Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, January 6, 2020 at 11:40 AM
OUR FIRST LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND'S NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS - PLUS, ALL THE WILD CARD ROUND GOODIES ...
THE COLLEGE BOWL BLITZ: HERE'S THE FINAL ONE THIS EVENING AS WE PREVIEW THE LENDING TREE BOWL
Okay, so the following couple of factoids come your way via the wagering world's believe-it-or-not department: First, there's only one team - and that's the Kansas City Chiefs - that is back to play in this year's NFL Divisional Playoff round that played in this very round-of-eight a year ago ... now that deserves a hearty wow!
Secondly - and we are basically repeating what we said on this web page one year ago - and that's the just-completed NFL Wild Card games had a real déjà vu feeling to 'em as all four underdog sides cashed in each of the 2017 and '18 Wild Card Round games and then three of the four underdog sides cashed this year with Houston's wacky 22-19 overtime win against 2.5-point underdog Buffalo the lone exception to the rule.
So, get this straight: In the past three years of NFL Wild Card Round games, the Betting Favorites went a composite 1-11-0 ATS (against the spread) and "Over" players went 2-10-0 against the odds. Okay, that deserves another wow!
As we look ahead to what's on the menu for this weekend's NFL Divisional Playoffs, here's some early-bird thoughts but first this important reminder:
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers went 4-1 in the Wild Cards, 2-1 Saturday with Titans upset of New England and the UNDER in the Bills/Texans game...lost with the Bills in OT. On Sunday, another 2-0 winning with the Seahawks and UNDER and passing on Vikings-Saints. We'll have this weekend's NFL Divisional Playoff winners on both Saturday/Sunday - just call us at 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and also cash in big with the NBA / NCAA Basketball / the final couple of College Football Games.
NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
On Saturday, it's ...
MINNESOTA (11-6) at SAN FRANCISCO (13-3) - 4:35 p.m. ET, NBC
Let's face facts ... The San Fran 49ers were mere inches away from losing out the NFC's #1 seed before hanging on to that 26-21 win / cover against Seattle back in Week 17 action and so there's gonna be a fair share of "doubters" out there but handicappers know the Niners have covered five of their last seven games overall since mid-November and overall SF is a solid 10-6 ATS but just 2-6 vig-wise whenever laying 5-or-more points this year. Minnesota's frantic 26-20 overtime win at TD favorite New Orleans this past Sunday moved the Vikings to 10-7 ATS overall and 5-4 ATS away.
Wild Card Tidbit - Gotta say the NFL's joke replay system failed again when Minny TE Kyle Rudolph shoved his way free for the game-winning four-yard touchdown catch but hats off to the Vikes for their three sacks of out-of-whack Saints' QB Drew Brees.
TENNESSEE (10-7) at BALTIMORE (14-2) - 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS
The bottom line is the AFC's top-seeded Ravens are 10-5-1 ATS overall this year but - better yet - John Harbaugh's crew zooms into this playoff tilt having covered four games in a row and nine of their last 10. Overall, it's worth mentioning that Baltimore is 9-3 against the odds whenever holding an opponent to 20 points or less.
On the flip side, Tennessee's grind-house 20-13 win at 5-point fav New England this past Saturday night featured the Titans' fourth outright upset this year (also "upset" Cleveland in Week 1, Atlanta in Week 4 and Kansas City in Week 10) and did you know Mike Vrabel's club is a rock-solid 6-3 ATS away this year?
Wild Card Tidbit - The Titans made it abundantly clear that they'll hand the football off to RB Derrick Henry (34 carries, 182 yards and 1 TD against the Pats) as often as need it be but we'll suggest that the team's second biggest weapon is P Brett Kern who pinned the Pats inside the 20-yard line a few times.
On Sunday, it's ...
HOUSTON (11-6) at KANSAS CITY (12-4) -- 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Go ahead and hum a few bars of "Hail to The Chief(s)" because Kaycee is 5-0-1 spreadwise in its last half-dozen games and overall the AFC's No. 2 seed is 10-5-1 against all Vegas price tags. One more thing: Andy Reid's team is 8-4-1 against the odds as betting favorites this year and a combined 10-5-1 ATS as favs dating back to late last season.
Note that Houston's above-mentioned wild card win / cover against the Bills upgraded the Texans' spread mark to 8-8-1 this season but be aware that this AFC South champ is 5-2-1 ATS as away underdogs this season ... hmmm.
Wild Card Tidbit - Okay, so nobody's ever gonna confuse Texans' head coach Bill O'Brien with the late / great Vice Lombardi but give the Texans' task-master some credit for making sure WR DeAndre Hopkins (6 catches for 90 yards versus Buffalo) got some looks after zero catches / two targets in the first half.
SEATTLE (12-5) at GREEN BAY (13-3) - 6:40 p.m. ET, Fox
Must admit that the Green Bay Packers are the most "disrespected" #2 playoff seed we've seen in years - nobody gives 'em any credit and yet the Pack finished the regular season at 10-6 spreadwise and that featured winning spread marks at home (5-3 ATS) and as betting favorites (7-5 ATS) ... so there!
Meanwhile, the visiting Seahawks - now 8-8-1 against the juice this year - jaunt into Lambeau Field having covered four-of-six games as underdog sides this year and with a composite spread record of 94-73-8 under 10th-year head coach Pete Carroll (that's a solid .563 winning rate).
Wild Card Tidbit - Shame on NBC sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya for not asking Seahawks' DE Jadeveon Clowney about that vicious helmet-first hit on Eagles' QB Carson Wentz in the first quarter of Seattle's 17-9 wild card win in Philly on Sunday. Never quite know when karma's gonna get you, Seattle ... just ask the Saints all about karma (see 2009 Bounty Gate).
SUPER BOWL LIV ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
Here's the up-to-the-minute Super Bowl LIV Odds (all based on $100 per-play wagers):
Baltimore + 200
San Francisco + 325
Kansas City + 350
Green Bay + 750
Seattle + 1200
Minnesota + 1400
Houston + 2500
Tennessee + 3000
COLLEGE BOWL BLITZ
Tonight, it's ...LENDING TREE BOWL - at Mobile, AL
MIAMI-OHIO (8-5) vs. UL-LAFAYETTE (10-3) - 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Alas, the final bowl game is here - Clemson vs. LSU next Monday Night is for all the marbles but not a designated bowl - and we'll see if there's any rust on these offenses after each last played on Dec. 7th: UL-Lafayette sports the nation's eighth-best offense (sixth-best passing offense) behind QB Levi Lewis who has thrown 24 TDs and only 4 INTs while two-TD underdog Miami-Ohio counts on a strong pass defense (ranked 35th of 130 FBS teams). Miami-O slinger Brett Gabbert (2,163 yards passing) is a talented freshman who leans on more short / safe stuff in the passing game.
Spread Note - UL-Lafayette (a/k/a Louisiana) is 9-4 versus the vig overall this year but remember the Ragin' Cajuns started off 5-and-oh spreadwise while Miami is 7-6 ATS this year and a collective 8-4 ATS when playing outside the Mid-American Conference the past two years.
NOTE: There's more NFL Divisional Playoff News & Notes plus College Football too in the next edition of Jim Sez.