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Thread: Cnotes 2018 nfl thread thru the superbowl- trends-news-picks+more !

  1. #811
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    NFC Divisional Notes

    Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019

    Dallas at L.A. Rams (FOX, 8:15 p.m. ET)


    Line Movement:
    The Westgate Las Vegas Super Book sent out Los Angeles as a 6 ½-point home favorite with a total of 49 ½. The early money pushed the Rams quickly up to -7. BookMaker.eu also opened the Rams -6 ½ and they moved up to -7 as well. The offshore outfit sent out a total of 50 before quickly dropping to 49 ½.

    Dallas Road Record: 3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS
    Los Angeles Home Record: 7-1 SU, 3-3-2 ATS

    Head-to-Head:
    The pair met in last year’s regular season and the Rams defeated the Cowboys 35-30 as five-point road underdogs. The ‘over’ (50 ½) cashed easily. Prior to that matchup, the previous meeting took place in the 2014 regular season when the Rams still played in St. Louis. Dallas won that game, a 34-31 decision as a 1 ½-point road favorite while the ‘over’ (45) connected.

    Playoff Notes:
    The Cowboys improved to 1-1 in the playoffs under QB Dak Prescott on Saturday as it defeated Seattle 24-22 as a 2 ½-point home favorite in the Wild Card matchup. Under head coach Jason Garrett, Dallas has gone 2-2 and the two wins came at home. During this span under Garrett, all four outcomes were decided by five points or less.

    The Rams lost to the Falcons 26-13 in last year’s Wild Card round as a six-point home favorite. Prior to this result, the franchise’s previous trip to the postseason came in 2005.

    Total Notes:
    Dallas has watched the ‘under’ go 9-8 this season and could easily be 10-7 if Seattle didn’t score a late touchdown in last Saturday’s playoff matchup. On the road, the Cowboys saw the ‘under’ go 6-2 and the offense (17.2 PPG) didn’t travel well. If you take away the 36-35 meaningless win at the N.Y. Giants in Week 17, Dallas averaged 15.5 PPG. Against playoff teams on the road, the Cowboys averaged 12.4 PPG and the ‘under’ went 4-1 in those games.

    The Rams saw their total results end in a stalemate (8-8) this season but they produced a 6-2 ‘over’ mark at home. The offense averaged 37.1 PPG in Los Angeles, which was the top mark in the league for all hosts.

    The defense for Los Angeles (28.1 PPG) struggled at the Coliseum this season and it was diced up by quality opponents. Versus playoff teams, the Rams allowed 33.8 PPG and the ‘over’ cashed in all four of those games.


    Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019

    Philadelphia at New Orleans (FOX, 4:40 p.m. ET)


    Line Movement:
    The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened New Orleans as a nine-point home favorite with a total of 51 ½. BookMaker opened the Saints -7 ½ and pushed the number up to 8, while their opening total was 51 ½.

    Philadelphia Road Record: 5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS
    New Orleans Home Record: 6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS

    Head to Head:
    The Saints blasted the Eagles 48-7 on Nov. 18 as a seven-point home favorite in Week 11. The 41-point loss was the worst setback of the season for Philadelphia, who had Carson Wentz starting at QB. Before that game, the most recent meeting came in 2015 as Philadelphia dropped New Orleans 39-17 at home.

    Playoff Notes:
    The Eagles improved to 4-0 both SU and ATS in the playoffs under head coach Doug Pederson and QB Nick Foles on Sunday as the club nipped Chicago 16-15 on the road int the Wild Card round. Philadelphia has been listed as an underdog in all four of these games.

    The last playoff loss for Philadelphia came in 2013-14 postseason, coincidentally it was a 26-24 Wild Card loss to New Orleans at home when Chip Kelly was the coach for the Eagles.

    Drew Brees owns a 7-6 career record in the playoffs, 7-5 with New Orleans. During that span, the Saints have played five home games and they’ve gone a perfect 5-0 while outscoring opponents by just under 12 PPG (35.8 to 24). Despite the hot run, the Saints are just 2-3 ATS during this span. Last season, New Orleans stopped Carolina 31-26 but it was clipped late as a 6 ½-point home favorite.

    Total Notes:
    Including Sunday’s result from the Wild Card round, the Eagles have seen the ‘under’ go 10-7 this season. On the road, the ‘under’ is 5-4. The Eagles have watched the total split 2-2 in their last four playoff games.

    The ‘under’ went 9-7 for the Saints this season but the ‘over’ produced a 5-3 mark at the Superdome behind an offensive unit that posted 34.1 PPG. Defensively, New Orleans was better on the road (18.5 PPG) than at home (25.6 PPG).

    Even though New Orleans scored 48 points against the Eagles in their earlier encounter, the ‘under’ (57) ended up connecting because Philadelphia couldn’t muster up more than seven points.

    In the 12 playoff games for Brees, the ‘over’ has gone 9-3. Dating back to 1988, New Orleans has watched the ‘over’ cash in 10 straight postseason games played at the Superdome and that includes a 5-0 mark with Brees under center. Against playoff teams, New Orleans scored 31, 48 and 45 points.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  2. #812
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    NFL
    Dunkel

    Division Round


    Saturday, January 12

    Indianapolis @ Kansas City

    Game 301-302
    January 12, 2019 @ 4:35 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Indianapolis
    140.532
    Kansas City
    137.945
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Indianapolis
    by 2 1/2
    60
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Kansas City
    by 5 1/2
    57
    Dunkel Pick:
    Indianapolis
    (+5 1/2); Over

    Dallas @ LA Rams


    Game 303-304
    January 12, 2019 @ 8:15 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Dallas
    137.080
    LA Rams
    147.338
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    LA Rams
    by 10
    52
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    LA Rams
    by 7
    49
    Dunkel Pick:
    LA Rams
    (-7); Over


    Sunday, January 13

    LA Chargers @ New England


    Game 305-306
    January 13, 2019 @ 1:05 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    LA Chargers
    134.100
    New England
    141.088
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    New England
    by 7
    43
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    New England
    by 4
    47
    Dunkel Pick:
    New England
    (-4); Under

    Philadelphia @ New Orleans


    Game 307-308
    January 13, 2019 @ 4:40 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Philadelphia
    130.353
    New Orleans
    142.908
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    New Orleans
    by 12 1/2
    45
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    New Orleans
    by 7 1/2
    50 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    New Orleans
    (-7 1/2); Under





    NFL
    Long Sheet

    Division Round


    Saturday, January 12

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

    INDIANAPOLIS (11 - 6) at KANSAS CITY (12 - 4) - 1/12/2019, 4:35 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    KANSAS CITY is 2-10 ATS (-9.0 Units) in home games in January games since 1992.
    KANSAS CITY is 2-13 ATS (-12.3 Units) in playoff games since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    KANSAS CITY is 1-0 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
    KANSAS CITY is 1-0 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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

    DALLAS (11 - 6) at LA RAMS (13 - 3) - 1/12/2019, 8:15 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    LA RAMS is 191-239 ATS (-71.9 Units) in all games since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 191-239 ATS (-71.9 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 137-189 ATS (-70.9 Units) against conference opponents since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 20-38 ATS (-21.8 Units) against NFC East division opponents since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 67-102 ATS (-45.2 Units) in games played on a grass field since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 68-102 ATS (-44.2 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 41-63 ATS (-28.3 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.

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

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

    Sunday, January 13

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

    LA CHARGERS (13 - 4) at NEW ENGLAND (11 - 5) - 1/13/2019, 1:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NEW ENGLAND is 37-17 ATS (+18.3 Units) in all games over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 37-17 ATS (+18.3 Units) in all lined games over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 36-17 ATS (+17.3 Units) as a favorite over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 20-8 ATS (+11.2 Units) in home games over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 20-8 ATS (+11.2 Units) in home lined games over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 22-11 ATS (+9.9 Units) in all games where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 27-13 ATS (+12.7 Units) against conference opponents over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 9-2 ATS (+6.8 Units) off a division game over the last 2 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 26-11 ATS (+13.9 Units) in games played on turf over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) off a win against a division rival over the last 2 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 22-9 ATS (+12.1 Units) after 2 or more consecutive wins over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 17-7 ATS (+9.3 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 87-56 ATS (+25.4 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.
    LA CHARGERS is 42-24 ATS (+15.6 Units) as a road underdog of 3.5 to 7 points since 1992.
    LA CHARGERS is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) in road games this season.
    LA CHARGERS is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) in road lined games this season.
    LA CHARGERS is 7-1 ATS (+5.9 Units) in road games against conference opponents this season.
    LA CHARGERS is 101-71 ATS (+22.9 Units) in road games when playing with 6 or less days rest since 1992.
    LA CHARGERS is 49-27 ATS (+19.3 Units) in games played on turf since 1992.
    LA CHARGERS is 53-32 ATS (+17.8 Units) in road games when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992.
    LA CHARGERS is 38-18 ATS (+18.2 Units) in road games when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.
    NEW ENGLAND is 3-12 ATS (-10.2 Units) in home games when playing with 2 weeks or more of rest since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    NEW ENGLAND is 1-0 against the spread versus LA CHARGERS over the last 3 seasons
    NEW ENGLAND is 1-0 straight up against LA CHARGERS over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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

    PHILADELPHIA (10 - 7) at NEW ORLEANS (13 - 3) - 1/13/2019, 4:40 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NEW ORLEANS is 25-13 ATS (+10.7 Units) against conference opponents over the last 3 seasons.
    PHILADELPHIA is 37-21 ATS (+13.9 Units) in road games revenging a loss against opponent since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    NEW ORLEANS is 1-0 against the spread versus PHILADELPHIA over the last 3 seasons
    NEW ORLEANS is 1-0 straight up against PHILADELPHIA over the last 3 seasons
    1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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




    NFL

    Division Round


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

    Saturday, January 12

    Indianapolis Colts
    Indianapolis is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
    Indianapolis is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Indianapolis's last 8 games
    Indianapolis is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
    Indianapolis is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games on the road
    Indianapolis is 6-12 SU in its last 18 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Indianapolis's last 13 games on the road
    Indianapolis is 12-4 ATS in its last 16 games when playing Kansas City
    Indianapolis is 13-3 SU in its last 16 games when playing Kansas City
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Indianapolis's last 8 games when playing Kansas City
    Indianapolis is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Kansas City
    Indianapolis is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Kansas City
    Kansas City Chiefs
    Kansas City is 1-5-1 ATS in its last 7 games
    Kansas City is 16-5 SU in its last 21 games
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Kansas City's last 6 games
    Kansas City is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games at home
    Kansas City is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Kansas City's last 13 games at home
    Kansas City is 4-12 ATS in its last 16 games when playing Indianapolis
    Kansas City is 3-13 SU in its last 16 games when playing Indianapolis
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Kansas City's last 8 games when playing Indianapolis
    Kansas City is 1-7 ATS in its last 8 games when playing at home against Indianapolis
    Kansas City is 1-7 SU in its last 8 games when playing at home against Indianapolis

    Dallas Cowboys
    Dallas is 6-2-1 ATS in its last 9 games
    Dallas is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games
    Dallas is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Dallas's last 12 games on the road
    Dallas is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing LA Rams
    Dallas is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing LA Rams
    Dallas is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against LA Rams
    Dallas is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against LA Rams
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Dallas's last 5 games when playing on the road against LA Rams
    Los Angeles Rams
    LA Rams is 4-7-2 ATS in its last 13 games
    LA Rams is 13-3 SU in its last 16 games
    LA Rams is 1-3-2 ATS in its last 6 games at home
    LA Rams is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of LA Rams's last 7 games at home
    LA Rams is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Dallas
    LA Rams is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing Dallas
    LA Rams is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Dallas
    LA Rams is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Dallas
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of LA Rams's last 5 games when playing at home against Dallas


    Sunday, January 13

    Los Angeles Chargers
    LA Chargers is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
    LA Chargers is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of LA Chargers's last 5 games
    LA Chargers is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
    LA Chargers is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of LA Chargers's last 6 games on the road
    LA Chargers is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing New England
    LA Chargers is 1-7 SU in its last 8 games when playing New England
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of LA Chargers's last 6 games when playing New England
    LA Chargers is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games when playing on the road against New England
    LA Chargers is 1-8 SU in its last 9 games when playing on the road against New England
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of LA Chargers's last 8 games when playing on the road against New England
    New England Patriots
    New England is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 8 of New England's last 9 games
    New England is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games at home
    New England is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New England's last 5 games at home
    New England is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing LA Chargers
    New England is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing LA Chargers
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New England's last 6 games when playing LA Chargers
    New England is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games when playing at home against LA Chargers
    New England is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games when playing at home against LA Chargers
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of New England's last 8 games when playing at home against LA Chargers

    Philadelphia Eagles
    Philadelphia is 4-1-1 ATS in its last 6 games
    Philadelphia is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
    Philadelphia is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
    Philadelphia is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Philadelphia's last 6 games on the road
    Philadelphia is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing New Orleans
    Philadelphia is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing New Orleans
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of Philadelphia's last 9 games when playing New Orleans
    Philadelphia is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against New Orleans
    New Orleans Saints
    New Orleans is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games
    New Orleans is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
    New Orleans is 13-2 SU in its last 15 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New Orleans's last 7 games
    New Orleans is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games at home
    New Orleans is 14-2 SU in its last 16 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 9 of New Orleans's last 13 games at home
    New Orleans is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Philadelphia
    New Orleans is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Philadelphia
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of New Orleans's last 9 games when playing Philadelphia
    New Orleans is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Philadelphia
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #813
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    Hot & Not Report

    Week of Jan 7th

    Who's Hot

    At least one NFL Divisional round home team has lost SU in 12 of the last 13 years – 13 of 16 years since realignment (2002-03)


    For football fans/bettors that were lucky enough to cash or see their team (Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, Eagles) survive a hotly contested Wild Card weekend, this historical trend is a continued reason for optimism this week. After all, those playoff jitters are completely out of the way now, and your team is now two wins away from a Super Bowl appearance.

    Considering that at least one of the four Wild Card winners has advanced to the Conference Championship in 12 of the last 13 NFL playoffs, chances are one of the Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, or Eagles will be playing for a conference crown in about two weeks. And with all four of them being at least four-point underdogs at current market prices, ML options are out there – the lowest being LA Chargers at +175ish – to add a boost to your bankroll.

    Obviously, breaking it down to which team(s) of the four will pull off the upset is much harder, and it isn't all good news either. During the eight playoff campaigns this decade (starting with the 2010-11 season), there have never been more than two Wild Card winners to advance – happened twice in the 2010-11 and 2016-17 seasons – and it's also the stretch of that 13-year span where we did have one season with all four home teams advancing (2015-16).

    So, even though the historical odds may be in favor of at least one of these Wild Card teams moving past the Divisional round, I wouldn't go backing more than two of them on the ML if so inclined. Only once since the realignment season of 2002-03 have we had three Wild Card winners move on to the Conference Championship (2008-09).

    Yet, maybe this next part can help narrow down your selections in terms of which team(s) to back SU and ATS in the Divisional round.


    Who's Not

    Wild Card teams off a win of two points or less (Dallas, Philadelphia) are 1-8 SU and 4-4-1 ATS in the Divisional round since realignment (2002-03)


    This is the part where Eagles and Cowboys fans might want to stop reading, as history is definitely not on their side for their upcoming games. The fact that two of the four games this past weekend were decided by two points or less was very intriguing to me, as on the surface, it's got to be hard for those teams to rebound (mentally and physically) just seven days later from such an intense win.

    After going back and checking the past results of teams in that role, things are looking bleak for the Cowboys and Eagles to advance much further, considering only one team – the 2010 New York Jets – has come off a win by two or fewer points to advance the following week.

    That history might be enough of a reason to eliminate the Cowboys and Eagles from ML consideration for being one of those Wild Card teams that does get through this round as mentioned above, but obviously this year's version of those teams have no relation at all to the others that have fallen before them in this role. But history is history, and it does not look good for those NFC East squads.

    Furthermore, while some might point out that backing these teams of a close win is 4-4-1 ATS, and both the Cowboys and Eagles are currently getting at least a TD on the spreads, let me throw out one more stat to suggest that even taking those points may be a bad idea.

    Of those nine scenarios with Wild Card winners off a two-point or less win, their record ATS when catching less than 9 points in the Divisional round is 0-3-1 ATS.

    So, while on the surface it may seem like too many points to pass up with the Cowboys and Eagles, history would suggest that any spread under -9 is probably worth consideration on the home side.

    We all know that the Rams and Saints are more than capable of putting up plenty of points in a hurry and blowing teams out this year, and with the whole “what have you seen last” mentality that permeates through the NFL market most weeks going to be on the side of the Cowboys and Eagles, market sentiment towards those teams could grow even further throughout the week and push these spreads even shorter. Just something to look out for as the week goes on.

    Finally, it's not all bad news in terms of betting angles for these small Wild Card winners, as they do own a 5-3-1 O/U record in the Divisional round off a win of two or less points, with an average combined score of 48.2 points in those games. Now, I get that that average score is still below both respective totals for the Cowboys and Eagles upcoming games, but six of the nine games total have finished with at least 49 points, so maybe the 'over' in the Cowboys/Rams game is going to be the better look of the two.

    Put it all together, and if the run of at least one Bye week team falling this week continues to make it 13 of the last 14 years, I've got to believe it will come from one of the two AFC matchups. Based on those two games having the smaller point spreads it's easy to say that in general, but these historical results back that.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #814
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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    TATE’S BIG DAY

    If we’re not counting Bears kicker Cody Parkey, receiver Golden Tate is Philadelphia’s hero this week after his last-minute touchdown grab gave the Eagles the lead and eventually the win on Sunday. Tate wound up catching five passes for 46 yards, finally validating the third-round pick that the Eagles paid to acquire him back at the trade deadline.

    Tate and the Eagles travel to New Orleans on Sunday to take on the Saints as a 7.5-point underdog with a game total of 50.5. Tate will be in a good spot to have another nice performance against a Saints defense that is ranked 22nd in passing DVOA. The game script could also be in his favor as the Eagles should be chasing points as a big underdog — although that was also supposed to happen last week and didn’t.

    Tate posted five catches for 48 yards back in Week 11 when Philly got smoked at the Superdome and we’re expecting a similar receiving line this week. Take the Over on his receptions total, assuming it’s set at 4.5 when prop markets open later in the week.


    NO ANSWERS IN PHILLY’S BACKFIELD

    Heading into Wild Card weekend we talked about how Philadelphia’s backfield has become a running back committee. Things became a bit more clear on Sunday as Josh Adams was taken out of the game plan with one carry for two yards. Darren Sproles wound up leading the Eagles in carries with 13 for 21 yards, while Wendell Smallwood took eight handoffs for 20 yards. Both recorded two receptions, while Sproles out-snapped Smallwood 38 to 28.

    We predicted last week that Sproles would be heavily involved as the preferred pass-catching option in a game where the Eagles were supposed to have been playing catch up. Instead, Philly played with the lead for most of the game and Sproles was still the No. 1 back (although he lost us a bet by coming up 4.5 yards shy of his receiving yards total). This week is very similar for the Eagles as they are a big road dog and going against one of the best run defenses in the NFL as the Saints rank third in rushing DVOA.

    However there’s one big difference between New Orleans and Chicago: the Bears rank 10th in passing DVOA against running backs, while the Saints rank 29th. We expect Sproles to be the preferred backfield option on Sunday and for Foles to target him a few more times than he did this past weekend. We’re again taking the Over for Sproles’ receiving yards total.


    HENRY ACTIVATED

    The Chargers activated Hunter Henry from injured reserve on Monday, meaning he’ll be making his season debut as Los Angeles plays New England on Sunday. There were reports early last week that he’d be on the field for the Wild Card game after getting in some practices last week, but that didn’t happen.

    It will be hard to trust Henry on Sunday as he’s likely to play just a handful of snaps as he works his way back from the ACL tear he suffered during OTAs. At 6-foot 5, Henry is a big target who could make a key play or two on third down or in the red zone after catching 12 touchdowns through his first 29 games in the NFL. The Patriots are one of the better teams in the league at defending tight ends with a DVOA rank of eight against the position. However, the Pats did allow eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends, which is tied for the fifth-most in the league.

    We’re not big on backing players in their first games returning from injury, but if you’re looking for a high-risk, high-reward bet, backing Henry to go Over 0.5 touchdown receptions or to score a touchdown at any time could pay out nicely.


    ANOTHER MACK ATTACK?

    Marlon Mack faced a very tough matchup against Houston’s top-ranked defense in rushing DVOA and proceeded to go off for 148 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. We’d like to say we saw it coming, but we didn’t. We did get a winner in backing Mack to score a touchdown at any time but we thought he’d have a hard time reaching his rushing yards total of 49.5 against the stout Houston front seven.

    On paper, this week’s matchup is much juicier for Mack as the Colts take on the Chiefs who ranked dead-last in the league in rushing DVOA. The Chiefs allowed 132.1 rushing yards per game (27th in the NFL) on five yards per carry (31st in the league). Indianapolis should come out with a run-heavy approach on Saturday in hopes of keeping Patrick Mahomes off the field, much like Seattle did when it gave Chris Carson 27 carries in its Week 16 upset of K.C. We’re taking the Over on Mack’s rushing yards total for the Divisional Round.

  5. #815
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    Divisional Playoff Trends
    Bruce Marshall

    While Division Playoff Round games were once fertile territory for home teams and favorites (almost always one and the same), their dominance has disappeared in recent years. Indeed, since the 2004 postseason, road underdogs stand 32-23-2 against the number in these playoff games.

    Remember some dynamics worth mentioning that are unique to this round. Since 1990, when the playoffs expanded from 10 teams to 12, all Division Round hosts are off a “bye” and a week of rest.

    And almost all of the “powerhouse” NFL teams in recent memory are from that first-round “bye” group, including 63 of the last 78 Super Bowl participants since '78 (when the first-round "bye" was introduced; the 1982 "strike" season, with no byes, not included).

    At least one top conference seed has met defeat in Division Rounds in seven of the past eleven seasons, though five of the six top seeds won all of the way thru their respective conference playoffs the past three years.

    Also identifiable in the past with this round are one-sided results, which have recurred with regularity over the decades. In fact, since 1975, more than half of these games have been decided by double-digit margins.

    Favored teams laying a TD or more (usually representing the cream of the NFL crop) have covered at a fair 55% clip (46-38-3) in the Division Round since ‘75.

    A recent Division Round trend note has been on the “totals” side, in particular “overs,” now 22-10 since the 2010 playoffs after a 3-1 marks in both the 2016 and 2017 postseasons.

    Following are the point-spread results in various spread categories of NFL Division Round playoff games since 1975.

    Our “charting” begins with the ’75 season because, prior to then, playoff home teams were predetermined in a divisional rotation, as opposed to the better won-loss record.

    A “margin of victory” chart for the games since 1975 is included as well.

    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Indianapolis at Kansas City
    Kyle Markus

    NFL Game Preview - Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

    The Indianapolis Colts are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and they made easy work of the Texans in the AFC Wild Card round. However, the degree of difficulty goes way up on Saturday as they travel to Kansas City to face off against the top-seeded Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.

    The Chiefs have the most explosive offense in the NFL and are the favorites to emerge from the conference and make it to the Super Bowl. They need a pair of victories to get there, the first of which over the Colts. Indianapolis has found a great formula for success on offense and will aim to keep up.

    The Chiefs are at home and have more talent which makes Indy the underdog, but the oddsmakers don’t believe an upset is completely out of the question in NFL wagering.

    This NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs will be held at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri at 4:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 12th, 2019. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.

    Odds Analysis

    The Chiefs are currently listed as the 5.5-point favorites in this matchup. Kansas City is -240 on the moneyline while Indianapolis is the +199 underdog to pull off the upset.

    The scoring total is listed at 57 points, which is not a surprise. Even though the wild card round was dominated by the defenses, the quarterback matchup in this one is big time and each side has the capacity to put up numbers in bunches in NFL wagering.

    Key Stat

    3. That’s the number of losses for the Chiefs in their past six games after a red hot start. The defeats came at the hands of the Rams, Chargers and Seahawks and all came down to the wire. The lull can be taken one of two ways: either teams have started to figure out Kansas City or the NFL has parity and the Chiefs were bound to start losing some games.

    Kansas City did bounce back with an easy 35-3 win over the Raiders in the regular season finale to clinch the top seed in the AFC. The Chiefs are aiming to show the losses were not a harbinger of things to come by picking up this victory and advancing to the AFC Championship game.

    Injury Report

    The Chiefs have a pair of key players with injuries. Star safety Eric Berry has been out for most of the season with a heel injury, but was able to practice in a limited capacity on Tuesday. Keep a close eye on his status. The Chiefs’ weakness is their defense and a healthy Berry would be a big boost.

    Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is dealing with a foot injury that forced him to miss six games on the year. The Chiefs have Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as a pair of elite skill players, but Watkins’ presence makes it nearly impossible for opponents to shut them down.

    The Colts had a handful of players who were limited early in the week but are mostly healthy. They are hoping safety Mike Mitchell will be available to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the elite Kansas City passing game.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Dallas at Los Angeles
    Tom Wilkinson

    NFL Divisional Playoff Game – Cowboys at Rams

    The Los Angeles Rams are favored by a touchdown at home on Saturday night, as they host the Dallas Cowboys in an NFL Divisional Playoff game on FOX.

    The Cowboys are coming off a win last week against Seattle in the Wild Card round, while the Rams had a bye. This will be a matchup between the solid defense of the Cowboys that ranked No. 6 in the NFL in fewest points allowed and the explosive offense of the Rams that ranked No. 2 in the league in most points scored.

    Let’s look at this Divisional Playoff matchup and NFL picks.

    Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
    Date and Time: Saturday, January 12, 8:15 p.m. ET
    Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
    NFL Odds: Rams -7, O/U 49.5
    Cowboys vs. Rams TV Coverage: FOX

    There is no question the NFL is a passing league, but the Cowboys and Rams both like to run the ball because they have two of the top running backs in the league. Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing, while Gurley led the league with 21 touchdowns. The Cowboys should be very focused on running the ball, as the Rams were just 23rd in the NFL against the run this season. The Rams may choose to throw the ball more, as the Cowboys were 5th in the NFL against the run.

    Both teams have young quarterbacks at the helm. The Cowboys have Dak Prescott who has played better since the team acquired Amari Cooper from the Raiders. Whether he can hold up against Aaron Donald and the Rams defense is the question. The Rams should have more success throwing the ball, as Jared Goff has a lot of weapons at his disposal and the Cowboys pass rush is not nearly as threatening as the Rams.

    Key Matchup

    The matchup that will decide this game is the Rams offense against the Cowboys defense. If the Cowboys can’t contain Gurley and Goff then this game is going to turn into a rout. The Rams have so many different weapons that it is hard to see Dallas keeping them all in check. Gurley is still considered the best back in the league and Los Angeles has excellent receivers in Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks.

    Key Stats

    These teams met a year ago and it was the Rams winning 35-30. The Cowboys are 20-7-1 ATS in their last 28 games on grass. The Cowboys are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Divisional Playoffs games. The Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff home games.

    Looking at the total, the Under is 6-1 in the Cowboys last 7 games on grass. The Under is 10-4 in the Cowboys last 14 games in January. The Under is 5-2 in the Rams last 7 games in January.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Season-End Reviews
    January 8, 2019
    By Bruce Marshall


    The NFL regular season concluded last week, and that means the gridiron version of the “hot stove league” is upon us. Especially for teams that didn’t make the playoffs; after all, eight of those were looking for new head coaches after the annual “Black Monday” purge.

    How those jobs all sort out in the next few weeks will precede the free-agent period and then the draft. The NFL “coaching carousel” is thus spinning, though unlike past years, there doesn’t seem to be one or two du jour candidates. Instead there is a collection of NFL coordinators, former head coaches, a few college names, and even current NFL HCs (who might jump jobs) being tossed into the mix.

    These vacancies might not all be filled until after the Super Bowl, when assistants from the two finalists will be free to make any upward moves. Stay tuned for further developments.

    As we usually like to do at this time of January, a quick review of the past campaign is in order for the non-playoff qualifiers, especially those teams in the market for new head coaches.

    Teams are listed below in alphabetical order by conference with straight-up records for 2018 included.

    AFC

    Buffalo (6-10)
    ...Though the Bills didn’t come close to a return to the playoffs, they enter the offseason perhaps feeling a little better than they did at this time a year ago simply because they think they have finally solved their QB dilemma with ex-Wyo Josh Allen, who took over from the overmatched Nathan Peterman in September and used the rest of the season to get acclimated to the NFL. By the end of December, Allen was looking like a real NFL QB, and led the Bills in rushing to boot. They’re happy as heck with Allen in Orchard Park. And the defense was hardly to blame for the fall to beneath .500. Offense, however, is a different matter, and figures to be the main emphasis in free agency and the draft. With loads of cap room (approximately $85 million), GM Brandon Beane can spend; a top-flight wideout figures to be the main priority, with OL upgrades not far behind. We’d keep an eye on the situation with RB LeSean McCoy, whose off-field exploits have become a distraction, though the Bills say that McCoy will be back in 2019. But at least the franchise feels it has the right QB (Allen) and right coach (Sean McDermott, entering his third year next fall).

    Cincinnati (6-10)...While HC Marvin Lewis finally used up his nine cat lives in Cincy, more discriminating observers suspect penurious owner Mike Brown might have a hard time finding another coach willing to work as cheaply as Lewis and still manage to make seven playoff appearances in 16 seasons (even though the Bengals haven’t won a postseason game since Sam Wyche was HC in 1990). Frugality still limits progress at Paul Brown Stadium; look no further than the backup QB spot, where Cincy could only turn to inexperienced Jeff Driskel after Andy Dalton went down just past midseason. Prior to that, the Bengals were hanging in the AFC North race, and, when all hands were on deck, the offense moved. But the D was statistically one of the worst in NFL history during the first half of the campaign, forcing Lewis to axe d.c. Teryl Austin midstream, and upgrades on the stop end will be the emphasis in free agency and the draft. Can the Bengals find a coach who can win as often as Lewis did over the past 16 seasons, working with the same limitations?

    Cleveland (7-8-1)...Before we anoint the Browns as the AFC rep in Super Bowl LIV, let’s see if owner Jimmy Haslam gets his coaching hire correct. Even Haslam’s first good move with a coach (canning Hue Jackson at midseason) comes with an asterisk; the Browns caught fire for interim Gregg Williams, who was not considered a serious candidate for the permanent assignment. Thus, Haslam has been forced to at least consider Williams, who was not Haslam’s first choice, moving forward. That’s a risk that management takes when making a midstream coaching change. Cleveland might have stumbled onto something with o.c. Freddie Kitchens, promoted after the dismissal of the ill-suited Todd Haley. Kitchens, who developed a great rapport with rookie QB Baker Mayfield, would seem a good candidate to stay in his position, but that will be up to the new coach (if it’s not Williams). Assuming Haslam makes a decent HC hire, the pieces look in place, as years of high draft picks have produced a solid core, led by Mayfield and Georgia rookie RB Nick Chubb on offense, and varieties of former first-round picks on defense, including DE Myles Garrett and DB Jabril Peppers. Now, can Haslam get the coaching hire right?

    Denver (6-10)...Not sure where to begin with the myriad problems in Broncos Country. Quickly, start at the top; the ownership situation is in limbo, with Pat Bowlen incapacitated, and a nebulous succession plan causing a rift among some of the heirs, none of whom ever holding a position of any real significance in the organization. Lots of locals want the team sold, but that’s probably not happening soon, especially with values of NFL franchises skyrocketing faster than a SpaceX booster. Meanwhile, GM John Elway continues to spin his wheels, with the decision to not only hire HC Vance Joseph in the first place, but keeping him around another year after a disastrous 5-11 mark in 2017, proving a debacle. Now the Broncos are looking for their fourth coach in four years, and the team is no closer to finding a long-term answer at QB than it was after Peyton Manning’s retirement following Super Bowl 50. Elway’s magnetism helped bring Manning in 2012, but there are real questions in the Rockies as to whether Elway is the right guy for a required rebuild. Rough analogies to Phil Jackson, ill-suited for the complete re-boot needed with the NBA Knicks, might not be far off of the mark.

    Jacksonville (5-11)...If a football fan went to the moon after the 2016 season and finally returned to earth last week, he or she might think nothing has changed with the Jags, still the same sad-sack operation they’ve been for the past decade. The in-between season of 2017, however, now looks like something out of a dream, when J’ville won the AFC South and advanced to the conference title game. They’re now back to where they were post-2016 after a shocking meltdown that almost cost HC Doug Marrone and team prexy Tom Coughlin their jobs; owner Shad Khan says both will be back in 2019, but there’s no more room for error. Such as Coughlin committing $54 mill over three years to QB Blake Bortles, who regressed this season and lost his job in December (before getting it back in the finale). Bortles is unlikely to return, even if it causes a cap hit, so Coughlin is going to probably scan the FA market for a vet QB instead of a rookie QB in a likely win–or-else year. There are internal issues galore, however, with RBs Leonard Fournette (who hasn’t been able to avoid injury) and T.J. Yeldon drawing public admonishments from Coughlin, and a clubhouse reportedly strained. The defense regressed significantly in 2018, too. But fixing the offense and finding a QB remain top priorities

    Miami (7-9)...Three awful efforts to close the campaign after the Dolphins were hanging in the AFC playoff chase into mid-December would end up costing third-year HC Adam Gase his job. Which also probably means the end of the Dolphin era of QB Ryan Tannehill, who has had a hard time avoiding injury in recent years. Coaching speculation immediately centered upon Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, who was said to have been interested in the Miami job after he parted ways with the 49ers, only for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to stick with Joe Philbin (bad move!) into 2015. Ann Arbor grad Ross, however, has said he doesn’t want to poach the football coach from his alma mater, though others believe if Harbaugh floats a trial balloon first, Ross might change his tune. Stay tuned. There are some pieces in place, especially on defense, but the offense was stagnant, so expect the new coach to have some background on the attack end and also have an idea about what to do at a QB position that likely won’t include Tannehill or backup Brock Osweiler. Improving a pass rush that generated only 31 sacks will be another offseason priority.

    NY Jets (4-12)...A third straight double-digit loss season was the end of the line for HC Todd Bowles, whose eventual dismissal was telegraphed like one of George Foreman’s roundhouse rights aimed at Ali in the ‘74 Rumble in the Jungle. The new coach will at least have a QB in place, as USC rookie Sam Darnold displayed plenty of upside after being the third player taken in last April’s draft. But the QB position is about all that is settled on a roster full of holes. Feeling some pressure, GM Mike Maccagnan will be looking to surround Darnold with better support, starting with his new coach, likely to have an offensive background. The OL, receiving corps, and RBs could all use upgrades. With a whopping $100 mill in cap space, Maccagnan can be expected to be a player in the FA market. Le'Veon Bell, are you interested?

    Oakland (4-12)...Jon Gruden is selling 2018 as the start of a complete rebuild; with 38 players on the season-ending 53-man roster who didn’t play a single down for the Raiders in 2017, no one would argue. Whether Gruden is on the right track remains to be seen. After all, it’s easier to tear down a roster than build one up, and only time will tell if Gruden got sufficient return for dealing away DE Khalil Mack (Bears) & WR Amari Cooper (Cowboys), who, respectively, ended up impacting the NFC playoff race. Moreover, there’s the matter of QB Derek Carr, who has only shown brief flashes of being the player he was before his late 2016 leg injury, and reportedly at odds with Gruden; Carr’s name has been mentioned in potential trades, always a possibility with Gruden. The post-Mack defense was awful, as the pass rush barely recorded more sacks (13) than Mack alone (12.5) in 2018, so that represents an immediate area of need. One need among many. Owner Mark Davis has hired TV analyst Mike Mayock as the new GM (replacing the discarded Reggie McKenzie) in hopes of forging a better working relationship with Gruden. Meanwhile, Davis has to figure out where his team plays in 2019 before the move to Las Vegas in 2020; as of now, the Raiders have no stadium lease for 2019. Expect that issue to at least be resolved before the end of February.

    Pittsburgh (9-6-1)...After an exasperating playoff miss when losing four of their last six (and becoming only the third NFL team since 1990 to stand at least 7-2-1 after ten weeks and miss the postseason), all eyes are now on WR Antonio Brown, whose diva act on the practice field apparently caused his inactive status for the Cincy finale and now apparently will serve as his ticket out of Heinz Field, with it looking very likely that he will be moved. Which creates an extra question headed into the offseason in Pittsburgh where defensive upgrades, especially in the secondary, were likely to be the first areas addressed in free agency and the draft. If Brown departs, Oklahoma State rookie James Washington will get first shot at stepping into the breach alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster, but Brown would leave awfully big shoes to fill. At least there’s no talk like two years ago that Big Ben won’t be back, as he pushed the retirement talk down the road a year ago. Brown’s season-ending controversy, however, provided a grating bookend to the season that began with star RB Le’Veon Bell’s holdout that lasted the entire campaign. Moving forward, can Mike Tomlin get back to the playoffs minus both Bell and Brown?

    Tennessee (9-7)...In the end, under new HC Mike Vrabel, the Titans matched the 9 wins of a season ago for Mike Mularkey, though didn’t make it back to the playoffs because of a loss in the season-ender to the Colts. Tennessee had a bit of an excuse in the finale in that QB Marcus Mariota was sidelined, but that has become a bit too familiar of a theme these past four seasons, with durability issues limiting th ex-Heisman winner’s upside. Though he has shown flashes of stardom, Mariota has not proven to be the transformational player as once hoped in Nashville. And into the final year of his rookie contract next season, the Titans are going to have to decide soon if they want to make a longer-term commitment. Finding another big-play wideout and a pass-rush specialist to help shrewd d.c Dean Pees are likely top target areas in the offseason for GM Jon Robinson. Plus coming closer to a decision on Mariota for the future.

    NFC

    Arizona (3-13)
    ...Though dismissing any first-year HC seems a tad harsh, it became apparent as the season progressed that Steve Wilks was in over his head, as the Big Red was non-competitive in too many games and communication between Wilks and players was said to be less than ideal. His ouster was justified, though team prexy Michael Bidwill could have just as easily given the boot to GM Steve Keim as well. Now it’s time for another coaching search, with rumors that Bidwill and Keim are going to ask Bruce Arians about a return engagement (considered a real longshot). The jury is still out on the maturity of ex-UCLA QB Josh Rosen, who had a few bright moments as a rookie but remains a definite work in progress. Quarterback is at least not a priority any longer in Glendale, but the Big Red has needs aplenty entering the offseason. More depth along the OL and WR, plus a couple of playmakers on defense, will be good places to start. The latter could be addressed with the first pick of the draft, but Keim has many holes to fill, and he’ll surely be tempted by trade offers for multiple picks down the board. First, however, he’s got to find a coach.

    Atlanta (7-9)...In the end a 3-game win streak to close the slate kept the season from looking like a complete disaster at Mercedes Benz Stadium, but the Falcs could still lay claim to the title of the league’s most disappointing team. After back-to-back playoff visits including a Super Bowl appearance, Atlanta was a chic pick to win it all in the offseason before a near-complete unravel almost cost HC Dan Quinn his job. Walking the plank, however, were all of Quinn’s coordinators (including o.c. Steve Sarkisian and d.c. Marquand Manuel); Quinn himself will be reprising his old d.c. role with the Seahawks in 2019. Injuries were rampant this past autumn, especially on the defensive end, and not all of the news was bad, as QB Matt Ryan tossed 35 TDP with only 7 picks. If Quinn makes the right hire at o.c. (Adam Gase, perhaps?), the pieces seem in place for a quick return to relevance in 2019.

    Carolina (7-9)...Only a win over the disinterested Saints in the finale kept the Panthers from being the first team to lose eight straight games after starting 6-2. Hardly the way for HC Ron Rivera to impress new owner David Tepper, who was said to be contemplating change before deciding to stay the course for 2019. This season marked the ascension of second-year RB Christian McCaffrey into a mega-star, but Carolina is not going anywhere until QB Cam Newton gets back to his MVP-like form. He wasn’t in 2018, bothered by an ongoing shoulder injury that has limited his practice throws the past two seasons and caused Rivera and o.c. Norv Turner to shut him down the final two weeks of the campaign. Even Turner has admitted there is a “sense of urgency” to resolve Newton’s shoulder issues this offseason, as another rinse-and-repeat scenario will no longer cut it in Charlotte. With Julius Peppers long in the tooth and unsure of a return if he does play, the Panthers are also going to be looking for an edge-rusher in FA or the draft (or both). First priority, though, is to get Cam healthy.

    Detroit (6-10)...We’ll never know if first-year HC Matt Patricia needed that 31-0 season-ending win over the disinterested Pack to prevent 93-year-old franchise matriarch Martha Ford from swinging the same axe that she used to get rid of HC Jim Caldwell after the previous season. Caldwell never had as many losses in Detroit as the 10 recorded on Patricia’s watch, nor did he ever alienate so many people around the team and organization. But GM Bob Quinn resisted hitting the eject button without a directive from Mrs. Ford, and Patricia looks to have survived into 2019, though also looking like the latest in a succession of Bill Belichick disciples who failed as head coaches. We’ll see if Patricia and his beard last beyond next season in Motown. Not coming back is o.c. Jim Bob Cooter, who had developed a good rapport with Matthew Stafford in the later Caldwell years but now a scapegoat for the decline on offense. Stafford’s dropoff was especially alarming in 2018, and Patrica’s o.c. hire will be closely watched. Straightening out Stafford, in whom the franchise has invested heavily, is priority one in the offseason. Priority two is finding another defensive playmaker, especially to upgrade a deficient pass rush.

    Green Bay (6-9-1)
    ...For years we had heard of a rift between HC Mike McCarthy and QB Aaron Rodgers (come to think of it, Rodgers seems to have rifts with a lot of people), which was likely a contributing factor to McCarthy’s dismissal in early December. A home loss to the woeful Cardinals might have also had something to do with McCarthy walking the plank. Whatever, getting the blessing of Rodgers for the new coach seems an imperative, as Danica Patrick’s boyfriend looks to have a few more good years left in him, though he’ll be entering his 15th season next fall (where did time go?). The roster could be in some transition; another mainstay, LB Clay Matthews, is likely to walk in free agency, as is underperforming DE Nick Perry. On offense, TE Jimmy Graham has not lived up to expectations. Rodgers, however, remains productive, and because of that the Green Bay job is still considered one of the best on the market, and a return to contention very possible with the right coaching hire.

    Minnesota (8-7-1)...Back in September, we weren’t expecting to be including the Vikings in this annual non-playoff review. With high-priced FA Kirk Cousins enlisted in the offseason and looking to be an upgrade from Case Keenum (allowed to walk as a FA, eventually signing in Denver) at QB, Minnesota appeared a decent bet to go one step further than a year ago, when the Vikes made it all the way to the NFC title game. Cousins, however, did not live up to expectations, with too many costly errors, and unable to develop rapport with new o.c. John DeFilippo, a well-regarded addition from the Eagles’ Super Bowl staff who instead paid the price with his job in early December. Getting RB Dalvin Cook more involved with the offense would seem an easy answer for whomever the new o.c. might be, but upgrades along an underperforming OL will likely have to be addressed by GM Rick Spielman. The defense also slipped from its dominating 2017 form, and there’s a feeling that 2019 will be HC Mike Zimmer’s last shot to get it right.

    NY Giants (5-11)...The G-Men have done a lot of gyrating over the past 14 months, canning HC Ben McAdoo, interim HC Steve Spagnuolo, and GM Jerry Reese all by the end of 2017. The new braintrust, featuring GM Dave Gettleman and HC Pat Shurmur, couldn’t forge much improvement in 2018 despite adding Penn State rookie RB Saquon Barkley, who mostly lived up to the hype. But if Gettleman and Shurmur are serious about keeping Eli Manning at QB for another year, they’d better be darned sure to pivot the offense around Barkley rather than Eli, whose good games are getting farther and farther apart as his career winds down. With Richmond rookie Kyle Lauletta considered a developmental project and not ready to step into the breach, Gettleman also has to decide whether it’s worth the risk to trade for another QB (Derek Carr?) or sign a FA (Nick Foles, or Joe Flacco if cut by the Ravens?) as possible alternatives to Eli. Or, perhaps go QB with the sixth pick in the first round of the draft after skipping over Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson last April. Beyond QB, Gettleman likely looks on the OL and everywhere on defense for help. But even Hoda and Kathie Lee know there is no more time to waste finding an eventual (or immediate) successor to Eli.

    San Francisco (4-12)...Another mulligan has been granted HC Kyle Shanahan, who didn’t have a QB until Jimmy Garoppolo arrived in trade halfway thru 2017, and then didn’t have Garoppolo after late September of 2018 due to a gruesome knee injury in the Kansas City game. Hoping to salvage something for the rest of the season, Shanahan went thru backups C.J. Beathard and eventually Nick Mullens, the latter flashing a bit more upside but not much consistency down the stretch. After GM John Lynch gave Garoppolo a mega-bucks contract in the offseason, it’s safe to say the Niners are more than a bit worried about their big investment. At least ex-Iowa TE George Kittle (who set an NFL yardage record for tight ends) has emerged as an unlikely star. Garoppolo’s healthy return (not a given, at least for the outset of the 2019 season) is obviously going to be a key for 2019, when Lynch is also slated to get the second pick in the draft, which could be used for any number of impact defenders available. Adding a big-play wideout is also on the wish list, though D comes first. After a healthy Garoppolo, that is.

    Tampa Bay (5-11)...The Bucs provided a few interesting storylines in September, mostly authored by an unlikely source in “The Beard” (QB Ryan Fitzpatrick), filling in while Jameis Winston served a 3-game suspension. Eventually, however, things unraveled, costing HC Dirk Koetter his job. Moving forward, the organization must soon make a decision on Winston, whose off-field problems have been unneeded distractions and whose rookie contract expires next year. Do the Bucs give Winston just a little more rope to see if he can turn it around for good under a new coach? If Winston sticks around, it’s going to be a make-or-break year for him in 2019. In the draft and free agency, the top priority is likely the secondary, after opposing quarterbacks had an NFL-high 110.9 passer rating when facing the Bucs. Just a thought, would trying to lure Bruce Arians out of retirement to steer Winston be worth a shot?

    Washington (7-9)...Even Vince Lombardi couldn’t have survived 24 players going on injured reserve, so HC Jay Gruden has an excuse for a third straight playoff miss. In 2017, the Skins put 23 players on the I-R, so this has become something of an epidemic at FedEx Field, where a new physio might be the answer. It was remarkable that Gruden kept the Skins in the playoff hunt until the penultimate week, especially a stretch past midseason when starting four different QBs within a month, forced to pull Mark Sanchez (a disaster) and Josh Johnson (serviceable) off of the scrap heap after Alex Smith and Colt McCoy both went down. The 2019 status of Smith, who proved a capable successor to Kirk Cousins before a severe broken leg, remains up in the air and likely forces Gruden and prexy Bruce Allen into contingency plans either in free agency or the draft, when even if the 34-year-old Smith is deemed good to go for the fall (unlikely to be known in late April), an eventual successor needs to be be identified. The OL and secondary also likely get offseason attention. Just a note, but Gruden has already lasted longer (five seasons) than any coach on the watch of once notoriously-impatient owner Dan Snyder.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    GORDON EXPECTED TO PLAY

    Reports on Tuesday were that the Chargers expect running back Melvin Gordon to play on Sunday at New England after a knee issue cost him snaps early in their Wild Card win over Baltimore. Gordon is apparently dealing with a slight knee sprain which is a similar issue to the one that forced him out of three games earlier in the season.

    We backed a winner in predicting the Under for Gordon’s rushing yards total in what was a very difficult matchup against the Ravens. He did manage to find the end zone, however, which saved his day from a fantasy perspective. This week, he faces an easier matchup on paper as New England ranked 19th in rushing DVOA during the regular season (the Ravens were ranked sixth).

    However, the Pats were one of the stingiest team in the league when it came to giving up rushing touchdowns as they allowed just seven all season, the second-fewest in the league. We’ll dig into his totals later in the week but the early-week lean is to the Under 0.5 for his rushing touchdowns total.


    GURLEY TO PRACTICE

    The Rams will have Todd Gurley back on the field when they return to practice on Wednesday. Gurley also participated in the walk-throughs on Tuesday, so he’s certainly trending upwards for the Rams Divisional Round matchup with the Cowboys, although nothing has been confirmed. It’s too early to make a call on Gurley’s props for the weekend as we’ll want to see what the markets open at and how he practices throughout the week.

    Gurley does face a tough matchup against a Cowboys defense that ranked fifth in DVOA in the regular season and allowed just 59 rushing yards on 21 attempts to Seattle’s running backs last week. We’ll dig in deeper later this week, but the initial lean would be to fade Gurley in a very tough matchup, especially if he’s at less than 100 percent.


    HILTON HELD OUT

    Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton was held out of practice on Tuesday with the same ankle issue that has been bothering him for the better part of a month. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following Hilton closely this season; Hilton’s weekly routine has been to not practice early in the week, get in a limited session late in the week, and then go out and dominate on game day. The good news is that Hilton did not suffer a setback on Wild Card weekend. Expect him to suit up on Saturday at Kansas City assuming no further injury in practice this week.

    Hilton will have a shot at a monster day on Sunday against the Chiefs’ 26th-ranked defense in overall DVOA. The Chiefs do possess a better pass defense (12th in passing DVOA) than rush defense (32nd in rushing DVOA), but Saturday’s game has the making of a shootout with Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes potentially going back and forth all afternoon in a game that has a total of 57. We’ll be looking to back the Over on Hilton’s receiving yards total as soon as the prop markets open.


    WATKINS LIMITED

    Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins returned to practice for the first time in a month on Tuesday but was labeled as limited. Watkins hasn’t played since getting on the field for a few snaps in Week 11 and hasn’t contributed since Week 9. He is trending to be a game-time decision for Saturday's game against Indianapolis.

    Watkins was having an inconsistent season before getting hurt, with four games of 74-plus receiving yards and three games with 21 yards or less. If he does return on Saturday, it might seem like a decent matchup because of the game total of 57 — by far the highest total of the week — but remember that the Colts are very tough on wide receivers. Here’s what we wrote last week:

    ""The Colts’ defense allows just 44.5 percent of an opponent’s completed passes to go to wide receivers. That’s the lowest rate in the league. They allowed the fewest receptions in the league to wide receivers (166) and the second-fewest receiving yards to wide receivers (1,953). Unsurprisingly, they’re also tough against WR1s, allowing just 6.7 passes for 59.9 yards per game.""

    The Colts then went out and allowed just five receptions for 37 yards to De’Andre Hopkins (although it should be noted that Hopkins reportedly played hurt and that Keke Coutee did post 11 receptions for 110 yards). Still, if Watkins returns he will be at less than 100 percent and presumably rusty after missing close to two months of action. We’ll be looking to fade him in a tough matchup if he’s active on Saturday.

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    Total Talk - DP Saturday
    Chris David

    Wild Card Recap

    The 'under' run in the Wild Card round continued last week as the low side produced a 3-1 mark and it could've easily been 4-0. For bettors playing the 'over' in the Seahawks-Cowboys, accept our congratulations and the same time we offer apologies to those who played the 'under' in the Saturday night tilt. Including those results, the 'under' is now 20-7-1 (74%) in the Wild Card round over the last eight postseasons.

    Divisional Playoff History

    The 'over' went 3-1 in the Divisional Playoff round last season and is on a 6-2 run (75%) the previous two years in this round. There were certainly a couple lucky tickets to the high side, which included last year's Mircale in Minnesota, plus the Titans tacked on a meaningless score in their loss to New England. Speaking of the Patriots, they will be making their eighth straight appearance in this round while both the Saints and Eagles are back for the second consecutive postseason. Looking below, the 'over' has connected at 62.5 percent (15-9) over the past six seasons.



    For the playoffs, I'm going to break down every game and offer up my quick handicap and predictions for all the matchups. For those keeping track, we split last week (3-3) and while I was fortunate to cash the 'over' in the Seahawks-Cowboys, that Colts Team Total 'over' (24) was tough to stomach. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end - Good Luck!

    Saturday, Jan. 12

    Indianapolis at Kansas City (NBC, 4:35 p.m. ET)


    The Divisional Playoff round is expected to begin with a shootout from Kansas City. BookMaker.eu sent out this total at 55 ½ and it was quickly pushed up and sits at 57 as of Thursday. These teams met in the 2013-14 postseason and the Colts rallied past the Chiefs for a 45-44 win at home and the ‘over’ (47 ½) was never in doubt. Coincidentally it was the first season for Kansas City head coach Andy Reid and his first playoff game with the club. Fast forward to 2019 and Reid still hasn’t found success with the Chiefs in the postseason with the club going 1-4 during his tenure.

    Will that change this Saturday? You have to think they get over the edge sooner or later and fortunately they come into this matchup with an explosive attack. Kansas City finished the regular season with the top-ranked scoring offense at 35.3 points per game and it also led the league in total offense too with 425.6 yards per game.

    Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes had an incredible season, throwing for 5,381 yards and 50 touchdowns. The KC offense is loaded and it certainly needed to be since the defense (26.3 PPG) remains to be an issue. To put things in perspective, the Chiefs scored 37.5 PPG in their four losses.

    Those high scoring numbers led to a 10-6 ‘over’ mark for Kansas City but the ‘under’ went 5-3 at Arrowhead Stadium. While the Chiefs defense wasn’t strong overall, they had solid numbers (18 PPG) at home but of the eight opponents that visited KC, only two made the playoffs (Ravens, Chargers) and they averaged 26.5 PPG.

    Including last Saturday’s 21-7 result at Houston, the Colts have seen the ‘under’ go 9-8 this season. The Indianapolis defense (20.6 PPG) has put up strong numbers this season, especially down the stretch. In their last eight games, the defense has surrendered 14 PPG and that’s led to a 6-2 ‘under’ record.

    Handicapper Paul Bovi wasn’t as high on the Colts unit. He explained, “The Colts have been very poor at times this season, most notably against the pass. (Sam) Darnold, Eli (Manning) and (Blake) Bortles combined to complete 75-of-100 for 900 yards along with five touchdowns and two picks. Here they face the top-ranked offense in the AFC led by the MVP favorite.”

    Mahomes should win the honor as the top player but will he succumb to the pressure in his first playoff start? In the Wild Card round, three QBs making their playoff debut went 0-3 and they combined to score 39 points and only six of those points came in the first-half. Just like Mahomes, all of those guys (Watson, Jackson, Trubisky) all had the benefit of playing at home.

    Colts QB Andrew Luck has plenty of playoff experience and last week’s win over Houston improved his overall record to 4-3 in the postseason, which includes a 2-3 mark on the road. The ‘under’ has gone 5-2 in those games.

    It’s been noted this week that Kansas City hasn’t won a home playoff game since 1994 and it will be looking to snap a six-game postseason skid at Arrowhead. During this losing streak, the Chiefs have averaged 15.3 PPG and that’s led to a 5-1 ‘under’ mark. The expectations have certainly changed with this Kansas City squad, evident by this week’s team total on the Chiefs (30 ½).

    Fearless Prediction:
    While some pundits believe defenses plays a factor in the playoffs, be aware that the last five NFL playoff totals that closed in the fifties or higher saw the ‘over’ go 5-0. Luck and the Colts made a statement early last week with a quick 21 points and then they milked the clock. I don’t see the same scenario playing out in this spot. Kansas City will score and my guess is at least five times. I believe the Colts can match that number as well. Barring an inordinate amount of field goals, both teams should get in or close to the thirties and my lean is the game Over (57).


    Dallas at L.A. Rams (FOX, 8:15 p.m. ET)

    This total opened 50 and the number has dropped to 49 ½ as of Thursday at the offshore book and most Las Vegas betting shops as well. Even though the ‘over’ luckily connected last week for the Cowboys, the club has leaned to the ‘under’ this season (9-8) and the majority of those tickets have come on the road.

    The Dallas offense didn’t travel well (17.2 PPG) this season and that resulted in a 3-5 record and 6-2 ‘under’ mark. If you take away the 36-35 meaningless win at the N.Y. Giants in Week 17, Dallas averaged 15.5 PPG. Also, the Cowboys averaged 14 PPG against playoff teams on the road and they went 1-3 in those games while the ‘under’ went 3-1.

    While the Dallas away trend could have you leaning low on Saturday night, the Rams angle at home would make you think otherwise. Los Angeles has seen its total results end in a stalemate (8-8) this season but they produced a 6-2 ‘over’ mark at home. The offense averaged 37.1 PPG in Los Angeles, which was the top mark in the league.

    Defensively, the unit for Los Angeles (28.1 PPG) struggled at the Coliseum and it was diced up by quality opponents. Versus playoff teams, the Rams allowed 33.8 PPG and the ‘over’ cashed in all four of those games. Plus, signal callers Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers helped the Vikings and Packers to put up 31 and 27 respectively at Los Angeles.

    Do I think Dallas QB Dak Prescott is in that class? No and in last week’s installment I mentioned that he’s (Dak) not the key to the Cowboys offense rather running back Ezekiel Elliott. Including the Wild Card win over Seattle, Dallas is 7-1 this season when he gets 20-plus carries and the lone loss came by three points in overtime. In those games, they’re averaging 25.1 PPG and the ‘over’ is now 6-2.

    Last Saturday, Elliott had 26 carries for 137 yards last week in the win and Dallas ended up with 24 points and they left some off the board as Prescott was picked off in the endzone. Knowing the Rams are ranked 23rd against the run (122.3 YPG), a heavy dose of Elliott should be expected.

    In last year’s playoffs, the Falcons executed that plan perfectly and they upset the Rams 26-13 in the Wild Card round as six-point road underdogs. Atlanta ran the ball 39 times for 124 yards and dominated the time of possession (37-23 minutes). It was a humbling loss for the Rams, especially for head coach Sean McVay.

    Will he turtle up again if this year’s Rams get punched in the mouth again? That Atlanta defense was one really good last season and this Dallas unit has certainly shown the ability to launch haymakers. The Cowboys were ranked seven in total defense (327 YPG) and eighth in scoring (22 PPG).

    These teams met in the 2017 regular season and Los Angeles captured a 35-31 win at Dallas and the ‘over’ (50 ½) cashed easily.

    Fearless Prediction:
    McVay’s name has been tossed around all week, largely due to his apparent influence in recent NFL coaching hires. Even though this is only his second playoff game, it’s a big one for him and there will be deserved criticism if they lose and the offense lays another egg. I don’t see that happening, actually the opposite. Los Angeles has dominated teams at home and I believe the extra week will be key. In two games after the bye, the Rams have scored 51 and 30 points under McVay. I believe Los Angles will get in the neighborhood again and I’m buying the Rams Team Total Over (28 ½). I would’ve leaned to the ‘over’ in the game as well but I don’t have as much confidence in the Dallas offense on the road.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Total Talk - DP Sunday
    Chris David

    Three of the four teams in action on Sunday will be making a return trip to the Divisional Playoff round this postseason with the Chargers being the outlier. While L.A. will be making its first appearance in this round since the 2013-14 playoffs, its opponent in New England will be playing in its eighth straight playoff game in the Divisional round.

    Similar to my first three playoff pieces, I’m going to break down every game and offer up my quick handicap and prediction for all the matchups. For those keeping track, my leans went 3-3 in the Wild Card round. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!

    Sunday, Jan. 13

    L.A. Chargers at New England (CBS, 1:05 p.m. ET)


    This total is hovering between 47 and 48 as of Thursday evening and our Matchup Betting Index is showing an early ‘over’ lean. Bettors are also showing a lean to the Chargers and I believe a case can be made for both sides in this game.

    The Chargers haven’t lost outside of Los Angeles this season, going 8-1 on the road and the lone loss came to their crosstown rival Rams in Week 3. Including last Sunday’s ‘under’ result versus Baltimore in the Wild Card round, the ‘over’ has gone 5-4 on the road for Los Angeles.

    Travelling to the East Coast in back-to-back weeks is a rarity in the NFL playoffs. However, Los Angeles has had success in the Eastern Time Zone this season, going 5-0 and the offense has averaged 29.6 points per game. That production has helped the ‘over’ go 4-1, with the lone ‘under’ coming last week at Baltimore.

    Not only is the second straight trip to the East Coast but it’s also the third straight road game for the Chargers. Those following “Total Talk” this season are aware that the “Road Total System” took a dive (0-3) but perhaps it comes through this Sunday. Either way, refresh your memory of the angle here and make a note that the ‘over’ is 44-26 (63%) over the last 12 seasons with this situation.

    Playing on the road anywhere in the NFL is never easy, but Foxboro is another animal altogether. New England went 8-0 at home this season and the ‘under’ went 6-2 in those games, largely due to its defense. The unit only surrendered 16.6 PPG at Foxboro, ranked second-best in the league.

    Be aware that the Patriots only faced three playoff teams at home this season and those clubs (Texans, Colts, Chiefs) averaged 28 PPG compared to 9.8 PPG versus clubs not in the postseason.

    The one constant at Foxboro has been New England’s offense, no matter the opponent. Quarterback Tom Brady and company averaged 32.9 PPG and the future Hall of Famer has thrived in the Divisional Playoffs recently.

    In the last seven appearances in this round, New England is averaging 37.1 PPG and not surprisingly the 'over' has gone 7-0 plus they covered six of those seven games.

    2018 - New England 35 vs. Tennessee 14 (Over 48)
    2017 - New England 34 vs. Houston 16 (Over 44 ½)
    2016 - New England 27 vs. Kansas City 20 (Over 44 ½)
    2015 – New England 35 vs. Baltimore 31 (Over 47 ½)
    2014 – New England 43 vs. Indianapolis 22 (Over 51 ½)
    2013 - New England 41 vs. Houston 28 (Over 50)
    2012 – New England 45 vs. Denver 10 (Over 50 ½)

    Including a couple of the above results, the ‘over’ has gone 6-2 in New England’s last eight playoffs games and during its eight-game playoff winning streak at home, the high side is also 6-2 in those games.

    While the Patriots have been on a great postseason run to the high side, the Chargers have been the opposite with QB Philip Rivers under center. Rivers has led the Bolts to a 5-5 career record in the playoffs, which includes a 4-0 record in the Wild Card round. Doing the math, you can figure out easily that he’s just 1-5 in Divisional and Championship contests. The Chargers have seen the ‘under’ go 8-2 during with Rivers under center and the offense is only averaging 20.6 PPG.

    Do you believe Rivers can do enough to get Los Angeles to the AFC Championship? I’m a big fan of the former N.C. State standout but he’s not exactly in great form the last four weeks (3 TDs, 6 INTs) and his 0-7 all-time record against Brady can’t be overlooked or the offensive production (18.1 PPG) either.

    Going back to the 2008 playoffs, the ‘under’ has cashed in five of the last six encounters between the Chargers and Patriots and five of the outcomes saw a combined score of 43 points or less.

    Fearless Prediction:
    It’s hard to go against the Patriots at Foxboro but my confidence isn’t that high on this year’s squad, especially on defense. They’ve only managed 30 sacks this season, tied for 2nd worst in the league. We’ve seen other quality QBs go into Foxboro this season and have success, plus if you exclude the 10 points put up by Broncos QB Tim Tebow in the 2012 DP matchup, the previous six have combined to average 21.8 PPG. I’m expecting a tight game but my top lean is to Chargers Team Total Over (22).


    Philadelphia at New Orleans (FOX, 4:40 p.m. ET)

    The Divisional Playoff finale on Sunday between the Saints and Eagles is expected to see some points but not as many as their first encounter. In Week 11, New Orleans blasted Philadelphia 48-7 at home in Week 11 and the ‘under’ (57) connected because the Eagles couldn’t do anything offensively.

    Philadelphia was outgained by 350 yards (546 to 196) and it finished the game 3-of-10 on third down plus it committed three turnovers. The New Orleans offense was very sharp, posting 373 yards through the air and 173 on the ground. They could’ve easily hung 56 on the board but they settled for a pair of short field goals.

    For Sunday’s rematch, the total opened much lower at 51 ½ and the number has dropped to 51 as of Thursday evening.

    The Eagles will have a different QB for the second encounter, this time Nick Foles instead of Carson Wentz. Foles was the catalyst for Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run last season and he’s got them moving again this January. If the Eagles expect to have any chance in this game, they’ll need improvement from that position. In the mid-November loss, Wentz was 19-of-33 for 156 yards with three interceptions against the Saints.

    Foles wasn’t spectacular in last week’s 16-15 win at Chicago in the Wild Card round and he was picked off twice in Bears territory. In last year’s playoff run, Foles and the Birds won an ugly opener at home over Atlanta before the offense scored 38 and 41 against the Vikings and Patriots respectively.

    Déjà vu in the Big Easy come Sunday?

    Including Sunday’s result from the Wild Card round, the Eagles have watched the ‘under’ go 10-7 this season. The ‘under’ went 9-7 for the Saints this season but the ‘over’ produced a 5-3 mark at the Superdome behind an offensive unit that posted 34.1 PPG.

    Defensively, New Orleans was better on the road (18.5 PPG) than at home (25.6 PPG) but the form of the unit down the stretch was very solid. If you toss out the meaningless Week 17 loss (33-14) to Carolina at home when it rested its starters, New Orleans only allowed 14.6 PPG in their previous six games and that production helped the ‘under’ go 5-1.

    Putting up points in the Merecedes-Benz Superdome during the playoffs has become a common theme. Dating back to 1998, New Orleans has watched the ‘over’ cash in 10 straight postseason games at home. That streak includes a 5-0 ‘over’ mark under quarterback Drew Brees, who has led the Saints to 35.8 PPG in those contests. In 12 career playoff games with Brees, the ‘over’ is 9-3 for the Saints.

    Fearless Prediction:
    Since Doug Pederson became coach of the Eagles, the club has watched the ‘over’ go 18-7-1 and that’s been attributed tom weak defensive numbers (24.5 PPG). The Birds have only allowed 15 points in their last two road games but I still don’t have much confidence in the unit. Having an extra week to prepare is huge in the playoffs and Saints head coach Sean Payton has improved drastically in this spot. After starting 0-3 in his first three years, New Orleans has gone 8-2 off the bye and the average score is 34.5 to 25.6. The ‘over’ has gone 8-2 during this span and could easily be 9-1 if Ravens kicker Justin Tucker makes an extra point in Week 7 this season. I’m going to ride that trend and play the Over (51) in the game and the Saints Team Total Over (29 ½) as well.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    By: Brandon DuBreuil




    BACKFIELD QUESTIONS IN KC

    Spencer Ware (hamstring) is questionable for Saturday, though he seems likely to suit up after having the bye as an extra week to rest his injured hamstring. Ware actually hasn’t played since Week 14, allowing Damien Williams to emerge and shine as the Chiefs’ top back.

    It’s tough to say how Ware will be used on Sunday. He was supposed to take over feature-back duties after Kareem Hunt’s release, but Williams looked like a star in Weeks 15 and 16, posting over 100 yards from scrimmage against the Chargers and Seahawks before having his snaps dialed back in Week 17’s blowout of Oakland.

    Even if Ware is active, it’s hard to imagine he eats too many of Williams’ snaps on Saturday as he was already starting to take over lead-back duties when both were healthy. Ware played 49 snaps to Williams’ 19 when both were healthy in Week 13, but the following week it was Williams who held a 43 to 41 edge in snaps. It will be a tough rushing matchup against Indianapolis’ defense that ranked fourth in rushing DVOA, but we envision Williams getting into the end zone, something he did six times between Weeks 13-17. We’re backing him to score a touchdown at any time.


    NO QUESTIONS FOR KELCE

    Earlier in the week, we talked about how Sammy Watkins might be in tough against a Colts defense that is very tough on wide receivers. The catch, however, is that Indianapolis is soft against tight ends. We brought this to light last week in backing Ryan Griffen and he would’ve hit his Over had Deshaun Watson not overthrown him when he was wide open for a long touchdown (but we’re not bitter).

    Indy gave up the most catches (6.3) and yards (63) to tight ends during the regular season and ranked 29th in DVOA to the position, allowing an average of 7.9 passes and 76.2 yards. Nothing really needs to be said about Travis Kelce: He’s one of the top tight ends in football and averaged 6.4 catches for 83.5 yards per game. He’s in a great spot for a huge day on Saturday and we’re backing the Over 84.5 on his receiving yards total.


    JEFFERY LIMITED

    Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery was listed as limited in practice on Thursday with a rib injury that he apparently suffered on Wild Card weekend. He was also listed as limited for Thursday’s walkthrough session, though there doesn’t seem to be any concern for his availability on Sunday.

    Jeffery has been hot since Nick Foles took over in Week 15, posting receiving lines of 8-160, 3-82, and 5-59-1 to finish off the regular season before going for 6-82 last week in the Wild Card game. He only grabbed four catches for 33 yards when the Eagles visited the Saints back in Week 11, but the Saints do not have a great pass defense with a rank of 22 in passing DVOA. New Orleans gave up some big days to perimeter receivers down the stretch (think Antonio Brown’s 14-185-2 in Week 16 and Julio Jones’ 11-147-0 in Week 12) and Jeffery could be in line for a nice Divisional Round game. We’re backing the Over 65.5 for his receiving yards total.


    MCVAY TALKS GURLEY

    Sean McVay talked about Todd Gurley and his knee injury on Thursday after practice. “He looks like Todd,” McVay told reporters. “He looks like the explosive, great back we’re used to.” Gurley was also removed from the injury report altogether as it appears he’ll be at full speed on Sunday against the Cowboys.

    Earlier in the week, we suggested backing Gurley’s Under as we didn’t think he’d be at 100 percent and Dallas has the fifth-ranked defense in rushing DVOA. However, we’re going to flip here and look towards backing the Over on Gurley’s rushing total. Full credit goes to a reader who pointed out that Dallas’ rush defense is not nearly as tough on the road as it is at home. In fact, Dallas allowed 422 rushing yards and four touchdowns 84 carries for 5.02 yards per carry in its last four road games. Game script is also in Gurley’s favor as a 7-point home favorite. Gurley’s prop markets aren’t open yet, likely due to the early-week concerns over his knee, but we’ll be backing the Over on his rushing yards total once it is listed.

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    NFL Underdogs: Divisional Round Weekend pointspread picks and predictions
    Jason Logan

    “We’ve seen this movie before…”

    That was the reaction from most after Nick Foles once again stepped under center for the Philadelphia Eagles late in the season, sparked a surge, and stole a huge playoff Wild Card win in Chicago last Sunday. It’s very similar to last year’s formula, which found Foles standing in a sea of confetti holding the Lombardi Trophy when it was all said and done.

    You know what other type of movie we’ve seen before? Those crazy body-swapping movies. Films like “Freaky Friday” (1976 or 2003 with Lindsay Lohan), 2002’s Rob Schneider vehicle “The Hot Chick”, or 2011’s “The Change-Up”.

    One person magically swaps bodies with another person – often their complete opposite – after some traumatic occurrence, like a big fight or peeing in a magic fountain or beating the living snot out of your opponent 48-7 in Week 11.

    That’s right: the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints swapped… football bodies… during that one-sided smackdown by the Saints in the Big Easy back in mid-November. Perhaps it was some of that famed Louisiana Voodoo, like in “The Princess and The Frog” that conjured up the old switchero.

    Ever since then, Philadelphia has looked like a true defending champion – not how it looked in the opening 11 weeks of football – with six wins in its last seven games (5-2 ATS), and that lone loss coming in overtime against Dallas in a contest that the Eagles really should’ve won.

    While Foles is again playing well for a “backup”, the true hero of this movie is the Philly defense. That may not set the box office on fire but it sure as hell covers the spread, especially with the Eagles getting eight points against that team with whom they switched bodies.

    New Orleans got the short end of the stick in the body swap, picking up where the 4-6 Eagles left off. After blasting the rival Falcons in Week 12, the Saints slowly watched its offensive prowess stripped away as opposing defenses figured out the best way to counter their high-powered attack. Dallas, Carolina and Tampa Bay (for a half at least) were able to get Drew Brees on his heels with strong interior pass rushes, disrupting the rhythm of this once-mighty offense.

    Yes, those three games came on the road, but they very much laid the blueprint for how to slow down the Saints and were part of a 1-4 ATS skid to end the season. Brees has passed for only three touchdowns in his last four games, with as many interceptions as TDs. That’s saying something considering he had 29 TD passes and only two INTs before the Week 13 loss at Dallas. And you want to hear something creepy? From Week 1 to Week 11, Philadelphia averaged 20.5 points per game. From Week 12 to Week 17 (post-body swap), the Saints averaged 21 points an outing. Dear gawd, someone ring "Unsolved Mysteries".

    Despite earning the top seed in the NFC, New Orleans is not playing at a very high level and that comes at the wrong time against the wrong team. I’m confident the Saints will somehow get their bodies back when the final whistle blows Sunday night, but not before the Eagles keep this closer than the oddsmakers expect.

    Pick:
    Philadelphia +8


    Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-7.5, 50)

    When looking back at the 2018 L.A. Rams, bettors may want to designate two variations of this team: the pre-Kansas City Shootout Rams and the post-Kansas City Shootout Rams. Since that memorable Week 11 Monday nighter, which the Rams won, Los Angeles hasn’t been quite right.

    The Rams are 3-2 SU and ATS in that span, with “marquee” wins and covers versus the Lions, Cardinals and Niners, but took two on the chin from the Eagles and Bears – two elite defenses who also wore down the Rams with steady rushing attacks which allowed them to control the football and keep L.A. and all its offensive weapons off the field.

    In fact, look at the Rams’ three losses on the year and they all came against teams with solid stop units (at the time) who could also ground and pound, winning the time of possession battle. Los Angeles gave up 33:41 to the New Orleans (141 yards rushing), 36:49 to Chicago (194 yards rushing), and 31:36 to Philadelphia (111 yards rushing). The Rams face a similar foe capable of both shutting them down on both sides of the ball.

    Dallas is a TOP beast. It owned the football for 34:50 in the Wild Card win over Seattle and throws the NFL’s rushing leader at a defense that gives up an NFL-worst 5.1 yards per carry. Ezekiel Elliot is coming off a 26-run, 137-yard effort on the ground (adding another 32 yards through the air) and picks up 4.8 yards per attempt on the season. New Flash: not possessing the football makes it very difficult to cover big spreads like this, even with L.A. playing better in the Coliseum.

    If the Cowboys are going to have a shot of knocking off the No. 2 seed on the road – or at least staying within the +7.5 – they must limit Los Angeles’ touches and get them off the field on third downs. The Rams have one of the best third-down conversion rates in the league, but Dallas’ defense has been exceptional at pulling the power cord on drives in recent games. The Cowboys can't afford to get into a shootout Saturday night.

    Pick:
    Dallas +7.5

    Last week: 2-0 ATS
    Season: 33-19-1 ATS
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Conference semi-finals

    All the home teams this week had last week off.

    Colts @ Chiefs- Chiefs lost their last six home playoff games, with last win in ’94. KC lost two of its last three games after a 11-2 start; Chiefs are 7-1 SU at home this year, but covered only one of last five at Arrowhead. Mahomes has been great this year, but this is his first playoff game. Indy won 10 of its last 11 games after a 1-5 start; they’re in playoffs for first time in four years. Indy won won four of last five road games,; they’re 4-2 vs spread as a road underdog this year. Colts won six of last eight games with Chiefs, beating them 45-44 in ’13 playoffs (Colts are 4-0 vs KC in playoff games). Six of last eight Indy games stayed under the total; five of Chiefs’ last six games went over. #1 seeds are 9-1 SU in this round the last five years (6-4 vs spread).

    Cowboys @ Rams- Rams haven’t won a playoff game in 14 years (0-1); there is added amount of pressure on them here. LA is 7-1 at home this year, 3-3-2 as HF. Dallas won eight of its last nine games, winning last two by total of 3 points; Cowboys are 3-5 on road this year but won three of last four road tilts; they covered six of last seven games as a dog. Rams scored 31-48 points in winning last two games, with backup RB Anderson running ball. Dallas won three of last four games with LA, but Rams won 35-30 in Dallas LY, rallying back from 24-13 first half deficit; Gurley had 215 total yards (94 YR), Cowboys ran for 189. Dallas hasn’t won a playoff game since 2014 (1-2). Last five years, #2-seeds are 2-7-1 vs spread in this round, 6-4 SU.

    Chargers @ Patriots- New England won in this round the last seven years (5-1-1 vs spread); in Brady era, they’re 3-0-2 vs spread as #2-seed in this round. Patriots won last four games with LA, by 3-14-9-8 points. Chargers won 12 of their last 14 games after a 1-2 start; Rivers is 5-5 in playoff games, Brady has won five Super Bowls. LA is 9-0 outside of LA this season, with only road loss vs Rams in Coliseum. This is Chargers’ 3rd straight week on road; they’re 5-1 vs spread when getting points this season. Patriots are 8-0 at home this year (6-2 vs spread); their last six wins were all by 12+ points. Last five years, #2-seeds are 2-7-1 vs spread in this round, 6-4 SU. Four of last five Charger games, eight of last nine Patriot games stayed under the total.

    Eagles @ Saints- Saints (-7) crushed Philly 48-7 back in Week 11, outgaining Eagles 546-196, with +3 turnover ratio. Wentz played that game for Eagles; Foles is on 4-0 playoff run for Philly. Iggles are 6-1 since loss in Superdome, winning last four games, three of which were on road- this is their 5th road game in six weeks. Eagles are 2-2 vs spread as an underdog this year. New Orleans is 3-4 vs spread as a home favorite this year; they’re 3-2 SU in last five games, but Brees didn’t play in Week 17 loss to Carolina. Saints won four of last five games with Philly, which last won on Bourbon Street in ’07. #1 seeds are 9-1 SU in this round the last five years (6-4 vs spread). Five of Saints’ last seven games stayed under total; under is 7-4 in Eagles’ last 11 games.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  15. #825
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    SATURDAY, JANUARY 12
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS


    IND at KC 04:35 PM
    IND +5.0
    U 56.0


    DAL at LAR 08:15 PM
    DAL +7.5
    O 48.5
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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