Last Week: 10-6
Overall: 114-123-11 – 48.1%
Week 17 Whiffs
— I overestimated Teddy Bridgewater. I thought he would have an advantage over Kyle Allen, but I was wrong. Bridgewater did not show anything close to the potential he flashed at quarterback in his short time in Minnesota on Sunday for the Saints.
— The Redskins had one foot in the golf cart for their game against the Eagles. I thought the motivation of keeping a hated division rival out of the playoffs would motivate them to at least keep it close, but they checked out and were steamrolled.
Merry Festivus Ravens nation!! It feels good to say that again…
After what looked like the makings of a blowout early, in true Ravens fashion, Week 17 came down to the wire. This time, however, the defense stood tall and made the stand to send Baltimore to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Bank was packed on Sunday for the first time this season and it’ll be packed again this week for the re-match with the Chargers. Let’s just say I’m thankful it’s a short work week.
Below are the final power rankings for the 2018 season:
The Bears win the regular season ATS crown, going an impressive 12-4 on the season. I’m not sure anyone saw that coming at the beginning of the season, but the addition of Khalil Mack seemed to push them over the top.
It was a crazy regular season that came down to the last week in several races. From a numbers perspective, there were only a few spots where there was a decided advantage this season. Home underdogs of three points or less hit at a 62.5% rate and road favorites of more than 7 points hit at a 66.67% rate. Other than those two spots, most other breakdowns were right around 50%.
Disclaimer: Please do not take these picks and expect to make any real money. I enjoy picking games and the discussions they create so feel free to play along. I will provide information for each game, but please make your own decisions and BE RESPONSIBLE!
Here are my Wild Card Round picks…
Saturday – 1/5/19
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans (-2.0, o/u 48.0)
The Colts beat a Titans team in Week 17 that was without Marcus Mariota. They won’t get such luck here in the first round of the playoffs as they square off against a Houston team that is 11-2 over their last 13 games (with one of those losses coming against Indy). Indy hasn’t fared so bad either recently as they have gone 9-1 straight up and 6-3-1 ATS in their last 10 games.
I have a tendency to over-value defense and I’m going to do it here in this game. If Houston can get Andrew Luck off his spot with their pass rush, they can force him into turnovers. That will be the difference in the game. If the Colts can hang on to the ball, they have a shot. If the Texans can force a few turnovers, which I think they will, they’ll easily cover the two points in this game with their 8.9-point average home point differential.
Since 2010, the Colts are 11-6-1 ATS against the Texans and 5-3-1 ATS in Houston. Houston finished the season on a roll ATS going 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games winning four of their last five at home.
My Pick: Houston -2.0
Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys (-1.0, o/u 43.5)
This is my kind of football game. Both teams have strong defenses and potent rushing attacks, which should make for a close contest on Saturday night. Speaking of night games, the Seahawks thrive in prime-time:
— 11-2 straight up in their last 13 prime-time games
— 11-2 ATS in their last 13 prime-time games as an underdog
— 25-6-4 ATS in their last 35 prime-time games
— 12-3 ATS in their last 15 prime-time games against teams with winning records
In the 28 games in which Russell Wilson has led the Seahawks in prime-time, he has thrown 52 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions
I have been down on the Cowboys a lot this season because I just don’t think Dak Prescott is a good quarterback. They’ve survived this season based on their defense and running game which have both excelled. My gut tells me that the Seahawks will force Dak to beat them and I simply don’t think that’s possible.
Dallas is 7-1 straight up and 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games. Seattle leads the NFL in rushing with 160.0 yards per game and are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.
My Pick: Seattle +1.0
Sunday – 1/6/19
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, o/u 41.5)
Ravens/Chargers round 2. In their first matchup, I didn’t like what I saw for the Ravens. I was wrong, but this time I don’t like what I see either.
In the second half of the last two games, the Browns and Chargers have made adjustments and limited the Ravens offense. My fear is that, with this being the first team Jackson will be facing for the second time, the element of surprise will be gone and they’ll be able to shut him down for an entire game.
In the Ravens’ favor, however, is Philip Rivers’ (im)mobility. The quarterbacks that have given this team the most trouble have been one’s that can make plays outside of the pocket (see Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield). Rivers will not be that guy on Sunday. He’s a statue who is prone to mistakes if you make his feet move. If Baltimore can do this, they will have a shot to get a few takeaways and make the Chargers play catch-up.
Ultimately, I think the Chargers; ability to stop the Ravens offense will allow them to win this game in Baltimore, 27-16. For some reason, they have been a much better team on the road, with their only loss coming against the Rams, and I think they will give us a glimpse of what the NFL will have in store for Lamar Jackson next season with an entire offseason to prepare. Here’s hoping for the reverse jinx…
The Chargers are 5-1 ATS in their last six playoff games as road underdogs. Baltimore is 1-5 ATS in their last six games at home.
My Pick: Los Angeles +2.5
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears (-6.0, o/u 41.0)
Chicago has been downright dominant at home this season. They’ve gone 7-1 ATS with an average point differential of 10.6 points, allowing only 17.5 points per game. Philadelphia, on the other hand, has had an up-and-down season but are coming into Chicago hot as winners of their last three games (two against playoff teams) to sneak into the dance.
Even with Nick Foles at 100%, I think the Eagles would have a tough time against this Bears defense. They’ll be able to force Foles into some bad throws and capitalize on those mistakes to knock the defending champs out in the Wild Card Round.
Commence the Wentz vs. Foles debate in Philly…
The Bears are 5-0 straight up and ATS in their last five home games winning by an average of 9.4 points. Philly is 4-2 ATS in their last six road games.
My Pick: Chicago -6.0
Wild Card and Divisional weekends are my favorite of the season. You have big time matchups on Saturday and Sunday and are primed for some exciting games. So buckle up Baltimore, it’s going to be a fun ride.
Good luck this week!