2016 NFL Divisional Playoff Bettor’s Guide (Audio Embedded)


2016 NFL Divisional Playoff Bettor’s Guide (Audio Embedded)
M.D. Wright
1.13.2017

Last week was a clean sweep in the loss category for spreads. And it seemed as though the officiating was especially slanted to ensure that home favorites covered their spreads; particularly Seattle and ESPECIALLY Green Bay. The Dolphins turned over the football four times in Pittsburgh territory, which was the difference in the game, and the Raiders just could do nothing positive in any facet against Houston, save for the two fluke scores they managed.

Last Week:
SU: 2-2
ATS: 0-4

Playoffs:
SU: 2-2
ATS: 0-4
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Divisional Playoff Analysis Here

Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Georgia Dome
Atlanta, Georgia
NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
Saturday, January 14, 2017
4:35 PM EST
My Call: SEA +4
Over/Under: Over 51.5

Analysis:
Media storylines aside (which we always put aside, since they have no real bearing on match ups or the outcomes of games), this game is not going to go the way the first game between these two played out during the regular season. Julio Jones got away with an egregious hands to the face to Richard Sherman, which is why he was ever open on “that play” to begin with, and Atlanta got away with multiple pass interferences on Jermaine Kearse, one in the end zone, which would have likely precluding the final drive by Atlanta being anything more than cutting into a two-score lead. Back to the match ups… For one, Michael Bennett was injured on a cheap block by Jake Matthews early in that game and did not finish. Kam Chancellor did not play in that game. Thomas Rawls did not play in that game. CJ Prosise did not play in that game. Russell Wilson was still hobbled in that game. Earl Thomas being out is important, but all it does is change the way Seattle plays.

Segue.

Atlanta was stifled in the first half of that game. They proceeded to score on three straight possessions in the 3rd quarter and early 4th, and each time was against Cover 3 (or “deep thirds”) coverage, leaving the weak side outside the numbers vulnerable behind KJ Wright or Bobby Wagner and outside of what WAS Earl Thomas at the time. Seattle blitzed and gave a ton of man looks against Detroit and it worked, and expect them to do more of the same, including some Cover 1 looks to have Chancellor in the box to help slow down the passing attack underneath to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Matt Ryan can move and can run when need be, but he will be running for his life at times in this game. When the Falcons are really carving up teams, opposing defenses can’t get near Ryan for long stretches. He won’t be comfortable enough to go up and down the field all game in this match up. Seattle’s offense is the main question here. Their game has not been portable this season. They’ve been decent offensively at home, but atrocious to flat out embarrassing on the road. Atlanta’s defense, sans Vic Beasley, does not offer much resistance up front, both in run defense and pass defense. Russell Wilson is just clutch in playoff games. Matt Ryan has largely been the antithesis of such. Yes, 2011 was a long time ago, but the Falcons looked similar to this that season, and then Ryan went to East Rutherford, and had happy feet all game against the Giants defense. This game will not be 24-2, but Ryan won’t be comfortable enough frequently enough to put up 30+ points unless Seattle turns over the football multiple times; something we don’t heavily factor into handicapping games.

Michael Bennett will wreck this game.

Call:
Seattle                        27
Atlanta                       23
FINAL
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Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Massachusetts
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
Saturday, January 14, 2017
8:15 PM EST
My Call: HOU +15
Over/Under: Under 44.5

Analysis:
Not much to say here. Houston’s defense will slow New England SOME, but they have fared terribly against New England every time they’ve played, and their offense isn’t any better now than it was when they were embarrassed in shutout fashion in primetime during the regular season. People talk about JJ Watt, but he does absolutely nothing in these games, so they don’t (and haven’t) missed him. Jadeveon Clowney is better, and who New England was going to be more concerned with anyway. Along with Whitney Mercilus. This is all about whether you think the Texans will cover. They probably will, in backdoor fashion.

Call:
Houston                          13
New England                 27
FINAL
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Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, Texas
NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
Sunday, January 15, 2017
4:40 PM EST
My Call: GB +4.5
Over/Under: Over 51.5

Analysis:
The regular season match up between these two teams is irrelevant. Aaron Rodgers could not have played any worse, and it was not forced by Dallas’ defense, either. Let’s get that out of the way; drawing parallels to that game.

Secondly, the other storyline is Green Bay’s win streak, which has been a combination of facing offensively challenged teams and criminal officiating helping their efforts. They won’t have the slanted officiating in this game that they had last week at home (where they typically get it), but may not really need it.

Dallas’ whole game is centered around their offensive line creating rushing lanes for Ezekiel Elliott to out run and overpower the second level of teams’ defenses. It has largely worked, although not against the Football Giants, who the league saw fit to get out of the playoffs by any means necessary last week. Green Bay has gotten back to being decent against the run, but their two safeties are the key in this match up. Clay Matthews knows that he can’t sell out to rush the passer in this game, along with Julius Peppers and Nick Perry, and sometimes stay at home and set the edge to help stuff the run. Elliott will get his, but the thing that breaks teams’ backs against Dallas is bringing one or both safeties down to stop the run and giving single coverage to the receivers, whose sole responsibility thereafter is to outflank the defender for Dak Prescott to dink and dunk on short throws and yards after the catch. Green Bay has actually been halfway decent in this regard in the past two months, but again, facing bad teams or teams whose offenses couldn’t get out of their own way all season, which was the case with their opponent last week.

Dallas’ defense can’t stop Aaron Rodgers, only the officials calling holding against his offensive line, which they are usually not wont to do, will Dallas get off against the Packers’ offense. Ty Montgomery being out would have been more of a killer than Jordy Nelson actually being out for this game (which he will be).

Call:
Green Bay                  31
Dallas                         27
FINAL
_________________________________________________________________

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, Missouri
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
Sunday, January 15, 2017
8:20 PM EST
My Call: KC -1.5
Over/Under: Over 43.5

Analysis:
The line is 43.5? Okay.

This game is about match ups, not comparisons with Stephen Curry. Yes, the Chiefs do miss Derrick Johnson to a degree, but Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Tamba Hali have had two (Houston four) weeks to rest for this game. Ben Roethlisberger will run into a couple of sacks here and there in games, he also forces throws at times, with Marcus Peters lurking. Le’Veon Bell will be the Chiefs’ focus, and they can contain him (although that does not mean he won’t have about 85-90 yards rushing and 40-50 receiving), but it will be interesting to see how often Antonio Brown is on Peters’ side, because the Steelers would be wise to not look that way. Ladarius Green’s availability would be of the utmost concern in the Chiefs’ minds.

The Chiefs have a different element to their offense than they had last year with Tyreek Hill, along with his contributions in the return game, as well. Those are game-breaking plays that he makes week in and week out. The Steelers defense has settled in nicely since midseason, but they are by no means shutdown. Travis Kelce will take Ryan Shazier downfield and away from the line of scrimmage where he has been extremely disruptive. Everyone’s all over the Steelers, but the Chiefs are a problem, and Hill is a large reason why (as well as for those who unequivocally pick New England to make the Super Bowl when they barely beat Kansas City last year WITHOUT game-changing efforts by Hill).

Call:
Pittsburgh                 24
Kansas City               27
FINAL
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