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

  1. #841
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    Wednesday’s 6-pack:

    This is a little strange; Caesar’s Palace posted odds to win the NIT this March:
    5-1— Field
    6-1— Saint Mary’s
    12-1— Utah State
    15-1— Arizona
    16-1— San Francisco
    20-1— Alabama, ASU, Baylor, Creighton, Oregon St, Wofford
    25-1— Clemson, East Tennessee State,

    Tweet of the Day
    “You’ve got to learn too much. You’ve got to have a great relationship with your offensive line, the receivers, know all the defenses that are going to be thrown at you. It’s just not an NFL season with quarterbacks. They need a lot longer than the season. The offseason is huge for those guys to be successful.”
    Former NFL DB, major league OF Brian Jordan

    Wednesday’s quiz
    Hank Stram was the Chiefs’ coach for their only Super Bowl win; what other NFL team did he later coach?

    Tuesday’s quiz
    NBA’s Thunder were the Seattle SuperSonics before moving to Oklahoma City.

    Monday’s quiz
    In the movie Bull Durham, when the Bulls cut Crash Davis, he finished the season with the Asheville Tourists.


    ***********************

    Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings……..

    13) Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray declared for the NFL Draft, which is just a procedural thing to keep his options open; the pivotal moment in his career path will be whether or not he goes to the NFL Combine in February, 11 days after the start of spring training.

    Four guys on ESPN’s NFL show Monday said they thought Murray would be a first-round draft pick in the NFL; those four guys are rarely unanimous in agreeing on anything. If he gets taken in the first round, Murray would be a damn fool to play baseball- he’ll make a lot more money as a QB than working his way up thru the minor leagues.

    12) Murray has a very interesting decision to make. Joe Mauer earned $218M in his baseball career, just in salary; Matt Holliday earned just under $160M in his. Both guys were HS quarterbacks who turned down college scholarships to become baseball players, but there also guys who tried to juggle both sports and never achieved stardom in either.

    11) Then there is Chase Daniel, who has earned $28M in his nine NFL seasons, while starting a total of four games. Playing QB in the NFL is really, really lucrative if you’re great at it. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and the Manning brothers have all earned $200M+ in their careers.

    Lamar Jackson got a signing bonus of more than $4.9M as the last pick of the first round last year; Murray’s signing bonus with the A’s is $4.66M, most of which he has to return if he signs with an NFL team (he’s already gotten $1.5M of it, would get to keep $200K or so).

    10) CBSSports.com posted a mock draft Tuesday, which means bupkis but it is interesting to look at, and they had the Giants taking Murray with the 6th pick.

    Oakland A’s Class A farm teams are in Beloit and Stockton; not a tough choice whether to suit up for the New Jersey Giants or the Beloit Snappers.

    9) Not sure why the Jets would want to hire a new coach, but not let the guy hire his own assistants? Apparently Baylor’s Matt Rhule and Mike McCarthy both turned the Jets down because they wanted to decide who their assistants would be, rather than be told.

    8) Not much better comedy on TV than listening to ESPN”s Jay Bilas whine about Duke’s star Zion Williamson “being officiated differently”, because he is bigger/stronger than most guys. Nothing like a TV analyst/alum toting the party line for his alma mater.

    7) Sad sign of the times: Prison guards in federal prisons are being mocked by prisoners because the guards are working, but not getting paid. Sounds like a fantastic job.

    6) Modern football: James White is a running back for the Patriots, but on Sunday against the Chargers he didn’t run the ball once— he did catch 15 passes for 97 yards.

    5) Difference between high majors and mid-majors:
    Southern Illinois-Illinois State game Tuesday: one soph, 2 juniors, 7 seniors started.

    Syracuse-Duke Monday night: 3 freshmen, 2 sophs, 4 juniors, one senior started.

    If you play for a top 20 team now and you’re a senior, its almost like you’re a suspect.

    4) TCU is 12-3, having a pretty good season, but they’ve had three players transfer out this season, which led them to giving one of their walk-ons a scholarship, and they got creative in how they told the kid.

    Players are in a meeting room, and a sheriff walks in, holding a piece of paper and looking stern. He says he is looking for someone: “Is Owen Ashieris here?” The kid gets up, walks over to the sheriff, and finds out he’s been given a college scholarship. Kind of cool.

    3) Indianapolis Colts jumped from 4-12 to 10-6 this year, and much of credit for that went to their offensive line, which protected Andrew Luck very well.

    But on Tuesday, the Colts fired OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who was the only offensive coach that Josh McDaniel hired during his brief dalliance Indianapolis last winter. Apparently, Reich wants his own guy, so he must have someone in mind, or why not keep DeGuglielmo?

    2) Former Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush will play his last year of college football at Central Florida; he went 12-3 as a starting QB for the Fighting Irish.

    1) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo got off his butt this week, wants 2019 to be the year legalized sports betting comes to New York.

    “Let’s authorize sports betting in the upstate casinos. It’s here. It’s a reality, and it will generate activity in those casinos.”

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

  2. #842
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    Championship Notes


    L.A. Rams at New Orleans (FOX, 3:05 p.m. ET)

    Los Angeles Road Record: 6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS, 2-6 O/U
    New Orleans Home Record: 7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS, 5-4 O/U

    Line Movements: The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened New Orleans -3 (-120) with a total of 55 . They pushed quickly to -3 (Even) while early ‘over’ money nudged the total to 57. BookMaker.eu sent out New Orleans -3 with a total of 56 . The line has held steady but the total was pushed to 57.

    Head-to-Head: The two teams met at the Superdome on Nov. 4 and New Orleans captured a 45-35 win over Los Angeles as a two-point underdog. The Saints led 35-17 at halftime but the Rams tied the game early in the fourth quarter with 18 unanswered points. New Orleans countered with a 10-0 run to win the game. Both the Saints (487) and Rams (483) racked up plenty of yards and they each committed one turnover. The difference in the game was converting on third and fourth down as New Orleans was 9-of-14 (64%) while the Rams only managed to connect on 30 percent (3-of-10) in the Week 9 matchup.

    The pair also met in each of the last two regular seasons as well and the home team captured both of those contests as well. The Saints captured a 49-21 blowout win in 2016 while Los Angeles earned a 26-20 win at the Coliseum in 2017.

    Including those results, the Rams have dropped their last three trips to the Superdome. The last win for the franchise came in 2007 when Marc Bulger was the quarterback for the St. Louis Rams.

    Playoff Notes: Saturday’s 30-22 win over Dallas in the Divisional Round was the first playoff win for Los Angeles since 2005. Head coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff both own career 1-1 records in the postseason but both contests occurred at home.

    New Orleans improved to 8-5 in the playoffs with QB Drew Brees under center and that includes a perfect 6-0 record at home. Make a note that the Saints are just 2-4 against the spread in those wins and that includes last Sunday’s non-cover (-8) in their 20-14 win over Philadelphia in the Divisional Round.

    Total Notes: The Rams have watched the ‘over’ go 9-8 this season, which includes the high side ticket from last Saturday against Dallas. On the road, Los Angeles has been a great ‘under’ wager (6-2) and one of the two ‘over’ tickets came in the aforementioned game at New Orleans.

    The 34 combined points in Sunday’s playoff game against Philadelphia was the lowest this season and the game easily went ‘under’ the total. New Orleans was 10-7 overall to the low side but New Orleans watched the ‘over’ go 5-4 at the Superdome. Prior to the ‘under’ result versus Philadelphia last Sunday, the Saints had seen the ‘over’ cash in 10 straight home playoff games and that included a 5-0 run with Brees.



    New England at Kansas City (CBS, 6:40 p.m. ET)

    New England Road Record: 3-5 SU, 3-5 ATS, 3-5 O/U
    Kansas City Home Record: 8-1 SU, 5-4 ATS, 3-5-1 O/U

    Line Movements: The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook sent out Kansas City as a three-point home favorite over New England. Bet Online, a major offshore betting outfit, opened the Chiefs at -3 as well.

    The SuperBook sent out a total of 58. Bet Online opened at 57 .

    Head-to-Head: Since 2000, the Patriots have won seven of 10 meetings with the Chiefs, while the last four meetings have finished 'over' the total. New England is making its first trip to Kansas City since 2014 when the Chiefs blitzed the Patriots on a Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium in a 41-14 beatdown as 2 -point underdogs.

    The most recent matchup took place this season at Gillette Stadium as the Patriots held off the Chiefs, 43-40 in Week 6. Kansas City managed a slight cover as 3 -point underdogs, while both Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady each topped the 340-yard mark. Mahomes threw four touchdown passes, but the Patriots overcame blowing a 15-point lead thanks to a last-second field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

    Playoff Notes: The Patriots are playing in their eighth consecutive AFC championship, as New England has posted a 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS mark in this stretch. In the last two road AFC title games, the Patriots have lost at Denver in 2013 and 2015. The last away victory in the conference championship came in 2004 at Pittsburgh.

    Kansas City has never hosted an AFC championship game before as the Chiefs improved to 2-10 in the last 12 postseason contests since 1994, while picking up their first playoff win at Arrowhead Stadium since 1993.

    Amazingly, this is only the second all-time meeting in the playoffs between New England and Kansas City, as the Patriots knocked out the Chiefs in the 2015 divisional playoffs, 27-20.

    Total Notes: Since posting an 'over' against the 49ers in Week 3, the Chiefs are 5-2-1 to the 'under' in the last eight games at Arrowhead Stadium. In five of those contests, the Chiefs have held their opponents to 14 points or less. In the last three playoff games in Kansas City, the 'under' has cashed, while four of the past five postseason contests for the Chiefs have gone 'under.'

    The Patriots are 5-3 to the 'under' this season away from Gillette Stadium, while closing the season on an 8-1 'under' run. However, that streak came to a halt in New England's blowout of Los Angeles in the divisional round.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  3. #843
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    NFL
    Long Sheet

    Conference Championships


    Sunday, January 20

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

    LA RAMS (14 - 3) at NEW ORLEANS (14 - 3) - 1/20/2019, 3:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    LA RAMS is 54-77 ATS (-30.7 Units) as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 192-239 ATS (-70.9 Units) in all games since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 192-239 ATS (-70.9 Units) in all lined games since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 16-30 ATS (-17.0 Units) as a road underdog of 3.5 to 7 points since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 138-189 ATS (-69.9 Units) against conference opponents since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 69-102 ATS (-43.2 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992.
    LA RAMS is 42-63 ATS (-27.3 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    NEW ORLEANS is 2-1 against the spread versus LA RAMS over the last 3 seasons
    NEW ORLEANS is 2-1 straight up against LA RAMS over the last 3 seasons
    2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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

    NEW ENGLAND (12 - 5) at KANSAS CITY (13 - 4) - 1/20/2019, 6:40 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    KANSAS CITY is 18-9 ATS (+8.1 Units) in games played on a grass field over the last 2 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 38-17 ATS (+19.3 Units) in all games over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 38-17 ATS (+19.3 Units) in all lined games over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 87-49 ATS (+33.1 Units) as an underdog since 1992.
    NEW ENGLAND is 124-94 ATS (+20.6 Units) in road games since 1992.
    NEW ENGLAND is 124-94 ATS (+20.6 Units) in road lined games since 1992.
    NEW ENGLAND is 44-23 ATS (+18.7 Units) in all games where the total is greater than or equal to 49.5 since 1992.
    NEW ENGLAND is 28-13 ATS (+13.7 Units) against conference opponents over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 25-9 ATS (+15.1 Units) when playing with 6 or less days rest over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 23-9 ATS (+13.1 Units) after 2 or more consecutive wins over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 18-7 ATS (+10.3 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 3 seasons.
    NEW ENGLAND is 88-56 ATS (+26.4 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.
    KANSAS CITY is 3-13 ATS (-11.3 Units) in playoff games since 1992.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    KANSAS CITY is 2-0 against the spread versus NEW ENGLAND over the last 3 seasons
    KANSAS CITY is 1-1 straight up against NEW ENGLAND over the last 3 seasons
    2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

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




    NFL

    Conference Championships


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

    Sunday, January 20

    Los Angeles Rams
    LA Rams is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
    LA Rams is 14-3 SU in its last 17 games
    LA Rams is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of LA Rams's last 6 games on the road
    LA Rams is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games when playing New Orleans
    LA Rams is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against New Orleans
    LA Rams is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against New Orleans
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of LA Rams's last 6 games when playing on the road against New Orleans

    New Orleans Saints
    New Orleans is 10-5 ATS in its last 15 games
    New Orleans is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games
    New Orleans is 14-2 SU in its last 16 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of New Orleans's last 8 games
    New Orleans is 15-2 SU in its last 17 games at home
    New Orleans is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games when playing LA Rams
    New Orleans is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against LA Rams
    New Orleans is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against LA Rams
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of New Orleans's last 6 games when playing at home against LA Rams

    New England Patriots
    New England is 11-3 SU in its last 14 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 8 of New England's last 10 games
    New England is 17-8 ATS in its last 25 games on the road
    New England is 19-6 SU in its last 25 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New England's last 5 games on the road
    New England is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Kansas City
    New England is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games when playing Kansas City
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of New England's last 5 games when playing Kansas City
    New England is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Kansas City
    New England is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Kansas City

    Kansas City Chiefs
    Kansas City is 2-5-1 ATS in its last 8 games
    Kansas City is 17-5 SU in its last 22 games
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Kansas City's last 7 games
    Kansas City is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games at home
    Kansas City is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 11 of Kansas City's last 14 games at home
    Kansas City is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing New England
    Kansas City is 3-7 SU in its last 10 games when playing New England
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kansas City's last 5 games when playing New England
    Kansas City is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against New England
    Kansas City is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against New England
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  4. #844
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    Over the last five seasons, the home team has won every single AFC/NFC Championship game (10-0) and in those same games home teams are 8-2 against the spread.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  5. #845
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    Who's Hot and Who's Not

    Week of Jan 14th

    With last week's focus solely on the Divisional Round in the NFL playoffs, we saw some interesting results overall. The 12-for-13 year run of at least one Wildcard team moving onto the Conference Championship was halted with all four home sides winning, while the streak of Wildcard teams not advancing after winning by two or less was pushed to 1-10 SU and 5-5-1 ATS since realignment.

    We are left with the four teams that we able to finish 1-2 in their respective conferences, as both Conference Championship games are rematches of epic, high-scoring regular season battles. New England and New Orleans were able to prevail at home in those first meetings, but this time it's only the Saints who get the benefit of being in their own building with the stakes significantly increased.

    So it's on to focusing on some history from Conference Championship weekend as the rest of this week will be filled with plenty of thoughts and takes on who will end up being this year's Super Bowl combatants. Can some recent history help us land on the right answers? We will have to wait and see, but this week it's New England Patriots fans that will be fighting against the past.

    Who's Hot

    Home teams in Conference Championship games are 10-0 SU (8-2 ATS) last five seasons


    A run like this shouldn't be too surprising as teams that have earned home field in a Conference title game tend to be the ones that have been among the better teams in the league the entire season. We've got both #1 seeds hosting the games coming up this week, and Chiefs and Saints fans are hoping their respective squads can extend this run for home sides during this weekend.

    Overall in this decade (starting with the 2009-10 season), home teams are 14-4 SU during Conference Championship weekend, but just 10-8 ATS. However, while that ATS record might suggest that going against the Chiefs and Saints this weekend may be worth considering – after all, a 10-8 ATS record is just 55% ATS for home sides, of those eight ATS defeats by home teams in this round, only one of them came when the home team was laying less than four points. That game would be the NFC Championship in January 2012 when the New York Giants knocked off San Francisco in OT thanks to a muffed punt that will go down in infamy for 49ers (and Giants) fans. San Francisco closed as a -2 home favorite that day.

    Two of the other ATS defeats for home sides during this weekend came when we actually had a home underdog (Atlanta in January 2013, and Chicago in January 2011), with the remaining five ATS losses coming with the home side priced at -4 or greater, four of which were favored by a TD or more. With both point spreads currently in the -3/3.5 range for this year's games, you've basically got no margin for error in terms of backing the underdog and having them not win the game outright, and that's where the 10-0 SU run and 14-4 SU run this decade for home teams this weekend still has you fighting uphill.

    Obviously, streaks/runs like this are made to be broken, and chronologically, it will be the LA Rams up first with a chance to end these streaks. LA does have the revenge angle on their side after losing in New Orleans earlier this year, and the fact that QB Jared Goff and company have already dealt with that hostile environment in a highly helped game should be a plus.

    For Patriots backers, it's tough to ignore how dominant they were against the Chargers on Sunday, but sadly, the news doesn't get a whole lot better for them in terms of going out on the road in Kansas City and making their third consecutive Super Bowl this week. That's because....

    Who's Not

    NFL teams that score 40+ points in the playoffs are on a 2-7 SU run (3-6 ATS) the following playoff week


    New England was the only one of the four high-powered offenses this past weekend to put up 40 or more points on the scoreboard and that may have not been the best omen for them. I've listed the most recent numbers for teams in that scenario in the header, but overall this decade (again, since the 2009-10 season) these teams are 5-9 SU and 4-10 ATS.

    The good news for New England is the fact that the last two times it's happened for teams advancing from the Divisional round – Jacksonville last year and New England in January 2015 – they've gone 2-0 ATS, but only the Patriots were able to advance to the Super Bowl, and they did it with a home victory the following week, not a road date. Furthermore, teams that did score 40+ during the Divisional round since January 2010 are 4-3 SU the following week, but that's where the good news begins and ends for the Patriots this week.

    None of those four SU victories in the Conference finals for teams off scoring 40+ have come by squads that were lined as road underdogs of any number, as road teams account for just two of those four wins off a 40+ point performance, and both were laying chalk as visitors (Green Bay in January 2011 and San Francisco in January 2013).

    Finally, two of those three SU losses during the Conference finals have come from this New England Patriots franchise specifically (January 2013 and January 2014), and while New England will be making their eighth straight appearance in the AFC Championship, they are 0-3 ATS (1-2 SU) when entering the game after scoring 40+ the week prior. Add in the Patriots 0-2 SU and ATS record in road AFC Championships during this eight-year run, and Bill Belichick and company will be rewriting the history books in a big way should they win this weekend and move on to yet another Super Bowl appearance.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  6. #846
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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    CHIEFS D STEPS UP

    Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Divisional Round was the play of Kansas City’s defense. It was a unit that struggled throughout the regular season with a rank of 26th in overall DVOA while giving up the second-most total yards per game in the league (405.5). Then they went out and shut down the hottest quarterback in the league, holding Andrew Luck without a pass completion in the first quarter and without an offensive touchdown until the game was well out of reach with 5:31 remaining in the fourth. Luck wound up throwing for just 203 yards on 19-of-36 passing while Marlon Mack was stuffed to the tune of 46 yards on nine carries, which was actually an inflated total as one of his carries went for 20 yards.

    Shutting down the Colts was impressive but this week is a totally different challenge with Tom Brady and co. coming to town. The Patriots looked unstoppable on Sunday against what was a very good Chargers defense, scoring touchdowns on each of their first three possessions en route to the 41-point performance.

    New England torched the Chiefs for 43 points back in Week 6, though it should be noted that K.C. was a much better unit at home during the regular season, allowing 17.4 points per game as compared to 34.6 on the road. Still, it’s Brady and Belichick in the playoffs and we’re expecting them to craft a game plan in which they score early and often against the Chiefs on Sunday. Our early-week lean is towards the Over 26.5 for New England’s team total.


    GINN GETS LOVE

    One of the more surprising storylines from Sunday’s Saints-Eagles win was New Orleans receiver Ted Ginn. He caught just three passes for 44 yards but the line that really jumps out is that Drew Brees targeted him seven times, which was second on the team to Michael Thomas’ 16 looks. Ginn actually could have had a monster game if Brees had not underthrown him on the game’s opening play that should have been a long touchdown but instead was an interception. Regardless, it was obvious that Brees wanted to get him the ball and that should again be the case on Sunday as the Saints host the Rams.

    The Rams have an above-average pass defense, with a rank of ninth in passing DVOA during the regular season, but were burned by Dallas’s WR2, Michael Gallup, on Saturday to the tune of 6-119 on nine targets. Michael Thomas went bananas with a 12-171-1 line against the Eagles and he’ll surely be the focus of the Rams’ defensive game plan for the NFC Championship Game. We’re thinking Ginn could fly under the radar and we’ll be looking to play the Over for his receiving yards total.


    RAMS RUN WILD

    What a performance it was from the Rams’ running game on Saturday, racking up 273 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries. Dallas was a tough matchup on paper, with the fifth-ranked defense in rushing DVOA during the regular season, but the Cowboys had been vulnerable to the run on the road late in the season and that held true on Saturday (and got us a winner in backing the Over for Gurley’s rushing total).

    Sunday will be an even tougher matchup, in theory, as the Saints ranked third in rushing DVOA during the regular season and then held the Eagles to 49 rushing yards on 16 carries last weekend.

    It will also be tough to predict who will be doing the bulk of the work in the Rams’ backfield this weekend. C.J. Anderson actually led L.A. in carries last weekend and posted a line of 23-123-2, while Todd Gurley went for 16-115-1 in what was his first game since Dec. 16. Gurley’s long layoff was likely the reason why Anderson out-touched him, but all Anderson has done is run for rushing totals of 167, 132, and 123 while scoring four times in his three games with the Rams. He has to be involved against the Saints.

    Our early-week lean is to stay off the rushing totals for both running backs as it’s tough to say how Sean McVay will use them, but we do like the idea of both of them getting goal-line touches at some point during the game and at +125, we’re backing Anderson to score a touchdown at any time.


    MICHEL’S THE MAN

    Sony Michel made his playoffs debut a memorable one on Sunday, rushing 24 times for 129 yards and hitting the end zone three times. He was the feature back in the running game, getting 24 of the 34 handoffs from Tom Brady (while James White took the passing downs and turned them into 15 receptions for 97 yards). It was a tough matchup on paper against the Chargers as they ranked 10th in rushing DVOA during the regular season and had only given up 90 rushing yards to Baltimore’s vaunted rushing attack the week prior.

    This week looks to be an easier matchup for Michel. The Chiefs ranked dead last in rushing DVOA during the regular season and gave up 132.1 rushing yards per game (sixth-most in the NFL), five yards per carry (second-most in the NFL), and 19 rushing touchdowns (third-most in the NFL). The weather shouldn’t be a factor either as the surface at Arrowhead Field is heated, meaning the players shouldn’t have an issue with their footing. Michel is going to be a huge part of New England’s offensive plan and we’re backing him to hit the end zone once again this week by going Over 0.5 for his rushing touchdowns total at -120.


    WATKINS UNSCATHED

    Chiefs coach Andy Reid told the media on Tuesday that Sammy Watkins got through the Wild Card game without setbacks to his foot. He was playing in his first game since Week 11 last weekend and hauled in 6-of-8 targets for 62 yards. Watkins was on the field for 76-of-82 offensive snaps and will be at full speed against New England on Sunday night.

    Watkins has a below-average matchup on Sunday against a Pats squad that ranked 14th in passing DVOA during the regular season and 12th in DVOA against WR2s, allowing seven passes for 53 yards per game. New England shut down Watkins back in Week 6, holding him to two catches for 18 yards in what was one of his worst offensive lines of the season. The Pats did get burned by the Chargers’ secondary receivers, Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams, for 10 total catches and 162 yards last week, though a lot of that can be attributed to game script as Philip Rivers threw 51 times because the Chargers fell behind big early. We expect the Pats to hold Watkins relatively in check and we’re backing the Under 4.5 for his receptions total.


    CAN THOMAS BE STOPPED?

    At times, Michael Thomas looks like the best receiver in the NFL. That was certainly the case last week as he hauled in a ridiculous 12 catches on 16 targets for 171 yards and a touchdown. It was also the case when the Rams and Saints met at the Superdome in Week 9 as he had 12 catches on 15 targets for 211 yards and a touchdown. Rams cornerback Marcus Peters was routinely burned by Thomas back in Week 9, but he’ll have some help on Sunday as Aqib Talib will be available after missing the Week 9 matchup.

    Peters and Talib took turns covering Dallas’ top receiver Amari Cooper last weekend and held him relatively in check as Cooper turned in a line of 6-65-1. But Thomas is a lot better than Cooper, Drew Brees is a lot better than Dak Prescott, and New Orleans offensive scheme is a lot better than Dallas’. The Rams struggled with the opponent’s top receiver throughout the regular season, finishing with a DVOA rank of 28th to the position while allowing 7.4 passes for 82.7 yards per game (and those stats include eight Talib starts). Even with reinforcements, we don’t see how the Rams slow down Thomas in what should be an epic shootout at the Superdome. We’re taking the Over 92.5 on his receiving yards total.


    SHOOTOUT IN THE BIG EASY?

    With the Rams set to visit the Saints on Sunday with a game total of 56.5, it’s difficult to envision that we’re going to see anything except an epic shootout. Let’s dig into the numbers a bit.

    The Saints averaged 32.6 points per game at home, third-best in the NFL.
    The Rams averaged 28.8 points per game on the road, also third-best in the NFL.
    Since 2003, games with totals of 56 or higher in the playoffs have hit the Over five out of seven times.
    The Over is 5-1 in New Orleans’ home games during the playoffs since 2007, with the only Under coming in last week’s game against Philadelphia.

    The Rams will want to run the ball with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson but will likely struggle against New Orleans third-ranked unit in rushing DVOA. The Saints’ offense will also be a lot sharper as compared to last week where they were shutout in the first quarter as they were clearly rusty, having not played meaningful snaps as a unit since Week 16. The total opened at 57 and has since ticked down to 56.5, but we’re expecting points early and often, much like Week 9’s 80-point affair between these two teams. We’re backing the Over 56.5.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    BRADY IN THE COLD

    While the weather could affect different players in different ways, one thing we know for certain is that it won’t New England’s quarterback. Tom Brady seems to love the cold with a ridiculous 24-4 record in games played in sub-30-degree weather and when the cold gets below 20 degrees, his record is 5-1. Brady has led the Pats to wins in the cold but let’s take a look at how he fared in those games:

    Jan. 10, 2004 (4 degrees) - 21 of 41, 201 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
    Jan. 23, 2005 (11 degrees) - 14 of 21, 207 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
    Jan. 10, 2010 (20 degrees) - 23 of 42, 154 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
    Jan. 10, 2015 (20 degrees) - 33 of 50, 367 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
    Dec. 18, 2016 (18 degrees) - 16 of 32, 188 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
    Dec. 31, 2017 (13 degrees) - 18 of 37, 190 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

    Brady’s passing yards total for Sunday is set at 288.5. And what’s the one number that jumps out from the above list? Brady has only thrown for more than 207 yards in sub-20 degree weather once. There’s also the fact that he’s just not throwing the ball downfield without Josh Gordon. The Under for his passing yards total is looking like a smart bet.


    WHITE HOT IN PLAYOFFS

    Playoffs James White was in full effect last weekend, posting an insane 15 receptions for 97 yards against the Chargers. We suggested he would have a big game and he got us a winner, going Over 45.5 receiving yards with nine minutes remaining in the second quarter.

    We know that Kansas City struggles against the run — we dug into that yesterday. Against pass-catching backs, the Chiefs are slightly better with a DVOA rank of 21, giving up 6.9 passes and 56.4 receiving yards per game to an opponent’s backfield during the regular season. The weather should also play in White’s factor, as Brady will be looking for more short completions in the cold and possible crosswinds at Arrowhead. White’s totals have ticked up since last week, but we see Brady going to him early and often once again on Sunday. Take the Over 47.5 for his receiving yards total and/or the Over 5.5 for his receptions total.


    BANKING ON KAMARA

    The Rams defense did well at home last week to shut down Ezekiel Elliott, holding the Cowboys’ star back to 47 rushing yards on 20 carries and 19 receiving yards on two receptions. L.A. will again be challenged by New Orleans’ backfield this week as they get the unenviable task of trying to shut down Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara on the turf at the Superdome.

    Kamara was his usual dual-threat out of the backfield last week against Philadelphia, rushing 16 times for 71 yards and adding four receptions for 35 yards. That marked the third straight game and that he has put up 100-plus yards from scrimmage. Kamara averaged 106.1 yards from scrimmage per game in the regular season, the eighth-most in the NFL. The Rams are tough to read against dual-threat backs, ranking 28th in rushing DVOA but fourth in isolated passing DVOA to running backs. Back in Week 9, Kamara put up 82 rushing yards and 34 receiving yards against the Rams and we’re expecting him to crack the 100-yard mark from scrimmage once against on Sunday. Take the Over 100.5 for his combined rushing and receiving yards total.


    STAYING OFF GOFF (AGAIN)

    Here’s what we wrote last week when talking about Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s late-season struggles:

    Rams quarterback Jared Goff seemed to hit a bit of a wall towards the end of 2018. In five December starts, Goff averaged just 228.2 passing yards, cracking the 220-yard mark just once when he threw for 339 yards when the Rams were chasing the Eagles all night in Week 15. Over that same stretch, he completed just 58.6 percent of his passes for 6.3 yards per attempt.

    Goff was serviceable in the Divisional Round, going 15 of 28 for 186 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, getting us a winner with the Under 282.5 on his passing yards total. But serviceable isn’t what we expect from Goff and the high-flying Rams offense. It’s also not what oddsmakers are expecting this week as his passing yards total is set at 284.5.

    In addition to Goff’s late-season struggles are his road struggles. Goff averaged just 243.8 passing yards per game away from the L.A. Coliseum during the regular season (as opposed to 342.5 at home). He did throw 391 yards in the shootout at the Superdome back in Week 9, but as mentioned above, this is not the same Goff as we saw earlier in the season. The Saints were excellent against the pass last week, limiting Nick Foles to just 201 yards on 18-of-31 passing and we’re expecting another sub-par day from Goff on Sunday afternoon. Grab the Under 284.5 on his passing yards total.

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    NFL Underdogs: Championship Sunday pointspread picks and predictions
    Jason Logan

    Most TV sitcoms hit their stride after one or two seasons – if they’re lucky to last that long – making Seasons 3, 4, and 5 the peak in terms of quality and popularity. The characters are more defined, the actors and directors are comfortable, and the stories are more engaging in those latter seasons.

    A run of quality seasons can extend a sitcom’s shelf life, even when it takes a noticeable down tick. Despite the drop off in quality, a beloved program can run for another three, four or five years before audiences eventually pack it in (See: Scrubs or Community).

    If the NFL season where a TV network, the New Orleans Saints would have been the highest-rated show between Week 7 and Week 12. New Orleans went into its Week 6 bye with a 4-1 record (3-2 ATS) and came out of that break on point. The Saints rolled up six straight wins and covered the spread in each of those games, including a 45-35 victory versus the L.A. Rams as 1.5-point home underdogs in Week 9.

    But much like all great shows, they must come to an end. And in the case of the Saints, the quality of programming has been dwindling since a Week 13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. In their last six games, going back to that fateful day in Dallas, the Saints are 4-2 SU but just 1-5 ATS, and without a convincing victory.

    New Orleans hasn’t even come close to the quality of play seen between Week 7 and Week 12. They were handled by the Cowboys, had to battle back against the Buccaneers, nearly lost to the Panthers on Monday Night Football, were a JuJu Smith-Schuster fumble away from a loss to Pittsburgh, watched their first-team defense get backhanded by Kyle Allen (?) and Carolina in Week 17, and most recently had to claw their way back from two touchdowns behind to edge the Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round.

    For aging TV sitcoms, a change in cast, loss of director, or just bad writing can begin the ship sinking. For the Saints, it’s been slow starts. Over that six-game span, New Orleans has been outscored 54-10 in the first quarter, 85-36 in the first half, and owns an average margin of almost -8 at the break.

    Los Angeles enters as one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL and among its quickest starters. The Rams have done severe damage in the opening 30 minutes – especially second quarters – and own an average margin of almost plus-10 at half in its last half-dozen outings. Their ability to run the ball and create opportunities for intermediate play-action passes will really pick on one of the biggest weakness for the Saints.

    And for everything L.A. can do offensively, this defense follows the blueprint laid down by New Orleans’ most recent opponents, more specifically interior pressure on quarterback Drew Brees. Ndamukong Suh was signed specifically for this time of year and stepped up with his best game against Dallas, and Aaron Donald is the top defensive player in the league – no argument – who (despite not recording a sack) had four hits on Brees in that Week 9 game.

    It appears the Saints’ cancellation notice is coming down the pipe. Whether that happens in the NFC Championship, the Super Bowl, or next season remains to be seen. But I know how Sunday’s show will end, with L.A. covering the +3.5.

    Pick: L.A. Rams +3.5

    Last week: 1-1 ATS
    Season: 34-20-1 ATS
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Patriots-Chiefs Matchups
    January 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    It will be dark and cold, perhaps absurdly cold, Sunday night in Kansas City. Arrowhead Stadium will be lit up, though, and the winner of the Patriots-Chiefs game will head to Atlanta for the Super Bowl.

    Here's how they match up:

    WHEN NEW ENGLAND HAS THE BALL


    As they have much of the season, the Patriots will attempt to strike a balance of run and pass. In rookie Sony Michel (26), they have a ground force, and in fellow RB James White (28), they have perhaps the best receiver out of the backfield in the league.

    Don't think Tom Brady (12) won't make use of them often - and more often. Against the Chargers, White tied an NFL postseason mark with 15 catches, totaling 97 yards. The one thing Kansas City can do exceptionally well on defense is rush the passer with DT Chris Jones (95), LBs Justin Houston (50) and Dee Ford (55), so Brady will throw those quick shots to his backs and WR Julian Edelman (11) and TE Rob Gronkowski (87). Should the offensive line led by LT Trent Brown (77), C David Andrews (60) and RG Shaq Mason (69) provide ample time, Brady can then look deep, where he could have significant matchup edges with Edelman, Chris Hogan (15), Phillip Dorsett (13) and even Cordarrelle Patterson (84).

    Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will need to be aggressive all game; we saw what happens when an opponent isn't when Brady and Michel ripped up the Chargers last week. Sutton's secondary has no dynamic players - S Eric Berry (29) is the best but has not been healthy this season - and using six DBs could be a necessity Sunday. The Chiefs (52 sacks) must get a strong pass rush on Brady, making him throw off-balance or before he wants to.

    One thing in Kansas City's favor is a plus-9 turnover margin.

    WHEN KANSAS CITY HAS THE BALL

    Don't change what you have been doing.

    All-Pro Patrick Mahomes (15) is only the third quarterback to throw for at least 50 touchdowns in a season; Brady also did it in 2007. Mahomes never gives up on plays, and he has an uncanny skill at prolonging them until WRs Tyreek Hill (10), Sammy Watkins (14) or Chris Conley (17) and All-Pro TE Travis Kelce (87) get open. Hill was the AP's All-Pro flex player, showing his versatility.

    Considering his mobility, strong arm and resourcefulness, it is surprising Mahomes was sacked 26 times. New England, which had 30 sacks this season, wants to keep him bottled up, so key confrontations could be All-Pro RT Mitchell Schwartz (71) vs. DE Trey Flowers (98), and LT Eric Fisher (72) against an assortment of pass rushers. The Patriots also will get their linebackers into the mix, particularly Dont'a Hightower (54) and Kyle Van Noy (53).

    Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore (24) is an All-Pro and will see plenty of Hill. How the other DBs handle Kelce and Mahomes' other targets could be a deciding factor; the New England secondary has been victimized often in road games.

    Given the potential for cold weather, the Chiefs could work hard to run the ball with Damien Williams (26), who has stepped up nicely since Kareem Hunt was released, and Spencer Ware (32), who has battled a hamstring injury. Mahomes doesn't use his backs often in the passing game but they are solid.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Both sides are reliable and have some dangerous elements in the return game. Kansas City has Hill for punts and rookie Tremon Smith (39) for kickoffs, while New England features Patterson on kickoffs and the always-reliable Edelman on punts. The cold weather could make the football feel like a lead weight for punters Ryan Allen (6) of the Patriots and Dustin Colquitt (2) of the Chiefs, though wind shouldn't bother either of them; they're used to it.

    Field goals could be another matter. Although New England's Stephen Gostkowski (3) and Kansas City's Harrison Butker (7) have strong and accurate legs, don't be stunned to see both teams go for some fourth downs. Gostkowski is far more seasoned in pressure spots.

    COACHING

    Andy Reid is 2-6 against New England. He's had one of his best coaching years, though, and his handling of Mahomes has been remarkable. As long as he pushes the envelope, and avoids playing not to lose, he will give Kansas City every chance to reach its first Super Bowl since the 1969 season.

    Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels recognizes his team will need to score aplenty, and he never backs off. The Patriots might be losing defensive coordinator Brian Flores to Miami as Dolphins head coach, and he could show why he deserves that spot by finding a way to slow down a Chiefs team that scored 565 points this season.

    INTANGIBLES


    The Patriots, in their record eighth straight conference title game, are so experienced in this environment. Yet they claim to feel slighted because of the doubts raised about their level of competence after going 3-5 on the road. A ticked-off Brady is never a good thing for the opposition, and the Patriots could become only the third franchise to reach three straight Super Bowls.

    Still, Kansas City is so parched for a trip to the big game - the Chiefs went to two of the first four Super Bowls and won in 1970, but none since. And this team has a freshness about it largely thanks to Mahomes, who shattered nearly every franchise passing record this season.

    Their meeting in October could have gone either way, with New England getting the ball last and making the final, winning drive. And that was in Foxborough.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Rams-Saints Matchups
    January 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    The gumbo the New Orleans Saints are cooking up is flavored with lots of passes from Drew Brees to Michael Thomas, plenty of runs by Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and enough dashes of defense to negate the high-powered offense of the Los Angeles Rams.

    Will that be the proper recipe?

    Here's how they match up:

    WHEN LOS ANGELES HAS THE BALL


    Balance is the keyword to the Rams' offense, starting with the NFL's most versatile running back, All-Pro Todd Gurley (30). Gurley not only led the NFL with 21 TDs, he ranked fourth with 1,831 yards from scrimmage despite being slowed in December. He can do the dirty work inside and also break long gainers. And when he's struggled with knee issues recently, late-season pickup C.J. Anderson (35) has been masterful.

    To combat the ground game, the Saints could be at a disadvantage after losing DT Sheldon Rankins to a torn Achilles tendon last week. They'll require steady production from their best linebacker, Demario Davis (56) who led the Saints with 110 tackles this season, and strong play from the D-line. But the Rams bring a staunch blocking unit featuring LT Andrew Whitworth (77), LG Rodger Saffold (76) and RT Rob Havenstein (79).

    Should LA control the trenches, it will open up what already is a highly creative passing repertoire for Jared Goff (16) and wideouts Robert Woods (17), Brandin Cooks (12) and rapidly developing Josh Reynolds (83). All of them can find the end zone, with Cooks being the main deep threat. A former Saint, he'll likely match up with CB Marshon Lattimore (23), who had two interceptions against Philadelphia.

    Teams can throw deep on New Orleans, and the Rams will try. Goff, though, will need protection from pass rushers Cam Jordan (93), Marcus Davenport (91) and the always-present Davis. And Goff must not let the noise factor affect him.

    WHEN NEW ORLEANS HAS THE BALL

    Just like LA, New Orleans will try nearly anything on offense. Fourth-down plays, a form of the wildcat with backup QB/special teamer Taysom Hill, and old-fashioned grinding will be in play.

    Brees (9) has had one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame-caliber career, particularly with his efficiency. Last week, though, it was his leadership that stood out as the Saints fell into a 14-0 hole and looked amateurish before rallying.

    Knowing New Orleans will need lots of points in this one, Brees could target All-Pro WR Michael Thomas (13) as often as he did against Philly, which was 16 times. Thomas caught 12 and had a TD. He will be the problem of standout CBs Aqib Talib (21) and Marcus Peters (22), both of them willing to gamble in coverage.

    The Saints don't have another outstanding wideout or tight end, but RB Kamara (41) almost equals Gurley for all the things he can do - and he's healthier. Kamara and Ingram (22) will be challenged by a defense that shut down NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys and features the only unanimous All-Pro, DT Aaron Donald (99). Dealing with Donald and the other solid defensive linemen - Ndamukong Suh (93) and Michael Brockers (90) - will be a Saints unit led by LT Terron Armstead (71) and LG Andrus Peat (74), who have been bothered by chest and hand injuries, respectively, and RT Ryan Ramczyk (71). Giving Brees time and Kamara/Ingram holes could be decisive.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    An indoor game makes for stronger kicking and, often, less impact by placekickers and punters.

    LA PK Greg Zuerlein (4) and P Johnny Hekker (6) might have the most powerful legs in the league, and Zuerlein is a field-goal threat from 60 yards and in. Hekker probably could put a punt off the Superdome roof.

    Although Wil Lutz (3) missed a 52-yard FG attempt that kept the Eagles close last week, he's reliable and, for someone in his third season, has hit a bunch of pressure kicks. Thomas Morstead (6) is in his 10th season with New Orleans, longer than anyone except Brees.

    The Rams aren't exceptional on returns, but they aren't inept, either. JoJo Natson (19) has handled most of the punt runbacks, while Blake Countess (24) is the kick returner.

    New Orleans, like the Rams, has not returned a kick for a score. Tommylee Lewis (11) has become the main guy.

    COACHING

    Sean vs. Sean. Two entirely different Seans in terms of experience.

    New Orleans' Payton is in his 12th season in charge; he missed 2012 while suspended in the Saints' bounties scandal. His offensive schemes fit perfectly with Brees' skillset, and he won't be overwhelmed by the surroundings, having won the 2009 championship. Payton will gamble, including fake punts with his version of a Swiss Army knife, third-string QB Taysom Hill (7).

    LA's McVay is the hot commodity on the pro football market. Every team looking for a new head coach has at least investigated people who've worked with McVay, who will be 33 next Thursday. He's innovative, aggressive and, in some ways, one of the guys.

    Because both Seans are willing to go for it, this should be a fun battle of wits.

    INTANGIBLES

    The Rams have never won a Super Bowl while representing Los Angeles; they got one in 2000 as St. Louis' team - that Super Bowl also was in Atlanta. Wade Phillips, while never one of the NFL's great coaches, is one of the best defensive coordinators ever. He's eager to prove so again in facing such a productive attack.

    Brees is closer to the end of his career than perhaps anyone in this game, though he's given no indication he is about to retire. Winning a second Super Bowl would cement his place among the sport's top quarterbacks.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Total Talk - Championships
    January 18, 2019
    By Chris David


    Divisional Playoffs Recap

    The totals went 2-2 last weekend and while the 'over' in the Rams-Cowboys needed help late, the Chiefs-Colts matchup slowed down considerably in the second-half. Bettors playing the first-half watched the 'over' go 3-1. Through eight postseason games, the 'under' owns a 5-3 record.

    Championship Game History

    Including last year's under' winner between the Patriots and Jaguars, the low side is now 6-1 in the previous seven AFC Championship games. Jacksonville is just one of two teams that was able to score 20 points on New England during its run of seven consecutive apperances in the title game.

    AFC CHAMPIONSHIP TOTAL HISTORY (2008-2018)

    Year Result Total
    2017-2018 New England 24 vs. Jacksonville 20 46, Under
    2016-2017 New England 36 vs. Pittsburgh 17 49.5, Over
    2015-2016 Denver 20 vs. New England 18 45, Under
    2014-2015 New England 45 vs. Indianapolis 7 52.5, Under
    2013-2014 Denver 26 vs. New England 16 57, Under
    2012-2013 Baltimore 28 at New England 13 49.5, Under
    2011-2012 New England 23 vs. Baltimore 20 49, Under
    2010-2011 Pittsburgh 24 vs. N.Y. Jets 19 38, Over
    2009-2010 Indianapolis 30 vs. N.Y. Jets 17 40, Over
    2008-2009 Pittsburgh 23 vs. Baltimore 14 35, Over

    The NFC Championship has watched the ‘over’ go 7-3 the last 10 years. New Orleans helped in the 2009-10 NFC title game with a 31-28 home win over the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings.

    NFC CHAMPIONSHIP TOTAL HISTORY (2008-2018)

    Year Result Total
    2017-2018 Philadelphia 38 vs. Minnesota 7 39, Over
    2016-2017 Atlanta 44 vs. Green Bay 21 61, Over
    2015-2016 Carolina 49 vs. Arizona 15 47.5, Over
    2014-2015 Seattle 28 vs. Green Bay 22 (OT) 47, Over
    2013-2014 Seattle 23 vs. San Francisco 17 40.5, Under
    2012-2013 San Francisco 28 at Atlanta 24 48, Over
    2011-2012 New York 20 at San Francisco 17 (OT) 42, Under
    2010-2011 Green Bay 21 at Chicago 14 42, Under
    2009-2010 New Orleans 31 vs. Minnesota 28 (OT) 54, Over
    2008-2009 Arizona 32 vs. Philadelphia 25 47, Over

    After a 3-3 week in the Wild Card round, we went 2-3 in the Divisional Round and two of the losers were clear-cut as the Saints and Eagles never came close to their number. Hopefully we can get back into the black with the title games. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!

    NFC Championship - L.A. Rams at New Orleans (CBS, 3:05 p.m. ET)

    Oddsmakers at BookMaker.eu opened this total at 56 and as of Friday morning, the total is sitting at 57. When the pair met in the regular season on Nov. 4, the Saints captured a 45-35 home win over the Rams and the ‘over’ (57 ) connected easily. New Orleans led 35-17 at halftime and the high side cashed early in the second-half with plenty of time to spare.

    Will we see another shootout in the rematch from the Superdome? If the offensive units both show up like they did in the Week 9 encounter, it’s hard to argue against another high-scoring affair. The Rams are ranked second in scoring offense at 32.8 points per game while the Saints are ranked third with 30.8 PPG.

    While those numbers are hard to ignore, the eyeball test may have you thinking otherwise especially after what we saw from both teams in the Divisional Round last week.

    Los Angeles captured a 30-22 home win over Dallas last Saturday and the ‘over’ (48) barely connected thanks to a pair of late touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Even though bettors on the high side had to sweat it out, the ‘over’ was the right wager. The Rams led 20-7 at halftime and they left points off the board in the first 30 minutes as they settled for a pair of short field goals (25, 23). Plus, they missed a field goal at the end of the first-half. The offense racked up 459 total yards for the game, which included an eye-opening 273 yards on the ground. They controlled the clock and held the ball for just over 36 minutes on nine possessions. They scored on six of their nine possessions while punting once in the game and the final drive concluded with them running out the clock.

    If the Rams offense was on target in the red zone, they could’ve posted over 40 points on the Cowboys. That’s been an issue with this team and they’re ranked 18th in the league in red zone percentage (57%) this season, the lowest number among the four teams left. New Orleans is fourth, with a 70.4 conversion percentage. If head coach Sean McVay and the Rams don’t produce against the Saints and they only get nine possessions, they might be lucky to break 20 points in the rematch.

    In the Week 9 encounter, both teams had 11 possessions and both offenses got six opportunities apiece in the first-half. New Orleans executed much better early, scoring five touchdowns and the other possession was one play that resulted in a fumble. Another takeaway from the first meeting was the ability of New Orleans to move the chains or deliever the knockout punch. Three of their scoring drives took five minutes off the clock while two others took less than a minute.

    The Saints offense wasn’t clicking last Sunday as they defeated the Eagles 20-14 at home. The total (52 ) was pushed up late and while the final score looked like an easy ‘under’ winner, Philadelphia led 14-10 at halftime and that’s not a terrible pace for ‘over’ wagers. The Eagles tightened up in the second-half while the Saints buckled down and only 10 points were scored in the final 30 minutes. New Orleans missed a field goal (52 yarder) late in the game, which would’ve helped bettors backing the home favorite (-8).

    The 20-point effort by New Orleans was the lowest amount of points that it’s scored at home this season in meaningful games. They lost 33-14 in Week 17 to Carolina but the Saints started many of their reserves. Some pundits believe that the Cowboys put out the blueprint on how to stop New Orleans. In their Week 13 matchup from Arlington, Dallas stifled New Orleans 13-10 and held them to 176 total yards while dominating the time of possession battle (37-23). The Saints finished the game with nine possessions and four of them were three plays or less.

    Including that game, New Orleans averaged 19.2 points per game in its final six games and if you take out the Carolina result, the number moves slightly up to 20.2 PPG. The ‘under’ went 4-2 during this span and while the inconsistent offense has helped those results, the Saints defense (18.5 PPG/15.6 PPG) has been very solid during this span as well.

    Quarterback Drew Brees (34 TDs, 6 INTs) has had another great season but since the Dallas game, he’s only thrown for five touchdowns and he’s been picked off four times. Outside of wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara, this squad doesn’t boast many weapons on the outside. You can now see why the club picked up WR Dez Bryant, who never played due to an injury.

    Prior to last Sunday’s result, the Saints had watched their last five playoff games at home go ‘over’ with Brees under center. New Orleans has played in two title games with the future Hall of Famer and the ‘over’ cashed in both of those games, the most recent victory (31-28) coming in 2009 against Minnesota. The postseason total numbers for the Rams are 1-1 since the team moved back to Los Angeles.

    Fearless Prediction: After watching what the Rams did to the Cowboys last week with their running game, many believe we'll see a repeat of that performance and that's just a knee-jerk reaction. I don't see it happening, especially against a Saints defense that’s ranked second against the rush (78.4 PPG). The unit did lose a solid piece to injury last week (Sheldon Rankins) but executing on the road won't be easy for Los Angeles. I believe the better route to attack New Orleans is through its secondary, which isn’t great. Rams QB Jared Goff tossed for 391 yards in the first meeting and I expect him to take shots early and often again on Sunday. I’m not sure both teams will get into the thirties but I expect Los Angeles to get at least five scores in the Superdome and I'm hoping they finish drives this week. My selection is on the Rams Team Total Over (26 ).

    AFC Championship – New England at Kansas City (CBS, 6:40 p.m. ET)

    The total between the Patriots and Kansas City opened as high as 59 at the Las Vegas Westgate SuperBook on Sunday afternoon while New England was still putting a beatdown on the L.A. Chargers. As of Friday morning, the number has dropped to 56 at the SuperBook and most global betting shops are holding 55 . The downward movement can be attributed to meteorologists, who called for an ‘Arctic blast’ by kickoff earlier in the week with temperatures dropping below zero. Sure enough, those so-called experts now project the game to be played in the twenties as the cold front is expected to come sooner than later to Arrowhead Stadium.

    Either way, the conditions won’t come close to the temperatures in the seventies when the pair met in Week 6 from Foxboro. In that contest, New England captured a wild 43-40 shootout over Kansas City and the ‘over’ (59 ) was never in doubt. The Patriots (500) and Chiefs (446) both put up monster numbers, but they racked up the yards differently.

    New England was able to establish both its passing (327) and rushing (173) games while racking up 31 first downs. They finished with 11 possessions and scored nine times, five field goals and four touchdowns. Kansas City had the same number of touchdowns (4) as New England, but one less field goal (4) than the Patriots. The Chiefs hurt their defense by scoring all four touchdowns in less than two minutes and two of the scores came on 67 and 75-yard plays.

    Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes led the charge with 352 yards and four touchdowns but he was also picked off twice and he missed a couple passes that would’ve resulted in sixes on the board instead of threes. One of his main targets for that game was RB Kareem Hunt (15 touches, 182 yards), but he hasn’t been with the team since Week 11 due to off the field troubles. His absence hasn’t been felt yet and backup Damien Williams has stepped in nicely.

    Last Saturday, the Chiefs ran over the Colts 31-13 in the Divisional Round at home and the ‘under’ (55) connected because the Indianapolis offense forgot to show up. The Colts were punched in the mouth quickly and that’s been a staple of the KC defense at home, which is only allowing 17.4 PPG. Kansas City had three sacks last week against Indy, pushing their league-leading total to 55 on the season. That production has helped the ‘under’ go 6-3 at Arrowhead this season.

    New England’s wire-to-wire 41-28 home win over the Chargers last Sunday in the Divisional Round watched the ‘over’ (47 ) connect rather easily. The Patriots led 35-7 at halftime behind QB Tom Brady (343 yards, 1 TD) and RB Sony Michel (129 rushing yards, 3 TDs).

    Despite that ‘over’ ticket, the Patriots have seen the ‘under’ go 11-6 this season and that includes a 5-3 mark away from home. New England went 3-5 on the road and it only faced one playoff team during and it defeated the Bears 38-31 with the help from their special teams (2 TDs). Including that result, the Patriots were outscored by close to three points (24 to 21.6 PPG) on the road this season.

    The Chiefs finally snapped their six-game losing skid at home in the playoffs last Saturday and head coach Andy Reid improved to 2-4 in the postseason with Kansas City. The ‘under’ has gone 4-2 in those games, which includes a 3-0 mark at home. Overall, he’s 12-13 in the playoffs and that includes a 10-9 record in his previous coaching stint with Philadelphia. During his tenure with the Eagles, Reid led his squad to five championship games. The Birds went 1-4 while the ‘over’ was 3-2 in those games.

    Including last week’s outcome versus the Bolts, the Patriots have seen the ‘over’ go 9-3 in their last 12 playoff games and that dates back to the 2014-15 postseason. Coincidentally, all three ‘under’ tickets occurred in the Championship round and that’s been a common theme for the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Looking above, you can see that New England will be making its eighth straight appearance in the title game and the ‘under’ has gone 6-1 the last seven years.

    New England has only played two of those games on the road and what’s amazing is that Patriots have only been visitors seven times in the postseason with Brady as QB and that’s less than the number of Super Bowls (8) that they’ve played in. In those games, New England has gone 3-4 while the ‘under’ is 4-3. Their last two trips to Denver (2014, 2016) watched the offense get stifled to 16 and 18 points.

    Fearless Prediction: Of the four units on the field Sunday, I believe the Kansas City offense is the best and it has a big advantage of playing at home. The New England defense hasn’t faced many tests this season and when it does, it allowed 28.6 PPG to playoff teams. The Chiefs have pumped the breaks under Reid in the second-half at times but the offense hasn’t been slowed down when pressed. I don't see both clubs getting into the forties again but I have more confidence in the Chiefs, which is why I’m leaning to the Kansas City Team Total Over (29 ).
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Saints secondary confident vs. Rams
    January 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    METAIRIE, La. (AP) Marshon Lattimore and the Saints' secondary no longer look - or sound - haunted by the ''Minnesota Miracle'' touchdown pass that stunningly ended their playoffs one year ago.

    ''We don't panic. We don't do none of that,'' Lattimore said. ''We adjust well.''

    Lattimore backed that up with his late-game interception against Philadelphia last weekend - his second of the game - securing the Saints' trip to Sunday's NFC title game.

    Now the question is whether a Saints defensive backfield that ranked 29th against the pass this season is prepared to do what it takes to slow down the potent Los Angeles Rams with the Super Bowl bid on the line.

    ''We're ready,'' said Saints cornerback Eli Apple, who was brought in via trade to help shore up a New Orleans pass defense that was shaky early this season.

    ''We've just got to continue to be persistent in these meetings with our questions, everybody get on the same page and learning, just applying it on the field and going hard.''

    New Orleans gave up an average of 268.9 yards per game this season, but Lattimore said part of their unflattering ranking as a pass defense stems from a couple of poor performances early in the season, starting with a 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay in Week 1 and a 43-37 Week 3 overtime victory at Atlanta .

    ''We had a big hole to climb out of at the beginning of the season. We don't really worry about that though,'' Lattimore said. ''We're winning. So, we're good.''

    Lattimore said he also has improved individually since struggling some at the beginning of the season and might be playing his best now.

    ''I'm just making plays that come my way,'' Lattimore said. ''I have to be the one to make those plays. It's a bigger stage right now. So, I have to come up and do the job for my team.''

    Saints nickel back P.J. Williams said the Saints' poor ranking against the pass is misleading because New Orleans ranked first most of the season against the run before finishing second. Meanwhile, Drew Brees and New Orleans' high-powered offense have staked the Saints to a lot of leads.

    And when teams fall behind, they tend to run less because it takes too much time off the clock.

    ''They can't run the ball. You got to pass the ball. You're playing from behind,'' Williams said. ''So a team might get 300 or so passing yards, but at the end of the day, they're trying to come back.''

    Williams said the Saints are more concerned with opposing QBs' completion rate than how many yards they allow. On that front, New Orleans ranked somewhat better, at 23rd, allowing a 66.5 percent completion rate.

    Rams quarterback Jared Goff completed 28 of 40 passes for 391 yards and three TDs the previous time he played in the Superdome.

    Whether he'll be as productive in the rematch depends on how Los Angeles decides to attack the Saints, and how New Orleans responds.

    The Rams often favor the running game, and rushed 48 times for 273 yards in a playoff victory over Dallas last week.

    But Los Angeles largely abandoned the run during its midseason meeting with the Saints after New Orleans raced to a 35-14 lead in the second quarter. The Rams wound up rushing just 19 times in a 45-35 loss.

    Lattimore said if the Rams abandoned the run again, New Orleans' secondary will have to be prepared for heavy doses of receivers Brandin Cooks, whose speed makes him an elite deep threat, and Robert Woods, who lines up all over the field.

    And if the game is close, it could be up to the Saints' secondary to close out another high-stakes affair.

    Last year, that scenario ended with the Vikings' Stefon Diggs making a leaping catch near the sideline and running free to the end zone as time expired after safety Marcus Williams missed a tackle and took out teammate Ken Crawley in the process.

    This year, the Saints' secondary has closed out one playoff victory and sounds confident it will rise to that challenge again, if needed.

    ''We've done a great job finishing games, making adjustments, playing fast, physical, making great plays on the ball, just got to keep it going,'' Apple said. ''Something we always talk about is closing games. We want that on our shoulders and that pressure that comes with it.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Rams hungry for Super Bowl run
    January 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Ndamukong Suh earned multiple All-Pro honors, Pro Bowl selections and tens of millions of dollars during his first eight NFL seasons.

    The imposing defensive lineman had never won a playoff game, let alone a Super Bowl. When he was free to choose his next team after the Dolphins released him last March, Suh decided he would try to fill that gap in his resume.

    After speaking at length with the New Orleans Saints and other suitors, he decided to join the Los Angeles Rams . They hadn't won a playoff game since the 2004 season, but they appeared to be on the verge of something big after going 11-5 last season.

    ''I felt this team had some of the right pieces, and I would be a good addition to it,'' Suh said. ''A lot of conversations that we had with the coaching staff and the front office on my visit were (about) playing well in the season and being prepared for the postseason.''

    Nearly 10 months later, the payoff has arrived for Suh's leap of faith to Los Angeles.

    After the Rams went 13-3 for the best regular-season record of Suh's career, he had likely his best game for his new team last weekend when Los Angeles beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 in the divisional round. The Rams head into the NFC championship game at the Superdome on Sunday with a shot at the 32-year-old Suh's first trip to his sport's biggest stage.

    ''It would mean a lot,'' Suh said. ''I've been in this league for nine years. (This is) my first NFC championship (game), and that would be my first Super Bowl. I get chills thinking about it, so I'm excited. I'm looking forward to it.''

    Suh's thoughts are echoed across the Rams' locker room, which is filled with accomplished NFL players who have never accomplished much in the postseason.

    Many key players remain from the team that went 4-12 in 2016 during the franchise's 13th straight non-winning season, from Jared Goff and Todd Gurley to Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers.

    Several of the veterans that Los Angeles has added in the past two years also lacked playoff credentials - including 37-year-old Andrew Whitworth, the dominant left tackle who finally got his first postseason win last weekend.

    ''Honestly, we feel like we've been through it,'' Whitworth said. ''There's really not much adversity we haven't seen all year long. I think we kind of feel like we were born for this moment and this opportunity.''

    Indeed, the Rams likely don't have the collective playoff experience of their fellow conference finalists, but they have a firm bond forged during a season of upheaval.

    They had to stick together in November when the suburban area around their training complex was rocked by the double impact of a mass shooting at a bar and two wildfires that forced several players and coaches to leave their homes as a precaution. The Rams also had to adjust to a schedule change when their game against the Chiefs in Mexico City was moved back to Los Angeles on six days' notice.

    None of it has shaken the team led by coach Sean McVay, who became the youngest coach in NFL history to win a playoff game last weekend.

    McVay acknowledges no concern about his inexperience on the sport's highest levels when compared to the likes of New Orleans' Sean Payton, who has a Super Bowl ring.

    That's because McVay has assistant coaches with experience in conference championships and Super Bowls - particularly defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who has done and seen everything the NFL can offer.

    While a conference title game in the deafening Superdome is a new experience for most Rams, Brandin Cooks is an exception on several fronts. The veteran receiver won't even be surprised by the Superdome din.

    Cooks played three years with the Saints - albeit without making the playoffs - before moving to the Patriots last season. He played in the first quarter of the Super Bowl before incurring a concussion that kept him out of the rest of New England's loss to Philadelphia.

    Cooks was traded to the Rams, but he agreed to a five-year contract extension before he had even suited up in a horned helmet. He says he hasn't regretted his decision, although he didn't dare to imagine he would have a chance to play in two straight Super Bowls for different teams.

    ''When I got here, I knew we had something special,'' Cooks said. ''But (I knew I shouldn't) get ahead of myself. Take it one game at a time, just build throughout the weeks, and if we have the opportunity, then we're blessed. Don't think about it too much, is what I should say.''

    NOTES: WR Robert Woods also got his first career playoff win last week. The six-year veteran admits that last years' experience in the Rams' postseason loss to Atlanta helped them. ''Just learning from that experience, our win last week was about situational football. Just executing, and protecting the ball.'' ... For the second straight day, the Rams had no players on their injury report. Although they've lost key receiver Cooper Kupp for the season, the Rams have been otherwise remarkably healthy this season. ... The torrential rains that have hit Los Angeles over the past three days abated by midday Thursday, allowing the Rams to practice on their normal outdoor fields. The team erected an enormous temporary tent on the parking lot next to their training complex if they needed it, but so far it hasn't been necessary to go indoors.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Patriots try to overcome road woes
    January 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots are going on the road again in the playoffs, a place that hasn't always been kind to them during the Tom Brady era.

    New England was unbeatable at home this season, going 8-0 during the regular season and rolling past the Los Angeles Chargers in the divisional round.

    Playing outside of Massachusetts has provided different outcomes. Brady is 8-4 in AFC championship games with a 6-1 record at home. But he's just 2-3 on the road in the conference title game, with both wins coming at Pittsburgh during 2001 and 2004 seasons. New England was 3-5 in games away from Gillette Stadium during the 2018 regular season.

    The Patriots enter Sunday's AFC title game at Kansas City trying to become the first team since the 1990s Bills to reach the Super Bowl after losing it the previous season. They haven't won a road playoff game since beating the Chargers 24-21 in the divisional round of the 2006 season.

    The Patriots lost to the Colts on the road in the 2006 AFC title game and twice at Denver - in the AFC championship game during the 2013 season and again in the 2015 AFC title game. New England has played the rest of its 22 playoff games since 2006 at home or a neutral field in the Super Bowl.

    ''It's tough to beat the No. 1 seed on the road. That's the reality, just like we're tough to beat at home when we're the No. 1 seed,'' Brady said this week. ''It takes a lot. It takes a lot of good football. It takes a great complementary game. All three phases have to be on point. We're going against a team that scores a lot of points.''

    They will also have to deal with what could be the coldest temperature for a game in Arrowhead Stadium history. An arctic blast is forecast for Kansas City.

    Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower said his focus will be on trying to contain the NFL's top scoring offense and not the thermometer.

    ''It's definitely one of the hardest places to play. But, at the end of the day, it just comes down to executing It comes down to football and executing plays,'' Hightower said. ''They're a high-powered offense and they're real good on defense, so obviously defensively, we're going to have to eliminate big plays.''

    The Patriots opened the week as a three-point underdog, the first time in 68 games, including playoffs, that Brady didn't enter a week as the favorite.

    The previous time Brady wasn't the favorite was on Sept. 20, 2015, at Buffalo. The Pats were two-point underdogs that day and won the game 40-32.

    It's why Chiefs coach Andy Reid is expecting Brady and the Patriots' best effort on Sunday.

    ''They're a heck of a team, so I don't get caught up in all that,'' Reid said. ''You're talking about a dynasty, if there is such a thing, in the National Football League. They've been that. You're talking about a head coach that I think the world of him, I think he's a great coach. He's done a phenomenal job keeping that thing together. We're getting ready to get their best shot, offense, defense and special teams.''

    Brady didn't hide his thoughts for the Patriots' critics in the aftermath of their divisional-round win over the Chargers, commenting, ''I know everybody thinks we suck and, you know, we can't win any games.'' But he tried to downplay being officially cast in the role of underdog this week.

    ''It doesn't change much for us, but it just kind of shows you what people think about what our chances are. That's about it,'' Brady said.

    At least one of his teammates didn't play it quite as coyly.

    Receiver Julian Edelman posted #BetAgainstUs on his Twitter account accompanied with a video that featured highlights of the Chiefs' season. The montage ends with shots of Brady and Edelman from New England's comeback win in overtime from a 25-point deficit in the Super Bowl against Atlanta in the 2016 season.

    So, is being an underdog motivation or not for the Patriots?

    ''If you're not motivated this week you've got a major problem,'' Brady said. ''This is the week where you shouldn't have to put anything extra in. This is what it's all about. You sign up any chance you get to play in the AFC championship game, so I don't care where, when, time, cold weather, rain, blood. It don't matter.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Sorry America, team you love to hate headed to Super Bowl
    January 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    NOT THEM AGAIN!

    Sorry America - at least outside of New England - but the team you love to hate is headed back to the Super Bowl.

    Sure, there are negatives to point out with these Patriots. They haven't looked much more than mediocre on the road. Their defense is vulnerable, especially against dynamic passers, and Kansas City certainly has one of those in Patrick Mahomes.

    New England's coaching staff tends to take away an opponent's biggest threat. Who is that with the Chiefs, though? Mahomes has Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins as dangerous targets. He has a running game that hasn't really missed Kareem Hunt since he was released.

    Oh yeah, Tom Brady also is 41. At times, he's looked it this season.

    And there are so many positives to list, especially when the Patriots (12-5) get this far. Such as being to eight Super Bowls with Brady at quarterback, winning five. Such as their superb demolition of the Chargers, an opponent many thought was the most balanced team in the postseason; though the Chargers' defense looked from the outset as if it wanted no part of frigid Foxborough.

    Oh yeah, Brady is 41. He's seen pretty much everything, and will particularly like the looks of the spotty pass coverage Kansas City (13-4) provides.

    The entire environment seems to work for New England.

    ''Yeah, I think this team thrives on it,'' receiver Phillip Dorsett says. ''Obviously, there's no elephant in the room, we're 3-5 on the road and everybody is going to criticize us for that. We've got our backs against the wall and we've just got to go out there and play our best game. That's the only thing that really matters.''

    It also matters that Chiefs coach Andy Reid rarely outsmarts the Patriots. Indeed, Reid's only Super Bowl trip was spoiled by New England when it beat Reid's Eagles for the 2004 title. Reid is 2-6 vs. the Patriots, and lost 43-40 on Oct. 14 at Gillette Stadium.

    The Chiefs are 3-point favorites, which accounts for the home-field edge. Except in the upcoming arctic conditions, and with the pedigree of the Patriots, this is a matchup Kansas City won't win.

    UPSET SPECIAL: PATRIOTS, 27-23

    Los Angeles Rams (plus 3) at New Orleans Saints


    A 45-35 shootout victory for Drew Brees and the Saints on Nov. 4 came in the Superdome. These two have a return matchup Sunday to get to the Super Bowl, and with all their firepower, this one could come down to one factor: experience.

    That edge clearly falls to the hosts. New Orleans (14-3) has been a postseason regular since coach Sean Payton and Brees hooked up in 2006. This is the Saints' third NFC championship appearance - a loss at Chicago in January 2007, an overtime win over Minnesota at home three years later. The Saints won the Super Bowl that season, as well.

    Los Angeles (14-3) had the only unanimous member of the All-Pro team, defensive tackle Aaron Donald. And the Saints lost key DT Sheldon Rankins to a torn Achilles tendon last weekend. Still, this side of the ball looks like a wash.

    The site of this game is more critical than in the AFC. The way the Superdome rocks can be disruptive to opponents, and uplifting to the homies. Just look at the Saints' win against defending champion Philadelphia last Sunday.

    So give us Brees' calmness and creativity over Jared Goff's relative newness.

    BEST BET: SAINTS, 34-26

    ---

    Last Week: Against Spread (1-3). Straight up (3-1)

    Season Totals: Against spread (134-113-9). Straight up: (174-88-2)

    Best Bet: 8-11 against spread, 13-6 straight up

    Upset special: 10-9 against spread, 9-9-1 straight up
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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