"Playoffs? Don't talk about—playoffs?!"
PLAYOFFS baby. Wild card weekend is here, boy am I excited.
Bills @ Texans (Bills +2.5)
A team that’s overachieved vs. a weak schedule takes on a team with Super Bowl-talent that can’t win two games in a row. Hmm.Josh Allen has long legs. JJ Watt is back but still has a torn pec. Hmm.
Stats? Let’s start with STATS:
- Bills: #22
- Texans: #17
- Bills: #6 (#5 against the pass)
- Texans: #26 (#22 against the run)
- Buffalo is 9-5-2 ATS, but more importantly 6-0-2 ON THE ROAD.
- Houston is 7-8-1 ATS, but more importantly 2-6 at home.
- Historically, in games that closed between 1.5 and 3.5 home faves, the away team has covered 53.3% of the time.
So what's it all mean?
This is a Buffalo team that has played up all season (lost to NE by 6 & 7, Baltimore by 7, beat Tenn), and a Houston team that the public loves to love, and for good reason. Watt is exciting. Watson is exciting. Hopkins, Fuller, they are exciting.
Houston on the other hand has been inconsistent. Early season they were very strong, losing only by 2 to NO and beating KC by 7 on the road. This game was funky tho - Hyde had one of his best games of the season , and he simply will not see the holes he saw against KC vs. Buffalo this week.
But the biggest delta is the Bills defense vs. the Texans offense. The Bills defense has been stifling all year, and I expect them to BRING IT on Saturday.
Bills +2.5. Ship it.
Titans @ Patriots (Patriots -5, 51% of bets)
Player vs. Coach (Vrabel vs. Belichick).
One of the worst QBs since week 3 (Brady) vs. the hottest QB in the league not named Brees, Jackson, or Mahomes (Tannehill).
So what gives?
I have a hard time fading the Patriots 1. at home and 2. off a loss, literally ever. Brady is 59% ATS all time, and the Pats are 9-0 at home in the playoffs since 2013.
...with only 51% of bets, this is the closest to the public NOT loving the Patriots in quite sometime.
- Titans: #6 (#6 in passing, #5 in rushing)
- Patriots: #11 (#14 passing, #16 rushing)
- Titans: #16 (#21 against the pass, #10 rushing)
- Patriots: #1 (#1 passing, #6 rushing)
Is Brady over the hill at 42? I’m not convinced. Sure, he’s been slightly less accurate this year, but the run game has not worked like it has historically to open up the play action, and his weapons aren’t creating the space he’s used to. Sanu has been a relative bust, Edelman is Edelman.
What the Patriots need, and what I think they’ll get, is a diversified passing attack stemming from solid play-action. Edelman’s over-targeted-nature has decreased in the last few weeks as Brady’s confidence in Harry, Meyers, Dorsett continues. Those players simply need to catch the ball.
The Titans rank #6 in passing efficiency, but the majority of that has been AJ Brown. Brown, meet Gilmore. I’m going Gilmore in this matchup all day. The Patriots #1 ranked pass defense should be okay.
Since 2002, first-time starters in the playoffs have gone 14-30 straight up (SU) and 12-31-1 against the spread (ATS) according to Action Network's Bet Labs.
Biggest delta for me here stems from the Titans defense.
I expect McDaniels and Belichick to out scheme Vrabel, and Brady does more Brady things in the playoffs for a win and cover.