NFL Playoffs (Divisional Round)
posted Jan 10 2020, 06:16PM
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posted in NFL, Betting

NFL Playoffs (Divisional Round)

*2019 NFL Season Record:

*2019 NFL Season/Playoffs Record: 

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Minnesota Vikings Vs San Francisco 49ers
Date/Time: January 11, 4:35 p.m. ET
Stadium: Levi's Stadium
TV Coverage: FOX
Opening Odds: 49ers -7.5 | O/U 45.5
Vikings vs 49ers Matchup Report
The 49ers opened as 7.5-point home favorites, but the line slid to San Francisco -6.5 by Monday morning. Minnesota's moneyline opened at +269 and point total 45.5. The total has gone OVER in five of the 49ers' last six home games with an average combined score of 56.33.
Minnesota News and Notes
What a difference a healthy Dalvin Cook and productive Adam Thielen make, right?
After missing the previous two games and being limited by a shoulder injury since Week 13, Cook rushed a season-high 28 times for 94 yards and two scores. Thielen saw more than eight targets for the first time this season and hauled in seven receptions for 129 yards. Though he was hobbled by a hamstring injury midway through the season, it was only the second time Thielen posted 76-or-more yards in a game.
As a whole, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense converted 10-of-18 third downs and three of the team's four red zone trips resulted in touchdowns. Simply stated, the efficiency of these two facets of the game was the difference between a Vikings wild card win and loss.
That's not to detract from what the Vikings defense accomplished against the Saints. Heading into Sunday's matchup, New Orleans had scored 34 or more points in six of their last seven games and scored touchdowns on 80 percent of their red zone trips over their past three. The Saints were rolling and Minnesota's D held them to 4-of-11 on third down and only allowed two red zone trips.
The Vikings' ability to hold New Orleans to a field goal after an opening drive fumble set the tone for the rest of the game in my opinion.
On the injury front, NFL Network is reporting cornerback Mackenzie Alexander has a small meniscus tear. He sat out the wild card game against the Saints.
San Francisco News and Notes
How much did injuries on the defensive side of the ball impact the 49ers down the stretch? Well, San Francisco's D allowed 19.4 points per game on the season compared to 31.75 PAPG the final four weeks. Granted, some of that could be general wear and tear of a long 16-game season. Whichever way you want to spin the data, it sounds like two key pieces of the Niners defensive unit are slated to return this weekend. 
NFL Network is reporting that defensive end Dee Ford should return from a hamstring injury and ESPN reports linebacker Kwon Alexander - who missed half the season with a torn pec - also has a shot to return against the Vikings.
Minnesota's offensive line will have their hands full should Ford return as his 6.5 sacks on the season compliment Nick Bosa's pass rush from the other side. The Vikings are one of eight teams to allow 1.8-or-fewer sacks per game, but just allowed the Saints pass rush to sack Cousins three times.
The matchup to watch will be tight end George Kittle against the Vikings secondary. Minnesota finished the regular season ranked 12th in receiving yards allowed to opposing tight ends during the regular season. However, they just let Saints tight end Jared Cook catch five balls for 54 yards. Kittle accounts for 26 percent of Jimmy Garoppolo's passing yards this season.
Meanwhile, Minnesota's front seven will be tasked with stopping the three-headed backfield of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman. The Vikings held Saints backs to 3.5 yards per carry.
Key Defensive Metric Watch
While opposing offenses converted just 33.3 percent of their third downs against San Francisco this season, the 49ers regressed the final three weeks of the season where their opponents converted 50 pecent of their third downs - ranked 28th.
Even worse, when opposing offenses reached the 49ers red zone, they converted 60 percent of their trips into touchdowns. That rate soared to 90 percent the final three weeks of the season. Both these metrics rank in the bottom 10 of the NFL.
Betting Pick: Vikings +7
My primary concern in backing the Vikings again is that Cook's season-high 28 carries comes back to bite Minnesota on the short week. Other than that, this matchup is a story of which defense performs at a higher level, stops the opposing team on third down and in the red zone, which we just saw Mike Zimmer's squad accomplish against the 34-points-per-game Saints.
Shark Bites
The Vikings are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after consecutive ATS wins.
The 49ers are 3-4-1 ATS at home this season.
The Vikings are 2-8 SU and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as underdog.
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Minnesota's last 7 games when playing San Francisco
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Minnesota's last 6 games on the road
San Francisco is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games when playing at home against Minnesota
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of San Francisco's last 7 games when playing Minnesota
Tennessee Titans Vs Baltimore Ravens
Date/Time: January 11, 8:15 p.m. ET
Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium
TV Coverage: CBS
Opening Odds: Ravens -9.5 | O/U 49
Titans vs Ravens Matchup Report
The Ravens opened as 9.5-point home favorites but saw a slight dip to Baltimore -9 by Monday morning. Tennessee’s moneyline opened at +431 but has come down significantly at most books we track, while the point total opened at 49 before two ticks down to 47. The total has gone OVER in nine of the Titans’ last 11 games with an average combined score of 52.36.
Tennessee News & Notes
The headlines may have read “Tannehill, Titans dethrone Patriots,” but we know better. We know that without Derrick Henry’s 204 total yards, Tennessee’s chances of an upset in New England dissipate. Tannehill finished with 72 passing yards on 8-of-15 passing, an interception and two fumbles, though he didn’t lose any.
New England converted just five of 13 third downs and one of three red-zone trips against the Titans. To be blunt, those metrics are more a testament to the Patriots’ paltry offense than Tennessee possessing an elite defense that should strike fear in the Ravens.
The Titans’ leading receiver against New England was Anthony Firkser, a backup tight end out of Harvard, and this weekend’s matchup doesn’t get any easier for Tannehill as the Ravens secondary ranks sixth against the pass (207.2 PYAPG) and held their final three opponents to 156 PYPG. After averaging 100.8 yards per game with five touchdowns the last six games of the regular season, rookie receiver A.J. Brown was held to one four-yard catch against the Patriots. If he’s held in check again, Tannehill is in big trouble.
Remember, Henry missed Week 16 due to injury and it’s assumed after another heavy workload that he’s less than 100 percent heading into another physical matchup. There’s only so much offense one running back can produce while at the same time remain healthy and on the field.
On the injury front, linebacker Jayon Brown was forced from the New England game with a shoulder injury and is questionable this weekend.
Baltimore News & Notes
After injuring his calf in a Week 16 win over the Browns, all signs point to running back Mark Ingram returning to face the Titans. Ingram accounts for 31 percent of the Ravens’ rush production this season. As a team, Baltimore averaged 206 rush yards per game, roughly 62 more rush yards than second-ranked San Francisco.
Tennessee’s defense ranks 11th against the rush at 104.1 rush yards allowed per game. But, as we know, it’s one thing to stop “the rush” and another thing to stop Lamar Jackson in the open field.
When he does drop back to pass, Jackson’s top target is tight end Mark Andrews. Despite missing a game, Andrews accounted for 25 percent of the team’s receiving yards with 10 touchdowns. Baltimore tight ends hauled in 14 of the team’s 37 receiving touchdowns this season.
Opposing tight ends averaged five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown per game against the Titans this season. Advantage: Andrews.
Key Defensive Metric Watch
Opposing offenses converted 37.1 percent of their third downs against the Ravens. Baltimore ranked 12th in this metric.
Opposing offenses converted 47.7 percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns against Baltimore. This was the third-lowest rate in the NFL. It’ll be fascinating to see how this trend plays out as the Titans offense ranks FIRST in red-zone efficiency as they’ve converted 76.6 percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns. If you see the Titans settling for red-zone field goals, Baltimore backers are loving life.
Betting Pick: Ravens -9
It’s a lot of points to lay in the playoffs, but the Ravens won nine games by more than nine points this season. It’s a matter of trust. I don’t trust Ryan Tannehill in this spot. Despite Derrick Henry’s hot stretch, the Ravens defense possesses the overall advantage. Tennessee’s defense isn’t good enough to contain Jackson “the runner” AND Jackson “the guy who likes to target tight ends” to hang in this game.
Shark Bites
The Titans are 6-2 SU and ATS in their last 8 games.
The Ravens are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games.
The total has gone OVER in 9 of the Titans’ last 11 games.
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Tennessee's last 5 games when playing on the road against Baltimore
The total has gone OVER in 9 of Tennessee's last 11 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Baltimore's last 5 games when playing at home against Tennessee
Baltimore is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
Houston Texans Vs Kansas City Chiefs
Date/Time: January 12, 3:05 p.m. ET
Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium
TV Coverage: CBS
Opening Odds: Chiefs -7 | O/U 50
Texans vs Chiefs Matchup Report
Opening Odds Analysis
The Chiefs opened as 7-point home favorites before an aggressive move to Kansas City -9.5 (some books have K.C. -10). Houston’s moneyline opened at +325 and the point total at 50. The total has gone UNDER in five of the Chiefs’ last six games with an average combined score of 39.33 and in four consecutive Texans’ road games with an average score of 41.25.
Houston News & Notes
Let’s be honest, if Deshaun Watson isn’t made of granite, there’s a good chance we’re writing about the Bills this week. To say Houston snatched victory from the jaws of defeat is putting it mildly. Josh Allen’s inexperience in the big moment really showed and handed Houston several opportunities to rally back and win (and cover) the game in overtime.
Buffalo rushed for 172 yards on 5.7 yards per carry, Allen passed for 264 yards and the team converted 11 of 21 third downs. However, four of the Bills’ drives stalled and Houston forced them to kick four field goals. While this is commendable, the Chiefs don’t need to reach the red zone nor cross midfield to attack Houston’s 29th-ranked pass defense. Whereas Allen let the Texans off the hook, Patrick Mahomes will rip your heart out if you hand him five scoring opportunities.
Some great news is that NFL Network reports wide receiver Will Fuller V is expected to return from a groin injury that kept him out the last few games. Granted, Fuller has returned from soft tissue injuries before and reinjured himself early in the next game. If he can give the Texans 60 minutes, the playbook opens up for Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. For now, Fuller is questionable.
Kansas City News & Notes
Andy Reid’s teams are 22-4 straight up and 17-9 against the spread all-time after a regular-season or postseason bye. Since joining the Chiefs, Reid is 6-3 SU and 5-4 ATS.
However, the betting trend that jumps out isn’t so much Reid’s win-loss record after an extra week to prepare, but the fact the UNDER has hit in 20 of the 26 games and in seven of nine games since he joined the Chiefs.
To reiterate, Kansas City’s offense may get most of the attention, but the Chiefs defense got healthy and more dominant the last two months of the season. The rush defense allowed just 87 rush yards per game and ranked sixth the last three games of the season. Their pass defense ranked eighth against the pass this season as they allowed just 221.4 yards per game.
On the injury front, starting safety Juan Thornhill tore his ACL in the Chiefs’ Week 17 win over the Chargers. Cornerback Morris Claiborne is questionable with a shoulder injury.
Chiefs: Key Defensive Metric Watch
Opposing offenses converted 50.8 percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns against the Chiefs defense, the league’s ninth-lowest rate. Over their past three games, that rate has dipped to 42.8 percent.
Opposing offenses converted 37.1 percent of their third downs against the Chiefs defense, which ranked 12th in the league.
Betting Pick: Chiefs -9.5
On top of their improved defense, the Chiefs offense became more balanced down the stretch. Their 120 rush yards per game ranked 12th in the league and blended nicely with the fifth-ranked passing game.
When you add it all up, Kansas City rivals Baltimore as the most balanced team in these playoffs.
Shark Bites
The Texans are 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 games after an ATS win.
The Chiefs are 6-0 SU and ATS in their last 6 games.
The total has gone UNDER in the Texans’ last 4 road games.
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 5 games on the road
Houston is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
Kansas City is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Kansas City is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
Seattle Seahawks Vs Green Bay Packers
Date/Time: January 12, 6:40 p.m. ET
Stadium: Lambeau Field
TV Coverage: FOX
Opening Odds: Packers -3.5 | O/U 46.5
Seahawks vs Packers Matchup Report
Opening Odds Analysis
The Packers opened as 3.5-point home favorites before a slight uptick to Green Bay -4. Seattle’s moneyline opened at +160 and the point total at 46.5 before a consensus dip to 46. The total has gone UNDER in the Packers’ last four games with an average combined score of 36.25.
Seattle News & Notes
The Seahawks committed 11 penalties for a loss of 114 yards in their win over the Eagles. This may go without saying, but if they commit that many penalties against the Packers, all bets are off. It’s amazing that a team can be that undisciplined this late in the season.
Philadelphia’s top-ranked rush defense forced Russell Wilson to air it out a little more often. He and DK Metcalf connected seven times for 160 yards and a touchdown. Metcalf set a rookie record for most receiving yards in a playoff game. Green Bay’s pass defense ranks in the middle of the league, but that’s because the Pack are so susceptible to the run.
While Wilson led the Seahawks with 45 rushing yards, Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch combined for 17 carries for just 19 yards against the Eagles’ stout rush defense. If Seattle wants to re-establish the run, Green Bay’s rush defense presents a great opportunity as the Packers rank 23rd against the rush and just allowed the Lions’ backfield committee to rack up 171 yards on 6.8 yards per carry.
The matchup to watch is Seattle’s offensive line against the Packers pass rush. If you remember back to Week 16, Za’Darius Smith destroyed the Vikings O-line and sacked Kirk Cousins 3.5 times and the Packers finished with five sacks. Wilson was sacked a league-high 48 times. Protect the quarterback, stay in the game.
Green Bay News & Notes
After years of esthetically pleasing football, Aaron Rodgers’ Packers are winning ugly. They averaged just 21.7 points per game the final four weeks of the season. With a first-round bye in the playoffs on the line, they needed a 13-point fourth quarter and last-second Mason Crosby field goal to rally and beat the 3-12-1 Lions in Week 17. What? How does that happen?
Rodgers’ 62 percent completion rate during the regular season finished tied with Kyle Allen and Ryan Fitzpatrick (yikes), while his 95.4 QB rating ranked behind Deshaun Watson and just ahead of Carson Wentz. Not one receiver finished with 1,000 or more receiving yards, Davante Adams accounted for 24.8 percent of the receiving yard production, while four different receivers posted 400 to 500 yards. This isn’t what we’ve come to expect from Rodgers and a big reason why their point per game average dipped so significantly.
One bit of good news for Rodgers and running back Aaron Jones is it sounds like offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga is on track to play this weekend once/if he clears concussion protocol. He’ll be needed as Green Bay has focused more on the running game in recent weeks. The Packers averaged 22 more rush yards per game the last three weeks compared to their season-to-date rate of 112.2 – which like so many of Green Bay’s offensive metrics ranks in the middle of the pack.
Green Bay’s offense ranked 24th in third-down conversions this season at just 35.6 percent, behind the likes of Arizona and Cleveland.  However, if they reach Seattle’s red zone, watch out as the Packers converted 64 percent of their RZ trips into touchdowns, the NFL’s sixth-best rate.
Packers: Key Defensive Metric Watch
Opposing offenses converted 38 percent of their third downs against the Packers. Green Bay ranked 16th in this category during the regular season.
Opposing offenses converted 50 percent of their red-zone trips into touchdowns against the Packers. Green Bay ranked seventh in this category.
Betting Pick: Seahawks +4 & UNDER
After watching the Packers the last four weeks of the season, most signs point to this game coming down to a field goal and the UNDER hitting.
Shark Bites
The Seahawks are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games as underdog.
The Packers are 8-0 ATS in their last 8 games after an ATS loss.
The Seahawks are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games at Lambeau Field.
Seattle is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games on the road
Seattle is 11-3-1 ATS in its last 15 games on the road
Green Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
Green Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games



















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