Hopefully you passed on NFL Wild Card weekend, most of us weren't that lucky
January 10, 2017 3:12 AM
by Dave Valento
If you missed the first weekend of the NFL playoffs consider yourself lucky. All four games were over before the fourth quarter began. The home favorites won by an average of 19 points while the four road underdogs combined for four touchdowns, two of which came in garbage time.
The Divisional Round should be more intriguing. Only New England is favored by more than 4.5 points.
From a wagering standpoint, the last 10 years have uncovered some interesting trends to consider from this round of the NFL Playoffs.
Six of nine games have gone over the total when there was a favorite of 9 points or more. In addition, all five games where there was a double digit favorite have gone over. New England is favored by 15.5 over Houston.
Since 2013, the home team has won 14 of 16 games. The underdog has covered 9 of those 16 games.
Low scoring games have been kind to underdogs. Of the 18 games that have gone under the total, 10 were won outright by the underdog.
When the total was between 46.5 and 49.5, the underdog covered all nine times. The total on the Pittsburgh/Kansas City games is 46.5.
Of the nine games where the total has been set at 50 or more, six have gone over. The totals for both Seattle/Atlanta and Green Bay/Dallas are 51.
SEATTLE +4.5 at ATLANTA (51): This is a rematch from 2013 when Atlanta won, 30-28, playing at Atlanta. The line that year was Atlanta -3 and 47. This is the third time since 2011 Atlanta has played at home in the Divisional Round.
The previous two were very high scoring with 69 and 58 points scored. All eight home games for Atlanta during the regular season were high scoring, as well.
The lowest combined points scored were 54. Atlanta’s eight home games averaged a total of 62.75. Seattle beat Atlanta in week 6, 26-24, but Atlanta probably should have won.
This is a match-up of the top passing offense (Atlanta) vs. the top rushing defense (Seattle). Give the edge to Atlanta at home in a high scoring, close game. ATLANTA 31-27
HOUSTON +15.5 at NEW ENGLAND (44.5): New England has played at home in the Divisional Round seven times in the last 10 years. In those games, they’ve scored 45, 43, 41, 35, 31, 28 and 27 points and all seven games went over. New England ranks in the top 10 in most offensive and defensive categories. The two teams played in week 3, the last game New England played without Tom Brady, and the Patriots won 27-0, despite just 103 passing yards by Jacoby Brissett. Houston QB Brock Osweiler played much better at home vs. Oakland last weekend. But that won’t continue in a game where Houston will be in obvious passing situations. NEW ENGLAND 37-13
PITTSBURGH +1.5 at KANSAS CITY (46.5): When Pittsburgh has both RB Le’Veon Bell, QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown in the game, the Steelers are awfully tough.
They went 9-2 this year when those three were on the field and healthy for the whole game. With Kansas City, we’ve seen this movie before. They are an excellent regular season team.
They are well-coached and don’t beat themselves. But come playoff time, they appear to be a team easy to game plan for. Pittsburgh destroyed Kansas City in Week 4, at Pittsburgh, 43-14. In that game, Roethlisberger went 22 for 27, 300 yards and 5 TD’s. This game will be closer but Pittsburgh is the play. PITTSBURGH 24-21
GREEN BAY +4 at DALLAS (51): This could be the best game of the weekend. Green Bay is on a seven game winning streak after blowing out the New York Giants last weekend. Aaron Rodgers continues to play like an MVP candidate. Check the status of QB WR Jordy Nelson. He left the Giants game early with a rib injury. If he’s not in the game, it’s a huge blow for Green Bay.
Both of these teams rank in the top 5 in red zone TD’s per game, as well as many other offensive scoring categories. This figures to be a back and forth scoring affair but the difference is the Dallas offensive line.
Dallas will score last and win in a high scoring game. DALLAS 34-31
PLAY OF THE WEEK: The horse racing play of the week is at Tampa Bay Downs in race 8 on Wednesday. No. 6 MO’NE DAVIS is a first time starter in this mile turf maiden special weight race.
The trainer, Arnaud Delacour, is 4 for 5 with a first timer in a maiden special weight on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs and this rider aboard. In addition, this debut runner is a sibling to five stakes winning turf runners and that includes Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who won his first three races by daylight, all on turf. Mo’ne Davis is 3-1 morning line. Post time is 1:48 PST.