- Three of four road teams won in the Wild Card Round and every underdog covered the opening spread.
- Will that continue in the Divisional Round with all four home teams well rested?
- Coming off a 3-1 week, I’m looking to stay hot in the picks department.
Wild Card weekend was a good one for the bankroll, hitting on three of four picks.
My account is now up $331.50 (or 3.31 units) dating back to the regular season.
- Wild Card Weekend ROI: $168.78
- 2018-19 ROI: $331.50
It’s tempting to ride the teams that just got you paid. But it’s also important not to overreact to impressive performances on Wild Card weekend. While the Colts, Chargers, Cowboys, and Eagles all played solid games, each one will be on the road — three of them for the second straight week — facing a better team than they played last week, and a rested one to boot.
Picking the Colts and Chargers to keep it close with the Chiefs and Pats is one thing. Picking them to win in Arrowhead and Gillette Stadium is another.
The odds, spreads, and totals below are from Bovada as of Tuesday (Jan. 8, 2019).
Indianapolis Colts vs Kansas City Chiefs
Time & Date: 4:35 PM ET, Saturday, Jan. 12th
|Colts||+5.0 (-105)||+190||O 57.0 (-105)|
|Chiefs||-5.0 (-115)||-230||U 57.0 (-115)|
Do you believe in Andy Reid off a bye (17-3 straight-up) or do you believe in Andy Reid in the playoffs (11-13, 1-4 with KC straight-up)?
Too much is made of Reid’s postseason “struggles.” He’s never won the Super Bowl, but an almost-.500 record in the playoffs shouldn’t cause too much concern when it comes to betting this Divisional Round game between the Chiefs (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) and Colts (11-6, 9-7-1 ATS).
Colts vs Chiefs: H2H Comparison
|22.1% (8th)||DVOA Rating (Rank)||31.2% (1st)|
|1.44 (11th)||Massey-Peabody Rating (Rank)||5.66 (4th)|
|92.4 (6th)||PFF Rating (Rank)||93.6 (3rd)|
What should cause concern for KC is how well Indianapolis is playing.
By weighted DVOA, which ranks recent games more heavily, the Colts were the 4th-best team in the regular season and are up to #2 if you factor in last week’s beatdown of Houston.
Chiefs vs Colts matchup is now the #1 vs #2 team in weighted DVOA and the #1 and #2 offense (per Football Outsiders). pic.twitter.com/DGr5O8Jzyp
— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) January 7, 2019
They have a balanced attack that is going to cause all kinds of problems for the KC defense, a unit that ranks 26th in defensive DVOA and is dead-last against the run.
Ride Marlon Mack (148 yards, 6.2 YPC, 1 TD vs Houston) to another cover.
Score Prediction: 30-27 Chiefs
Best Bet: Colts +5.0 (-105)
Dallas Cowboys vs Los Angeles Rams
Time & Date: 8:15 PM ET, Saturday, Jan. 12th
|Cowboys||+7.0 (-105)||+260||O 49.0 (-115)|
|Rams||-7.0 (-115)||-320||U 49.0 (-105)|
The Rams (13-3 SU, 7-7-2 ATS) have been on the right side of a few blowouts this year; they won seven games by at least two scores. But take a closer look at who those games came against: the 49ers (twice), Cardinals (twice), Raiders, Lions, and Chargers.
To put that another way, they beat one above-average team (Chargers) by more than a touchdown, and that was in late September when they were fully healthy.
Cowboys vs Rams: H2H Comparison
|-5.2% (21st)||DVOA Rating (Rank)||23.7% (2nd)|
|0.76 (15th)||Massey-Peabody Rating (Rank)||8.23 (2nd)|
|87.7 (13th)||PFF Rating (Rank)||95.4 (1st)|
If they can’t run the ball – which not even Seattle’s league-leading run-game could do against this Dallas defense – they are not going to run away with this game. The offense still hasn’t adjusted to losing third-down savant Cooper Kupp. Jared Goff is significantly worse under pressure.
Jared Goff pressure splits
With: 54.7% on-target, 58.0 rating
W/o: 82.3% on-target, 116.5 rating
*Cowboys 33.5% pressure rate ranks 8th
— Corey March (@marchmadness26) January 8, 2019
The Cowboys (11-6 SU, 10-6-1 ATS), meanwhile, ran the ball with ease last week and now get to face the NFL’s 28th-ranked rush defense (per DVOA). That’s a recipe for shortening the game and keeping the score close.
Score Prediction: 24-21 Rams
Best Bet: Cowboys +7.0 (-105)
Los Angeles Chargers vs New England Patriots
Time & Date: 1:05 PM ET, Sunday, Jan. 13th
|Chargers||+4.0 (-115)||+165||O 45.5 (-110)|
|Patriots||-4.0 (-105)||-190||U 45.5 (-110)|
The Chargers (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS) may have the most balanced roster in the league, one that’s capable of dominating on offense or defense on any given Sunday. It’s just rare that the team puts all the pieces together at the same time.
The Patriots (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) were the only team to go 8-0 at home this year. While the Chargers have yet to lose a game outside the state of California this season, that’s a much harder trend to buy into than New England in front of their home fans in January.
Chargers vs Patriots: H2H Comparison
|22.7% (3rd)||DVOA Rating (Rank)||14.2% (7th)|
|5.05 (6th)||Massey-Peabody Rating (Rank)||5.21 (5th)|
|92.2 (7th)||PFF Rating (Rank)||93.4 (4th)|
Note that the weather is going to be near freezing and the forecast calls for snow.
As the Patriots welcome the Chargers to Foxboro on Sunday, the forecast calls for 3 to 5 inches of snow and a high of 30 degrees.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 7, 2019
That means running the ball will be paramount. Melvin Gordon hasn’t rushed for more than 69 yards since Veterans Day.
The Patriots averaged 147.4 rushing yards per game at 4.5 YPC over their last five. In what should be an ugly, grind-it-out-affair, I’ll take Bill Belichick to come in with the better game-plan.
Score Prediction: 21-17 Patriots
Best Bet: Patriots -4.0 (-105)
Philadelphia Eagles vs New Orleans Saints
Time & Date: 4:40 PM ET, Sunday, Jan. 13th
|Eagles||+8.0 (-115)||+275||O 50.5 (-110)|
|Saints||-8.0 (-105)||-350||U 50.5 (-110)|
Are you tired of hearing the phrase “Nick Foles magic”? Good news, it’s about to come to an end. This is the biggest spread of the weekend even though Cowboys vs Rams is a bigger statistical mismatch in terms of DVOA, Massey Peabody, and PFF Rating.
The Saints (13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS) have never lost at home in the playoffs with Sean Payton coaching and Drew Brees at QB. They bludgeoned the Eagles (10-7, 7-9-1 ATS) in Week 11, winning by 41 points (48-7).
The Saints dominated every facet of the first matchup, outgaining Philly 546-196 yards, forcing the only three turnovers, and recording the only three sacks of the game.
Eagles vs Saints: H2H Comparison
|0.0% (15th)||DVOA Rating (Rank)||20.7% (4th)|
|1.28 (12th)||Massey-Peabody Rating (Rank)||10.05 (1st)|
|92.1 (8th)||PFF Rating (Rank)||93.9 (2nd)|
Philadelphia was able to keep Foles pretty clean against Chicago in the Wild Card Round (one sack). But, to the surprise of many, New Orleans’ pass rush is actually ranked higher than the Bears’ by PFF (5th vs 8th).
Since no one can run on the Saints (no. 3 rush defense per DVOA; no. 3 rush defense per PFF), Foles will have just as much pressure on his shoulders as last Sunday, when the Eagles had 42 rushing yards on 23 attempts (1.8 YPC).
The Eagles’ defense is salty as can be these days, so I’m not comfortable laying more than a touchdown. The Saints will be motivated to win, not run up the score. I don’t see how Philadelphia scores more than 20 points, though, which coincides with the team total available at Bovada.
Score Prediction: 26-17 Saints
Best Bet: Eagles team total: Under 20.5 (-140)