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01/06/2013 11:19 AM
Sunday's NFL Tip Sheet

January 5, 2013


**Colts at Ravens**

--As of Friday afternoon, most betting shops had Baltimore (10-6 straight up, 6-9-1 against the spread) installed as a seven-point favorite with a total of 47. Gamblers can back the Colts on the money line for a plus-250 return (risk $100 to win $250).

--This game took on added importance with Wednesday’s announcement from Ray Lewis that ‘this would be his last ride.’ Lewis, one of the NFL’s all-time greats with 12 Pro-Bowl selections, will be back in uniform for the first time since tearing his right triceps muscle in Week 6.

--John Harbaugh’s team limped down the stretch with four losses both SU and ATS in its last five games. However, last week’s 23-17 loss at Cincinnati shouldn’t be held against the Ravens, who rested most of their key starters in the last three quarters.

--Indianapolis (11-5 SU, 11-5 ATS) has enjoyed a storybook season. The organization made the painful decision to release franchise icon Peyton Manning following a 2-14 campaign that Manning spent on injured reserve with a neck injury. With the chance to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick, the Colts cleaned house for the most part. They brought in new head coach Chuck Pagano and long-time Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. In addition to Luck, Indy found a slew of draft-day games like TE Dwayne Allen, TE Coby Fleener, RB Vick Ballard, WR T.Y. Hilton and WR LaVon Brazill. Indy didn’t go with a complete youth movement, however, keeping around solid veterans like WR Reggie Wayne, DE Dwight Freeney and DE Robert Mathis.

--The result has been a nine-game turnaround for the Colts, who have been motivated by Pagano’s personal battle through leukemia after being diagnosed in September. The former Ravens defensive coordinator returned to the sidelines for the first time in last week’s 28-16 win over Houston as a 6 ½-point home underdog.

--Luck has had his ups and downs and his overall numbers aren’t overly impressive. The Stanford producing has only completed 54.1 percent of his passes and has been intercepted 18 times. However, he has five touchdowns without an interception in the last three games. Luck threw for 4,374 yards and 23 TD passes during the regular season. He also rushed for five scores.

--In Arians’s new offense, Wayne has been used much like Hines Ward was utilized in the same system in Pittsburgh. Wayne has produced 106 catches for 1,355 yards and five TDs. Hilton has a team-high eight TDs and 1,308 all-purpose yards.

--Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 3,817 yards with a 22/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has 13 TD passes compared to four interceptions in the last nine games.

--Ray Rice is the Ravens’ best offensive weapon. The former Rutgers star rushed for 1,143 yards and nine TDs while also hauling in 61 receptions for 478 yards and one TD.

--The Ravens struggled to a 2-4 ATS record in six games as home favorites. With that said, they are 19-14-2 ATS in 35 games as home ‘chalk’ during John Harbaugh’s five-year tenure.

--Baltimore has won six of its eight home games but is just 3-5 versus the number. Meanwhile, Indy is 4-4 both SU and ATS on the road.

--The ‘under’ is 10-6 overall for the Colts, 4-4 in their road assignments. They have seen the ‘under’ cash in three consecutive games.

--The ‘over’ is 9-7 overall for the Ravens, 6-2 in their home games.

--Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

**Seahawks at Redskins**

--As of Friday night, most spots had Seattle (11-5 SU, 11-5 ATS) listed as a three-point favorite with a total of 46 for ‘over/under’ wagers. Bettors can take the Redskins to win outright for a plus-130 payout (risk $100 to win $130).

--Washington (10-6 SU, 11-5 ATS) has won seven in a row both SU and ATS, including last week’s 28-18 win over Dallas to clinch the NFC East. The Redskins took the money as three-point favorites thanks to a one-yard TD plunge from Alfred Morris with 1:02 remaining. Robert Griffin III ran for 63 yards and one TD while completing 9-of-18 throws for 100 yards. Most important, RG3 didn’t commit a turnover and the ‘Skins won the takeaway battle 3-0.

--Seattle is on fire, winning five straight games and seven of its last eight. The Seahawks are getting it done with defense and running the football. They are tops in the NFL in scoring defense, giving up only 15.3 points per game. They are third in rushing behind 1,590 yards from Marshawn Lynch, who has 12 rushing TDs and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average.

--Like Washington, Seattle is in the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. Russell Wilson, the former minor-league baseball player who was a star at North Carolina St. and Wisconsin in college, has steadily improved all year. Wilson has connected on 64.1 percent of his passes for 3,118 yards with a 26/10 TD-INT ratio. He is also a threat with his legs, evidenced by 489 rushing yards and four scores.

--Wilson distributes the wealth with balance. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have seven TD catches apiece and have combined for 95 receptions for more than 1,400 yards. Veteran TE Zach Miller has 38 grabs for 396 yards and three TDs.

--Robert Griffin III has lit a fuse within the Redskins organization, one that has suffered badly throughout Dan Snyder’s tumultuous reign as owner. RG3 has been dynamic from Week 1 when he led his team to a 40-32 win at New Orleans. For the year, Griffin completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards with a 20/5 TD-INT ratio. He has an 8/1 TD-INT ratio at home. RG3 has rushed for 815 yards and seven TDs.

--The presence of Griffin has helped open things up for Morris, who exploded for 1,610 rushing yards and 13 TDs during the regular season. Morris averages 4.8 YPC.

--Mike Shanahan’s squad has been an underdog nine times, compiling a 7-2 spread record with six outright victories. The ‘Skins are 2-1 both SU and ATS as home underdogs this season. On Shanahan’s watch the last three years, they are 8-7-2 as home ‘dogs.

--Seattle won outright in only three of its eight road assignments. The Seahawks went 1-3 both SU and ATS in their four games as road favorites. As road ‘chalk’ under Carroll in three seasons, they own a 1-4 spread record.

--The ‘over’ is 9-7 overall for Washington, but the ‘under’ is 5-3 in its home games. The ‘over’ is on a 3-1 run in the Redskins’ last four contests.

--The ‘over’ is on a 7-2 roll in Seattle’s last nine games. Nevertheless, totals have been a wash for the ‘Hawks both overall (8-8) and on the road (4-4).

--FOX will provide television coverage at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.
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01/06/2013 11:36 AM
NFL

Wild Card Round

Sunday, January 6

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Colts at Ravens: What bettors need to know
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Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7, 47)

Chuck Pagano's battle against leukemia has been one of the most inspirational storylines of the NFL season. For the visiting Indianapolis Colts to continue their spirited campaign, they'll need to upend Pagano's former team in the fourth-seeded Baltimore Ravens during Sunday's wild-card matchup. The Ravens are fueled by their own inspiration after future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the season.

Baltimore enters the contest having lost four of its last five, although coach John Harbaugh elected to rest most of his starters in a 23-17 loss to Cincinnati last week. While Joe Flacco was given the majority of the day off versus the Bengals, rookie Andrew Luck is cruising into the postseason on a high. The top overall pick has thrown five touchdowns without an interception in his last three games - and the Colts have won nine of 11 following their 28-16 triumph over AFC South champion Houston.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS.

LINE: Ravens -7, O/U 47

CONSENSUS: Over 65 percent of Covers Consensus players like Indy to cover and 55 percent are on the under.

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-40s with sunny skies. Winds will blow out of the WSW at 5 mph.

ABOUT THE COLTS (11-5): With nine more wins than the 2011 campaign, Indianapolis posted the NFL's third-best turnaround in history. Luck has played a significant role in the Colts' resurgence, having led them on seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter over overtime. His 4,374 yards are the most by a rookie quarterback. Bruce Arians has guided the team in the absence of Pagano, who was a defensive assistant coach for four years with Baltimore and defensive coordinator in 2011.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (10-6): Lewis has been sidelined 10 games with a torn right triceps, but the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year expects to play on Sunday. How much he'll play is in limbo, but wide receiver Anquan Boldin will be on the field after his one-week hiatus with a bruised shoulder. Boldin has fared well versus Indianapolis, collecting 19 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown in three career games. Ray Rice rushed for 103 yards and a score and added six receptions in a 24-10 win over the Colts on Dec. 11, 2011.

TRENDS:

* Colts are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Ravens are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Colts are 8-0 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in Ravens’ last five home games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Flacco has struggled in three meetings versus Indianapolis, throwing a total of five interceptions - including two in a 20-3 divisional playoff loss at Lucas Oil Stadium three years ago.

2. Jim Caldwell, who was Indianapolis' coach from 2009-11, is now Baltimore's offensive coordinator.

3. The Colts have yielded 374.3 total yards per contest, which ranks 26th in the league.


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01/06/2013 11:38 AM
NFL

Wild Card Round

Sunday, January 6

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Seahawks at Redskins: What bettors need to know
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Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins (3, 46)

The Washington Redskins mortgaged their future last year to trade up and take Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall draft pick. Despite the hype, few could have anticipated that Griffin would provide such an immediate dividend. The Redskins closed the season with seven consecutive wins to claim the NFC East title and secure their first playoff berth since 2007. Yet, when Washington takes the field to host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon in the wild-card round, there is debate in some circles as to whether Griffin will even be the best rookie quarterback on the field.

Unheralded third-round selection Russell Wilson has played brilliantly in piloting the Seahawks to five straight wins to set up the second postseason matchup in league history - and the second in as many years - featuring rookie starting QBs. As befitting his draft status, Griffin received more hype due to his all-around skills, but Wilson closed with a rush and threw more touchdown passes (26 to 20) than his counterpart. One stat which illustrates the success of both players: Griffin and Wilson finished third and fourth in passer rating at 102.4 and 100.0, respectively,

TV: 4:30 p.m.ET, FOX.

LINE: Seahawks -3, O/U 46

CONSENSUS: Over 51 percent of Covers Consensus players like Seattle to cover and 51 percent are on the under.

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-40s with partly cloudy skies. Winds will be light out of the SSW.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (11-5): Seattle closed the season with a 20-13 victory over St. Louis, but it was a dominating three-game stretch prior to that victory that opened eyes coast-to-coast. The Seahawks annihilated San Francisco, Buffalo and Arizona by a combined 150-30, becoming the first team in 62 years to amass that many points in a three-game stretch. Wilson threw 16 touchdown passes and only two interceptions over the final eight games and running back Marshawn Lynch churned out ten 100-yard games - including four straight to close the season - to finish third in the league with 1,590 yards. Seattle was equally impressive on the other side of the ball, surrendering a league-low 15.3 points per game. The Seahawks will get a boost in the secondary when starting CB Brandon Browner returns from a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy.

ABOUT THE REDSKINS (10-6): Griffin set a rookie record with 815 rushing yards but is still dealing with a sprained knee ligament that caused him to sit out a game and limited his mobility in season-ending wins over Philadelphia and Dallas. He threw for only 100 yards against the Cowboys, although he still managed to run for 63 yards and a score. Like Wilson, Griffin has a hard-charging running back to lean on in fellow rookie Alfred Morris, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic. Morris finished second in the league with 1,613 yards and capped off the regular season by running over the Cowboys for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Washington's defense is vulnerable against the pass (281.9 yards), ranking 30th in the league, but was fifth against the run (95.8). It has steadily improved in the second half, allowing an average of eight fewer points over the final eight games.

TRENDS:

* Seahawks are 6-0 ATS in their last six vs. a team with a winning record.
* Redskins are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Over is 4-0 in Seahawks’ last four road games.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings in Washington.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins in the playoffs in 2005 and 2007, but they have lost eight straight postseason games on the road.

2. Washington rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win in Seattle 23-17 in November 2011.

3. Wilson was named the league's rookie of the month for December. Griffin claimed the monthly honor in September and November


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01/06/2013 11:40 AM
NFL Playoff Preview: Colts at Ravens

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5)

at BALTIMORE RAVENS (10-6)


AFC Wild Card Playoff Game
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Baltimore -6.5, Total: 46

Indianapolis tries to extend its amazing season when it visits AFC North champion Baltimore on Sunday afternoon in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

The Colts finished out the year winning nine of 11 (SU and ATS), including last week’s impressive home win that knocked the Texans out of the AFC’s top spot. They were not particularly strong on the road this year though, where they went 4-4 (SU and ATS), but 0-3 against teams that finished 2012 with a winning record. Baltimore was 6-2 SU, but only 3-5 ATS at home this year. They had offensive issues all season and this will be just the fourth game as offensive coordinator for Jim Caldwell. After a strong showing against the Giants, they opted against using their starters in the regular season finale, a 23-17 loss to the Bengals.

Can the Colts pull off the upset in Baltimore on Sunday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.

Colts QB Andrew Luck has put together a terrific rookie season with 4,374 passing yards (7.0 YPA) and 23 TD, but also 18 INT. He's thrown 13 of these picks on the road where he carries a subpar 70.1 rating. The Ravens have an average passing defense with all the injuries in their secondary, as they allow 228 passing YPG (17th in NFL). Their biggest concern on Sunday will be Colts top WR Reggie Wayne, who has caught 106 passes for 1,355 yards and 5 TD this season. Rookie WR T.Y. Hilton has also come on strong with four 100-yard games in his past nine contests, including 111 yards and a touchdown in the regular season finale win over Houston. Baltimore's run defense isn't special (123 YPG allowed, 20th in NFL), but it has held its past two opponents to 114 yards combined on 35 carries (3.3 YPC). RB Vick Ballard has been the team's main ball carrier in the past four weeks with 84 rushing attempts (21.0 per game), resulting in 346 yards (4.1 YPC). Although the Colts have been turnover-prone this season with 27 giveaways and a minus-12 TO ratio, they have played turnover-free football in the past two games, posting a +5 TO ratio.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco has won at least one playoff game in each of his four NFL seasons, but he hasn't always been great in these postseason contests, throwing for 1,532 yards (170 YPG, 6.2 YPA), 8 TD and 8 INT, equaling a subpar 70.4 passer rating. One of his worst playoff games came against Indy after the 2009 season when he completed just 20-of-35 throws for 189 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT (48.4 passer rating). But like Luck, Flacco has been much more productive at home (99.0 rating, 8.3 YPA, 15 TD, 5 INT) than on the road (74.9 rating, 5.9 YPA, 7 TD, 5 INT). More good news is that top WR Anquan Boldin (921 rec. yds) is set to return from a shoulder injury and No. 2 wideout Torrey Smith (855 rec. yds) is also healthy. This duo should be able to get open against Indy's 21st-ranked passing defense (237 YPG). RB Ray Rice is still the focal point of this offense, but he hasn't done much in the past two postseasons with just 216 yards on 71 carries (3.0 YPC) and 1 TD in these four games. However, in his last full game with Jim Caldwell calling the shots, Rice gained 158 total yards in a 33-14 thumping of the Giants. He should also be able to find holes to run through against a Colts defense giving up the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL this season (138 YPG). The Ravens have committed just 16 turnovers, which ties them for the second-fewest in the NFL.

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01/06/2013 11:43 AM
NFL Playoff Preview: Seahawks at Redskins

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5)

at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (10-6)


NFC Wild Card Playoff Game
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Seattle -3, Total: 46

Two teams riding long winning streaks meet on Sunday in the first round of the NFC playoffs when Seattle visits Washington.

The Redskins earned their seventh consecutive win last week, though QB Robert Griffin III (knee) clearly wasn’t 100 percent. Griffin threw for 100 yards and ran for 63 in the win, as the Redskins had to lean heavily on rookie RB Alfred Morris (200 yards, 3 TD). The Seahawks come into this game as the NFL’s hottest team, going 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) in December and outscoring opponents 193-60 in those games. They have been less impressive on the road this year, where they’re 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS. But they won their last two road games, a blowout over the Bills in Toronto and an overtime win at Chicago.

Which team will extend its winning streak on Sunday afternoon? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has been outstanding in the second half of the season, winning seven of eight games with a 67% completion rate, 9.0 YPA, 16 TD and 2 INT, equaling an impressive 120.3 passer rating. He's also rushed for 361 yards and 4 TD in these eight contests. RB Marshawn Lynch has certainly lived up to his "Beast Mode" nickname down the stretch with eight 100-yard efforts in his past 10 games, including four in a row. Lynch was a monster in his first career playoff game in Jan. 2011, rushing for 131 yards on just 19 carries, including a highlight reel, 67-yard touchdown run in a 41-36 win over the Saints. But in the next game, he carried the football just four times for two yards. The Redskins have an excellent rushing defense (95.8 YPG, 5th in NFL), but they have been burned through the air constantly, allowing 282 passing YPG (3rd-worst in NFL). The good news for Washington is that CB Cedric Griffin is eligible to play after serving a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. But Seattle has great depth in its receiving corps with eight players catching more than a dozen passes this year, led by Sidney Rice (50 rec, 748 yds, 7 TD) and Golden Tate (45 rec, 688 yds, 7 TD).

Robert Griffin III has thrown just one interception in 190 pass attempts on his home field this season, but has just 8 TD passes in these eight games, compared to 12 TD tosses in seven road games. Although he's clearly been bothered by his knee injury, Griffin is still completing 66% of his passes for 9.2 YPA, 12 TD and 2 INT in the past six games, equaling a 119.4 rating. Griffin gets all the hype, but rookie RB Alfred Morris has been tremendous in the past six games, galloping for 744 yards (124 YPG) and 8 TD. He'll have his work cut out for him though as Seattle ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing defense (103 YPG). If Morris cannot be effective, the Redskins will try to throw the football, but that could be even more dangerous against Seattle's sixth-ranked passing defense (203 YPG allowed). The Seahawks defense has 18 interceptions while allowing just 15 TD through the air. Only Atlanta (14 pass TD allowed) has given up fewer passing touchdowns in the league, while Washington has given up more than twice as many passing TD (31). When Griffin drops back, he will rely mostly on WR Pierre Garcon, who has 33 catches for 475 yards and 3 TD in the past six games. Garcon has also been clutch in the postseason, totaling 329 receiving yards and 3 TD in his past three playoff games, scoring once in each game.

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01/06/2013 12:16 PM
Sunday, January 6

Game Score Status Pick Amount

Indianapolis - 1:00 PM ET Baltimore -7.5 500 POD

Baltimore - Under 46.5 500

Seattle - 4:30 PM ET Washington +3 500

Washington - Over 45 500
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01/12/2013 02:26 PM
Saturday Playoff Tips

January 11, 2013

The divisional round of the playoffs is set to kick off on Saturday afternoon with Peyton Manning making his Broncos' postseason debut against the Ravens. In the late action, the Packers and 49ers meet in the playoffs for the sixth time since 1996, while San Francisco tries to erase last season's NFC Championship letdown.

Ravens at Broncos (-9 ½, 46) - 4:30 PM EST

Last season, Denver found a way to reach this round thanks to a Tim Tebow overtime touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas to shock Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round. The Broncos' postseason ride came to a screeching halt in a 45-10 drubbing at New England, but Denver can possibly return to Foxboro with a victory over Baltimore on Saturday.

The Ravens (11-6 SU, 7-9-1 ATS) reached this round after taking care of old friend Chuck Pagano's Colts, 24-9 in the Wild Card round. Baltimore easily cashed as 7 ½-point favorites in Ray Lewis' final home game with the Ravens, as the defense held Indianapolis to just three field goals. Anquan Boldin hauled in 145 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Joe Flacco became the first quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.

Baltimore heads to the Rockies with plenty of revenge on its minds after the Broncos humiliated the Ravens in a Week 15 rout, 34-17. Denver cashed as short road favorites, while building a 31-3 advantage after three quarters, even though Manning threw just one touchdown pass (to Eric Decker). The Ravens were limited to only 56 yards on the ground, as Flacco connected on a pair of long touchdown tosses to Dennis Pitta late to make the score closer.

The Broncos (13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS) began the season losing three of their first five games, including losses to the Falcons, Patriots, and Texans. However, John Fox's club got the train back on the tracks by winning 11 consecutive games, while covering eight times in this stretch. Manning led the offense to at least 30 points in nine contests during this current hot streak, as the Broncos cashed the 'over' seven times.

John Harbaugh's team won seven of nine home games this season, but the highway took a slight detour on the record. The Ravens split eight road contests, as two of those losses came by less than three points at Washington and Philadelphia. Although Baltimore is 4-4 SU in eight away playoff games during Harbaugh's tenure, the Ravens have covered five times, including in last season's AFC Championship at New England.

Dating back to 2003, Manning has won and covered six of nine playoff home contests as a member of the Colts. Twice during this span, Manning defeated the Ravens ('06 and '09), as Baltimore's offense sputtered against the Indianapolis defense by scoring a combined nine points in those losses.

Packers at 49ers (-3, 45) - 8:00 PM EST

Green Bay and San Francisco have put together some epic performances in the postseason, including several classics at Candlestick Park. Gone are Brett Favre, Steve Young, and Terrell Owens, but this new batch of superstars will look to shine on this stage with a ticket to the NFC Championship on the line.

The 49ers are playing their third straight playoff game at home dating back to last season, as San Francisco sat one possession away from the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh's team held off New Orleans in a game for the ages in the divisional round, a 36-32 triumph as three-point underdogs. The Niners couldn't close the door on the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants in the conference title game, falling to New York, 20-17 as two-point favorites.

The quarterback that led San Francisco's resurgence isn't the same one this time around, as second-year signal-caller Colin Kaepernick started the final seven games for Alex Smith, who suffered a concussion in a Week 10 tie against the Rams. Kaepernick guided the Niners on a pair of touchdown drives in the deadlock with St. Louis, but his performance the following Monday night against Chicago cemented his position as the team's starting quarterback.

In Smith's nine starts, the Niners compiled a 5-4 ATS record, including a 2-3 ATS mark at Candlestick. After Kaepernick took over, San Francisco cashed four of seven times, but one of those non-covers came as a 16-point favorite in a Week 17 win over lowly Arizona. The key number with Kaepernick under center is the 6-1 to the 'over,' in his seven starts, but four of those 'overs' came with a closing total of 40 or below.

The Packers are flying under the radar following last season's 15-1 record and a threat at going undefeated in the regular season. Before San Francisco's heartbreaking setback to New York in the NFC Title Game, the Giants shocked the Packers at Lambeau Field, 37-20 as nine-point 'dogs. Green Bay rebounded with another NFC North championship this season by posting a 9-2 record after a 2-3 stumble out of the gate. Mike McCarthy's club cruised past the Vikings in last Saturday's Wild Card rout, 24-10 as 9 ½-point favorites.

Revenge is on mind of the Packers after dropping the season opener to the 49ers, 30-22 at Lambeau. San Francisco jumped out to a 23-7 cushion, including three field goals from David Akers. Green Bay received a jolt thanks to a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown from Randall Cobb to cut the deficit to 23-15 in the fourth quarter. The Niners put the game away with a Frank Gore touchdown run, as the Pack scored a late touchdown to fall by eight. San Francisco cashed outright as six-point 'dogs, while the game barely finished 'over' the total of 46 ½.

Aaron Rodgers is quarterbacking his eighth playoff game for the Packers (5-2 SU/ATS), as Green Bay has taken four of the first five contests played away from Lambeau Field. Since 2006, the Packers own a sterling 19-9 ATS record in the role of a road underdog, while splitting a pair of games in this situation against the Giants and Texans this season.
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01/12/2013 02:29 PM
Divisional Playoff Angles

January 9, 2013

NFL Divisional Playoff Payoffs

Once again, 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.

2010 witnessed the Packers hauling home the hardware. In 2007 it was the NY 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 one of the top seeds (Atlanta) owning the worst remaining defense in its conference, and its opponent (Seattle) sporting a Top-4 ranked stop-unit, an argument can certainly be made either way.

It's important to remember that 39 of the last 46 Super Bowl winners have owned a Top 10 ranked defense.

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 (Against the Spread), unless noted otherwise.

Bye And Large Top Seeds 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 19-3 SU and 15-7 ATS, including 17-1 SU and 14-4 ATS if they won 13 or fewer games last season.

The NFC spotlight shines on top-seeded Atlanta this week.

Top seeds from the AFC have struggled, going 14-9 SU and 9-13 ATS, including 6-5 SU and 2-9 ATS when playing off back-to-back wins.

No. 1 seed Denver will look to improve on those numbers when they host hot-and-cold Baltimore on Sunday.

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 29-6 SU and 21-13-1-1 ATS at home with a week to prepare in Division Round contests.

New England and San Francisco fit the bill this season, rather cautiously though as teams in this role are just 5-4 SU and 2-7 ATS the last six years.

On the flip side, teams that were losing teams last years (seven or fewer wins) are just 10-34 SU and 18-24-1 ATS in this round, including 2-12 SU and 4-10 ATS when taking on No. 1 seeds.

However, before snapping the rubber band and fading Seattle this week - the only losing team last year to make it to the Division Round this year - you should know these 'losers' were 3-0 SU and ATS in this round last season.

Your move.

Highway Blues

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

These highwaymen are just 12-34 SU and 17-27-2 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 filthy 0-15 SU and 1-13-1 ATS in these affairs.

Baltimore, Houston and Green Bay all look to avoid becoming road kill this week.

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. Good luck as always.
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01/12/2013 02:40 PM
Seattle at Atlanta

January 11, 2013

During Mike Smith’s five-year tenure with Atlanta, the organization has experienced unprecedented success during the regular season. Before Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff joined the franchise the year after the sagas of both Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino, the Falcons had never posted back-to-back winning seasons.

On Smith’s watch, however, Atlanta has enjoyed five consecutive winning campaigns. The Falcons have won 56 games compared to only 24 losses in the regular season.

But success in the NFL is not measured by regular-season accomplishments. Just ask the 2011 Packers, who went 15-1 before going one and done in the postseason.

Atlanta is winless in three playoff appearances under Smith, falling at Arizona, vs. Green Bay and at the New York Giants. Granted, all three losses came to teams en route to the Super Bowl, but the Packers and G-Men dealt out woodshed treatment to the Falcons.

In this exact scenario two seasons ago with homefield advantage throughout the playoffs wrapped up following a 13-3 ride from September through December, Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to a 48-21 blowout win at the Ga. Dome.

Then in the Meadowlands last season, New York won a 24-2 decision over Atlanta as a three-point home favorite. For the third straight time in his postseason career, Matt Ryan failed to throw for 200 yards.

In three playoff losses, Ryan has completed 70-of-110 throws for 584 yards with a ¾ touchdown-to-interception ratio. Also, running back Michael Turner merely produced the following rushing totals: 39, 42 and 41.

Therefore, it’s clearly time for the Falcons to break through in January and they will have that chance Sunday afternoon when hosting Seattle.

This past Sunday night, some betting shops opened Atlanta (13-3 straight up, 9-6-1 against the spread) as a one-point favorite, but that number didn’t last long. Most came out with the Falcons favored by two and that was quickly adjusted to 2 ½.

As of Friday afternoon, most spots had Atlanta at 2 ½ with extra juice (-115 or -120) or three (even money). After opening at 45 ½, the total for ‘over/under’ wagers was 46. Gamblers can take the Seahawks on the money line for a plus-125 payout (risk $100 to win $125).

Atlanta dropped its regular-season finale vs. Tampa Bay by a 22-17 count as a three-point home ‘chalk.’ Smith played his starters but with an open date looming, his team obviously wasn’t 100-percent motivated.

It was the first home loss of the season for the Falcons, who went 4-4 ATS at the Ga. Dome. During Smith’s reign, they own a 21-11-1 spread record as home ‘chalk.’

In his fifth season, Ryan was at his best with a career-high 4,717 passing yards and a 32/14 TD-INT ratio. The Boston College product completed a career-best 68.6 percent of his throws.

Ryan has an arsenal of weapons with TE Tony Gonzalez and WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White. Gonzalez had a team-high 93 catches for 930 yards and eight TDs. White made 92 receptions for 1,351 yards and seven TDs, while Jones had 79 catches for 1,198 yards and 10 TDs.

Seattle (12-5 SU, 12-5 ATS) advanced to the NFC semifinals by overcoming a 14-0 deficit to score 24 unanswered points in a 24-14 win at Washington as a three-point favorite. Marshawn Lynch overcame a goal-line fumble to rush for 132 yards, including a 27-yard TD scamper to put his team ahead for good midway through the final stanza.

Russell Wilson connected on 15-of-26 passes for 187 yards and one TD without an interception. Wilson also rushed for 67 yards on only eight attempts.

Wilson has been the difference for the Seahawks, who already had a solid defense and running game before his arrival. The former minor league baseball player who played at both North Carolina St. and Wisconsin in college, has an incredible 17/2 TD-INT ratio since Week 9.

Lynch has been the NFL’s second-best RB this year behind only Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. The University of California product rushed for 1,590 yards during the regular season with 11 TDs and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average.

Pete Carroll’s squad leads the NFL in scoring defense, giving up only 15.3 points per game. The ‘Hawks dished a shutout after allowing the Redskins to score touchdowns on their first two drives last week.

But Seattle will be without its best pass rusher, DE Chris Clemons, who suffered a torn ACL last weekend. Clemons posted a team-high 11 sacks during the regular season.

Atlanta is eighth in the NFL in total offense and seventh in scoring, averaging 26.2 points per game. The Falcons’ defense has been opportunistic, rating fifth in the NFL in scoring defense (18.7 PPG) despite ranking 21st against the run and 23rd against the pass.

The ‘under’ is 11-5 overall for the Falcons, cashing at a lucrative 7-1 clip in their home games. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have seen the ‘under’ go 9-8 overall, 5-4 in their road assignments. However, they have watched the ‘over’ cash in seven of their last 10 outings.

Dating back to 2007, Atlanta has won three in a row over Seattle with the ‘over’ hitting in each instance.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Eastern on FOX.
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01/12/2013 02:44 PM
NFL Playoff Preview: Ravens at Broncos

BALTIMORE RAVENS (11-6)

at DENVER BRONCOS (13-3)


AFC Divisional Round Playoff Game
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Denver -9, Total: 46

The Broncos try to extend their win streak to 12 games and earn a berth in the AFC Championship when they host the Ravens on Saturday afternoon in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

In Week 15, the Broncos embarrassed the Ravens in Baltimore, a 34-17 victory in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate (Denver led 31-3 going into the fourth quarter). The Ravens were shorthanded defensively in that game, and last week’s Wild Card victory over Indianapolis was the first time this season they’ve had their four defensive stars (LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed, OLB Terrell Suggs, DL Haloti Ngata) in the lineup at the same time. Denver has been on fire of late, winning 11 in a row overall (9-2 ATS). The club also went 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS at home this year.

Can the Broncos roll to another victory on Saturday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL playoff game.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco has now won at least one playoff game in each of his five NFL seasons, and he's coming off his best postseason game ever with a 125.6 passer rating in last week's 24-9 win over the Colts, as he threw for 282 yards on 12.3 YPA with 2 TD, 0 INT and just one sack taken. The Broncos do boast a fierce pass rush though with 52 sacks (T-1st in NFL), helping them to finish third in the league in both rushing defense (91.1 YPG) and passing defense (199.6 YPG). Flacco was not sharp in the loss to Denver this year (20-for-40, 254 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT), but he's posted three straight solid road playoff games, completing 63-of-100 passes for 696 yards, 5 TD and 2 INT (91.9 rating). And now he's got a more potent ground game to lean on with the emergence of rookie Bernard Pierce who ripped off 103 yards on just 13 carries (7.9 YPC) last week, while Ray Rice had his typical 117 total yards, including 4.7 YPC. But Rice lost two fumbles against the Colts and has just one rushing touchdown in his past six playoff games. The Rice/Pierce duo combined for just 17 carries on 58 yards (3.4 YPC) in the Week 15 loss to Denver though. Top WR Anquan Boldin had an outstanding effort last week with five catches for 145 yards and 1 TD, but he was held without a reception in the loss to Denver, due mostly to the blanket coverage of future Hall of Fame CB Champ Bailey. In that meeting, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta caught seven passes for 125 yards and 2 TD (both in the fourth quarter of garbage time), and the big man also caught a TD pass in last week's win over Indy. Baltimore committed just 16 turnovers during the regular season (tied for 2nd-fewest in NFL), and the Broncos have just seven takeaways in the past six games combined.

Since winning his only Super Bowl, Manning is just 2-4 in his past six playoff games, leading his team to a mere 20.7 PPG. But his numbers have been pretty strong during this stretch with 1,893 passing yards (316 YPG, 7.8 YPA), 11 TD and 4 INT. He didn't fare too well against Baltimore in Jan. 2010 though, throwing for just 5.6 YPA in a 20-3 win. But Manning has otherwise had great success against the Ravens in his career, beating them nine straight times with 2,226 passing yards (247 YPG), 15 TD and 6 INT. And despite the sometimes inclement weather in Denver, Manning has a 112.3 passer rating at home this year with 22 TD passes and just 3 INT at Sports Authority Field. Although WR Demaryius Thomas has been the team's best receiver (94 rec, 1,434 yds, 10 TD), it was Eric Decker who was most outstanding against the Ravens in Week 15 with eight catches for 133 yards and 1 TD. Although Baltimore's 20th-ranked run defense (122.8 YPG) entered the playoffs allowing just 114 rushing yards (3.3 YPC) over its final two games, the team allowed 152 yards to the Colts last week and let RB Knowshon Moreno rumble for 115 yards on 21 carries (5.5 YPC) in Week 15. Moreno will be playing in his first-ever playoff game on Saturday, and he'll try to avoid Ravens LB Ray Lewis, who is trying to prolong his career for one more week. Lewis had 13 tackles (9 solo, 4 assists) against Indy in his first action since Oct. 14.

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