2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Divisional Round Edition

After blazing through one of the easiest, sweat-free covers to start off the 2018 post-season, Colin was dreaming of hoisting the mythical “11-0!” trophy . . . THUD! What was that? Well, the THUD was the hamstring of SeaBass, better known as “fat turd kicker.” With no kicker, the Seahawks were in 4-down territory and “go for two” mode the entire second half; a 4th&4 touchdown and two two-pointers later I get notched by a half point. That felt a lot like drawing aces against a five, splitting, drawing another ace, splitting again and drawing yet another ace; when all is said and done, I sit with 4x my original bet, A-8 (19), A-7 (18) and two A-10 against a five. Of course, you know the story, dealer turns over a six, draws a 10 to 21. Loss, loss, push and push. Still dazed and confused on Sunday, I was flat for both games and my performance on the field showing as me and my “first-time playoff QB starter” buddies combined for ZERO wins!

I have documented playoff rules that I follow religiously and what did I do? I broke rule #1 – “Never back a shaky quarterback in the playoffs, especially on the road!” I may have to amend this rule add another corollary, “always bet against a first-time starter in playoffs.” Funny thing, it makes perfect sense, or at least it did after the first three possessions in the Ravens/Chargers game, that quarterbacks making their first start in the playoffs struggle mightily. It got me thinking back to one of my favorite “what-ifs” in all of sports – what if the tuck rule is ruled a fumble? Remember that through three quarters, Tommy Terrific played more like Tommy the Tool, leading the Pats to a whopping 3 points and a mere 176 yards passing in a home playoff game. What if the Raiders win that game? Is TB12 more like Peyton Manning? I maintain it is possible that a loss there hurts both Brady and Belichick, despite what we know 17 years later. Also, remember this is long before the city of Boston signed their “new millennium” deal with the Devil. The “chowds” were part of a sad sack of fans with a massive inferiority complex; these are fans stating “wait until next year” after an opening day Red Sox loss. Think about this – would Belichick and Brady been around for the 2003 season if they blew a home playoff game in 2001 and then missed the playoffs the following year?

The point is this – it’s hard to win in the playoffs and, yeah, it does get in the heads of a quarterback or a coach. Think about how much different Marvin Lewis’ career would have been had Kimo von Oelhoffen not taken out Carson Palmer’s knee on the second play of the game? The Bengals might win the Super Bowl that year! Instead, Marvin leaves Cincinnati without a playoff win. That was in Palmer’s head as well. In 2015, he played his worst two games as a Cardinals player in the playoffs.

The thing is with these first-time starting quarters (and coaches for that matter) is they need things to go right for them, they need an early lead. Lamar Jackson was at a disadvantage having played the Chargers three weeks before (side note: I am so scarred by the Norv Turner/Mike McCoy Chargers, that I completely over-looked the fact they have a coach who cares about more than one phase of the game). You tell immediately the moment was way too big for Lamar, but still had the Ravens jumped out to an early lead he probably would have leveled off and been fine. Again, it did not help that he had the toughest first round matchup and a team familiar with the Ravens offense.

For Trubisky, he put his team in position to win so it’s hard to put a large portion of the blame on him but he didn’t play well in the first half and he was a victim of a coach who mid-way through the first was probably wondering why the hell he didn’t tank week 17 and play the Vikings, as opposed to deal with Nick “the jump ball magician” Foles. All that said, if that first Eagles possession goes two-yard rush, incomplete pass and Khalil Mack sack on third down, the Bears probably win by two touchdowns.

Oh well, what do you do? You try to get better and find winners. On to the divisional round, but first let’s look at the futures:

I lost my #2(Ravens), #3(Bears), #9 (Seahawks) and #12 (Texans). I nailed the Texans as the “2008 Dolphins” as non-competitive and Deshaun Watson was exactly what you would expect out of a first-timer. The Seahawks also was a call as they masqueraded as the 2012 Colts, a team that came on strong but was one and done. Ravens and Bears? Well, I was a lot closer for the Ravens (2001 Pats) save the “tuck rule.” I blew it on the Bears, Nagy and company just were not ready.

This week’s ranking of the remaining playoff teams, with Super Bowl odds (beginning of playoffs and current). For fun I dug around and found a historical team each 2018 NFL playoff most closely resembled.

Full disclosure – I am still holding a Saints (20-1) and a Texans (25-1) Super Bowl future. I think I will let the Texans future ride – no hedge.

1.New Orleans Saints (+225, +240)

 

Historical Team: 2009 New Orleans Saints. Oh, the disrespect, they go from +225 t0 +240 because they have to face off with donkey dick Nick Foles. Goodness, this Eagles team is annoying. As I stated last week right here, “I remember that 2009 season, nobody gave them a chance to win the Super Bowl, despite being the #1 seed in the NFC. Everyone was in love the Cardinals . . .” Final Score – Saints 45 Cardinals 14

2.Kansas City Chiefs (+475, +500)

Historical Team: 2001 St. Louis Rams. I was very tempting to move them down as this first-time starter has me second guessing myself worse than Chrissy Moltisanti.

3.Los Angeles Chargers (+600, +1100)

Historical Team: 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. Based on the win against the Ravens, I changed their historical team from the 2014 Bengals to the 2005 Steelers. They might get on one of those runs where they play well enough and Vince McMahon, er, Paul Tagliabue, will honor Phillip Rivers career with a Super Bowl, just like he did with Jerome Bettis. Keep in mind, Tags was getting ready to retire, so he was showing Goodell how to stage the outcome of playoff games. Man, did Goodell take it to the next level!

4.Los Angeles Rams (+600, +500)

Historical Team: 2001 Chicago Bears. I still don’t trust Goff, but the path just got infinitely easier with the DD-Nick and the Eagles pulling off the upset.

5.New England Patriots (+600, +600)

Historical Team: 1992 Buffalo Bills. Just like last week, I think we all agree “just fking go away already.”

6.Indianapolis Colts (+2800)

Historical Team: 1994 Green Bay Packers. I certainly can see them winning in Kansas City but this run in going to come to an abrupt end with a Lombardi – this year! Look out next year.

7.Dallas Cowboys (+3000, +2050)

Historical Team: 2015 Minnesota Vikings. Here is something I find hilarious – the Cowboys are one of the final eight teams in the NFL and are currently 20.5-1 to win Super Bowl. The 4-8 Nebraska Cornhuskers are 25-1 to win the CFP title next year. I will let you decide where the value lies. I said it last week – “Dak simply cannot do enough to make a deep playoff run.”

8.Philadelphia Eagles (+3500, +1600)

Historical Team: 2000 St. Louis Rams. The Eagles are still the 2000 Rams, Az Hakim still fumbled that punt, the Eagles just got lucky and recovered it (blocked FG). Now go get your ass beating in Nawlins, get back to booing Santa and throwing batteries at opponents.

Geaux Saints!

 

Some Divisional Round weekend notes (since 2002):

  • All four home teams are favored by 4 or more points, last time that happened was 2014, home teams went 3-1 SU but just 1-3 ATS
  • Saturday divisional games – home teams 28-6 SU, 20-14 ATS and the over is 23-11; the Patriots have had 8 of those games – 8-0 SU, 5-3 ATS and over is 7-1
  • Sunday divisional games – home teams just 18-16 SU, 10-23-1 ATS and the over is 14-20; the Pats are 2-1/2-1/2-1 on Sunday’s at home
  • Home teams have swept the four games but never finished 4-0 ATS
  • All four games have gone over the total twice but never under the total
  • The “pick the winner” system in the playoffs breaks down as 16 times a SU winner has failed to cover; wildcard round just 4 times has the SU winner failed to cover or push the spread

My playoff rules (you know the ones I didn’t bother following last week) can be read them here.

The back of Colin’s player card:

 

Note: Lines are courtesy of 5dimes.eu

Colts @ Chiefs (-5.5, 57)

Hmm, let’s see we have a quarterback making his first playoff start and a coach who is well known for playoff failure. Uh, ok, count me in!

There is this theory about dome team failure when going on the road playing a non-dome team due to the dome team being “soft.” The numbers do back that up to some extent – in 28 instances, dome teams 7-21 SU, 10-18 ATS and 10-18 to the Over. Compare that with instances of non-dome road teams – 115 instances, 50-65 SU, 66-45-4 ATS, 58-56-1 to the Over. As a potential Colts backer this had me curious – like am I on the wrong side – until I looked over the 28 instances. The Texans appeared 3 times, at Ravens and twice at Patriots, average line was Texans +11. Maybe not as much being soft as just simply not as good. The Cardinals also appeared three times, once with Ryan Lindley starting a playoff and the other with Palmer/Arians playoff duo. The Falcons/Saints combine for nine appearances, with a combined record of 2-7, I guess Matty Ice and Breezy might be a little soft. But the meat on the bone of this “theory” is the Colts, nine times they have played outdoors in the playoffs since 2002 but have been favored in just one game compiling a 3-6 record. Then it donned on me where this theory started, I am sure this is some moron “chowd” fan who based this entire theory on the 2003/2004 games between the Manning-led Colts and the tough as nails, Brady-led Patriots. Those two games earned Manning the reputation as a playoff choker and the Colts as soft because they play in a dome.

Fair enough, though I witnessed the Colts on the road at night in a must-win game in an open-air stadium open a can of whoop-ass on the Titans. Just saying not sure “soft” is how I would describe this Colts team. Yeah, so “chowd” take dumbass theory and stick down Southie where the sun don’t shine.

That weak sauce theory is not enough to overcome the first-time QB and “shaky” coach. Just picture that stadium if the Colts receive the opening kickoff, go 10 plays and go up 7-0, that stadium and sideline will be TIGHT!

Chiefs 34 Colts 31

 

Prop Bets:

 

  • Marlon Mack Over 74.5 Rushing Yards (-114)
  • Longest Completion by Patrick Mahomes Over 44.5 (-110)
  • Longest Reception by Tyreek Hill Over 32.5 (-110)
  • Chester Rogers Over 29.5 Receiving Yards (-114)

Cowboys @ Rams (-7, 49.5)

 

Here is the deal with the Rams – it all comes down to Goff as I have no doubt the Rams defense will be ready to play as will the offensive line and the skill positions. The Rams are the better team on all levels except at linebacker, but that doesn’t matter if Goff looks like he did the last five weeks of this season and in the playoff game last year – against Falcons, the defense forced two punts out of the box, but Goff could not capitalize on great field position, then Pharaoh Cooper happened. Next thing you know 10-0 Falcons and Goff had the “Peyton Manning face.” Unfortunately, I have zero confidence in Goff, meaning I am willing pay to see him prove me wrong.

Rams 24 Cowboys 20

 

Prop Bets:

 

  • Todd Gurley Over 38.5 Receiving Yards (+100)
  • Todd Gurley Under 87.5 Rushing Yards (-114)
  • Michael Gallup scores a TD (+200)
  • Gerald Everett scores a TD (+380)
  • Gerald Everett over 2.5 receptions (-135)
  • Gerald Everett over 25.5 receiving yards (-115)

Chargers @ Patriots (-4, 47.5)

BREAKING NEWS: Rob Gronkowski told the world today that playoff Brady is “hyper focused, because he knows if you lose you go home!” I am sure the ESPN cannot wait to pair him with Jason Witten next year for Monday nights.

Did you get that – “next year?” Yep, everyone wave bye-bye to Gronk, this is his last NFL game! In fact, anyone remember the 1998-99 Chicago Bulls? The Bulls finished off the Jazz for their second three-peat in eight years that season, then everyone left in the off-season – Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Jackson. That’s the Pats except without the title and the affectionate hugs for each other. Belichick, Brady, Gronk all gone next year. Thank you, Chargers, you have done America a major service. We should give them a Purple Heart or something.

Chargers 23 Patriots 17

Prop Bets:

 

  • James White Over 44.5 Receiving Yards (+120)
  • Sony Michel Over 66.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
  • Rob Gronkowski Under 49.5 Receiving Yards (-130)

Eagles @ Saints (-8, 51.5)

Remember last year when everyone in America was waiting for Nick Foles to have that clunker you knew was coming? Me too, well it did happen but Matty Ice’s red zone woes and the WWE decision to ignore the pass interference when Jaylen Mills pushed Julio Jones to the ground, then tried to hump him while he was down – yeah, nothing to see here – just deciding a game is all. This miracle ride is O V E R and it ends with an ugly beating in the Superdome. Look thanks Eagles for beating the Pats, for that reason, the 2017 team will have special spot in the hearts of most Americans but now you are in over your heads, and the inevitable blowout loss is coming.

I have noticed a lot of people like the Eagles this week, the most common reason – “the Eagles have revenge on their minds in the re-match!” Oh Lord, of course, a city like Philly has been brought up to think all re-matches of a previous one-sided match will fall their way. Look Eagles fans, I hate to break it to you but if the Rocky movies remotely resembled reality, Clubber Lang would have beaten Rocko worse in the second fight. In fact, if we sat two operators using CompuBox to track the first fight between Lang and Balboa and the second as well, I think you be surprised that Rocky took twice the beating in the re-match but he didn’t go down and at least he “wasn’t breathing heavy. . .”

But I was curious about these re-matches and maybe a couple of these Eagles backers were onto something. I ran two queries – both queries had criteria of previous matchup in the same season, non-division game and at the same site; the first query was where the home team won by 21 or more points, or in layman’s terms – a curb stomp; and the second query the home team won by double digits, or in layman’s terms – a good swift ass kicking. The results for the first query, 9-0 SU/4-5 ATS but an average margin of victory of 10.6 points (that’ll do). The second query presented an opportunity on Eagles – 16-4 SU/7-12-1 ATS, average margin of victory just 6.8 points. Hmm, I needed a third query, a scenario where the previous matchup was a 40+ point win. The third query results are 1-0/1-0 with a margin of victory of . . .

Saints 41 Eagles 20 (21!)

Prop Bets:

 

  • Drew Brees Most Passing Yards in Divisional Round (+500)
  • Ted Ginn Jr Over 49.5 Receiving Yards (+115)
  • Golden Tate Over 39.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
  • Saints -14.5 (+200)

Good luck to all!

 

2 thoughts on “2018 NFL Playoff Picks – Divisional Round Edition

  1. I don’t know how many people read this but I find it incredibly fascinating. I Cliff from cheers would be proud of your Clubber/Rocky stats, (whether they be true or not). If they are than you are doing way too much work for no pay! Get a freakin job, your talents on wasted much like your skills at banner. You should be a columnist stud but sort of languishing here. Send these blogs off to the media. I’ll be your agent!!!

    • That is too kind – the reality is I would miss as many deadlines as Cody Parkey missed kicks this year. But if the opportunity presented itself I might be more disciplined.

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