015 is a natural progression for his second season with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The success has made Shanahan a target for at least four teams looking for head coaches.

    ''The word we use is chemistry between throwers and catchers,'' Carroll said in a telephone interview. ''There really is a lot to that. You can see just the benefit of the years together and the benefit of being in the same scheme for two years.''

    Carroll said the Falcons offense led by Ryan is ''as good as you can get.''

    Ryan wouldn't say if this offense will be a better fit for the postseason.

    ''I know this team that we're a part of right now,'' Ryan said. ''We're good enough to get the job done every week. I really feel that way. We just need to continue to do the same things we've done up to this point.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Texans try to quiet noise about O'Brien
    January 10, 2017


    HOUSTON -- The noise surrounding the future of Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien hasn't quieted down despite owner Bob McNair insisting he won't be fired and the two-time AFC South champion having two years remaining on a five-year contract.

    There continues to be speculation nationally that O'Brien could potentially become available for head-coaching vacancies due to reported clashes with general manager Rick Smith and a desire for more power over personnel decisions.

    O'Brien has gone 9-7 for three consecutive seasons and reiterated Monday that he's happy working for the Texans and emphasized that the talk about his status isn't affecting the focus of the team as it prepares for an AFC divisional-round game against the New England Patriots.

    "Absolutely not, no, there's no distraction," O'Brien said. "Like I said after the game, I really enjoy coaching this team. I think one of the things about coming to work here every day is it's a great place to work because you have really good people here and you have a bunch of great players that really understand the meaning of hard work and have put a lot of time into this thing.

    "The other thing is our staff. I really enjoy working with our staff. We had a good staff meeting, trying to get going here on an obviously very difficult challenge for us. Just enjoy every day."

    With so many job openings, O'Brien would be an extremely attractive candidate. However, he's not available unless McNair changes his mind and fired him or worked out a trade to receive compensation for allowing O'Brien to go elsewhere or O'Brien opted to quit and walked away from $10 million to $12 million over the remainder of the contract and wouldn't be able to coach elsewhere in 2017 or 2018 unless McNair allowed him out of his contract.

    All of those factors make it appear to be a farfetched scenario that O'Brien would leave. O'Brien has repeatedly said he enjoys living and working in Houston. O'Brien and his wife, Colleen, also have a son, Jack, who requires specialized medical care because he suffers from lissencephaly, a genetic condition that causes developmental issues.

    "There's nothing to it," McNair said following the Texans' AFC wild-card playoff game win over the Oakland Raiders when questioned about reports that O'Brien would have been fired if they had had lost that game. "I'm not going to fire him. Forget that. If I were you, I wouldn't repeat it because it's false. No, I don't know where they get that. I got a chuckle out of it."

    --Texans backup quarterback Tom Savage has been cleared under the mandatory NFL concussion testing protocol after missing the playoff win against the Oakland Raiders.

    Savage will be available to be the backup Saturday in an AFC divisional-round playoff game against the New England Patriots. Brandon Weeden was the backup against the Raiders.

    "He'll be ready to practice," Texans HEAD coach Bill O'Brien said. "He should be ready to go."

    Savage was the Texans' starter, but was replaced by Brock Osweiler with the first-string offense after the head injury. In three games and two starts, Savage completed 46 of 73 passes for 461 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions for an 80.9 passer rating.
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    Tomlin takes blame for Big Ben injury
    January 10, 2017

    Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin pointed the finger at himself for the play call that resulted in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injuring his right foot late in Sunday's victory over the Miami Dolphins.

    Pittsburgh led 30-12 with 4:34 remaining in the AFC wild-card game when Roethlisberger was attempting to pass and had Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake fall on his foot.

    Roethlisberger departed the stadium in a walking boot but is recovering swiftly and will be ready when the Steelers visit the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.

    "I got a little over-aggressive there," Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday. "It goes beyond taking the responsibility. I made the call. So don't ask (offensive coordinator) Todd (Haley) about it on Thursday. I made the call and I take responsibility for it."

    Roethlisberger said on his radio show that he's no longer wearing a boot on the foot.

    Tomlin said he isn't concerned about the injury and expects Roethlisberger to practice on Thursday and Friday.

    "Ben aggravated his foot but it doesn't appear to be an issue," Tomlin said. "We'll watch him closely as we push forward toward the game. But not anticipating that limiting him."

    Tomlin said that tight end Ladarius Green remains in concussion protocol. That would put Green in jeopardy of sitting out once again.

    Tomlin also said the arrest of outside linebackers coach Joey Porter won't be a distraction. Porter, a former star player for Pittsburgh, allegedly assaulted a doorman at a Pittsburgh bar on Sunday night.

    "To be involved in the National Football League is an honor and a privilege, it's not a right. We should respect it as such," Tomlin said. "Obviously that was breached in that circumstance and there are consequences to be suffered because of it."

    Tomlin said there isn't a timetable for Porter's return to the club.
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    Can Osweiler lead Texans to upset?
    January 10, 2017


    Before this weekend, just five NFL playoff games since 1966 have featured a team favored by at least 15 points. Just one of those underdogs won the game (Google ''Joe Namath'' if you need more information on that).

    Oddsmakers don't think Brock Osweiler should guarantee the 16-point underdog Houston Texans can beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in New England. In fact, even if Brady were not playing, the Patriots would be favored by nearly two touchdowns.

    ''Normally, he is worth six to seven points to the spread, depending on the opponent,'' said Scott Cooley, spokesman for BookMaker, an offshore book and casino. ''But in this situation it changes a bit because the Patriots have a very capable backup in Jimmy Garappolo, who we've seen perform well in meaningful games. If Brady wasn't playing this weekend, we would make the Patriots 12- to 13-point favorites.''

    The Patriots (14-2) beat the Texans 27-0 in Week 3 with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett leading the way.

    Brady, of course, will be under center against the Texans and he's playing some of his best football. He's taking nothing for granted because coach Bill Belichick wouldn't have it another way.

    ''There is nothing easy about this game for our offense,'' Brady said on WEEI radio in Boston.

    Osweiler is 1-0 against Brady. Peyton Manning's former backup rallied Denver from a 21-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Patriots 30-24 in overtime last season.

    But this isn't the same Osweiler - he was benched last month - and the Texans (10-7) are not last year's Super Bowl champion Broncos.

    The Patriots are used to double-digit point spreads in the playoffs. They've been involved in the five largest spreads since 2000, according to Pro Football Reference. They're only 1-3 covering the spread as favorites, but 3-1 in the won/loss column.

    New England was a 14-point underdog when it upset the Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl. After going 16-0 in 2007, the Patriots failed to cover three times as favorites of 12 1/2 or more in the playoffs. They defeated the Jaguars and Chargers before losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl.

    In 2012, they whipped Tim Tebow and the Broncos 45-10 in the divisional round to cover a 13 1/2-point spread.

    Pro Football Reference lists 59 double-digit favorites in playoff games since the Super Bowl began in January 1967. The favorites are 33-25-1 against the spread and 47-12 straight up.

    The five biggest point spreads in the playoffs since 1966:

    19 points: 49ers vs. Chargers in 1995 Super Bowl. Steve Young threw six touchdown passes, including three to Jerry Rice, to lead San Francisco to a 49-26 victory and its fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

    18 points: Colts vs. Jets in 1969 Super Bowl. Namath guaranteed a win for the underdog Jets and delivered. Broadway Joe threw for 206 yards, Matt Snell had 121 yards rushing and a TD and Jim Turner kicked three field goals in New York's 16-7 victory over Baltimore.

    16 + points: Vikings vs. Cardinals in 1999 NFC divisional round. Randall Cunningham tossed three TD passes, including one to rookie Randy Moss, to lead the Vikings to a 41-21 win.

    15 + points: 49ers vs. Bears in 1995 NFC divisional round. William Floyd ran for three TDs and San Francisco routed Chicago 44-15.

    15 points: Cowboys vs. Falcons in 1978 NFC divisional round. Danny White replaced Roger Staubach after he sustained a concussion and led the Cowboys to a 27-20 win, but not a cover.

    ---
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    Several Patriots readying for first playoff
    January 10, 2017


    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Being a member of the New England Patriots during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era has generally meant a guaranteed place in the playoffs.

    Still, for 20 players on the Patriots' active roster Saturday will mark the first taste of the postseason of their NFL careers.

    That group includes a pair of starters who have filled significant roles for New England this season in defensive end Chris Long and receiver Chris Hogan.

    Long hadn't won more than seven games in any of his eight years with the Rams from 2008 to 2015 prior to signing with New England this offseason.

    Hogan, in his fourth season, spent the previous three seasons playing for AFC East rival Buffalo. The closest he came to the playoffs with the Bills was a 9-7 finish in 2014.

    ''I've never experienced it before so this is all new to me,'' Hogan said. ''Just talking to some of the guys, the playoffs, you talk about preseason going into the regular season, the speed kind of picks up, and I've heard that from a number of guys that the playoff speed picks up a little bit more.''

    Long's playoff drought is the longest of any of the Patriots.

    ''I think everything happens for a reason. Sometimes you might not like it, but listen, it is what it is,'' he said.

    ''I've been very lucky throughout my career in a lot of ways, so whatever brought me to this point... I'm just going to be excited to be in the moment. Everybody earns it.''

    Hogan has fit right into the Patriots receiving group, making 14 starts. He's fourth on the team with 38 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns.

    Long has appeared in 16 games this season with 35 tackles and four sacks. He's helped fortify New England's pass rush following the trades of Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins.

    Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Long's efforts haven't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.

    ''I think he has enjoyed the process and just really as far as that is concerned has been a guy that's out there working really hard every day to get better and play hard for his teammates,'' Patricia said. ''That's all you can really ask for.''

    Another Patriots offseason addition is being reacquainted with playoff football.

    Tight end Martellus Bennett spent his first four NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, and had a forgettable experience of the postseason in 2009 in which he was targeted just four times in two games.

    He's back seven seasons later, and is trying not to take anything for granted this time with a franchise used to making deep postseason runs.

    Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels pointed to Bennett's unselfishness as being the thing that's helped him integrate so well into New England's system.

    He leads the team with seven receiving touchdowns and is second in yards (701) behind only Julian Edelman (1,106).

    Bennett said he thinks the 2012 season he spent with the New York Giants was beneficial to his growth as a player. It's also helped him to appreciate the opportunity he has now.

    ''(The Patriots) win a lot of games. I hadn't really won that many games in my career,'' he said. ''I've been able to do a lot of individual things as far as numbers go, but individual goals aren't really important. This is a lot more fun than catching 90 balls and losing 10 games.''

    Does that mean he sees this as an opportunity to win an elusive Super Bowl?

    ''I just crave the big-game moments and playing in games that matter,'' he said. ''A lot of times, you don't really get to do things that matter and I have a chance to do that right now.''

    It's a mentality shared by the Patriots' playoff newbies.

    ''These guys that have been here and have been in the playoffs before have earned it, and guys like Marty and myself and other guys, we just came in and tried to earn it with them,'' Long said. ''And here we are.''
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    Sean Lee finally gets playoff shot
    January 10, 2017


    FRISCO, Texas (AP) Sean Lee's first All-Pro season will end with the first trip to the playoffs for the oft-injured Dallas linebacker.

    If that sounds like a breakout year, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten would argue otherwise.

    ''To me, it's not like, oh, we're seeing a different player than we've seen in the past,'' Witten said. ''I remember the first week, his rookie year, he was tough on scout team. He's what you want your linebacker to look like.''

    Lee missed Dallas' only other trip to the postseason since he was drafted in 2010. That was two years ago, when the Cowboys beat Detroit in a wild-card game before losing at Green Bay in the divisional round.

    The Cowboys (13-3) will meet the Packers in the same round Sunday. This time Dallas will be at home as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and Lee will try to slow Aaron Rodgers, who has 19 touchdowns without an interception during a seven-game winning streak for Green Bay (11-6).

    Lee never played in 2014 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the first offseason practice. It was the third long-term injury for the former Penn State standout who slid to the second round in his draft because of another knee injury.

    By the time that season ended, Lee had played in 46 games and been inactive because of injury in 36. But now he's played in 29 of the past 32. It would be 30 if Lee hadn't been held out of the regular-season finale at Philadelphia because the Cowboys had clinched the top seed.

    ''During a lot of injuries I've had, I said, `Hey, I have this great opportunity ahead of me to play on this great team with these great teammates,''' Lee said . ''So that was really what motivated in times I was injured.''

    Even though he knew he wasn't playing against the Eagles, Lee kept his helmet on. And it wasn't so much because he longed to say he played all 16 games. His career list is likely to show another ''15,'' matching 2011 for the only other time he came close to playing a full season.

    Instead, it was Lee doing what others say separates him from many players: obsessing on preparation .

    ''As soon as they played the Rocky theme song, I was like, `You've got to get me in this game,''' Lee joked before explaining. ''When I've had the injuries, the best thing I did was mentally I kept myself in it, situational. OK, I'm going to prepare like I'm playing this week.''

    Lee set a career high in tackles each of the past three seasons he played, starting with 123 in 2013 before the knee injury, and 156 last season. After sitting against the Eagles, he settled for 173 and a team-high 12 tackles for loss this season.

    The 30-year-old Lee was denied a second Pro Bowl bid, but not the All-Pro nod that carries more prestige.

    ''It's good to see that recognition and the people kind of see it in the reflection because he has a lot of tackles,'' Witten said. ''That doesn't define what Sean brings to this football team. I think it's so much bigger than that.''

    Dez Bryant's famous catch that wasn't is what most remember from the Cowboys' 26-21 loss to the Packers two years ago. What most don't remember is Rodgers' offense keeping the ball for the final 4:06 after that play to preserve the win.

    Owner and general manager Jerry Jones certainly does, particularly because Lee was on the sideline - and on injured reserve.

    ''I remember watching Rodgers take it down the field against us two years ago and wishing we had Sean Lee out there,'' Jones said. ''And I knew he was sitting over there pretty healthy. Now, I don't know if he was ready to defend Rodgers. But it would have been probably good to have him in the game.''

    This time Lee will be, after waiting seven seasons to experience the postseason.

    ''The anxiety level is low, but the excitement level is high,'' Lee said. ''I've missed a lot of football. I'm blessed to be healthy. I'm excited to be on this team and have this opportunity.''

    Witten and others are excited for him.
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    Patriots' Amendola "feeling good" following ankle injury
    January 10, 2017


    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Patriots receiver Danny Amendola says he's "feeling good'' and hasn't had any setbacks while recovering from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the past month.

    Amendola spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time since suffering the injury late in the Patriots' win over the Rams on Dec. 4. He missed the final four games of the regular season.

    He wouldn't say whether he planned to play in Saturday's divisional round matchup with Houston, but said he's available for whatever the coaching staff asks.

    Amendola returned to practice during New England's bye week. He has 23 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns this season.

    The Patriots added depth to their receiving group with Amendola sidelined, signing Michael Floyd after he was waived by Arizona


    --------------------


    Clowney's work helps Texans to divisional round
    January 10, 2017


    HOUSTON (AP) After missing last year's playoff game with an injury, Jadeveon Clowney turned Houston's wild-card win over the Raiders into his NFL coming-out party.

    Clowney's first career interception underlined why he was drafted first overall in 2014.

    The play itself was spectacular. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end batted the ball with one hand before tipping it with the other and making the acrobatic grab . But as impressive as it was, what it did for the team was even better.

    The interception and a penalty the Raiders drew on the play left Houston at the 4-yard line, set up a touchdown on the next play that made it 10-0 in the first quarter, and helped the Texans cruise to the 27-14 victory.

    ''That interception that was a really instinctive play ... the back came at him. He understood what was coming at him,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''He saw the quarterback through the back. He basically backpedaled to get in the throwing lane, tipped the ball to himself. He did several things on that play to really change the game at that point.''

    The Texans look to win a divisional game for the first time in franchise history on Saturday when they travel to New England. It certainly won't be easy as the Patriots are 15 1/2 -point favorites, according to Pregame.com.

    But Clowney isn't daunted. In fact, he kind of likes it.

    ''That kind of boosts us up a little (like), OK we gonna show them,'' he said. ''One of the mentalities this week going into this game is we're the underdogs, always been underdogs all season - let's go out there and prove to them why we're here in this second round now.''

    Clowney had been felled by injuries in his first two seasons after Houston made him the top pick in the 2014 draft. He played just four games as a rookie before appearing in 14 games last season. While he played most of the games in the 2015 season, he was slowed by a variety of injuries and was angry when he had to sit out Houston's wild-card game with a foot injury.

    So when Clowney finally got to play his first career playoff game on Saturday, he was determined to make an impact. He joined J.J. Watt as the only defensive linemen in franchise history to have an interception in the postseason.

    ''I was happy. I was very excited about what I (did),'' he said. ''Put us in great field position to score a touchdown. That was the best thing about it.

    ''And we won,'' he said before flashing a huge smile.

    The play was far from the first big moment of what has been his breakout season. But it was the first time he's made such a huge play in front of a national audience. He was asked what it meant to shine in front of so many people after being criticized and characterized as a bust for a while.

    ''I didn't care,'' he said. ''Guys in the locker room (have) seen me doing it all season.''

    Indeed, Clowney's play this season has been a key to Houston's defense remaining dominant despite the loss of Watt to season-ending back surgery after three games. He had 16 tackles for losses, six sacks and 17 quarterback hits to help the Texans rank first in the regular season.

    ''He figured it out. I think he figured out how much he means to this team and he's been rolling,'' veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. ''A Pro Bowler this year, making plays like we always knew he could do.''

    Clowney knows Houston's defense will have to build on last week after its smothering performance against the Raiders propelled the Texans to their first playoff win since the 2012 season. He's also fully aware that dealing with Tom Brady will be far different than facing third-string rookie Connor Cook last week.

    ''The guy is the most poised quarterback in the NFL,'' Clowney said of Brady. ''He (doesn't) get rattled most of the time. He ... stays calm and that's what makes him so good. He just stays calm back there. Even when you do get the pressure he steps up and makes the best pass.''

    Clowney had two sacks in his only career game against Brady last season. He's hoping that he and his teammates can do enough to slow down Brady on Saturday and help their offense - like they did against Oakland.

    ''You've got to get after him ... we've got to go in there and execute the game plan and force him into some bad throws, some turnovers and try to get him where we want him,'' he said.
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    Texans at Patriots
    January 11, 2017


    The top-seeded Patriots are back from their playoff bye as New England is laying more two touchdowns in the AFC Divisional Round against Houston. The Texans seem like the sacrificial lamb on Saturday as New England is expected to cruise to the AFC Championship, but Houston has won four of its past five games, including last Saturday’s Wild Card rout of Oakland.

    HOW THEY GOT HERE

    Houston (10-7 SU, 7-9-1 ATS)
    captured its second consecutive AFC South title this season, in spite of a 9-7 regular season record. The Texans began the season with plenty of hope at the quarterback position with Super Bowl champion Brock Osweiler signing a four-year, $72 million deal. However, Osweiler underachieved in his first full season as a starting NFL quarterback by not throwing for more than 270 yards in a game, while throwing 15 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions.

    Osweiler led the Texans past the Raiders in the Wild Card round, 27-14 in spite of 168 yards passing. The Houston quarterback connected with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on a two-yard touchdown, while Osweiler ran for a score in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. Houston finished with an 8-1 home record this season, but stumbled to a 2-6 mark away from NRG Stadium. In four of those losses, the Texans were limited to 13 points or fewer.

    New England (14-2 SU, 13-3 ATS)
    is riding a seven-game winning streak, while allowing a total of 20 points in its final three victories. After sitting out the first four games due to the Deflategate suspension, quarterback Tom Brady put together another outstanding season by throwing 28 touchdown passes and only two interceptions, while racking up 3,554 yards. What’s even more impressive is the 13-3 ATS mark overall, including a 4-1 ATS home record with Brady under center.

    The Patriots took care of business as a double-digit favorite this season by winning and covering in all four opportunities. Granted, the Pats totally outmatched the Browns, 49ers, Jets, and Rams, but the defense yielded a total of 43 points in those victories. New England showcases its first 1,000 yard rusher since 2012 as LeGarrette Blount compiled a career-high 1,161 yards along with 18 touchdowns. Blount reached the end zone in 13 of 16 games this season, including five consecutive games with a score.

    SERIES HISTORY

    The Texans have had much success with the Patriots since entering the league in 2002 by going 1-7 SU and 2-5-1 ATS. The latest setback in Week 3 at Gillette Stadium as New England blanked Houston, 27-0 in the pick-em role. Brady sat due to his suspension, but back-up Jacoby Brissett led the Patriots on three touchdown drives, while Blount found the end zone twice. The Patriots’ offense gained only 282 yards, but New England’s defense forced three Houston turnovers to hand the Texans their only shutout of the season.

    Houston and New England are meeting for the second time in the postseason ever as the Patriots drilled the Texans in the AFC Divisional round in 2012 by a 41-28 count. Brady threw three touchdown passes in that victory as 9 ½-point favorites, while the Patriots grabbed a 38-13 lead in the fourth quarter. New England owns a perfect 4-0 record lifetime against Houston at Gillette Stadium with all four wins coming by double-digits.

    PLAYOFF HISTORY

    For the 13th time in 14 seasons, the Patriots are in the postseason as the only missed season in this stretch was 2008 when Brady tore his ACL in Week 1. Brady owns a 22-9 playoff record in his career, including a 15-3 SU and 9-8-1 ATS mark at Gillette Stadium. New England has won its playoff opener in each of the past five seasons, while scoring at least 35 points four times in this span.

    The Texans are playing in their seventh playoff game in franchise history, going 3-3 in their first six postseason contests. Houston has never won a road playoff game, going 0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS in those matchups.

    LINE MOVEMENT

    The Las Vegas Westgate Superbook listed the Patriots at -16 on Monday afternoon, while the total opened at 44 ½. The line has slightly dipped to 15 ½ at the Westgate, but the total hasn’t moved much as William Hill has the total at 45. The first half line opened at New England -9 ½ (-120) at the Westgate, as that number has increased -10.

    HANDICAPPER’S CORNER

    VegasInsider.com handicapper Joe Nelson says it hard to make a great case for Houston, “The Texans are the ultimate outlier in this season’s final eight, ranking 26th in the league in scoring differential in the regular season while the other seven remaining teams in the playoffs were the top seven scoring differential teams. Houston’s win last week certainly deserves some scrutiny with the Raiders left with rookie Connor Cook starting at quarterback in his first ever NFL start and predictably he had a costly turnover that helped Houston generate and early lead they held throughout the game.”

    From a pointspread perspective, Nelson notes where this line ranks in postseason history, “This spread is poised to be the largest playoff number since Super Bowl XXIX (1994-95 season) when the 49ers bested the Chargers, covering at -19. The last six NFL playoff favorites of 14 or more points have all covered, but prior to that, the heavy underdogs had a great run of success. New England has hosted a divisional round playoff game 10 times in the Belichick/Brady era, going 9-1 SU and covering in four of the last five.”

    PROPS – According to Las Vegas Westgate Superbook

    Houston

    B. Osweiler – Total Completions
    19 ½ - OVER (-110)
    19 ½- UNDER (-110)

    B. Osweiler – Total Touchdown Passes + Interceptions
    2 – OVER (-110)
    2 – UNDER (-110)

    New England

    T. Brady – Total Gross Passing Yards
    285 ½ - OVER (-110)
    285 ½ - UNDER (-110)

    T. Brady – Total Touchdown Passes
    2 ½ - OVER (+130)
    2 ½ - UNDER (-150)

    T. Brady – Will he throw an Inteception?
    YES (+110)
    NO (-130)

    J. Edelman – Total Receiving Yards
    72 ½ - OVER (-110)
    72 ½ - UNDER (-110)

    FUTURE ODDS

    The Patriots opened the season as one of three favorites listed at 8/1 to capture the Super Bowl title in Houston at the Westgate Superbook. New England is the clear-cut favorite at 7/5 odds (Bet $100 to win $140) to win the Super Bowl, while Houston is the longest shot on the board at 60/1 odds to win it all.
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    NFL
    Dunkel

    Division Round

    Saturday, January 14


    Houston @ New England

    Game 303-304
    January 14, 2017 @ 8:15 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Houston
    131.260
    New England
    148.754
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    New England
    by 17 1/2
    38
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    New England
    by 15
    44 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    New England
    (-15); Under

    Seattle @ Atlanta


    Game 301-302
    January 14, 2017 @ 4:30 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Seattle
    139.834
    Atlanta
    139.856
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Seattle
    Even
    46
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Atlanta
    by 5
    51 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Seattle
    (+5); Under



    Sunday, January 15

    Green Bay @ Dallas

    Game 307-308
    January 15, 2017 @ 4:40 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Green Bay
    134.050
    Dallas
    141.275
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Dallas
    by 7
    46
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Dallas
    by 4 1/2
    52 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Dallas
    (-4 1/2); Under


    Pittsburgh @ Kansas City

    Game 305-306
    January 15, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Pittsburgh
    142.593
    Kansas City
    136.017
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Pittsburgh
    by 6 1/2
    49
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Kansas City
    by 2
    44
    Dunkel Pick:
    Pittsburgh
    (+2); Over





    NFL
    Armadillo's Write-Up

    Division Round


    Saturday's games
    Seahawks (11-5-1) @ Falcons (11-5)— Seattle (-7) held on to beat Falcons 26-24 in Week 6, thanks to no-call on blatant PI by Sherman on last play of game. Ryan passed for 310 yards but Atlanta was -2 in turnovers. Falcons had 362-333 edge in yardage. Seattle is 5-3 in Atlanta, winning 33-10 in last visit three years ago. Ryan is 1-4 in NFL playoff games; only win was 30-28 over Seattle here four years ago. Wilson is 8-3 in playoff games, 2-2 in true road games. Seahawks are 3-4-1 on road, 2-0 as a road underdog. Falcons won last four games, scoring 38.5 pts/game; they’re 5-3 at home, 2-5 as home favorites. Four of last six Seahawk games went over total; over is 5-0-1 in last six Atlanta games. #2 NFC seed won this game six of last seven years, but is 0-3 vs spread last three years.

    Texans (10-7) @ Patriots (14-2)— Houston (+1) lost 27-0 here in Week 3, Brissett’s first NFL start at QB during Brady’s suspension- Texans opened as a favorite that week, but were -3 in TO’s. Houston lost all four visits here, with average score 38-12. Texans are 2-6 on road with only wins at Jaguars/Colts; they’re 2-6 as road underdogs. Last week was Osweiler’s first playoff game; he is 14-9 an an NFL starter. Brady is 22-9 in playoff games, 15-3 at home. Patriots won their last seven games (6-1 vs spread); they won/covered six of eight home games. Under is 4-2-1 in last seven Houston games, 5-2 in last seven New England games. Patriots won in this round the last five years (3-1-1 vs spread) all at home. #1 seed in AFC is just 6-5SU in this round last 11 years, 2-4 vs spread the last six years.


    Sunday's games
    Steelers (12-5) @ Chiefs (12-4)— Steelers won last eight games (6-2 vs spread); this is first time they’ve been underdog since Oct 23 in Foxboro. Pitt is 5-3 on road, 0-1 as an underdog this year- they hammered the Chiefs 43-14 (-3.5) back in Week 4; game was 29-nil at half. Chiefs won five of last six games, are 6-2 at home; they’re 12-0 if they score more than 17 points, 0-4 if they score 17 or less. Steelers won four of last five series games, but lost three of last four visits to Arrowhead. Roethlisberger is 12-6 in playoff games, 4-2 on road, with both losses in Denver.- he hasn’t faced KC in playoffs. Steelers are Smith is 2-3 in playoff games, 1-1 at home; all three of his playoff games with Chiefs have been on road. Under is 9-4 in last 13 Steeler games, 2-4 in Chiefs’ last six. #2 seed in AFC won this game five of last six years.

    Packers (11-6) @ Cowboys (13-3)— Dallas (+5) beat Packers 30-16 in Lambeau in Week 6, snapping a 5-game skid vs Green Bay; Pack won 37-36 in its last visit here, three years ago- they beat Dallas 26-21 in a playoff game at Lambeau two years ago. Green Bay won its last seven games (6-1 vs spread); they’re 4-4 on road, 1-2 in domes (lost at Minn/Atl), 3-1 vs spread as an underdog. Cowboys are 7-1 at home (lost in Week 1 to Giants) 5-2 vs spread as a favorite. Rodgers is 9-6 in playoff games, 4-4 in true road games. This is rookie QB Prescott’s first playoff game. Green Bay played five of last six games in cold weather; they won 31-24 in dome at Detroit on Dec 26 to win NFC North. Four of last five Dallas games stayed under total; last five Packer games went over. #1 seed in NFC won this game last four years, but is 2-4 vs spread the last six years.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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