cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/10/2012 10:57 PM

Defenses Dominate Texans And Ravens Matchup

The Houston Texans put together about as good of a game as they could have asked for in their first ever postseason appearance last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. They’ll need that and probably a ton more if they want to win their first ever road playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional round of the postseason.

M&T Bank Stadium will be the site of Sunday afternoon’s game, which will kick off at 1:00 (ET). Live television coverage is set for CBS.

The Texans (11-6 SU, 10-5-2 ATS) came up with a 31-10 victory last Saturday in front of a Reliant Stadium record 71,725 fans who were attending their first NFL playoff tilt since 1993. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, but it was one in which the Texans did what they had to do to win. The defense scored a TD, the offense had the one long pass play that resulted in an Andre Johnson touchdown, and Arian Foster got the job done on the ground.

The defense did the rest. Cincinnati didn’t score in the final 37 minutes of the game, and only got into the Houston red zone once in that stretch. The Texans scored the final 24 points.

This ‘D’ is clearly the best in Texans history, as the unit ranked in the Top 5 in the game in scoring (17.4 PPG) and total yards allowed (285.7 YPG). Bringing in Wade Phillips has made all the difference, and it is remarkable how much better this unit is despite its best player, Mario Williams, not playing since the beginning of October.

Joe Flacco earned the moniker “Joe Cool” for the way that was able to go on the road and win playoff games. For the first time in his career though, the Ravens (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) are going to be playing a home game in the postseason.

Flacco’s offense wasn’t all that great this year, ranking No. 15 in the league at 338.7 YPG, but he was able to win the games that counted most. Baltimore won six games against teams that made the playoffs, more than any other team. To put that in perspective, the New England Patriots, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, only played against three playoff teams.

Ray Rice is going to be the man of the hour for the Ravens. He has scored at least one TD in three of his last four playoff games, and averaged 112.3 YPG between rushing and receiving since taking over as the starting running back in 2009 in the postseason.

The Baltimore defense also ranked in the Top 5 in the league in every major category this year, and with men like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs out there, Houston has plenty of reason to be concerned.

Earlier this year, the Ravens pummeled the Texans in this stadium, 29-14. Flacco threw for 305 yards, and Rice had a total of 161 yards. Houston didn’t have Johnson for that game, but did have Matt Schaub at quarterback. He only threw for 220 yards and a TD in the game, and you can bet that it is going to be a significantly tougher task for rookie TJ Yates, who is only starting in his sixth NFL game and his second in the postseason.

The Texans and Ravens have met five times since Houston came into existence. Baltimore holds a 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS edge in this series. Three of the five games had final margins of victory of six points or fewer though, so there is hope for the Texans to at least compete in this game.

The Texans opened up as 7½-point underdogs on Saturday as soon as their Wild Card game went final, but that spread quickly jumped up to eight in Las Vegas and as many as nine at some spots offshorenine. The total opened at 38 but is sitting at 37½ early Monday morning.

The early weather forecast is calling for a cold, but otherwise relatively nice day on Sunday. Temperatures are expected to top out in the mid-30s, but there is no chance for rain or snow in the forecast.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/10/2012 11:03 PM

NY Giants Seek Upset At Green Bay Packers

The last time the New York Giants played the Super Bowl favorites tough during the regular season and got a rematch in the postseason, they won and ended a perfect season for the New England Patriots. The fourth-seeded Giants (10-7) will have a similar opportunity on Sunday when they visit the top-seeded Green Bay Packers (15-1) in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

The Packers nearly duplicated New England’s perfect regular season and will have revenge on their minds as well because they lost to New York the last time they hosted a playoff game in January 2008. New York beat Green Bay 23-20 in overtime, but star quarterback Aaron Rodgers was riding the pine back then because future Hall of Famer Brett Favre was under center for the Pack. That turned out to be Favre’s last year with Green Bay, and the rest is history.

New York’s Eli Manning went on to become the first NFC QB to lead his team to three straight road wins in the playoffs and advance to the Super Bowl, where the Giants edged the Patriots, 17-14. Rodgers followed suit last year, helping Green Bay win the Super Bowl title after earning three consecutive victories away from home.

The two Pro-Bowlers will meet for a second time this year at 4:30 p.m. (ET) with television coverage provided by FOX. The Packers opened as 9-point favorites according to the Don Best odds screen with a total of 51. The total had already jumped as high as 52½ early Monday morning with some 8½-point spreads available.

New York was a 7½-point underdog when the Giants won the NFC Championship Game at Green Bay three years ago, but they were crushed 45-17 at Lambeau Field in their last visit to the land of cheeseheads during the 2010 regular season.

The Packers needed to win that game to get into the postseason, starting a 19-game winning streak for the defending champs that ended with a 19-14 road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. Green Bay also won 38-35 at New York in Week 13, as Rodgers led the game-winning drive in the final minute that resulted in a 30-yard field goal by kicker Mason Crosby.

Ironically, that is the exact same score of the 2007 regular-season finale when the Giants hosted New England and gained some confidence before their Super Bowl run. Manning led New York back from a 28-17 fourth-quarter deficit against the Packers earlier this year, with a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and a 2-point conversion run by running back Danny Ware tying the game at 35-35 before Rodgers’ heroics. Rodgers finished with 369 passing yards and four touchdowns while Manning had 347 and three scores.

Manning had another big game on Sunday in a 24-2 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card round. He threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Nicks who had a game-high 115 receiving yards. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw also ran the ball well, totaling 155 rushing yards on 28 carries between them. Jacobs and Bradshaw combined for 110 yards on 37 carries with one touchdown apiece in their last playoff game at Lambeau.

Green Bay has won 13 in a row at home, going 11-2 against the spread in those games. The Giants have gone 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall with the ‘under’ cashing in the past four. The ‘over’ is 4-0 in the last four meetings and 8-2 in the past 10 overall for the Packers.

The early weather forecast for Green Bay on Sunday calls for a high temperature of 28 cooling down to 20 with a few snow showers possible.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/10/2012 11:22 PM

Divisional Playoff Trends

January 9, 2012

After expanding its playoff format to 12 teams in 1990, the NFL left the door wide open to the possibilities of a Wild Card team running the table and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. And while a Wild Card team has done so only seven times in Super Bowl history, five such winners have been crowned since 1997.

Last year witnessed the Packers hauling home the hardware. In 2007 it was the New York Giants, in 2005 the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 2000 the Baltimore Ravens and in 1997 the Denver Broncos.

Will the trend continue this season or will the top seeded teams have their say? With both of the No.1 seeds owning the league’s worst defenses, a strong case might certainly be made for New Orleans to continue in red-hot mode. Before we crown anyone just yet, let’s first check a few Divisional Round angles in the NFL playoffs that are noteworthy.

All results are since 1990 and are ATS, unless noted otherwise…

Top Seeds Generally Up To Speed

No. 1 seeds enjoy the luxury of not only hosting a game in this round but also play with an added week of rest.

For the most part these teams have met with modicum of success, going 31-11 SU and 23-19 ATS in this role.

The best the NFC has to offer has gone 19-2 SU and 15-6 ATS, including 10-0 SU and 9-1 ATS versus a foe off a spread win of more than 13 points in its Wild Card game.

Top seeds from the AFC have struggled, going 12-9 SU and 8-13 ATS, including 5-5 SU and 1-9 ATS when playing off back-to-back wins.

Success Breeds Success

Rested hosts in this round that enjoyed success last season use that experience to their advantage.

That’s confirmed by the fact that teams that won 11 or more games last year are 38-9 SU and 29-17-1 ATS at home with a week to prepare in Division Round contests.

On the flip side, teams that were losing teams last years (seven or fewer wins) are just 7-34 SU and 15-24-1 ATS in this round.

Put one up against the other – an 11-plus win home team against a losing team last year – and these hosts respond with aplomb, going an eye-opening 16-0 SU and 12-3-1 ATS.

Highway Blues

Life on the road for Wild Card teams who won at home has been rocky, especially if they grabbed the cash as well.

These highwaymen are just 15-36 SU and 20-29-1 ATS in this role against well-rested higher-seeded foes.

And if these same Wild Card winners take to the road off one win-exact they dip to a disgusting 0-15 SU and 1-13-1 ATS in these affairs.

There you have it. A trio of time-tested theories to help guide you through the NFL Divisional Round games this week. Do the math, figure them out and play accordingly. The exercise should help expand your mind and your bank account.

Good luck as always.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/11/2012 06:47 PM

Division Playoff Preview: Giants at Packers

NEW YORK GIANTS (10-7)

at GREEN BAY PACKERS (15-1)


NFC Playoffs - Divisional Playoff Game
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Green Bay -7.5, Total: 52.5

The Giants aim for a fourth straight win and a berth in the NFC Championship Game when they visit a 15-1 Packers team that has beaten them twice in the past 13 months.

After nearly ending the Packers’ perfect regular season in Week 13, the Giants get their rematch with Green Bay. That first game was played in New Jersey, and QB Aaron Rodgers moved the ball at will when he needed to. In five playoff games, Rodgers has completed 68% of his passes for 303 YPG and a 112.6 passer rating (13 TD, 3 INT). Eli Manning was picked off four times in his last visit to Green Bay in December 2010, but he beat Brett Favre’s Packers in the 2007 NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field. With last Sunday’s win, Manning is now 5-3 with an 84.9 rating (11 TD, 7 INT) in his postseason career. Which one of these Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterbacks will prevail on Sunday? The StatFox Pro Football Pass was 3-1 ATS during Wild Card Weekend. Click here to get all the insight you need for this game and throughout the NFL playoffs all the way to the Super Bowl.

These teams have played four straight (and six of seven) meetings going Over the total. And this pair of rare five-star FoxSheets trends also favors the OVER for Saturday’s game.

Play Over - Any team against the total (GREEN BAY) - after covering the spread in 4 or 5 out of their last 6 games against opponent after covering the spread in 5 or 6 out of their last 7 games. (73-21 over the last 5 seasons.) (77.7%, +49.9 units. Rating = 5*).

Mike McCarthy is 13-1 OVER (92.9%, +11.9 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing >=350 yards/game in the second half of the season as the coach of GREEN BAY. The average score was GREEN BAY 33.7, OPPONENT 23.7 - (Rating = 5*).

Manning has been on fire over the past two weeks, completing 47-of-65 passes (72%) for 623 yards, 6 TD and 0 INT. He also lit up the Packers in Week 13 for 347 yards (8.68 YPA), 3 TD and 1 INT. WR Hakeem Nicks was his main man against Atlanta last Sunday, catching five of the nine passes thrown his way and gaining 115 yards and 2 TD, the last one measuring 72 yards. Mario Manningham caught the other touchdown while Victor Cruz was finally held in check (two catches, 28 yards). Cruz finished the regular season with 342 yards and 2 TD in his final two contests, and had a game-high 119 receiving yards in the December meeting with Green Bay. Nicks also scored twice on the Packers secondary in Week 13. The Pack allow the most passing yards in the entire league (300 YPG), a number that has risen to 319 YPG over the past seven games. To be fair, Green Bay rested some of its starters when it surrendered 502 yards in the season-finale win over Detroit.

The Giants had 100 rushing yards on 20 carries in their Week 13 matchup with the Packers, which is more than they usually gain (89 YPG, last in NFL). Brandon Jacobs ran for 59 of those yards on just eight carries (7.4 YPC) and a one-yard touchdown, while Ahmad Bradshaw was limited to 38 yards on 11 attempts (3.5 YPC). Both backs tore up the Falcons last Sunday as Jacobs ran for 92 yards on 14 carries (6.6 YPC) and Bradshaw tallied 63 yards, also on 14 carries (4.5 YPC). Green Bay had allowed seven straight teams to rush for 100 yards before Detroit gained just 73 (4.9 YPC) in the season finale.

Rodgers is coming off perhaps the best season of all-time, setting an NFL record for passer rating (122.5), while throwing for 4,643 yards (310 YPG), 45 TD and 6 INT. He completed 28-of-46 passes for 369 yards, 4 TD and 1 INT in the road win over New York, getting all his receivers in the act. WR Greg Jennings, who is probable with a knee injury, had a touchdown and 94 receiving yards and that day, the same amount of yards as WR Jordy Nelson, who caught all four passes thrown his way. Veteran WR Donald Driver pitched in with two touchdown grabs against the New York secondary, the second one with 3:35 left in regulation, while TE Jermichael Finley finished with six catches for 87 yards. The Giants will have a hard time keeping track of all these weapons, especially because they allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL this year (255 YPG).

The Packers’ rushing attack has been suspect, surpassing 105 yards just once in the season’s final eight games, but RB James Starks (578 rush yds, 4.3 YPC) has had plenty of time for his ankle to heal and he’ll be ready to start on Sunday. In last year’s postseason as a rookie, Starks rushed for 315 yards on 3.9 YPC in the four playoff wins. Ryan Grant (559 rush yds, 4.2 YPC, 2 TD) was injured during last year’s Super Bowl run, and was held to 29 yards on 13 carries in the 2008 NFC Championship loss to New York.

If turnovers decide this game, the edge likely goes to Green Bay, which has a ridiculous +24 turnover margin. New York has a strong +7 TO margin. But the Giants have committed 2+ turnovers eight times this season, while the Packers have just three such games, including zero multi-giveaway outputs in the past 11 games that Rodgers has played in.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/11/2012 06:49 PM

Division Playoff Preview: Broncos at Patriots

DENVER BRONCOS (9-8)

at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (13-3)


AFC Playoffs - Divisional Playoff Game
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: New England -13.5, Total: 50.5

The Broncos are just one game away from the AFC Championship, but they have quite a tall task in getting there, as they’ll have to beat a red-hot Patriots team (eight straight wins) on their home field Saturday night.

The Patriots won easily in Denver in Week 15, 41-23, as Tom Brady threw for 320 of his team’s 451 total yards of offense. New England allowed Tim Tebow to make plays with his legs (93 yards), but the Pats didn’t let him beat them with his arm (194 yards). Five of Tebow’s 10 completions against the Steelers on Sunday went for 30 yards or more; expect New England’s safeties to sit back and play more conservatively than Pittsburgh’s did. The Patriots not only haven’t won a postseason game since 2008, but they’ve failed to cover the spread in their past six playoff games. Can the Patriots end this long ATS skid with a two-touchdown victory, or will they be tested by the Broncos on Saturday night? The StatFox Pro Football Pass was 3-1 ATS during Wild Card Weekend. Click here to get all the insight you need for this game and throughout the NFL playoffs all the way to the Super Bowl.

Four of the past six meetings in Foxboro have finished Under the total and this three-star FoxSheets coaching trend also sides with the UNDER for Saturday’s game.

Bill Belichick is 10-1 UNDER (90.9%, +8.9 Units) in home games after a bye week as the coach of NEW ENGLAND. The average score was NEW ENGLAND 18.3, OPPONENT 15.1 - (Rating = 3*).

Tebow completed 11-of-22 passes for 194 yards (8.82 YPA), 0 TD and 0 INT against New England, but he has thrived on the road this season. In regular-season games only, Tebow has an 88.4 passer rating (7.5 YPA, 9 TD, 3 INT) on the road, compared to a 61.0 rating (5.5 YPA, 3 TD, 3 INT) at home. The Patriots have allowed the second-most passing yards in the NFL (294 YPG) this year, but Denver was one of two teams not to pass for a net of 215 yards against them. WR Demaryius Thomas was Sunday’s hero, scoring an 80-yard TD in overtime against Pittsburgh and finishing his day with 204 yards on four catches. Thomas also had seven receptions for 116 yards against New England, and will be targeted more with leading WR Eric Decker (612 rec. yds, 8 TD) out for this game with a knee injury sustained against Pittsburgh.

The Broncos have the NFL’s top rushing attack this year, gaining 165 YPG during the regular season. They ran up 252 yards four games ago on New England’s below-average run defense (117 YPG, 17th in league), as Tebow (93 yards, 7.8 YPC), Willis McGahee (70 yards, 10.0 YPC) and Lance Ball (64 yards, 5.8 YPC) all contributed significant ground production. But McGahee and Ball combined for just 72 yards on 23 carries (3.1 YPC) last week against Pittsburgh as McGahee fumbled twice, losing a key possession in the fourth quarter.

Brady is 14-5 in his playoff career, but he hasn’t been particularly sharp in his past three postseason games, all losses (5.3 YPA, 5 TD, 4 INT). This season has been a different story though, as he has thrown for an AFC record 5,325 yards to go with his 39 TD and 12 INT (105.6 rating). Brady has only tossed two interceptions in his past eight games, and the rest of the team has committed just one turnover in this eight-game span. WR Wes Welker leads the team with 1,569 receiving yards, TE Rob Gronkowski caught 17 TD passes, and TE Aaron Hernandez finished with 910 receiving yards and seven scores. Hernandez had a huge game in Denver in Week 15, catching nine passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos have a subpar pass defense (232 YPG), that allowed Pittsburgh to throw for 244 yards on them last week.

New England has also done a better job rushing the football in the past three games, totaling 398 yards (133 YPG). Denver has the 22nd-ranked run defense (126 YPG), which could allow for the Patriots to find some room to run. BenJarvus Green-Ellis leads the team with 667 rushing yards and 11 TD, while rookie Stevan Ridley has averaged 5.1 yards per carry in his 87 attempts this year.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/11/2012 06:51 PM

Division Playoff Preview: Texans at Ravens

HOUSTON TEXANS (11-6)

at BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-4)


AFC Playoffs - Divisional Playoff Game
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Baltimore -7.5, Total: 35.5

The Texans won their first-ever playoff game last week, and on Sunday they’ll try to beat Baltimore for the first time ever.

The Ravens (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS all-time versus the Texans) used a big second half to pull away from Houston 29-14 the first time they met, Week 6 in Baltimore. And Houston still had starting QB Matt Schaub in the lineup. The Texans running game failed to get it going (93 yards, 3.7 YPC) against the Ravens’ elite run D that day, and Houston rookie QB T.J. Yates needs a successful running game. The third-stringer will have a tough time moving the ball in Baltimore, where opposing quarterbacks had a league-low 58.8 passer rating this season. The Ravens outgained the Texans 402-293, and won despite a minus-2 in the turnover department. Houston has the secondary to limit QB Joe Flacco, especially with WR Anquan Boldin, who burned Houston for 132 yards in their first meeting, breaking down physically. Stopping RB Ray Rice (101 rushing yards, 60 receiving yards in their first meeting) will be a whole other issue. The Ravens went undefeated SU at home this season, but were just 4-3-1 ATS. Houston was 10-4 SU (10-3-1 ATS) on grass surfaces. Which defense will propel its team to victory on Sunday? The StatFox Pro Football Pass was 3-1 ATS during Wild Card Weekend. Click here to get all the insight you need for this game and throughout the NFL playoffs all the way to the Super Bowl.

Although this is a matchup of two great defenses, the FoxSheets thinks the Total is low enough to play on the OVER with this three-star coahing trend.

Gary Kubiak is 18-5 OVER (78.3%, +12.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season as the coach of HOUSTON. The average score was HOUSTON 23.3, OPPONENT 25.3 - (Rating = 3*).

Houston rushed for 188 yards (5.4 YPC) in the playoff win over Cincinnati, with 153 of those coming from Arian Foster. He gained 6.4 YPC and scored twice. The Texans are averaging 161 rushing YPG (5.0 YPC) over the past six weeks, while the Ravens have allowed 122 rushing YPG (4.3 YPC) in the past three games, considerably more than the 86 rushing YPG (3.3 YPC) they allowed in the first 13 games this year. Although Foster was held to 49 rushing yards (3.3 YPC) in Baltimore Week 6, he also gained 52 yards on six catches. Ben Tate was able to find more running room against Baltimore, carrying nine times for 41 yards (4.6 YPC). He finished the regular season with 942 yards (5.4 YPC) and gained 37 on nine carries in the win over Cincinnati.

Neither Yates nor WR Andre Johnson suited up for that Week 6 meeting, but both players performed at a high level against the Bengals. Yates completed 11-of-20 passes for 159 yards (8.0 YPA) and a 40-yard TD strike to Johnson to put the game out of reach in the third quarter. Johnson finished with five grabs for 90 yards, as he was targeted on nine of the 20 pass attempts. Johnson will be up against the Ravens 4th-best pass defense in the league (196 YPG), which has been incredibly stingy at home (51% completions, 171 YPG, 5.0 YPA). But the last time Johnson faced the Ravens (Dec. 2010), Johnso n exploded for nine catches, 140 yards and two touchdowns.

Flacco has already started seven playoff games in his first three NFL seasons, but none were at home. That’s a big reason for his subpar numbers in his postseason career: 98-of-184 (53%), 1,050 yards (150 YPG), 4 TD, 7 INT. Flacco had his second-highest YPA of the season (9.24 YPA) versus Houston though, when he connected on 20-of-33 passes for 305 yards. He did not throw a TD pass that game, but he has seven touchdown tosses over the past four weeks. With Boldin (knee) sitting out the season finale, Flacco threw 14 of his 19 passes to players, TE Dennis Pitta (6 rec, 62 yds, 1 TD) and WR Torrey Smith (5 rec, 33 yds). Smith had 84 receiving yards against the Texans this year, but if Boldin can’t go, Smith will likely be covered by Texans star CB Johnathan Joseph, who has played as well as any corner in the league in his first season in Houston. Joseph, who had seven tackles and an interception against Baltimore in Week 6, is the biggest reason Houston’s passing defense improved from last in the league in 2010 (268 YPG) to third-best this year (190 pass YPG).

Rice has struggled a bit in his playoff career, surpassing 70 rushing yards just once in five games. But he has been piling up yards since the start of December, totaling 809 yards (162 YPG) and five touchdowns in five games. But since giving up 113 rushing yards to Baltimore in Week 6, Houston has allowed 110 yards just once in the past 11 games (88 rushing YPG).

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/11/2012 06:53 PM

Divisional Playoff Preview: Saints at 49ers

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (14-3)

at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3)


NFC Playoffs - Divisional Playoff Game
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Line: New Orleans -3.5, Total: 47.5

The Saints try to win their 10th straight game when they visit former division rival San Francisco with a berth in the NFC Championship Game at stake.

This will be a classic battle of offense versus defense. The 49ers defense is elite against the run, but they struggled to stop the pass when facing the league’s top quarterbacks. Dallas (432 yards), Philadelphia (416), Detroit (293), N.Y. Giants (311) and Pittsburgh (330) all moved the ball in the air against a secondary that’s more about creating turnovers than limiting yards. Saints QB Drew Brees could take full advantage of that. San Francisco will try to control the clock with its power running game against a Saints defense that doesn’t defend the run well (4.9 YPC allowed). Who will win this matchup of the top two ATS records in the league, New Orleans (13-4 ATS, 77%) or San Francisco (11-4-1 ATS, 73%)? The StatFox Pro Football Pass was 3-1 ATS during Wild Card Weekend. Click here to get all the insight you need for this game and throughout the NFL playoffs all the way to the Super Bowl.

The past four Saints games have all gone Over the Total, with an average of 64.5 points per game. This three-star FoxSheets trend also favors the OVER for Saturday’s game.

Play Over - Any team where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points (NEW ORLEANS) - after 1 or more consecutive wins against the spread, a top-level team (>=75%) playing a team with a winning record in the second half of the season. (26-6 over the last 5 seasons.) (81.2%, +19.4 units. Rating = 3*).

These teams met in Week 2 of the 2010 season, when the pre-Jim Harbuagh Niners were embarking on another disappointing year. They outplayed the Saints, holding Brees to 254 passing yards and out-gaining New Orleans 417-287. San Francisco led 14-9 early in the second half, but four turnovers did them in a 25-22 loss.

Brees has been incredible this season with 5,942 passing yards (350 YPG), 49 TD and 14 INT including his brilliant performance against Detroit last week (33-of-43, 466 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT). New Orleans piled up an NFL playoff record 626 total yards in the win over the Lions. But the Saints are a different team away from their home turf (27.2 PPG, 4-4 ATS). But Brees has just 9 TD and 6 INT on grass surfaces this year, compared to 40 TD and 8 INT on turf. However, Brees has had no problem controlling the winds at Candlestick Park, completing 59-of-77 passes (77%) for 590 yards, 6 TD and 0 INT in two career games in San Francisco. But Brees doesn’t have to win this game all by himself with a rushing attack averaging 175 YPG on 5.3 YPC in the past four games. Three different players rushed for 45+ yards against the Lions: Pierre Thomas (66 yards, 8.3 YPC), Darren Sproles (51 yards, 5.1 YPC) and Chris Ivory (47 yards, 3.6 YPC). This versatile ground game will be key against a 49ers team that led the NFL with 77 rushing YPG allowed.

The Saints allowed 380 passing yards in their win over Detroit last week, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering they are 7-0 ATS after allowing 300+ yards in their previous game this year. But the 49ers don’t try to beat teams through the air, attempting the second-fewest passes in the league this season (28.2 attempts per game). San Francisco quarterbacks have thrown only five interceptions all season, but have been sacked 44 times (7th-most in the NFL). QB Alex Smith has played nearly every snap, and has been much more effective in his home stadium (99.8 rating, 7.75 YPA, 12 TD, 3 INT) than he was on the road (82.7 rating, 6.46 YPA, 5 TD, 2 INT). Smith is 0-3 all-time against the Saints though, sporting a 65.0 passer rating (6.17 YPA, 3 TD, 5 INT).

San Francisco is an unbeaten 7-0-1 ATS at home this season and 9-1 ATS on a grass surface. Much of that has to do with a rushing offense chewing up 128 rushing YPG (8th in the NFL) led by Frank Gore’s 1,211 yards on 4.3 YPC. In the past two meetings against the Saints, Gore has 194 rushing yards (5.4 YPC), 87 receiving yards and 2 TD. Rookie Kendall Hunter has also stepped up in the past two games, rushing for 149 yards on 28 carries (5.3 YPC).

Another reason the 49ers have 13 wins this year, is due to their lack of turnovers. They have the fewest giveaways in the NFL (10), including a current ride of five straight games without an offensive turnover. And the defense has forced 12 turnovers during this turnover-less streak. The Saints also take care of the football very well, finishing tied for the fourth-fewest giveaways in the league (17).

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/11/2012 06:55 PM

Green Bay, Baltimore Host Sunday NFL Playoffs

On the anniversary of Super Bowl I from 1967, it’s appropriate that we’ll be discussing the Green Bay Packers, who are in action in one of two Sunday NFL Division Round games.

But Packer backers wishing for a reprise of Green Bay’s 35-10 win over the Chiefs exactly 45 years ago might end up being a tad disappointed...if not crestfallen. More on the Packers in a moment.

The schedule tells us that Sunday’s action begins with an AFC clash between Houston (11-6 straight up, 12-5 against the spread) and Baltimore (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) at M&T Bank Stadium, adjacent to Camden Yards and a short walk from the colorful Inner Harbor. The Don Best odds screen notes the host Ravens as 7½-point favorites at most Las Vegas sports books, with the total fluctuating between 35-36½ depending upon the outlet. Kickoff time will be 1:00 p.m. (ET), with CBS providing the TV coverage. Greg Gumbel and the jovial Dan Dierdorf will describe the action.

Later in the afternoon, attention switches to Lambeau Field for the NFC’s second Division Round contest as the Giants (10-7 SU, 9-8 ATS) invade to face the defending champion Packers (15-1 SU, 11-5 ATS). Las Vegas wagering outlets mostly have Green Bay priced as a 7½-point favorite, with the total between 52½ -53. Kickoff time will be 4:30 p.m. (ET), with FOX providing the TV coverage. Chris Meyers, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver will be present to describe the action.

We haven’t consulted with Al Roker, but long-range weather forecasts in both Baltimore and Green Bay call for somewhat seasonably mild conditions in both locales, although there appears to be a chance for snow flurries for the Texans-Ravens game. Packers-Giants conditions indicate clear skies and a temperature around 20 degrees, downright balmy compared to the NFC title game between these two at the same site four years ago when the thermometer was hovering around 0°F.

These are both rematches from regular-season meetings, and while earlier results are rarely foolproof indicators of playoff rematches, a quick review of both games are in order.

Houston traveled to Baltimore on October 15, minus star WR Andre Johnson but still with starting QB Matt Schaub in the lineup. Schaub was able to put the Texans ahead 14-13 in the third quarter before the Ravens began to take control. Baltimore RB Ray Rice punched out 101 yards on the ground vs. Wade Phillips’ defense, and QB Joe Flacco ended up passing for 305 yards. The Ravens “D” took command as the game progressed, shutting out Houston from the middle of the third quarter and not allowing a first down over the final 11 minutes. The Texans’ NFL-best ground game gained 60 yards fewer (93) than its season average of 153 in a 29-14 Baltimore win.

Meanwhile, the Giants and Packers engaged in a wild shootout December 4 at MetLife Stadium. The action swung back and forth, with the Giants storming to an early lead, only to be bypassed by the Pack, then rallying again to level matters in the final moments before Aaron Rodgers led a game-winning drive resulting in Mason Crosby’s final-play FG and a 38-35 Green Bay win. Rodgers did not get much help from his running game that afternoon which gained only 2.4 yards per carry, but did pass for 369 yards.

Houston’s chances to reverse the outcome of the first meeting seem a bit more difficult, especially considering that Schaub has been out of the lineup since late November. The Texans have been going with North Carolina rookie QB T.J. Yates for the past month, and he has looked increasingly serviceable in Gary Kubiak’s QB-friendly offense.

But the third-ranked Ravens defense provides a stiff challenge, especially since it is adept at stopping the run (allowing only 3.5 ypc), which is Houston’s bread and butter. Yates has proven capable of diffusing some of the defensive pressure geared to slowing the run with a variety of rollouts and screen passes, but the Texans’ playbook is not as expansive for young Yates as it was the experienced Schaub, who was eventually overwhelmed in October by Ray Lewis & Company.

The Texans’ best chance is for its AFC-best defense to force Baltimore into mistakes, much as Houston did last week when J.J. Watt’s crucial 29-yard interception for a TD off of Bengals QB Andy Dalton turned around the wild card game in the Texans’ favor. But if Rice proves an effective infantry diversion as in the first meeting, we doubt Flacco falls into the same trap. And without some turnover help, Houston’s chances are further minimized on Sunday.

A turnaround from the first result might be a bit easier to imagine in Green Bay, where the Giants look to be peaking at the right time. Much like they did four years ago when gaining momentum late in the season that carried them to the Super Bowl shocker over the Patriots, the G-Men have caught another updraft. They’ve won four of their last five straight up and covered five of their last six (including the Dec. 4 meeting vs. the Pack).

Remember, too, that New York has won plenty of big games with the core of this roster over the past few years, including the NFC title upset over the Pack and Super Bowl win over the Patriots four years ago. This season, the G-Men rose to the occasion to beat Dallas in a pair of NFC East crucials in December, won at new England in early November, and dominated the Falcons in last week’s 24-2 win at the Meadowlands.

The G-Men have been running the ball much better in recent weeks now that RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are both healthy. They trampled the Falcons for 172 rush yards last Sunday and set the stage for Eli Manning to hook up on big TD plays to WRs Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. Along with homerun WR Victor Cruz, Manning has more dangerous wideouts at his disposal than he had in the Super Bowl run four years ago.

Green Bay’s bottom-ranked defense bent but rarely broke all season and garnered a whopping 31 interceptions. How Manning avoids mistakes will likely be key to giving the Giants a chance at an upset on Sunday.

Another key will be for the New York pass rush to disrupt Rodgers, who was able to steer the Pack to the winning points in the first meeting despite very little help from his ground game. Rodgers found eight different receiving targets in the first meeting and tossed four TD passes.

Green Bay, however, enters the postseason banged up, with the likes of veteran offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga both forced to miss action lately, WR Greg Jennings trying to recover from a sprained knee, and RB James Starks in and out of the lineup over the past six weeks with a variety of ailments (ankle/knee).

Although the Packers overcame many injuries last year in their march to the Super Bowl, it will be a neat trick to do it again if so many key weapons are compromised by various hurts.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/11/2012 07:11 PM

Broncos And 49ers Aim For Saturday Upsets

NFL division Round action commences this weekend with a pair of battles on both Saturday and Sunday. Although history suggests this round belongs to the home teams/favorites (usually one and the same), results in recent years don’t necessarily indicate as such.

That should come as good news to Saturday’s underdogs, San Francisco (at home vs. New Orleans) and Denver (at New England).

Indeed, since the 2003 NFL postseason, underdog sides stand a respectable 19-13 against the number in Division Round games. Nothing earth-shaking, but an advantage nonetheless, and a departure from the many previous years when the host/favorites were dominating.

The 49ers (13-3 straight up, 11-4-1 against the spread) kick things off on the NFC side Saturday afternoon when hosting the surging Saints (14-3 SU, 13- ATS) at Candlestick Park. A quick check of the Don Best odds screen notes that New Orleans is priced as a 3½-point favorite at the majority of Las Vegas wagering outlets, with the total mostly sitting at 47½. Kickoff time is slated for 4:30 p.m. (ET), with TV coverage provided by FOX. Marv Albert’s son Kenny, plus Moose Johnston and Tony Siragusa, will be on hand at Candlestick to describe the action.

Right off the bat, we note the 49ers’ home underdog status, a rarity in this playoff round in which the host team is almost always the favorite. Indeed, the 49ers are the first home dog in the Division Round since Carolina’s 1996 team was +3 vs. Dallas, a game the Panthers won, 26-17.

Of course, the Saints’ recent form has something to do with the spread, considering how devastating they've been the past two months. New Orleans has neither lost a game nor dropped a pointspread decision since Halloween, winning and covering nine straight since. Moreover, the Saints have scored 42 points or more in four straight games, and their win margin is a whopping 20 ppg over the last seven outings.

It must be noted, however, that New Orleans has been compiling most of those numbers at home, where the Saints have won and covered all nine of their games this season (including last week’s wild card win over the Lions) at the Superdome. On the road, the Saints are a less than overwhelming 5-3 straight up and 4-4 against the number. Further, three of their five road wins have come by five points or fewer.

We caution, however, reading too much into those trends, much as we mostly dismiss the fact the Saints have not won as a visitor in their playoff history. Until last year’s wild card round loss at Seattle, the Saints had never been favored on the road in the playoffs, and had only played a handful of such games in their history. Besides, New Orleans won the most-important game in franchise history, Super Bowl XLIV, over the Colts two years ago, and that one was played in Miami, not the Superdome.

The key to this game will be if Drew Brees and his record-setting passing game can similarly damage the stout 49er defense. That might not be as easy as it seems, considering how Vic Fangio’s San Francisco stop unit ranked first against the run this season, allowing just 77 ypg and 3.5 ypc, not to mention a mere three rushing TDs. Although New Orleans does most of its damage via the pass, the ability to complement the aerial show with a capable infantry allows Brees to use play-action more effectively and buy himself an extra tick in the pocket. And the Saints were not quite as overwhelming on offense away from the climate-controlled conditions of the Superdome.

Still, even if the 49ers slow down Brees somewhat, questions remain whether San Francisco can keep pace. And the answer to that remains elusive.

Specifically, it’s because most keen observers are not sure that Jim Harbaugh’s “small-ball” strategy will translate effectively into postseason success. The 49ers’ formula of ball control offense and smothering defense worked effectively vs. lesser opposition all season but was rendered ineffective in a late-season showdown at Baltimore and further exposed in a subsequent loss at Arizona.

The Saints’ rush defense was not too bad this season (ranked 12th) and figures to be able to withstand the pounding thrusts of 49er RBs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. Much like Baltimore and Arizona were able to do down the stretch, the Saints will try to force QB Alex Smith to beat them through the air. Smith has been marginally more effective with his downfield throws as the season has progressed.

The key will thus be San Francisco’s ability to avoid third-and-long situations that could expose Smith to Gregg Williams’ exotic variety of blitz packages, where the Saints’ big-play defense usually excels. The 49ers’ ongoing inability to convert red-zone trips into touchdowns – they settled for a staggering 52 field-goal tries this season, with David Akers breaking the all-time NFL mark with 44 converted FGs along the way – could come back to haunt them in the postseason.

Later on Saturday, the Broncos (9-8 SU, 8-9 ATS) travel to Foxborough for a date vs. the AFC East champ Patriots (13-3 SU, 9-7 ATS). The Don Best odds screen notes New England as a hefty 13½-point favorite in this matchup. Kickoff time at Gillette Stadium will by 8:00 p.m. (ET), with CBS providing TV coverage. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be on hand to describe the action.

We don’t need to amplify too much more on the Tim Tebow phenomenon that recurred again last week in Denver’s unexpected win over the Steelers. Unexpected, indeed; Tebow’s 316 passing yards (on just 10 completions!) shocked Pittsburgh and anyone else who saw Tebow and the Bronco “O” struggle in recent weeks.

This is also a rematch of a December 18 game in Denver won by the Patriots, 41-23. New England, as it was prone to do late in the season, fell behind early that afternoon, this time by a 16-7 count, before a spate of Bronco turnovers in the second quarter opened the gates for Bill Belichick’s team to assume a 27-16 halftime edge. That lead was maintained by the Patriots quite comfortably in the second half, as Tom Brady repeatedly burned the depleted Denver pass defense with underneath throws to tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

The Broncos will have some confidence, not only after the Pittsburgh upset, but because Tebow moved the offense fairly well in the first meeting. Tebow’s own stats were acceptable (93 rush yards and 194 pass yards), although he contributed to the Broncos’ fumble issues that doomed them in this matchup four weeks ago.

Denver was also running roughshod through the porous Patriot defense, amassing 167 rush yards in the first quarter alone that afternoon in the Mile High city. The Broncos’ infantry pace slowed thereafter as they finished with 252 rush yards, but the turnover issues in the second quarter also had something to do with play selection changing course as that game proceeded.

Belichick will likely mass his defense to stop the run and dare Tebow to throw downfield, although such strategy proved risky for the Steelers last week. Tebow’s deep ball is adequate, and WR Demaryius Thomas burned Pittsburgh badly last week when the Steelers gambled on one-on-one coverage on the flanks. Tebow, however, will have his chances to throw deep again on Saturday.

Trading points with the Tom Brady-led Patriots might be asking a bit much, however. Brady tossed for 320 yards in the first meeting and posted stats almost equal to Brees this season, passing for a near-record 5,235 yards. The Pats also equaled an NFL record by scoring 30 or more points on 12 different occasions, and uncovered a new running threat in recent weeks with LSU rookie RB Stevan Ridley gaining better than 5 yards per carry.

Brady’s quick release also figures to negate some of Denver’s pass rush pressure from the edge, and his ability to locate Gronkowski and Hernandez, as in the first meeting, would be a big plus for New England.

The Patriots are hungry, too, having lost at this stage of the playoffs at home both of the last two seasons vs. the Ravens and Jets. We aren’t, however, putting much significance in Belichick’s recent enlistment of former aide Josh McDaniels, also Denver’s coach in 2009-10, to his staff, ostensibly for more insight in the Broncos. We note that teams associated with McDaniels are 7-32 over a 39-game stretch since mid-2009, and the Broncos are running a completely different offensive package than when young Josh was in town.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25787 Followers:33
01/12/2012 07:09 PM

NFL

Division Round

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NFL odds: Divisional playoff betting trends
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After expanding its playoff format to 12 teams in 1990, the NFL left the door wide open to the possibilities of a Wild Card team running the table and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

And while a wild card team has done so only seven times in Super Bowl history, five such winners have been crowned since 1997.

Last year witnessed the Packers hauling home the hardware. In 2007 it was the New York Giants, in 2005 the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 2000 the Baltimore Ravens and in 1997 the Denver Broncos.

Will the trend continue this season or will the top seeded teams have their say? With both of the No.1 seeds owning the league’s worst defenses, a strong case might be made for New Orleans to continue its hot streak. Before we crown anyone just yet, let’s first check a few Divisional Round angles in the NFL playoffs that are noteworthy. All results are since 1990 and are against the spread (ATS), unless noted otherwise.


Top seeds generally up to speed

No. 1 seeds enjoy the luxury of not only hosting a game in this round but also play with an added week of rest.

For the most part these teams have had major success, going 31-11 SU and 23-19 ATS in this role.

The best the NFC has to offer has gone 19-2 SU and 15-6 ATS, including 10-0 SU and 9-1 ATS versus a foe off a spread win of more than 13 points in its wild card game.

Top seeds from the AFC have struggled, going 12-9 SU and 8-13 ATS, including 5-5 SU and 1-9 ATS when playing off back-to-back wins.


Success breeds success

Rested hosts in this round that enjoyed success last season use that experience to their advantage.

Teams that won 11 or more games last year are 38-9 SU and 29-17-1 ATS at home with a week to prepare in Division Round contests

On the flip side, teams that were losing teams last years (seven or fewer wins) are just 7-34 SU and 15-24-1 ATS in this round.

Put one up against the other – an 11-plus win home team against a losing team last year – and these hosts respond with aplomb, going an eye-opening 16-0 SU and 12-3-1 ATS.


Highway blues

Life on the road for wild card teams who won at home has been rocky, especially if they grabbed the cash as well.

These highwaymen are just 15-36 SU and 20-29-1 ATS in this role against well-rested higher-seeded foes.

And if these same wild card winners take to the road off one win, they dip to a disgusting 0-15 SU and 1-13-1 ATS in these affairs.

There you have it. A trio of time-tested theories to help guide you through the NFL Divisional Round games this week. Do the math, figure them out and play accordingly.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: