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Thread: NFL Trends and Indexes - Conference Championships (Sun., Jan. 20)

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    Default NFL Trends and Indexes - Conference Championships (Sun., Jan. 20)

    NFL Trends and Indexes

    Sunday, January 20

    Additional trends and information will be added as available.

    NOTE:
    As information becomes available, we will attempt to post the trends and indexes as soon as possible.
    Information is posted from what we believe are reliable sources.
    Any opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the posting member or BettorsChat.


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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 ½. They pushed quickly to -3 ½ (Even) while early ‘over’ money nudged the total to 57. BookMaker.eu sent out New Orleans -3 ½ with a total of 56 ½. 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 ½.

    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 ½-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 ½-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.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 01-16-2019 at 03:00 AM.

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    NFL
    Long Sheet

    Conference Championships


    Sunday, January 20

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    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

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    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

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    NFL

    Conference Championships


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    Trend Report
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    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


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    NFL
    Armadillo's Write-Up

    Conference Championships


    — Last five years, home team is 10-0 SU in this round (all #1 seeds).
    — Last eight times #1-2 seeds met in this round, underdogs were 5-2-1 vs spread.

    Rams @ Saints—
    Rams lost here 45-35 back in Week 9; NO led 35-17 at half, Rams came back to tie game, but fell short, in game that Talib (leg injury) missed- he is back now. Home side won last six series games; Rams lost last three trips to Superdome- their last win here was in ’07. Rams ran ball for 269-155-273 yards in last three games overall, as Gurley/Anderson became a prolific running combo. LA is 6-2 SU on road this year, 13-3 in two years under McVay. Saints outgained Philly 420-250 LW after falling behind 14-0 early; NO is 14-3 this year, with two of losses at home, but Brees (rest) sat out Week 17 loss. Last 11 years, underdogs are 6-4-1 vs spread in NFC title games. Rams are 2-1 on artificial turf this year, scoring 33-35-30 points.

    Patriots @ Chiefs—
    New England is in its 8th straight AFC title game, going 4-3 in previous seven; Patriots are 0-3 in last three AFC title games on road- their last road win in an AFC title game was 14 years ago. KC lost 43-40 in Foxboro back in Week 6; NE outgained Chiefs 500-446. Teams split last four series games; Chiefs won 42-27 in Foxboro LY. This is first AFC title game in Arrowhead’s 47-year history. NE lost its last two visits to to KC, last of which was in ’14; Pats’ last win here was in ’04. Chiefs are first team ever to score 26+ points in every game; they’re 8-1 at home, 5-4 vs spread as home favorites. This is first time in Brady’s last 70 games that Patriots are an underdog; they’re 3-5 SU on road this season, winning at Bills-Bears-Jets.




    NFL
    Dunkel

    Conference Championships



    LA Rams @ New Orleans

    Game 311-312
    January 20, 2019 @ 3:05 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    LA Rams
    138.331
    New Orleans
    134.836
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    LA Rams
    by 3 1/2
    48
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    New Orleans
    by 3 1/2
    56 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    LA Rams
    (+3 1/2); Under

    New England @ Kansas City


    Game 313-314
    January 20, 2019 @ 6:40 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    New England
    141.098
    Kansas City
    146.452
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Kansas City
    by 5 1/2
    50
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Kansas City
    by 3
    55
    Dunkel Pick:
    Kansas City
    (-3); Under
    Last edited by Udog; 01-18-2019 at 02:26 PM.

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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.

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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.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 01-16-2019 at 01:14 PM.

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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.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 01-16-2019 at 01:14 PM.

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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.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 01-18-2019 at 02:27 AM.

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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
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 01-18-2019 at 02:08 PM.

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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 ½ 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 ½) 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 ½) 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 ½).

    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 ½. 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 ½) 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 ½) 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 ½).
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    WEATHER WARMING UP?

    The weather forecast might be warming up for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. Earlier in the week, we were hearing about an “Arctic blast” with temperatures heading towards zero or below. It’s still going to be very cold, but more recent forecasts are showing temperatures in the mid-20s and a “feels-like” temperature of about 19-20.

    This change in forecast makes a difference if you believe in historical numbers. Here’s what we mentioned earlier in the week about Over/Under trends in cold weather:

    Since 2003, the Over is actually cashing at 58.8 percent (114-80-2) in all games (regular season and playoffs) played in temperatures 30 degrees or lower. In the playoffs alone, that percentage drops to 52.3 percent (23-21-1) at 30 degrees or less but then spikes to 62.5 percent (10-6-1) in games played in 20 degrees or less.

    It also must be noted that, since 2003, only once has there been a postseason game played in sub-30-degree temperature with a closing total of 55.5 or higher and it went Under (New Orleans at Philadelphia, Jan. 4, 2014, closing total 55.5, 50 total points scored). If we drop the closing total to 50, there have been seven such games since 2003 and the Under has cashed in five of them — including last week’s Chiefs-Colts game.

    There are a lot of different ways to look at the weather and how it affects totals, but there’s one thing to keep in mind for Sunday: Weather forecasts do (and will) change so it’s probably best to wait before making your Over/Under bet for this one. Keep monitoring Covers’ weather page up until kick off and use the above data to make an informed decision on whether you’re going Over or Under.


    WARE PRACTICES IN FULL

    Kansas City running back Spencer Ware finally got in a full practice session on Thursday, pretty much guaranteeing that he’ll suit up for Sunday’s AFC title game. Ware hasn’t played since Week 14 and in his place, Damien Williams has taken the lead-back role and run with it (literally). Ware will be nothing more than change-of-pace back on Sunday.

    Williams is the man to back or own in DFS this weekend as he’s in a great spot to put up numbers. Andy Reid has shown has that he likes to attack New England with dual-threat running backs as Kareem Hunt totaled 185 and 246 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns the last two times the Chiefs played the Pats. Williams has posted 123, 140, and 154 combined rushing and receiving yards in three of his last four games and in that fourth game he played just 28 snaps in Week 17. Williams is in line to have a monster game and we’re backing the Over 95.5 for Williams’ combined rushing and receiving totals.


    BACKING BREES (AGAIN)

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We got a winner by backing Drew Brees to go Over 286.5 passing yards last week and we’re going right back to the well for Sunday's NFC Championship game. Brees has been ridiculous at home this season, averaging 321.6 passing yards with a 76.3 percent completion rate — and that includes his 346-yard performance against the Rams in Week 9. Historically, Brees in the Superdome in the playoffs is also a deadly combo as he’s undefeated and has thrown for 300-plus yards in three straight.

    The Rams ranked ninth in passing DVOA this season and gave up 236.2 passing yards per game (14th fewest in the league) but were vulnerable to giving some big passing games late in the season. Dak Prescott went well above his season average last week by throwing for 266 yards on 8.3 yards per attempt (YPA), while Nick Mullens went for 282 yards on 8.5 YPA in Week 17 and Nick Foles threw for 270 yards on 8.7 YPA in Week 15.

    Brees averaged 9.5 YPA at home during the regular season and passed for 7.9 YPA last week. Based on the Rams’ recent games and Brees’ success at home, we’re assuming he can average at least 8.8 YPA on Sunday. Brees’ total is set at 299.5 passing yards, meaning he’ll need 35 attempts to go Over — and he had 35-plus pass attempts in five of his eight home games so far this season (including the playoffs). We’re backing the Over 299.5 for Brees’ passing yards total.


    FIELD-GOAL FUN!

    Let’s talk kickers! The NFC Championship features two of the better field-goal kickers in the game in L.A.’s Greg Zuerlein and New Orleans’ Wil Lutz. Zuerlein finished 16th in field-goal percentage in the regular season at 87.1, but he was 4 of 6 from 40-49 yards and 4 of 6 from 50-plus yards this season, with a long of 56. Lutz was more accurate, making 28 of 30 field goals on the season (93.3 percent) and was an impressive 11 of 12 from 40-49 yards and 2 of 3 from 50-plus yards, with a long of 54.

    So far in the postseason, Zuerlein is 3 of 4 on all field goals, 1 of 1 from 40-49 yards, and 0 for 1 from 50-plus; Lutz is 2 of 3 overall, 1 for 1 from 40-49, and 0 for 1 from 50-plus. Kicking conditions will be perfect for these two on Sunday as the game is being played indoors and the prop for longest field goal made is set at a very tempting 44.5 yards. We’re backing the Over.

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    NFC - Rams at Saints
    Kevin Rogers

    HOW THEY GOT HERE

    The Rams (14-3 SU, 8-8-1 ATS) captured the 2017 NFC West title with an 11-5 record, but were bounced in the Wild Card round by the reigning NFC champion Falcons. Los Angeles proved that 2017 was not a fluke as the Rams jumped out to an impressive 8-0 start before losing at New Orleans in Week 9. The Rams’ offense lit up scoreboards around the league by posting 33 points or more in each of the first five games, while averaging 32.9 point per game on the season, which ranked second in the league behind Kansas City.

    Los Angeles stumbled in December against a pair of eventual playoff teams by losing to Chicago and Philadelphia, including a 30-23 setback to the Eagles as a 13 ½-point favorite. The Rams started the season covering their first three games, but went on a 2-8-1 ATS stretch prior to back-to-back covers in blowouts over Arizona and San Francisco.

    Los Angeles picked up its first playoff win since 2004 in last Saturday’s 30-22 triumph over Dallas to cash as 7 ½-point favorites. The Rams rushed for 273 yards on 48 carries, while C.J. Anderson and Todd Gurley each racked up over 100 yards on the ground and a combined three touchdowns.

    The Saints (14-3 SU, 10-7 ATS) started the season with a head-scratching loss to the Buccaneers, while needing a last-minute field goal to sneak past the Browns. However, that three-point win over Cleveland started a 10-game winning streak for New Orleans, which eventually ended after Thanksgiving in a 13-10 loss at Dallas.

    During the 10-game hot streak, the Saints won seven of those games by double-digits, while compiling an incredible 9-1 ATS mark. The Saints wrapped up their second consecutive NFC South title following a three-year stretch of 7-9 seasons. New Orleans rallied from a 14-0 deficit to eliminate defending champion Philadelphia, 20-14 in the divisional round last Sunday. Although the Saints failed to cover as 8 ½-point favorites, New Orleans improved to 6-1 in its last seven playoff openers under Sean Payton.

    WHO TO WATCH

    Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff set career highs in completion percentage (64.9%), passing yardage (4,688), and touchdown passes (32) in his third pro season. Goff put together three games of at least four touchdown passes and no interceptions, but also threw for less than 200 yards in three of his final five games. Gurley reached the end zone 21 times this season, including 17 times on the ground. The former University of Georgia star finished with seven games of at least 100 yards rushing, but was limited to 68 yards in the 45-35 loss at New Orleans in Week 9.

    Drew Brees threw for over 300 yards in six of eight home games, but finished with his least amount of passing yards (3,992) in his 13-year stint with the Saints. However, Brees also set a career-low in interceptions thrown by getting picked off only five times, while throwing one interception in the first 10 games.

    Running back Alvin Kamara accumulated nearly 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 14 rushing touchdowns in his second season with New Orleans. Wide receiver Michael Thomas put together his third consecutive 1,000 yard receiving season, which includes a 211-yard performance and the clinching touchdown against the Rams in Week 9.

    HOME/ROAD SPLITS

    Under Sean McVay, the Rams have excelled away from the L.A. Coliseum by compiling a 13-3 mark on the road the last two seasons. Los Angeles topped the 30-point mark in six road contests, while its only two away defeats came at New Orleans and Chicago. The Rams cashed the UNDER in six of eight road contests, while allowing 16 points or less in five of those games.

    The Saints lost their season opener to the Buccaneers at the Superdome and the season finale to the Panthers (without Brees and other key starters). However, New Orleans won the middle six home games, while covering four times. The Saints are listed at their lowest home price as a favorite this season as the previous lowest home chalk spot came against the Redskins as 5 ½-point favorites in a Week 5 blowout, 43-19.

    SERIES HISTORY

    The Rams entered the Superdome in Week 9 with a perfect 8-0 record, while the Saints were riding a six-game winning streak. New Orleans jumped out to a commanding 35-14 second quarter lead, highlighted by three Brees touchdown passes and three scores from Kamara. However, the Rams stormed back to score 21 consecutive points to even the game in the fourth quarter on a Goff 41-yard touchdown hook-up with Cooper Kupp.

    Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz put the Saints back in front by drilling a 54-yard field goal with 6:23 remaining, 38-35. After the Rams failed to tie the game on their next possession, Brees hit Thomas on a 72-yard scoring connection to put away the victory as a 1 ½-point underdog and send L.A. to its first loss of the season.

    The home team has captured the last six meetings since 2010, including in each of the past three seasons. The Rams held off the Saints at the Coliseum, 26-20 in 2017 in spite of Kamara’s 188 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. These two teams are meeting in the playoffs for only the second time ever as New Orleans edged Los Angeles, 31-28 at the Superdome in the 2000 Wild Card round.

    PLAYOFF HISTORY

    The Saints have won consecutive games in the same postseason only once in franchise history, coming in their Super Bowl run in 2009. New Orleans is playing in its third-ever NFC Championship, as the Saints were routed by the Bears in 2006 coincidentally after beating the Eagles in the divisional playoffs. The Saints held off the Vikings in overtime, 31-28 in the 2009 NFC Championship, but failed to cover as four-point favorites.

    The Rams are participating in their first NFC title game since 2001, when they held off the Eagles, 29-24 to advance to Super Bowl XXXVI against the Patriots. The last time the L.A. Rams were in the conference championship came back in 1989, as they were destroyed by the eventual champion 49ers, 30-3.

    HANDICAPPER’S CORNER

    NFL expert Joe Nelson checks in on this matchup and first highlights the importance of the ground game for both teams, “The Rams averaged 139 rushing yards per game for the third-most productive ground attack in the NFL and incredibly Los Angeles did not lose a fumble from a running back on a rushing play this season. The Saints aren’t known for defense but New Orleans allowed just over 80 yards per game on the ground on 3.6 yards per rush, second in the NFL on both accounts.”

    From a historical standpoint, the top seeds in the title games have been successful, as Nelson goes further into this recent trend, “The home team has won five straight NFC Championships with the #1 seed beating the #2 seed in four of those games including last season’s blowout win for Philadelphia as a slight home underdog. The Saints have been a home underdog twice in the past two seasons with the win over the Rams this year and a loss to New England last season, but New Orleans has not been a home favorite of fewer than 4 points since December of 2016, going 2-4 SU and ATS in the last six instances as a slight home favorite.”

    FUTURE ODDS

    The Saints are the current Super Bowl LIII favorites at 7/4, according to BetOnline.ag, while the Rams sit at 18/5, which is the longest odds of the four remaining teams. New Orleans is currently a 3 ½-point favorite at most books, while the total sits between 56 ½ and 57 at many sports books.

  12. #12
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    AFC - Patriots at Chiefs
    Tony Mejia

    New England at Kansas City (-3. 56.5), 6:40 pm ET, CBS

    As far as fearless predictions go, I expect this AFC Championship will forever be memorable in the way that the “Tuck Rule Game” was. Hopefully we don’t see snow become as much of a factor as it was on Jan. 19, 2001 in Foxboro, but weather conditions will certainly play a major role in deciding what team reserves the final spot in Super Bowl LIII.

    Mother Nature just doesn’t figure to be the star.

    The snow and heavy winds originally forecast to turn this contest into a winter wonderland won’t materialize. It will still be cold. Temperatures will be in the teens. Wet weather is no longer expected to interfere, so as long as players dress warmly and can handle making plays in frigid conditions, they can’t use inclement weather as an excuse.

    Consider this a huge edge for the Chiefs (13-4 SU, 10-6-1 ATS), who were looking at the prospect of speedster Tyreek Hill being slowed by the elements. Although Tom Brady is the best quarterback in league history and Patrick Mahomes is just starting his journey on the heels of his first playoff win, The Patriots (12-5 SU, 10-7 ATS) would have had a major edge with the more dependable running game if this game was going to be played in a massive snowstorm.

    Wind will play a role, and it’s impossible to predict who will be affected since it remains to be seen when the worst of it rises up and makes itself a factor. Winds are expected to be swirling and the wind chill will make it feel even colder but the worst of it will have already passed on Saturday, where temperatures were expected to feel like they were in single-digits.

    Both teams dodged a bullet from a comfort level, but it’s Andy Reid breathing the biggest sigh of relief and Bill Belichick muttering under his breath following this development. Reid will have his entire playbook in play for an attack that averaged 35.3 points, the third-highest total in league history. Kansas City ranked first in the NFL in total offense, coming in third through the air as opposed to just 16th, in the middle of the pack, on the ground.

    New England’s defense ranked just 22nd against the pass and were carved up for 352 yards and four touchdowns when these teams met in Week 6. Although the Patriots won 43-40 and picked up Mahomes twice, they saw his immense talent first-hand as he was able to extend plays and drives with his unique approach.

    Belichick was undoubtedly excited about the prospect of having the elements lend him a hand. He’ll now have to beat the Chiefs straight up. Brady should be more productive in the red zone but will still count on a rushing attack that dominated against the Chargers last week thanks to rookie Sony Michel and an offensive line that paved the way for huge chunk runs.

    The Chiefs ranked next-to-last in total defense but really played its best late and dominated in eliminating Indianapolis last week. Kansas City finished 27th against the run and 31st against the pass but welcomes back key safety Eric Berry to the fold. For more on who’s in and who’s out for this AFC title game, check the injury report below.

    Arrowhead Stadium will be hosting its first AFC title game in franchise history and figures to be a mad house for this one. Fortunately, Brady’s experience should come in handy behind a veteran offensive line, but he’s just 2-3 on the road in conference title games and hasn’t won a true road playoff game outside Gillette Stadium since prevailing against San Diego in the divisional round back in ’06. That stat is slightly misleading since New England has so often been a No. 1 seed, but Brady has been most vulnerable outside of his comfort zone

    Overall, the Pats have won 10 of 14 AFC title games. These teams have only met once in the postseason with New England winning at home 27-20 back in 2016. For all the results of the most recent meetings between these teams, scroll below.

    This season’s meeting produced 946 yards of total offense as the Chiefs attempted to rally from a 24-9 halftime deficit, scoring 31 second-half points and tying the game on a 75-yard pass from Mahomes to Hill, who had three touchdowns on the night and will be the primary x-factor now that it’s not going to be too windy to consistently look to get him the ball.

    Kareem Hunt scored on a 67-yard reception and gained 80 yards on just 10 carries but has since been cut after being arrested for a domestic violence incident. Damien Williams has been excellent as a fill-in, earning himself a new contract down the stretch, so he’ll be the primary back but will have help thanks to Spencer Ware returning to the lineup following a shoulder issue.

    Another reason the weather forecast clearing up is such a big win for the host Chiefs is that the Patriots would’ve had an advantage given how effective their short passing game was last week against the Chargers. James White tied a postseason record with 15 receptions out of the backfield last week and will join Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski as primary target in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Without Josh Gordon in the mix, any deep balls will likely go to Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson or Kevin Hogan.

    With Gronk and Travis Kelce, arguably the two most impressive tight ends in pro football alongside San Francisco’s George Kittle involved in this one, it’s important to note that the Chiefs were victimized for 10 touchdowns by tight ends this regular season, second-most in the NFL. Kansas City’s defense were one of only nine teams to surrender over 1,000 receiving yards to tight ends, giving up 87 catches. New England surrendered 71 catches for 832 yards and eight scores.

    The Chiefs opened eyes by holding the Colts without a third down conversion on nine attempts last week to improve to 8-1 at Arrowhead. The Patriots were just 3-5 on the road, beating only one opponent with a winning record. They’ve already had a huge break go against them as kickoff approaches. Simply having been there before won’t do anything for New England here. To reach its fourth Super Bowl in five years, Brady will have to be special once again and a road atmosphere the likes of which the Pats haven’t seen all season will have to be overcome.

    New England Patriots
    Projected season win total: 11 (Over -120, Under +100)
    Preseason odds to win AFC East: 1/8
    Odds to win AFC (Preseason/Current): 3/1 to 5/2
    Odds to win Super Bowl (Preseason/Current): 6/1 to 7/2

    Kansas City Chiefs
    Projected season win total: 8.5 (Over +115, Under -135)
    Preseason Odds to win AFC West: 11/4
    Odds to win AFC (Preseason/Current): 15/1 to 5/9
    Odds to win Super Bowl (Preseason/Current): 30/1 to 11/4

    FUTURES OUTCOMES/LINE MOVEMENT

    The Chiefs weren't the AFC West favorite, coming in behind the Chargers (6/5), so backers who liked them to win their division cashed at +275. The Patriots won their 10th straight AFC East title, the 16th in 18 seasons, but pushed on their season win total prop thanks to wins in their last two games.

    As far as this matchup is concerned, the Chiefs opened as a 3-point home favorite and has remained exactly that all week entering Sunday. Kansas City opened at -150 on the money line and has seen that number reach the -160 to -165 range. If you like the Pats outright, a payout on a road upset at Arrowhead would get you +145 to +150.

    INJURY CONCERNS

    Kansas City is healthier than it has been all season, getting Ware back in addition to Berry and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (fibula), who was activated off injured reserve and is expected to rotate in with the starters. Pass-rusher Justin Houston and safety Daniel Sorensen didn't play against New England in Week 6 in addition to Berry, who didn't re-join the team until late in the season. Speedy linebacker Dorian O'Daniel has been ruled out with a calf injury.

    The Patriots have seen offensive linemen Brian Schwenke and Isaiah Wynn go down for the season and didn't have the Gordon experiment go their way but are also extremely healthy for January. Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, Jr. is probable despite an ankle sprain. He was the only player on New England's injury report.

    TOTAL TALK

    Sunday night's toal opened as high as 58 at South Point and the Wynn while opening at 57 at most other shops and offshore books. Once many got wind of the forecast, the number was bet down to as low as 54.5 at most shops mid-week before climbing back up to is current range. There are no weather concerns to monitor since this divisional playoff will be played indoors. The 'over' prevailed in the Patriots' win last week, snapping a run of eight of nine that had fallen below the posted total. The Chiefs have seen the under prevail in consecutive games due to the defense holding Oakland and Indianapolis to 13 combined points. The 'over' went 10-6 in Kansas City games during the regular season. Weekly “Total Talk” writer Chris David of VegasInsider.com provided his thoughts for both Sunday contests here:

    RECENT MEETINGS (New England 7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS last 10; OVER 6-4)

    10/14/18 New England 43-40 vs. Kansas City (KC +3.5, 59.5)
    9/7/17 Kansas City 39-17 at New England (KC +8, 47.5)
    1/16/16 New England 27-20 vs. Kansas City (NE -4.5, 43)
    9/29/14 Kansas City 41-14 vs, New England (KC +3, 46)
    11/21/11 New England 34-3 vs. Kansas City (NE -17, 47)
    9/7/08 New England 17-10 vs. Kansas City (KC +16, 43.5)
    11/27/05 Kansas City 26-16 vs. New England (KC -3, 51)
    11/22/04 New England 27-19 at Kansas City (NE -3, 52)
    9/22/02 New England 41-38 (OT) vs. Kansas City (KC +8.5, 43.5)
    12/4/00 New England 30-24 vs. Kansas City (NE -1, 41)

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