We went 4-0 last week. It was a great week over here but we’ve been at this for a long time.
Truer words were never spoken. Play the game with Fear and Arrogance. Be careful out there this week.
KANSAS CITY (12-4) -5.5 vs. Indianapolis (11-6)
Historically, quarterbacks playing their first playoff game have struggled. Since 2002, QBs in their first playoff game are a combined 13-32-1 against the spread (ATS) and 14-32 straight-up (SU). Breaking it down even further, those favored have struggled the most.
Home favorites: 4-16 ATS, 7-13 SU
Home underdogs: 2-5 ATS, 2-5 SU
Road favorites: 1-2-1 ATS, 2-2 SU
Road underdogs: 6-9 ATS, 3-12 SU
Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes had a wonderful season. Mahomes led all QBs with 50 TD passes and threw for over 5,000 yards and is the leading candidate for MVP.
But even though Mahomes had a magic season, this is his first playoff start. And the Chiefs are favored at home. Not a good spot historically.
Speaking of history, the Chiefs defense was historically bad this season. They yielded over 6,400 yards and over 400 first downs. This was aided by the fact that they were on the field so much due to the KC offense scoring so quickly. But the stats are alarming, especially considering how well the Colts offense has looked.
After a 1-5 start, the Colts were written off and were being looked at as one of the worst teams in the league. Since that point, the Colts have gone 11-1 with the only loss a 6-0 defeat in Jacksonville in week 13.
A big reason for the turnaround is the play of Andrew Luck and the offensive line. Luck is finally full recovered from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss all of last season. And the offensive line has gelled into one of the best in the league. Luck has only been sacked 18 times this season. Considering that 10 of those happened in weeks 1-5, it’s safe to say that the o-line is keeping the pocket clean. This has allowed HC Frank Reich and Luck the opportunity to open the playbook and pick apart defenses.
It hasn’t been all offense though. The Colts defense is much improved over last season and is on the fringe of being a top 10 unit. They play mostly zone coverage which should limit the big play ability of the Chiefs. A key to victory for the Colts is slowing down the Chiefs offense, forcing them into long drives.
No doubt the Chiefs offense is the best in the league. Their average scoring drive is 4 plays. 4 plays? But since Kareem Hunt’s suspension, the offense has not been as prolific. WR Tyrek Hill has also been slowed by the wear and tear of the season.
I expect a game like the Chiefs/Ravens game from week 14, a 27-24 OT win for the Chiefs. The Colts defense is not as good as Baltimore’s, but they are solid. And the Colts offense is more prolific than the Ravens. I like the Colts to pull off the upset, but at a minimum they will cover the 5.5 making this our ME UNDIES BACKDOOR COVER OF THE WEEK.
LA RAMS (13-3) -7.5 vs. Dallas (11-6)
Dallas has no business still being alive in the playoffs. They managed to squeak out a 24-22 win against the Seahawks last week to advance to play the Rams in LA thanks in part to come questionable referring. It’s important to note that the NFL assigned veteran referee Walt Anderson to this game. Anderson graduated from the University of Texas and has lived in the Dallas area since college.
The game featured some questionable pass interference calls (all favoring Dallas), Seattle kicker Sebastian Janikowski pulling his “Honeybaked Hamstring” (kudos to Cousin Sal for that one) on a long FG attempt at the end of first half, and Seattle’s OC inexcusably refusing to abandon the run game limiting Russell Wilson big play ability. It was painful to watch. This doesn’t even mention the worst on-side kick attempt ever.
Dickson’s on-side kick was likely an FU to Pete Carroll. Down 10, Carroll choose to go for a 4th and 6 in the red zone rather than try a FG. Dickson, the punter, never got a chance to showcase his placekicking skills that he warmed up the entire 2nd half. Instead, Seattle scored the TD and got the 21pt. conversion leading to the aforementioned onside kick. Even if Seattle recovered, would they have given Dickson the opportunity for a game winning field goal? Probably not.
Dallas comes into this game with some major question marks at wide receiver. Allan Hurns is obviously out as Erin Andrews confirmed as Hurns was carted off the field after his gruesome ankle injury. Cole Beasley has not practiced all week and was limited in last week’s game. Although, his leg injury led to a significant pass interference call late in the game. Beasley runs his route but his leg gives out when he turns toward the sideline. PI on Seattle, first down for Cowboys. Without Hurns and Beasley, Dallas passing game will be limited.
Dallas will need to rely on Zeke Elliott and the run. As annoying as Elliott is with the stupid “keep feeding me” gesture after any time he touches the ball, he should have room to run against the Rams. With Dallas’ receiver injuries, LA needs to stack the box against Elliott. If they can contain Zeke, this game won’t be close.
The Rams offense has looked rather pedestrian since losing Cooper Kupp. I don’t believe that Kupp was the key to the Rams recent struggles. It’s more likely that a banged-up Todd Gurley limited the run game which affected the total offense. After a week off, Gurley should be ready to go and will be the driving force of the Rams’ offense. I expect the Rams to move the ball at will and win this game easily.
It also important to note that Jason Garrett is still the Cowboy’s coach. Aside from excessive clapping, Garrett’s coaching abilities will be no contest for Rams HC Sean McVay play calling and DC Wade Philips experience.
LA RAMS -7.5
NEW ENGLAND -4 vs San We Mean LA Chargers
Phillip Rivers has got the arrogance. We hope he’s got the fear, too. He’s playing like a kid.
And he knows kids. Expecting #9 this year, which means he can manage little league as well as have his own team in the league. Let’s call them the Rivers Otters. Sorry #9, you're gonna becatcher.
Does it really matter what you name kids after like the 4th one? I bet they call the most recent kid Nine. It’s just too easy and they’ve got their hands full. If #10 happens, they can field a football team and Dad can play QB. Take that, LeBron!
The Chargers will win this game. I know this because I gave up my season tickets last year. So of course they are going to at least play in the Super Bowl, on top of the slap in the face that will happen when the Colts win and LA hosts a playoff game. I would also have had tickets to this game. I heard but have not verified that tickets to an LA/Colts AFC championship game are going for $2,600. (Just checked. Obviously that person is a raving lunatic. Tickets where my old seats are $500. Each. To watch the Chargers.)
The game: you need to throw out the stats on this one and think about defense and coaching. Both teams can put points on the board but are also maddeningly inconsistent. The offenses will be dicated by the game plan, which comes back to coaching. So let’s break it down:
The Pats are soft up the middle. They’re 29th against the run and 22nd pass defense against RB and 21st against the short pass
The Chargers have the most balanced unit in the league. 9th vs run, 9tth vs pass. They also have Melvin Ingram.
Edge: Chargers by a lot.
The Pats have Bill Belichick, who had some surprisingly un-Belichickian moments in the last few weeks of the season but we hope you’ve learned by now that you shouldn’t try to pet the tiger.
The Chargers are coming up the curve here. Anthony Lynn had a great defensive game plan last week and has an outstanding coaching staff. Like Belichick, he has an old salt at QB who is like having another coach on the field.
Edge: Pats, by not as much as you think.
The Chargers are playing with fear and arrogance. They’re kicking ass on the road and probably are using the NFL’s scheduling nightmare of back to back 1PM Eastern time games as a rallying cry. If Lynn and Ken Whisenhunt (OC) are as creative with the game plan as the defense was last week, they might win big.
NEW ORLEANS -8 vs Philadelphia
We’ve been reading about home teams in this round of the playoffs. It doesn’t look great for the visitors. Something like 23-9 for the home team the last 8 years, and similar numbers against the line. It seems like the visitors all have the momentum this week, and all of the road teams are underdogs.
It’s logical though. The visitors always come into this game with a playoff victory under their belt, and they always are on the road the next week playing against a team that’s had a bye week. It’s not a great scenario for the gambler so you need to pick your underdogs carefully.
As in not here. Sorry, Philly. New Orleans is too good on both sides of the ball, and the week off helped Brees more than anyone. The Eagles’ defense can give up some points, and so can the Saints.
So even though the Saints D is worst in the league against the deep pass, and Nick Foles and Alshon Jeffrey have some kind of Vulcan mind meld thing going on, we don't think there will be enough opportunities to beat them long. New Orleans defense is #3 against the run, and we think that will be the difference.
Defense and coaching both favor the Saints. It’s a lot of points but we’re laying them.