Two weeks of pro football playoff intrigue

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Things have really gotten interesting with just two weeks remaining before the NFL playoffs begin. As a result of last week’s action the postseason field is more than half complete with Green Bay, San Francisco and Baltimore clinching berths.

That trio joins Atlanta, Denver, Houston and New England who had each clinched spots two weeks earlier. Last week’s point spread results were an oddity in that the line did not come into play in any of the 15 games.

Remember the red hot performance of underdogs that marked the first six weeks of the season. At that point underdogs were cashing tickets at nearly a 65 percent clip, a pace that was not sustainable. Sure enough, things have turned around and it’s been rather dramatic.

Through this past Sunday underdogs for the season were covering at just below 54 percent. The OVER held a slight 112-110-1 edge. Double digit favorites are 10-10 ATS although such large favorites have won 18 of those 20 games.

The sports handicapping industry lost one of its pioneers with the passing of Morey “Doc” Moseman last Friday. Noted for his annual uniquely sized, red colored “Docs Sports Journal” and the lengthy record of success with his “Big 10 Game of the Year” Doc was one of the truly nice guys in the industry and will be missed.

SATURDAY

Atlanta -3½ at Detroit (50½): This is a horrible spot for the Falcons who are off of an emotionally satisfying and totally dominating 34-0 rout of the Giants. There’s little to suggest the Lions will give a sustained spirited effort whereas the Falcons will clinch the NFC’s top overall seed with a win. ATLANTA.

SUNDAY

Tennessee +11½ at GB (47): The Packers have not been explosive on offense this season and the Titans’ offense has been below average, suggesting less scoring than might be expected, something that may only be enhanced by the potential for cold or inclement weather. UNDER.

Oakland +8½ at Carolina (46): It’s hard to see Oakland having much interest in this cross country trip. Carolina will try to follow up an impressive effort in San Diego with a third straight win against an Oakland team not likely to match that intensity or enthusiasm. CAROLINA.

Buffalo +4½ at Miami (41½): The Bills’ pathetic effort in their loss to Seattle all but assures the Chan Gailey era will come to an end next week. Miami still has a chance to finish 8-8. QB Ryan Tannehill will not be required to much more than hand off if the Fish can establish a ground game early. MIAMI.

Cincy +4½ at Pittsburgh (43½):  The Bengals have played well for more than a month, especially on defense. Getting more than a FG is very tempting, especially with their 5-2 SU road record which includes 3 outright wins as dogs. CINCY.

N. England -14 at J’ville (48½): Pats Coach Bill Belichick will not want his team headed to the playoffs with negative momentum and is more prone to have his team place emphasis on this game if he wants to give his starters some rest before starting the playoffs without a break. Jacksonville presents the ideal foe to get back. NE.

Indy -6 at KC (42): The Colts need just one win to clinch a Wild Card. The Chiefs are just waiting for the season to end. The Colts likely will play a conservative game, taking relatively few risks and emphasize ball control once they gain a lead. UNDER.

N.Orleans +3 at Dallas (51½): The Saints played their best game of the season last week in shutting out Playoff contender Tampa Bay 41-0. Dallas has now won 3 straight and 5 of 6. The Saints continue to play hard with nothing on the line and this should be one of the week’s more entertaining games. OVER.

Wash -4½ at Philly (44½): Even if RG III gets an extra week of rest, fellow rookie QB Kirk Cousins showed last week he can more than hold his own at this level. Bottom line – one team is playing with intensity and the other is playing for a lame duck coach. WASHINGTON. 

St. Louis +3 at Tampa Bay (43½): The Rams play the much better defense and are well coached. They also have a win and a tie over perhaps the NFL’s best team, San Francisco. Tampa Bay’s best win came two months ago at Minnesota. The Rams have played the better overall football and passed more tests. ST. LOUIS.

NY Giants -1½ at Balt (47): Baltimore’s defense continues to suffer from injuries and the firing of their offensive coordinator prior to last week’s game was a surprise and seemed to have little positive impact. The Giants have shown an ability to perform in similar spots in the past and are a bit more trustworthy. NY GIANTS.

Minn +7½ at Houston (43½): The Texans bounced back from their humiliating loss at New England with a win over the Colts but the offense stalled often, settling for 5 field goals. Minnesota has played solid defense and will bring the greater intensity, which makes getting more than a TD attractive. MINNESOTA.

Cleveland +12½ at Denver (44½): Denver has won 9 in a row and while QB Peyton Manning gets most of the attention, the Broncos’ defense has excelled. Cleveland is limited offensively, relying more on the run than pass which makes this a bad matchup, especially for a team playing out the string. DENVER.

Chicago -5½ at Arizona (36½): The Bears are on the outside looking in and needing help to make the Playoffs. The Cardinals finally snapped a 9 game losing streak. The five recent Bear losses have all been to winning teams, four having clinched playoff spots. CHICAGO.

SF +1 at Seattle (40½): The marquee game of the week and a rematch of a midseason Thursday night affair won at home by the 49ers 13-6 with the controversial decline of a late safety affecting the ATS outcome. This should be a physical contest with both defensive the best units on the field. UNDER.

San Diego +3 at NY Jets (41): The Jets still have an ineffective offense that struggles to score. San Diego’s inability to run the football makes them too one dimensional and the Jets can still play defense. UNDER.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

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About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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