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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 10:30 AM

LET'S GET IT ON!!! NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF PREVIEWS ARE STRAIGHT AHEAD AS WE DISSECT SATURDAY'S ACTION: IT'S VIKES-49ERS & TITANS-RAVENS ...

PLUS, THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT: EYEBALLING #1 GONZAGA

Wish we had a nickel for every time - over all these many years - when folks claimed this is the "best weekend of football". The NFL Divisional Playoffs are traditionally power-packed games but gotta admit three of the four tilts sport spreads of 7-or-more points and so we're left to wonder where the upsets are gonna occur ... if they're gonna occur at all!

 

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):

TEAM - ODDS
Baltimore + 175
San Francisco + 275
Kansas City + 300
Green Bay + 700
Minnesota + 1100
Seattle + 1100
Houston + 2500
Tennessee + 2500

Note: Since posting the last edition of the Super Bowl Odds to Win it All, the Minnesota Vikings have moved from + 1200 to their current price of + 1100 - which begs the question: Can an NFL team win three consecutive playoff games before even getting to a Super Bowl? The last one to do so was the 2010 Green Bay Packers who won playoff road games at Philadelphia, at Atlanta and at Chicago before beating Pittsburgh in Super Bowl 45. Also, the Tennessee Titans have been taking Super Bowl $$$ as the AFC's sixth seed went from -3000 to -2500 ... again, will there be a road warrior out there as the Titans will have to win in Baltimore and then possibly win in either Houston or Kansas City just to make it to SB 54.

 

NFL SATURDAY DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

MINNESOTA (11-6) at SAN FRANCISCO (13-3) - 4:35p.m. ET, NBC
As you see from or chart up above, the NFC's #1 seeded San Francisco 49ers sport - and by far - the shortest price to win it all among teams in their conference but word to the wise here is the Niners better strap it on in the trenches where a sometimes-soft San Fran O-line will have hands full with this Vikings' defensive front while DE Nick Bosa and friends will have to work hard to get at Minny slinger Kirk Cousins (242 yards passing and one TD in last weekend's 26-20 overtime win in New Orleans).
In fact, we're gonna go out on a proverbial limb and say the 49ers must turn over Cousins and Company at least three times here while shooting for "shorter fields" for San Fran QB Jimmy Garappolo (3,978 yards passing with 27 TDs and 13 INTs in regular-season action) and mates. If Garappolo gets in a groove here, then he's likely "picking on" Minnesota CB Xavier Rhodes who is playing with a banged-up shoulder / collarbone.
Spread Notes - San Francisco is 10-6 ATS (against the spread) this year and note the 49ers are a composite 11-20 vig-wise at home since the start of the 2016 season; Minnesota is 10-7 ATS overall this year following last weekend's overtime win as 7-point underdogs. Overall, the Vikings are 45-27-2 ATS as point-grabbing sides since the start of 2011. Note the last time these clubs clashed was Week 1 a year ago when 6.5-point fav Minnesota copped a 24-16 win / cover at home.
Current Las Vegas Line ... San Francisco - 7 and 44.5 points


TENNESSEE (10-7) at BALTIMORE (14-2) - 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Let's skip all the platitudes for Ravens' QB and soon-to-be MVP Lamar Jackson (36 passing TDs / 7 rushing TDs) and get down to the real nitty-gritty here:
Can the second-year pro keep making defenders miss when it comes to his get-out-of-the-pocket and go, go, go nature and will he have to face a Titans' "spy" here (we're thinking DB Adoree' Jackson, perhaps). Jackson has not played a down the last couple of weeks and so there will be some question of "rust" here plus Ravens' RB Mark Ingram (1,018 yards rushing with 10 TDs) may not be 100 percent after dealing with some recent calf issues.
So, what will it all mean? Well, the Titans zoom into crab cake country with mucho momentum, thanks in large part to RB Derrick Henry who trampled New England to the tune of 182 rushing yards and a score but no way will the TD-plus underdogs from Tennessee survive-and-advance here without some big vertical pass plays from QB Ryan Tannehill ... we say Tannehill must go for at least four "chunk plays" in the air game or else.
Spread Notes - Baltimore is 10-5-1 against the vig overall this year but remember the Ravens have covered nine of their last 10 tilts since late September. Did you know these AFC North champs are 14-7 ATS when playing non-divisional foes these past two years? Tennessee, meanwhile, is 9-7-1 ATS overall this season and the Titans have covered 14 of their last 23 games when in the underdog role.
Current Las Vegas Line ... Baltimore - 9.5 and 47 points

 

THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT

In a season in which there's already been five different teams that stood at #1 in the polls - and then were promptly dislodged from said #1 spot - it's Gonzaga (16-1, 2-0 West Coast Conference) that holds down the numero uno slot right now and it's safe to say that the Bulldogs won't play a true challenging game until a month from now: See Feb. 8th at Saint Mary's. In the meantime, this 'Zags crew - sporting six different players that average double figures in scoring led by Filip Petrusev (16.6 ppg) - figure to be heavy-duty betting favorites for the next seven or eight games beginning with this Thursday night tilt in San Diego. P.S., Mark Few's crew may be sittin' pretty at #1 right now but the team's pointspread prowess can be questioned as the 'Zags are a mere 7-8-1 against the spread and that includes back-to-back-to-back pointspread setbacks since late December.

Speaking of spreads, here are the won/loss marks against the odds for a few other highly-ranked squads:
#2 Duke is 9-5 against the odds this 2019-2020 campaign;
#3 Kansas is a modest 7-6 spreadwise but note the Jayhawks have covered six of their last eight ATS verdicts;
And #4 Baylor sports an 8-5 ATS mark following Tuesday night's 57-52 win at 3.5-point fav Texas Tech

NOTE: There's more NFL Divisional Playoff News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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