Success Before and After a Super Bowl Win

After back-to-back 7-9 seasons, would anyone have predicted the Eagles would win Super Bowl LII? Did anyone believe that the Giants would miss the playoffs in the three seasons following the team’s win over the Patriots in SB XLVI?

Predicting the success of a Super Bowl winner before the next season begins is far from an exact science. Unless it’s the Patriots, who will lose a game near the end of the regular season to a less-than-average team, soar through the playoffs and then play in an exciting Super Bowl. Also, there will be a game in there where one of their four running backs scores three touchdowns and it will be against your fantasy football team. Classic Pats. But, if you aren’t a diehard Patriots fan, your team’s season won’t be as predictable.

We decided to take a look at how teams have fared in the three years before and after they won a Super Bowl since 2008. Use the dropdown box to select a year, and hover over the dots to see the results.



Duke QB Jones: Joining Giants would be ‘awesome’

Duke QB Jones: Joining Giants would be 'awesome'

Duke QB Jones: Joining Giants would be ‘awesome’

For a team that doesn’t select a quarterback early in the 2019 NFL Draft, Duke’s Daniel Jones could be a strong consolation choice.

Jones generally is believed to be the fourth quarterback who will come off the board at the draft, following Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Missouri’s Drew Lock. He is a potential first-round pick, with much of the buzz focusing on the possibility that the New York Giants will select him at No. 17 overall, assuming they don’t go for another quarterback with the sixth overall pick.

New York also has the fifth pick of the second round.

Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula was among the team’s contingent at Duke’s pro day on Tuesday, when Jones drew positive reviews for his 40-time — a reported 4.67 seconds — and seemed to show better arm strength to pair with his known strong points of touch and accuracy.

Former NFL quarterback and current TV analyst Troy Aikman chimed in on Twitter: “Caught the tail-end of Duke’s Daniel Jones’ pro day on @nflnetwork and liked what I saw – accurate ball placement which is #1 for me when evaluating QBs”

Jones (6-5, 221) decided to skip his senior season after passing for 8,201 yards and 52 touchdowns against 29 interceptions in three seasons with the Blue Devils.

If the Giants view him as an eventual successor to Eli Manning, it could be a seamless transition. Duke coach David Cutcliffe coached Peyton (Tennessee) and Eli Manning (Ole Miss) in college, and Jones has attended the Manning Passing Academy.

When Eli visits Duke’s campus, Cutcliffe said on NFL Network, “Daniel follows him around like you would follow Mother Goose.”

After Tuesday’s workout, Jones told NFL Network that getting to know the Giants’ brass during the scouting process “has been awesome.” He is expected to have a private workout with the Giants later this week, according to ESPN.

“With a guy like Eli Manning, to have that opportunity, if I did, to learn from him and watch him on a day-in and day-out basis, and kind of study him would be awesome,” Jones said.

“I have been lucky to do that a couple of times when he has come down — and I have gotten a lot from that.”

Jones made a quick rise at Duke after his only other Division I offer was from FCS school Princeton.

“He did a lot of things naturally well,” Cutcliffe said of his impressions of Jones as a recruit. “I knew he had a shot at being special and, boy, was I right.”

Cutcliffe added that scouts should not be fooled by Jones’ boyish looks.

“I think some people probably read that as him being a guy who is not a fierce competitor and not tough,” Cutcliffe said. “Don’t challenge him. He is physically and mentally tough.”

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Chiefs trading LB Ford to 49ers

Reports: Chiefs trading LB Ford to 49ers

Reports: Chiefs trading LB Ford to 49ers

The Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday agreed to trade pass-rushing linebacker Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2020 second-round pick, according to multiple reports.

Just last week, the Chiefs put a franchise tag on Ford, though reports indicated a deal was in the works.

A source told ESPN that Ford is expected to receive a multiyear deal in the range of five years, $87.5 million from the 49ers. The deal will become official on Wednesday, when the new league year begins.

Moving Ford seemed inevitable after the Chiefs decided to switch from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. An undersized defensive end didn’t exactly seem to be the right fit.

“Still kind of assessing that,” Spagnuolo said in February when asked about Ford. “The one thing he can do, and we all know this, he is an explosive football player that makes a lot of plays. He’s had some production and if he is here with us, I’ll be excited to have him and be excited to work with him.”

Ford has 30.5 career sacks in five seasons, all with the Chiefs, including a personal-best 13 in 2018, when he attained career firsts by starting all 16 regular-season games and being selected to the Pro Bowl. He also forced a league-high seven fumbles.

Ford, 27, earned about $8.7 million in 2018 after the fifth-year option of his contract was exercised. The one-year franchise tag for linebackers is worth $15,443,000 in 2019.

On Sunday, the Chiefs released veteran linebacker Justin Houston, leaving them without their top two pass rushers from last season.

–Field Level Media

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Woods says he’s ready for Players Championship

Woods says he's ready for Players Championship

Woods says he’s ready for Players Championship

Tiger Woods arrived at TPC Sawgrass on Monday and declared himself ready for The Players Championship.

“I feel good, man,” he told Golfweek at the course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Last week, Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, citing a neck strain.

“I didn’t want to push it. No need to,” Woods said about his choice to drop out of the tournament he’s won eight times. “Not at my age. Can’t do that anymore.”

Woods, 43, said he took most of the week off and didn’t touch a club until Saturday.

“Everything is good,” Woods said. “I feel good. I needed last week off.”

This will be the fourth tournament of the year for Woods. He has finished in the top 20 in each, with his best finish a tie for 10th place in the WGC-Mexico Championship three weeks ago.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Steelers ship WR Brown to Raiders

Reports: Steelers ship WR Brown to Raiders

The Oakland Raiders acquired wide receiver Antonio

Reports: Steelers ship WR Brown to Raiders

The Oakland Raiders acquired wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night, according to multiple media outlets.

The Steelers will receive third- and fifth-round draft picks in exchange for the eccentric wide receiver, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Raiders will add money to Brown’s existing contract, which now calls for $50.1 million over the next three years with $30.1 million guaranteed.

Brown quickly embraced the deal. He posted a photo illustration of himself in a Raiders uniform only minutes after the deal was first reported.

The 30-year-old wideout now becomes the top offensive threat in Oakland after a remarkable but sometimes turbulent nine-season stint with Pittsburgh. Brown has surpassed 1,250 receiving yards in six straight years and hauled in double-digit touchdowns in four of his past five seasons.

The Steelers reportedly had sought a first-round pick for Brown before settling on Oakland’s offer. Several other teams, including the Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans, also had expressed interest in acquiring the playmaker before Pittsburgh decided to send him west.

Trade rumors had swirled for months amid a public spat between Brown and the Steelers. The disgruntled veteran did not play in last year’s must-win regular-season finale because he was “banged up,” which prompted Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to tell him to go home.

During the offseason, Brown held firm with his criticism of the franchise. He also ripped veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whom he felt wrongly blamed him for an interception in a loss to the Denver Broncos in late November.

“He feels like he’s the owner,” Brown said during a recent appearance on “The Shop,” LeBron James’ HBO show. “Bro, you threw the (expletive) to the D-lineman! What the (expletive)? I’m over here wide open! You need to give me a better ball!”

A move to Oakland — and tens of millions in guaranteed money that Pittsburgh had not promised — represents a fresh start for Brown.

The Raiders drew scrutiny before the start of last season for trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears rather than meet his contract demands. Then the team shipped wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys, only to watch him thrive with his new team.

Brown’s arrival appears to signal a renewed aggressiveness in Oakland, where Jon Gruden will enter his second season at the helm. Brown also provides the best playmaking option yet for sixth-year quarterback Derek Carr, who is coming off a season in which he threw for a career-high 4,049 yards.

Last season, Brown caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has 837 receptions for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns in his career.

The Raiders are not scheduled to face the Steelers during the regular season.

–Field Level Media

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Caputi: 2019 NFL Mock Draft (Final)

It's Draft Day! In what might be the most difficult draft to mock in recent memory, here's my first and last attempt of the season. Trades are expected to considerably impact the early portion of the first round. In 2016, there were five trades on day one. In 2017, there were six

It’s Draft Day! In what might be the most difficult draft to mock in recent memory, here’s my first and last attempt of the season. Trades are expected to considerably impact the early portion of the first round. In 2016, there were five trades on day one. In 2017, there were six and last year there were seven. Expect movement – and for your reading pleasure, I’ve included a few in this mock.

Enjoy the process!

1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE. Ohio State

• At no point throughout the process have I logically felt the Cardinals were serious about Kyler Murray. Talent is required across the board and this woeful defense benefits from a plug and play edge with an All-Pro ceiling.

2. New York Giants: Kyler Murray, QB. Oklahoma (TRADE w/SF)

• Let’s assume the trade up includes both No 6. and 17. Big Blue has kept it close to the vest but must leverage this opportunity to reignite a dispirited fan base in the wake of the Odell Beckham trade.

3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, EDGE. Kentucky

• Premium pick, premium value position. Gang Green lacks a legitimate cornerstone piece to work with off the edge and Allen reminds me of peak Justin Houston in 2014 (his 22.0 sack season).

4. Oakland Raiders: Ed Oliver, DT. Houston

• In 2010, Jon Gruden participated in drafting Gerald McCoy, a 3-tech profile who some viewed as being the more natural interior pass rusher compared to Suh. Oliver can bench press interior lineman and plays with speed + leverage.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quinnen Williams, DT. Alabama

• What would’ve been an ideal spot for a trade down becomes an opportunity. Williams offers positional flexibility for Bowles hybrid setup and tremendous upside. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

6. San Francisco 49ers: Jonah Williams, OL. Alabama

• Following a trade down, the 49ers go to the well for another long-term piece along the offensive line. They could use immediate improvement at guard and 2018 first round pick Mike McGlinchey is presently the only tackle signed through 2020.

7. Cincinnati Bengals: Dwayne Haskins, QB. Ohio State (TRADE w/JAX)

• Simba 7 remains in-state and becomes a Bengal. A fresh, young, offensive-minded Zac Taylor begins his head coaching tenure with the Big Ten’s single-season total yard and touchdown record holder. Cincy can preemptively part with Andy Dalton at no cap penalty in 2020.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Rashan Gary, DL. Michigan (TRADE w/DET)

• The always-aggressive Thomas Dimitroff has made at least one trade in every draft since becoming GM in 2008. There’s a buzz about Atlanta and Detroit making a deal. Movement skills are valued by Atlanta along the line and Grady Jarrett is a UFA in 2020.

9. Buffalo Bills: T.J. Hockenson, TE. Iowa

• After spending money on depth at receiver, it’s apparent the Bills brass wants to supply anointed franchise quarterback Josh Allen with as many options as possible as he develops. There remains a hole at tight end and Hockenson is the most complete player at his position in the class.

10. Denver Broncos: Devin White, LB. LSU

• If this isn’t a quarterback (and I’m about 50/50 on the matter here), White is the obvious and fortunate selection. Denver has a pair of stout run defenders in Jewell and Davis, but White totally revolutionizes the interior of Denver’s linebacking core.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT. Florida (TRADE w/CIN)

• After moving down to acquire a pick or two, this is improved value for possibly the best long-term tackle in the draft. The talented in-state product helps Nick Foles in the short-term and perhaps whoever the starter is on the end of his bridge deal.

12. Green Bay Packers: Devin Bush, LB. Michigan

• It’s a new era under second-year GM Brian Gutekunst, who’s breaking some of the organizational molds created by Ted Thompson. With a pair of first round picks, the Pack are well-positioned to address the seemingly perennial need at linebacker with a unique talent in Bush.

13. Houston Texans: Andre Dillard, OT. Washington State (TRADE w/MIA)

• Houston, initially placed at No. 21 overall, are also armed with back-to-back second round picks (No. 54 and 55) – they must leverage their assets to bolster pass pro. Dillard is the most natural left tackle in the class and compares favorably to Duane Brown.

14. Detroit Lions: Brian Burns, EDGE. Florida State (TRADE w/DET)

• A fortuitous conclusion following a trade down, as Detroit is still able to inject twitch and athleticism off the edge to complement the signing of Trey Flowers. Lions get faster on defense.

15. Washington Redskins: Drew Lock, QB. Missouri

• It’s tough to predict how the ‘Skins will approach the quarterback position on draft day, but should this scenario materialize without a trade up it’d alleviate some of the organizational misfortune of Alex Smith’s injury. Prototypical, tools-based passer for Jay Gruden to polish.

16. Carolina Panthers: Noah Fant, TE. Iowa

• When healthy, Greg Olsen is still a threat but Fant is a unique weapon who can be aligned as a traditional tight end, as a big slot or even as a boundary mismatch a la Devin Funchess. Also a red-zone terror.

17. San Francisco 49ers: Marquise Brown, WR. Oklahoma (TRADE w/NYG)

• With the second of two first round picks (courtesy a mocked trade down with the Giants), San Francisco adds an electric vertical passing game weapon. Brown is ultra-productive and hurts defenses in space. He missed the combine due to a Lisfranc injury, but is expected to be ready for camp.

18. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OG. Oklahoma

• Plainly put, Minnesota desperately needs to reinforce the offensive line and protect the Kirk Cousins investment. If they’re as intent on running the ball as Mike Zimmer wants, Ford is the ideal profile and they’ve had success with Sooners. Played right tackle in 2018, but he can be an elite guard.

19. Tennessee Titans: Garrett Bradbury, OG/C. NC State

• Interior offensive line was a legitimate sore spot in 2018 and while Rodger Saffold was added, more is required. Bradbury is a one-stop addition that will immediately elevate either the right guard or (his natural) center position. A former tight end, he has the athleticism to accommodate the mobile Mariota.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB. LSU

• Perhaps the leader of a markedly imperfect but talented cornerback class, Greedy is the prototypical long, athletic boundary profile. I don’t rule out a handful of the remaining front-seven pieces still on the board either.

21. Seattle Seahawks: Clelin Ferrell, DE. Clemson

• Frank Clark out, Clelin Ferrell in. An economically savvy transaction for Seattle, also adding a polished plug and play edge with a three-down skill-set.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Elgton Jenkins, OG/C. Mississippi State

• Three-position interior power blocker with prototypical size. The ideal addition to accommodate the down-hill, man-to-man based approach that appeals to new offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

23. Miami Dolphins: Jeffery Simmons, DT. Mississippi State

• In this scenario, understand two things: 1. The ‘Phins have conceded this isn’t their year to address quarterback early, 2. They’re all-in on a rebuild year in 2019. Simmons is a top 10 talent and could be an All-Pro if given time to recover from a torn ACL suffered in February. No edge value remains, so they stash a gem.

24. Oakland Raiders: DeAndre Baker, CB. Georgia

• Perhaps he’s a nickel at the next level, but he provides sticky coverage and plays a physical game with experience on the boundary. Nevin Lawson was brought in for depth, but this represents a large improvement.

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB. Alabama

• The roster is well-built, so aside from acquiring a succession plan for Jason Peters or preemptive receiver depth, this stands as a big talent upgrade in the backfield. Philly fields a stable of decent ‘backs, but few of which would start elsewhere and Jordan Howard is a UFA in 2020.

26. Indianapolis Colts: Christian Wilkins, DT. Clemson

• If there’s one thing Chris Ballard has proven in his time relatively short time in Indy, it’s a willingness to build in the trenches. This is true of the organization he came from in KC – and what a bargain Wilkins would be at this point.

27. Oakland Raiders: Chris Lindstrom, OG. Boston College

• Rookie GM Mike Mayock puts his stamp on the first round by selecting a fellow Eagle alum. Too easy, right? Emotional attachment aside, trading Kelechi Osemele to the Jets has left behind a need at guard. Gruden has a first round O-line track record as well.

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Kaleb McGary, OT. Washington

• Telesco needs a trench upgrade, be it on offense or defense. A big, projectable blocker with power and length, Kaleb McGary steps into the right tackle spot immediately. He also projects quite well inside if required. A pick for the O-line is a pick for Rivers.

29. Denver Broncos: Daniel Jones, QB. Duke (TRADE w/SEA)

• After acquiring a cornerstone piece earlier in Devin White, Elway finds an opportunity to slide back into the late portion of round one to select his next quarterback – all the while securing the coveted fifth-year option contract. Seattle, after landing a Frank Clark replacement, trades out (but take a safety if they stay).

30. Green Bay Packers: Dalton Risner, OL. Kansas State

• The Pack could stand to upgrade and add depth in multiple areas along the offensive line. Risner is athletic and proportioned well enough to fill a need at 3-4 positions, be it immediately at guard or long-term at tackle.

31. Los Angeles Rams: Dexter Lawrence, NT. Clemson

• Imposing with brute strength, Lawrence profiles to be an outstanding fit as a central anchor in Wade Phillips’ base 3-4. Packing 340 nimble pounds of bulk, he should help keep Aaron Donald clean.

32. New England Patriots: Irv Smith Jr., TE. Alabama

• Austin Seferian-Jenkins has some untapped veteran upside, but more is required in the wake of Gronk’s retirement. Irv Smith Jr. is a field-stretcher who can accumulate after the catch. New England has succeeded with multiple tight end options in a variety of profiles.

Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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Super Bowl 53 Betting Preview – Best Props Picks, Trends

It’s time for Super Bowl 53 betting and you haven’t done a bit of handicapping or studied a single prop and you just want to best bets to make on Super Bowl 53.

We have condensed 100,000 articles on Super Bowl betting and 75,000 more on Super Bowl props betting into one article. Your welcome.

It’s time for Super Bowl 53 betting and you haven’t done a bit of handicapping or studied a single prop and you just want to best bets to make on Super Bowl 53.

We have condensed 100,000 articles on Super Bowl betting and 75,000 more on Super Bowl props betting into one article. Your welcome.

What is the current Super Bowl 53 point spread?

Most Vegas and offshore sportsbooks have the New England Patriots favored by either 2.5 points or 3 points. Obviously, if you have the choice as a Patriots bettor, you want to find a -2.5 and if you are a Los Angeles Rams bettor, you should try to find the +3. A comparison of NFL odds providers will tell the story quickly today.

Where can I try Super Bowl 53 betting?

This depends on where you live, where you happen to be watching the game and what kind of NFL bettor you are. If you happen to be in Vegas today, good for you, it will be a blast! And there are plenty of casinos to place a side bet on the Patriots or Rams as well as action on thousands of fun prop bets.

Some US states are now regulated with online wagering and have offered up sports betting at racetracks, such as New Jersey. The rest of the wagering public will probably have their action at Super Bowl sportsbooks that offer services around the world. Most of the names will be familiar to you and most of them enjoy plenty of mainstream media attention.

What are the most popular Super Bowl props this year?

Every year, two pre-game props steal the show. The first is the National Anthem prop, where you can bet whether Gladys Knight’s version of the Star Spangled Banner will run over or under 1 minute and 50 seconds. Believe it or not, there is lots of handicapping and speculation (and betting) on this and some sites with too much time on their hands actually timed every national anthem from every Super Bowl and found some trends.

The second is the Super Bowl coin toss which for some reason more people bet on heads than tails every year. It’s one of those fun 50-50 props. An interesting trend here – when the Patriots lose the coin toss, they are 5-0 in Super Bowls. When the Pats win the coin toss, they are 0-3.

Who is the Super Bowl MVP betting favorite?

Surprise, surprise, Tom Brady is the big favorite here at about +125, meaning a $100 bet turns into a $125 profit if he wins. Rams QB Jared Goff is next in the +225 range. Winning QBs usually win the Super Bowl MVP (9 of the past 12 times).

There is also money on Patriots rookie RB Sony Michel and Rams RB Todd Gurley. As well, some people like the longshots and the only defensive player with any real betting value, which is Aaron Donald of the Rams.

What is the Super Bowl 53 betting over-under?

The total or over-under number was set around 57.5, one of the highest of all time. But bettors have been backing the UNDER so the number has crept down. The theory is that both teams like to run the ball, which chews up the clock and limits the number of possessions for each team.

What are some of the other cool prop bets?

Since the first Super Bowl prop 25 years ago, prop betting has grown like crazy. Now there are literally thousands of outcomes you can bet on for Super Bowl 53. Some of the fun ones:

Will any player kneel during the National Anthem?

How many times will Donald Trump tweet on Super Sunday?

Will Sony Michel score 2 or more TDS?

Will the stock market rise or fall on Monday, the day after the Super Bowl?

Many sites carry lists of literally hundreds of Super Bowl 53 props (along with their best bets) and list the places where you can wager on them and the current odds.

So we have saved you from 175,000 articles today. Instead, use this to find the best places to find odds and information to enjoy Super Bowl 53.

Your welcome.

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Projected States with Legal Sports Betting (2019)

With the Paspa act gone states are quickly legalizing sports betting. Here are the States expected to legalize sports betting in 2019. Select a month on the graph to see which states will have legalized sports betting by that month.

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With the Paspa act gone states are quickly legalizing sports betting. Here are the States expected to legalize sports betting in 2019. Select a month on the graph to see which states will have legalized sports betting by that month.






Future States


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NFL Conference Championship Weekend: Over and Under Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Take the

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Take the over: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 56.5

The Chiefs remain vulnerable against the run. The Colts averaged 6.2 yards per rush against them but weren’t able to establish the run consistently due to the score.

Meanwhile, the Patriots have really discovered a strong running game thanks to the emergence of Sony Michel. Look for them to keep it on the ground and set things up for the passing game to take advantage of a secondary that is also beatable. 

You know Tom Brady will get some shots in, and there’s little doubt Patrick Mahomes will do the same. New England’s run defense is also vulnerable — only the Rams surrendered more yards per carry than the Pats and Chiefs this season — and Damien Williams and Spencer Ware should have plenty of success setting up the passing game. Kansas City could also get a shot in the arm from the return of injured guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. 

These teams combined for 83 points in their first meeting, and this should be another track meet. After initial weather concerns, the latest forecast indicates this game won’t be played in sub-zero temperatures after all, and I think both teams will have just enough in them on offense to push this one into the 60s. 

Predicted score: Chiefs 34, Patriots 28

Take the under: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

Total: 56

Dating back to Week 13, the Saints have averaged fewer than 20 points per game. And while they scored 45 points the last time they faced Los Angeles, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is too smart to let that happen again. Look for Aqib Talib — who didn’t play in that first meeting — to do a better job against productive star Saints receiver Michael Thomas, and don’t be surprised if underrated Rams linebacker Cory Littleton limits Alvin Kamara’s damage. 

That could make life real tough against a defensive front featuring defensive player of the year shoo-in Aaron Donald as well as Ndamukong Suh, who looks inspired thus far in January. 

And while the Rams also scored 35 points in that Week 9 meeting, that offense has also been less stable and consistent without Cooper Kupp down the stretch. 

The Saints defense is certainly beatable, but keep in mind that New Orleans completely shut down the Eagles for three and a half quarters on Sunday and has surrendered 17 or fewer points in seven of its last nine games.

Not even sure this one will hit 50. 

Predicted score: Rams 24, Saints 23

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 23-14-1

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What To Look For – Divisional Playoffs

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who play at New Orleans on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX), look to become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010, when both the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets accomplished the feat.​​​​

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990:

SEASON

TEAM

CONFERENCE

ADVANCED TO

2010

Green Bay

NFC

Won Super Bowl XLV

2010

New York Jets

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Baltimore

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Philadelphia

NFC

Conference Championship

2005

Pittsburgh

AFC

Won Super Bowl XL

 

 

 

 

2018

Indianapolis

AFC

???

2018

Philadelphia

NFC

???

 

In the AFC, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (13-4, No. 5 seed), who face New England on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), and the sixth-seeded Colts are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a No. 5 and No. 6 seed since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.

 

WINNING WAYS: The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated Seattle 24-22 on Wild Card Weekend, and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who had a bye last week, will each be playing in the Divisional Playoffs.

Dallas, who plays at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX), has 35 playoff wins and can tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36) for the most postseason victories all-time. New England, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), has 34 postseason victories and can surpass the GREEN BAY PACKERS (34) for the third-most playoff wins all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM

WINS

LOSSES

WIN PCT.

SUPER BOWL WINS

Pittsburgh

36

25

.590

6

Dallas

35

27

.565

5

Green Bay

34

22

.607

4

New England

34

20

.630

5

San Francisco

30

20

.600

5​

 

TOUCHDOWN LEADERS: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs are s​et to face off against Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK and the Colts in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC).

Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

With Mahomes and Luck ranking first and second in regular-season touchdown passes, Saturday will mark the fifth time since 2002 that the top two passing touchdown leaders from the regular season will face off in the postseason.

The postseason games between the top two regular-season passing touchdown leaders since 2002:

SEASON

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYOFF ROUND

2016

Aaron Rodgers (GB)

40

Matt Ryan (Atl.)

38

NFC Championship

2014

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

40

Peyton Manning (Den.)

39

AFC Divisional

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Peyton Manning (Ind.)

33*

Super Bowl XLIV

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Brett Favre^ (Min.)

33*

NFC Championship

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

Patrick Mahomes (KC)

50

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

39

AFC Divisional

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Tied for 2nd

 

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England quarterback TOM BRADY and the Patriots welcome quarterback PHILIP RIVERS and the Los Angeles Chargers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS).

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old on Sunday, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, combine for a total of 28,688 days old, the oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

The oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:

DATE

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

COMBINED DAYS OLD

1/13/19

Tom Brady

New England

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers

28,688*

1/24/16

Peyton Manning

Denver

Tom Brady

New England

28,603

1/9/99

John Elway^

Denver

Dan Marino^

Miami

27,704

1/16/94

Warren Moon^

Houston Oilers

Joe Montana^

Kansas City

27,306

1/22/17

Tom Brady

New England

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh

27,162

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Total days as of Sunday, January 13

 

 

RATED WELL: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES and the Eagles head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX) to face New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES and the Saints.

Foles, who has the highest postseason passer rating (105.2) in NFL history, and Brees, who ranks fifth with a 100.7 passer rating, are two of five quarterbacks to have a passer rating of 100 or higher in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts):

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

YARDS

TDS

INTS

RATING

Nick Foles

125

179

1,432

10

3

105.2

Bart Starr^

130

213

1,753

15

3

104.8

Kurt Warner^

307

462

3,952

31

14

102.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

2,672

20

7

100.8

Drew Brees

354

537

4,209

29

9

100.7

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Foles (69.8 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in league annals (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fifth.

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts):

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

PCT.

Nick Foles

125

179

69.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

67.5

Kurt Warner^

307

462

66.5

Ken Anderson

110

166

66.3

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

SHOWDOWN IN SO CAL: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT and the Cowboys head to Southern California to take on defensive tackle AARON DONALD and the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX).

Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ Wild Card Weekend victory over Seattle. Elliott has recorded at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first two playoff appearances and can become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

DATES

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 125+ RUSH YARDS

Terrell Davis^

Denver

1/11/98-1/17/99

4

Arian Foster

Houston

1/7/12-1/5/13

3

John Riggins^

Washington

1/15/83-1/30/83

3

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas

1/15/17-1/5/19

2*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active Streak

 

 

Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks and earned the 2018 Deacon Jones Award as the NFL’s sack leader, became the 11th different player since 1982 to record at least 20 sacks in a single season.

With a Rams win on Saturday, Donald would join Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1986) as the only players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982.

The players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SACKS

ADVANCED TO

Lawrence Taylor^

New York Giants

1986

20.5

Won Super Bowl XXI

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

20.5

???

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 997 Words

NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 49

The Cowboys offense has come alive. Dak Prescott is playing well, Ezekiel Elliott has picked up steam and the offensive line is healthier than it was during much of the regular season. As a result, Dallas has averaged 32.3 points per game the last three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Rams might not be projected to load up on points considering the way they finished the regular season — they averaged “just” 27.0 points per game during the final four weeks of the year — but they still averaged a league-high 37.1 points per game at home this season, and star running back Todd Gurley is now healthier than he’s been in weeks.

Both defenses have stellar playmakers, but the Rams have the league’s worst run D in terms of rushing yards allowed per attempt. That bodes well for Elliott. The Dallas D is excellent against the run but remains vulnerable through the air and struggled when defending running backs in the passing game. And that, of course, bodes well for Gurley and the rest of L.A.’s high-powered, innovative offense.

It’d be a huge surprise if the Cowboys and Rams didn’t combine for 50-plus points Saturday night in front of a split crowd at the L.A. Coliseum.

Predicted score: Cowboys 30, Rams 27

Under of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 57.5

Whaaaat?

OK, the Chiefs have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and that unit was at its worst when it gave up 35.6 points per game between Week 11 and Week 16 before recovering in finale against Raiders. But let’s not forget that Indy’s shockingly strong defense has surrendered a league-low 15.5 points per game dating back to Week 7.

Both offenses will undoubtedly move the ball and find the end zone, but I get the feeling oddsmakers have given too much credit to NFL touchdown pass leaders Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck and not enough credit to Indy’s all-around stellar D and Kansas City’s under-the-radar pass-rush.

The Chiefs can be had on the ground and in the secondary, but don’t be surprised if Bob Sutton dials up some stops with his sneaky-good pass-rush, and be less surprised if the still-mistake-prone Mahomes experiences some growing pains in his first career playoff start.

After all, the same thing happened to Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky last week, as well as Jared Goff in his maiden playoff voyage last January.

This game won’t be low-scoring by any stretch, but I doubt these teams combine for more than 50 points.

Predicted score: Colts 27, Chiefs 24

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 21-14-1

Read More 445 Words

Super Bowl 53 Future Book Odds: Start To Finish

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We've also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We’ve also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

NFL Odds

Super Bowl LIII Line

AFC                  +3

NFC                  -3

 

Who will win Super Bowl LIII?

AFC Team         +130     (13/10)

NFC Team         -150     (2/3)

 

Odds to Win Super Bowl 53       

New Orleans Saints                                      5/2

Kansas City Chiefs                                        4/1

Los Angeles Rams                                        9/2

New England Patriots                                   6/1                   

Los Angeles Chargers                                  9/1

Indianapolis Colts                                        10/1

Dallas Cowboys                                           12/1

Philadelphia Eagles                                     12/1

 

Exact Super Bowl Matchups (Most likely to least likely)

New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs                    4/1

New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots                 5/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs                      6/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots                  8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers                8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts                      10/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers                  12/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts                        14/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs                          16/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs                     16/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots                       20/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots                 20/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers                      28/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Los Angeles Chargers                28/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Indianapolis Colts                            33/1     

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts                      33/1

 

Here you can select a team and see what the probability of them winning the Super Bowl was throughout each week of the season.



Read More 177 Words

Ballin’ on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Results, Super Bowl Value Picks

We didn't exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but

We didn’t exactly go out with a bang. If we were an NFL team, we would have been eliminated from the playoffs this weekend. It turns out as the games get tougher for the players, they get tougher for bettors too. We went 1-4 this week, our worst week of the season, but let’s not let that distract us from the fact we picked at a 58 percent clip during the rest of the year. We’re going to recap what went wrong this week and as we put a bow on the 2018 season of this column, we’ll look at who presents the best Super Bowl value.

LOSS: Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This was a true beatdown. I’ll be the first to admit that we underestimated just how hot the Colts were. Their offensive line looks impenetrable and Andrew Luck, as a result, looks like an elite quarterback once again. They took Houston out of the game from the jump by rushing out to a big lead. Deshaun Watson and Co. were simply never able to recover.

Watch out for Indy against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round, they match up really well against Kansas City. If K.C. isn’t able to generate a pass rush on that tough offensive line, they could be in for a long day, whether they have the league MVP playing at his best or not. Teams surprise us in the playoffs and our first surprise came thanks to Indy.

LOSS: Seahawks to beat Cowboys (-105): Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22.

If only we would have taken the spread, which was Seahawks +2.5, we would’ve had the greatest backdoor cover of all time. Boy, kicker Sebastian Janikowski getting injured in the first half really threw this game through a loop with Seattle having to go for two and having to go for it on fourth down deep inside Dallas territory. Of course, having to go for two (and succeeding) at the end of the game, pushed the final score to a two-point margin instead of four.

However, we took Seattle to win straight up, because that was the better value and Pete Carroll’s unwillingness to pass the ball in the first half bit us right where it hurts. It really doesn’t make sense to be running the ball so much when you have one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the league, but what do I know? This was a tough game to watch and an even tougher game to lose a bet on.

WIN: Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 points: Chargers 23, Ravens 17.

For a while there, it seemed like we were solidly in the clear, but scoring picked up in the fourth quarter. Had Lamar Jackson led an improbable comeback drive in the final minute, it would have pushed the over. Let’s be honest, though, that would’ve been pretty cool regardless. Los Angeles held on as they continue to look like a team of destiny and they saved the over by a couple points.

This is the only game we picked correctly this week, which makes it our last correct game pick of the season on this column. Don’t be surprised if the Chargers end up knocking off the Patriots on the road next week. L.A. is now 8-1 on the road this season and is coming for a New England team, which was the only team in the league to go a perfect 8-0 at home in the regular season.

LOSS: Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110): Eagles 16, Bears 15.

Writing this recap makes me physically ill, because I’m a Bears fan. I was in a fit of blind rage for about an hour after Cody Parkey’s game-winning 43-yard field goal attempt clanked off two different posts. While that field goal wouldn’t have won us this bet anyway, it doesn’t make it any easier a pill to swallow.

What we should blame this on is Matt Nagy’s vanilla play calling in the first half. It seemed like he was playing not to lose and didn’t let QB Mitch Trubisky push the ball down the field. That may have been a mistake given the fact he torched the Eagles in the second half, giving him the most overall passing yards of any QB playing on wild card weekend. It still should have been enough as he led the team down for a very makeable game-winning field goal, but a fingertip re-directed Parkey’s attempt and the play that will forever live in Chicago sports infamy was born.

LOSS: Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110): Colts 21, Texans 7.

This game is really the gift that keeps on giving, huh? When one team scores just seven points, you can be pretty certain you aren’t hitting the over. I expected this to be a much closer game in the mid-20’s hence the pick. I couldn’t have anticipated Houston’s offense stalling out for most of the game. Credit to Indy for jumping out to an early lead and not giving it up, but that game flow really put us in a bind.

Since Indy went up so big so soon, Houston had to go into predictable play calls and that hindered them on offense. Up big, Indy just ran the ball and continued running out the clock. It was the perfect storm to lose us the over pretty quickly.

Okay, this bad betting week behind us, let’s jump to some Super Bowl picks. I’ll give you two Super Bowl values I really like and two I don’t like so much as you look to make a longer term bet in the coming weeks. These are all based on teams’ odds of winning the Super Bowl going into the Divisional Round.

Like: Chargers +1000. Yes, I get that the Chargers now have to take on the Patriots on the road to even advance to the AFC Championship, but this is really good value. A 10-to-1 that I really could see going all the way. Since they were a wild card team, it’s easy to forget they were tied for the best record in the AFC this season.

Saints +250. It’s weird to call the Saints a “value” pick, because they are the favorites to win it all. However, even a 2.5-to-1 payout is great for them and here’s why: they have the path of least resistance to get there. With the Bears eliminated, the NFC is now theirs for the taking and that alone, makes them a good value.

Dislike: Chiefs +400. The Chiefs are the most overrated team in football and it’s because they have the league MVP and the league’s most dynamic offense. However, in the playoffs, when games get tighter, you need a defense to win you games and K.C. has the worst defense remaining in the playoffs. They simply can’t slow down opponents in the passing game and they have a less-than-stellar match up this week with the Colts coming to town. They’re tied for the second-best odds to win it all and that’s just bad value.

Rams +400. I dislike this for many of the same reasons I dislike the value of taking the Chiefs. First of all, the team hit a rough patch in the final quarter of the season. They should beat the Cowboys at home, but that’s not a given. One thing they have over the Chiefs is a game wrecker like Aaron Donald. Even with a subpar overall defense, Donald can change a game with a big strip sack at any time. Overall, though, you just can’t convince me they’re going to march into New Orleans and beat the Saints. They, along with Kansas City, are the second-best odds behind the Saints and I just don’t see value in that.

Read More 1216 Words

NFL Wild Card Weekend: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys

Total: 42.5

Just 34 percent of games involving the Seahawks or Cowboys fell short of the total this season, and Saturday’s over/under of 42.5 indicates we’re still under-estimating both teams’ ability to score points.

The Cowboys put up 63 points in their final two games of the regular season and averaged 25.0 points per game at home this season, while Seattle scored 65 points in its last two games and averaged 26.8 points per game overall.

That made the Seahawks offense the sixth-highest-scoring unit in football, thanks partly to the league’s highest-ranked running game and a suddenly-respectable offensive line. Plus, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett have been crushing it in that receiving corps,

Meanwhile Amari Cooper has teamed up with Ezekiel Elliott to give Dallas one of the most dangerous offenses in the game. The Cowboys scored at least 27 points in five of their last eight games with Cooper, and Elliott once again gained steam during the second half of the season.

That doesn’t bode well for a Seahawks run defense that surrendered 4.9 yards per carry during the regular season, especially as the Dallas offensive line gets healthier.

Predicted score: Cowboys 26, Seahawks 23

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

Total: 42

I can’t comprehend why this total is above 40. After all, the Los Angeles Chargers offense has gone a little cold, scoring just 33 points in their last two regular-season games. Just 10 of those points came in Week 16 against these Ravens, who scored just 16 offensive points of their own in that prime-time matchup.

Baltimore’s top-rated defense surrendered just 17.9 points per game during the regular season, while the Chargers ranked in the top 10 with just 20.6 points per game allowed.

Look for Baltimore’s D — which has been known to rise to occasions in the playoffs — to be just as strong at home as it was in that road victory over the Chargers. And look for L.A. to do an even better job at limiting the Ravens’ unique rushing attack, now that it has more tape and experience to work from.

It’s a lot easier to trust these defenses than these offenses, especially considering the Chargers’ history with big-game duds and L.A.’s turnover-filled final few games of the 2018 regular season.

Predicted score: Ravens 20, Chargers 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 19-14-1

Read More 393 Words

Ballin’ on a Budget Wild Card Weekend Picks

We made it through 17 weeks of the NFL season and as an added bonus, we're going to give you one more week of picks. Wild Card weekend tends to provide the most interesting matchups of any playoff round, because it often matches up a really hot team with a team that is

We made it through 17 weeks of the NFL season and as an added bonus, we’re going to give you one more week of picks. Wild Card weekend tends to provide the most interesting matchups of any playoff round, because it often matches up a really hot team with a team that is better on paper. The reason for that is simple. Think about it. Whoever gets the No. 6 seed in either conference had to beat out a handful of other teams and has been in playoff mode for weeks. That’s why the Bears and Texans could have their hands full with the Eagles and Colts respectively. Anyway, let’s get to our picks.

Texans -1.5 vs. Colts (-105)

Bettors are loving the Colts, who snuck into the playoffs by beating the Titans in Week 17. There’s plenty of reason to believe in this team, whose offense looks to finally be humming entering the playoffs. I alluded to the fact that a hot No. 6 seed often can go on a deep playoff run, but there are a few reasons I don’t think this is happening this week. First of all, the Texans offense has plenty of weapons (ones the Titans didn’t have in Week 17) to outscore the Colts.

Second of all, the Texans have a very stout defense, which should give Indy some trouble. The same could have been said about the Titans, but their defensive efforts week to week were much less consistent than Houston’s. Let’s not forget the Texans were a win against the Eagles away from having home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They’ve been one of the best teams in the AFC all season long and this one just doesn’t scream upset to me. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Seahawks to beat the Cowboys (-105)

This game is essentially a pick ’em as the line is only one point and there are negative odds for picking each to win (Seattle at -105, Dallas at -110). I get that this game is on the road and the Seahawks play differently away from home, but they also have a ton of playoff experience. The x-factor here is really Russell Wilson. In what should be a close game, I trust him 10 times more than I trust Dak Prescott in a pressure situation.

Sometimes, in these games, you have to trust the players who have been there, done that and are better equipped to handle the pressure. This is a dangerous game as each team has shown some flaws in recent weeks, but between these two imperfect teams, there is still a ton of talent. Expect a lot of big plays and an exciting finish. If it comes down to the fourth quarter, as playoff games usually do, the edge has to be given to Russ and Co. who have proven they can get it done in crunch time before. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.80.

Chargers-Ravens UNDER 41.5 (-110)

I just can’t bring myself to pick this game against the spread. The Chargers and Ravens are such different teams and this is a toss up for me. Los Angeles is 7-1 on the road this season, but Baltimore runs the exact type of offense that bleeds the clock and keeps opposing teams off the field that the Chargers hate. It gets them out of their rhythm and that could put them in some real trouble if they don’t stop Lamar Jackson.

Again, I can’t for the life of me decide who I think is going to win this game, but I do think we’re going to see a low-scoring game that comes down to the wire. 21-17 or something along those lines certainly isn’t out of the question and that would get us the under. There isn’t a ton of confidence in any bet involved in this game, but to make sure this one was covered, we’ll take the under as the most confident bet associated with it. $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Bears -5.5 vs. Eagles (-110)

This game scares me a lot. Full disclosure: I’m a Bears fan. I very rarely like to pick a team I root for, especially under these circumstances, so I’ll tell you why I’m doing so this week. On paper, the Bears are a much better team than the Eagles, much better. Of course, games aren’t played on paper, but we need to remember the Bears have a lot more talent and if we’re defaulting to something, it has to be that. Let’s not forget, the Bears are the first 12-win NFC team since 2014 to not get a first-round bye. Second of all, for as scared as myself and all Bears fans are for playoff Nick Foles, there is reason to believe he won’t duplicate last year’s success.

Chicago allows the lowest opponent’s quarterback rating in the entire league. Essentially, QB’s have their worst performances when they play against the pass rush and secondary of the Bears. With Pro Bowl safety, Eddie Jackson, set to return to the fold, that Bears defense looks even stronger. For the Bears to win, they need to take care of the football. If they don’t turn it over, Philly stands very little chance. Whether or not they cover comes down to Mitchell Trubisky’s performance in his first career playoff game. All they need is a touchdown margin of victory to cover and we’ll trust the Bears enough to do that. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.50.

Texans-Colts OVER 48.5 (-110)

For as much as I talked about how Houston’s defense is going to slow the Colts down, this game could still become somewhat of a shootout. 31-24, or something along those lines isn’t out of the question. In my opinion, holding the Colts to 24 would be a victory for the Texans and would also hit the over as long as Houston won the game. Picking over/unders in the playoffs is tricky, because they’re often dictated by the pace set at the very beginning of the game. If one of these teams scores early, players and coaches start to loosen up and the field opens up. In that case, I love the over.

One thing that could hurt us here is if a few defensive stops are made early on and it becomes a field position battle. That’s entirely possible, but I think that’s the less likely of the two scenarios. Each team has offensive playmakers capable of picking up chunks of yards at a time, so as long as both team converts its red zone trips into touchdowns instead of field goals, I feel good about the over in this one. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

These are the last picks of the year, so let’s hope they’re fruitful like the entire regular season has been for us. One final time, we’ll cross our fingers and hope that we can hit on that elusive five-team parlay we’ve been so close to all year long. Based on the picks above, a $20 five-team parlay would pay out $530.16. For the final time this season, good luck, and we’ll have one more recap column to look at how our Wild Card Weekend picks panned out.

Read More 1135 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 17

PRESS RELEASE

 

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 17

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 30, the 17th week of the 2018 season.

  • NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Six of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new

PRESS RELEASE

 

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 17

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 30, the 17th week of the 2018 season.

  • NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Six of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle. Should Indianapolis defeat Tennessee on Sunday Night Football, that number would increase to seven.

    Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

    WORST-TO-FIRST: Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

    PLAYOFF SEEDING: The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS won the NFC South and finished as the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The Saints will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

    The LOS ANGELES RAMS, who defeated San Francisco 48-32 and won the NFC West, are the No. 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

    The CHICAGO BEARS, who defeated Minnesota 24-10 and won the NFC North, are the No. 3 seed and will host Philadelphia in the Wild Card round. The PHILADELPHIA EAGLES defeated Washington, 24-0, and combined with Minnesota’s loss to Chicago, clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season.

    The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated the New York Giants 36-35 and won the NFC East, are the No. 4 seed and will host Seattle in the Wild Card round.

    In the AFC, the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS defeated Oakland, 35-3, and clinched the AFC West division title and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

    The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who defeated the New York Jets, 38-3, are the AFC’s No. 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

    The HOUSTON TEXANS, who defeated Jacksonville 20-3 and are the No. 3 seed, clinched the AFC South division title and will host a game on Wild Card weekend.

    The Texans completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround after finishing tied for last place in the division in 2017. Houston is the sixth team in NFL history to make the postseason after beginning the season 0-3 and joined the 1992 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS as the only teams in league annals to win their division following an 0-3 start to a season.

    The BALTIMORE RAVENS defeated Cleveland, 26-24, and clinched the AFC North division title for the first time since 2012. Baltimore, the AFC’s No. 4 seed, will host the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card round.

  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a 109.9 rating in the Chiefs’ Week 17 win over Oakland.

    Mahomes has 50 touchdown passes this season and joined PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history. ​​

    Chiefs wide receiver TYREEK HILL had five receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard touchdown reception, against Oakland and had a 15-yard touchdown run.

    Hill has 16 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and tied Pro Football Hall of Famer GALE SAYERS (16) for the most touchdowns of at least 50 yards by a player in his first three seasons.

    Hill has 1,479 receiving yards in 2018 and surpassed DERRICK ALEXANDER (1,391 receiving yards in 2000) for the most receiving yards in a single season in franchise history.

  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 24 of 33 attempts (72.7 percent) for 250 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 133.8 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 17 win against the New York Jets.

    Brady has 6,004 career regular-season completions and is the fourth player in NFL history with at least 6,000 career regular-season completions, joining DREW BREES (6,586), Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (6,300) and PEYTON MANNING (6,125).

  • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD passed for 376 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Browns’ Week 17 loss at Baltimore.

    Mayfield has 27 touchdown passes this season, surpassing PEYTON MANNING (26 touchdown passes in 1998) and RUSSELL WILSON (26 in 2012) for the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in the common draft era.

  • San Francisco tight end GEORGE KITTLE had nine receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown in the 49ers’ Week 17 loss.

    Kittle, who has 1,377 receiving yards this season, and Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE (1,336 receiving yards in 2018) both surpassed ROB GRONKOWSKI (1,327 in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

  • Houston defensive end J.J. WATT had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the Texans’ Week 17 win over Jacksonville.

    Watt has 16 sacks in 2018 and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer REGGIE WHITE (five seasons) as the only players since 1982 with four seasons of at least 15 sacks.

  • Three non-quarterbacks – Atlanta wide receiver MOHAMED SANU, Detroit kicker MATT PRATER and Miami wide receiver KENNY STILLS – threw touchdown passes in Week 17.

    In total, there have been 13 touchdown passes thrown by non-quarterbacks in 2018, the most in a single-season since 1983 (15 touchdowns).

    Quarterbacks RYAN TANNEHILL of the Dolphins and MATT RYAN of the Falcons both had touchdown catches in Week 17, marking the first week in the Super Bowl era in which multiple quarterbacks recorded a touchdown reception.

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

    • Eagles quarterback NICK FOLES recorded 25 consecutive completions against Washington, tied with Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS (Week 12 vs. Arizona) for the most by a quarterback in a single game in NFL history.
    • New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY had 142 scrimmage yards (109 rushing, 33 receiving) and one rushing touchdown in the Giants’ Week 17 loss.

      Barkley has 2,028 scrimmage yards and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and EDGERRIN JAMES (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

​​Barkley, who had four catches against the Cowboys, has 91 receptions this season and surpassed REGGIE BUSH (88 catches in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

    • Buffalo rookie quarterback JOSH ALLEN passed for 224 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills’ 42-17 win against Miami.

      Allen is the second rookie quarterback in NFL history to record three touchdowns passes and two rushing touchdowns in the same game, joining Miami’s DAVID WOODLEY, who had three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams on November 9, 1980.

      Allen has eight rushing touchdowns this season and joins CAM NEWTON, who had 14 rushing touchdowns in 2011, as the only rookie quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with at least eight rushing touchdowns.

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 17 Results

We did it, guys. We bet five games in Week 17 and won more than we lost. That's hard to do. On the season, we only had a couple losing weeks all year long. It was a good run, with us going 3-2 this Sunday. With the playoffs looming, we will have one

We did it, guys. We bet five games in Week 17 and won more than we lost. That’s hard to do. On the season, we only had a couple losing weeks all year long. It was a good run, with us going 3-2 this Sunday. With the playoffs looming, we will have one Wild Card Round column to round out the year, but this is just about it. Let’s dive into what went right and what went wrong in Week 17.

LOSS: Redskins +7 vs. Eagles (-115): Eagles 24, Redskins 0.

Washington finally ran out of gas. They’d been playing inspired football while being the most banged up team in the league, but without a sense of direction or identity, they fell apart in Week 17. Philly, with some help from the Bears, somehow sneaks into the playoffs, even though starter Nick Foles hurt his chest and had to leave this game.

This is why picking Week 17 games is so hard: you just never know when one of the teams is going to lose their fight. The Redskins lost theirs sooner than we would’ve hoped, so we have to put this one in the L column. Total payout: $0.

WIN: Texans -6.5 vs. Jaguars (-110): Texans 20, Jaguars 3.

Houston still had to win in order to take care of the division, so you felt like they’d come up with a more inspired effort than the Jaguars, who would probably prefer a higher draft pick. For the first two and a half quarters, that didn’t seem to be the case, but then the Texans turned things on. They started to roll and with Jacksonville looking anemic on offense, we had a good feeling that would be all we needed.

With a stout defense, Houston didn’t let the Jaguars sniff the end zone and dominated the second half. In the final week of the season, you usually go with the team which has more to play for. We didn’t follow that line of thinking in the Redskins pick and it came back to bite us. Total payout: $5.70.

WIN: Chargers -6.5 at Broncos (-110): Chargers 23, Broncos 9.

Just like with the Texans, the Chargers had more to play for (a first-round bye if Kansas City slipped up against the Raiders) Sunday afternoon. They started slow like Houston, but picked up steam in the second half as well. With Denver’s offense looking absolutely atrocious over the past few weeks, we knew we probably only needed a couple scores from L.A. to cover this spread.

The Chargers are going to have a tough match up with the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs, but we of course, don’t care about that. They won us our bet this week and that’s all that matters. Total payout: $7.60.

LOSS: Browns-Ravens UNDER 41 points: Ravens 26, Browns 24.

This turned out to be one of the most exciting games of the day, but it didn’t go in our favor. Both teams started off hot on offense, which was unexpected. Each play good defense and the last time they met, they combined for just 21 points in a 12-9 affair. That didn’t happen this time around. The offenses stalled for most of the third quarter, which left us with a glimmer of hope for an under hit. However, as soon as the Browns showed they were staying in the game, we knew our hopes would be dashed.

Cleveland, even in a loss, ends the season as one of the hottest teams in the league and have some really positive momentum heading into 2019. We sure would’ve liked if they could’ve built some momentum while scoring fewer points, but you can’t win them all. Total payout: $0.

WIN: Colts -3.5 at Titans (-115): Colts 33, Titans 17.

We ended the regular season on a high note. Really, we should never feel nervous about betting against Blaine Gabbert, but things were interesting for a while in Nashville. In the end, though, Indy looked like the much superior team as we figured they might. Needing to win by just four points, I felt pretty confident coming in they had the offensive firepower to do some damage.

Whether or not they stand any chance against the Texans next week remains to be seen, but tonight, they did us a solid and won us our final bet of the season, giving us yet another winning week of picks here in the Ballin’ on a Budget column. Total payout: $9.35

PIGGY BANK: $368.20 (8.3% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 58% (47-34-4)

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Alabama Favorites to win CFP Championship

The Alabama Crimson Tide will enter the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium as 6.5 Point favorites vs the Clemson Tigers. It will be the 3rd time in 4 years that these two teams have met in the finals, with both teams 1-1 in the rivalry. Last season, Alabama defeated Clemson in

The Alabama Crimson Tide will enter the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium as 6.5 Point favorites vs the Clemson Tigers. It will be the 3rd time in 4 years that these two teams have met in the finals, with both teams 1-1 in the rivalry. Last season, Alabama defeated Clemson in the Sugar Bowl by a score of 24-6. This years championship will likely resemble the previous championship matchups and be a high scoring shootout that could very possibly come down to the final drive.

Both of the championship matchups between these teams resulted in the #2 seed winning the championship. With #1 Alabama as 6.5-point favorites, it’s likely we’ll see that streak come to an end. Also, the past three championships have been decided by 5 points or less, so expect a good one out of next Monday’s matchup.

Notable previous matchups between Alabama and Clemson:

January 11, 2016 (CFP National Championship)

Alabama defeats Clemson 45-40. Clemson scored a touchdown with under a minute left to bring it to a 1-possession game, but were unable to secure an onside kick.

January 9, 2017 (CFP National Championship)

Clemson defeats Alabama 35-31. Clemson scored the go ahead touchdown with one second left on the clock to win the title.

January 1, 2018 (Allstate Sugar Bowl)

Alabama defeats Clemson 24-6. Clemson only managed a pair of field goals in this 18-point rout by Alabama.

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What To Look For – Week 17

PRESS RELEASE

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes this season.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Oakland (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes can join PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with

PRESS RELEASE

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes this season.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Oakland (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes can join PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history.​​

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

Peyton Manning#

Denver

2013

55

Tom Brady#

New England

2007

50

Peyton Manning#

Indianapolis

2004

49

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

48*

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

48

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associate​d Press Most Valuable Player

*Entering Week 17

 

RIDICULOUS ROOKIE: New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY ranks third in the NFL with 1,886 scrimmage yards this season.

With 114 scrimmage yards against Dallas (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Barkley would join Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and EDGERRIN JAMES (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

The rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SCRIMMAGE YARDS

Eric Dickerson^#

Los Angeles Rams

1983

2,212

Edgerrin James#

Indianapolis

1999

2,139

 

 

 

 

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

1,886*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 17

Barkley has 87 receptions this season and needs two catches against the Cowboys to surpass REGGIE BUSH (88 receptions in 2006) for the most catches by a rookie running back in league annals.

 

RUN & CATCH CMC: Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY ranks second in the league with 1,925 scrimmage yards (1,080 rushing, 845 receiving) this season. McCaffrey has 106 catches in 2018 and surpassed MATT FORTÉ (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in league annals.

With 55 receiving yards at New Orleans (1:00 PM ET, FOX), McCaffrey would join Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK (1998& 1999) and ROGER CRAIG (1985) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season.

The players with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RUSHING YARDS

RECEIVING YARDS

Marshall Faulk^

St. Louis

1999

1,381

1,048

Marshall Faulk^

Indianapolis

1998

1,319

908

Roger Craig

San Francisco

1985

1,050

1,016

 

 

 

 

 

Christian McCaffrey

Carolina

2018

1,080*

845*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 17

 

HISTORY FOR AB: Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN has 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and leads the league with a franchise-record 15 touchdown catches this season.

With three receiving yards against Cincinnati (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Brown would become the first player in league annals with five seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards.

The players with the most seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS WITH 100+ CATCHES & 1,300+ REC. YARDS

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

4*

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

4

Andre Johnson

Houston

4

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has 104 receptions & 1,297 receiving yards in 2018

Brown and teammate JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, who has 106 receptions and became the youngest player in league history with at least 100 receptions in a single season, can become the first pair of teammates in league annals to each record at least 110 receptions in the same season.

 

DOMINANT DONALD: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle AARON DONALD leads the NFL with a career-high 19.5 sacks this season.

With three sacks against San Francisco (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Donald would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL STRAHAN (22.5 sacks in 2001) for the most sacks in a single season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The players with the most sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SACKS

Michael Strahan^

New York Giants

2001

22.5

Jared Allen

Minnesota

2011

22

Mark Gastineau

New York Jets

1984

22

Justin Houston

Kansas City

2014

22

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

19.5*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 17

Donald, who has recorded at least two sacks in seven games this season, can become the second player since 1982 to record at least eight games with two-or-more sacks in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers REGGIE WHITE (eight games in 1987).​

The players with the most games with two-or-more sacks in a single season since 1982:​​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS

Reggie White^#

Philadelphia

1987

8

Chris Doleman^

Minnesota

1989

7

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

7*

Bruce Smith^#

Buffalo

1990

7

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year

*Entering Week 17

 

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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NFL Week 17: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

Total: 40

The Minnesota offense has exploded for 68 points in its first two games under interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. The Vikings also play extremely well in Sunday matinees at home, and they’re fighting to keep their season alive in this case.

Against a Bears team that may go into auto-pilot mode as soon as it becomes obvious that a win won’t help them, look for Minnesota to light up the scoreboard with 30-plus points all on its own.

The Chicago defense is stellar, but it has surrendered 30-plus on the road twice this season. That’ll likely happen a third time, meaning the Bears just need an early score or two out of their regular offense, maybe a garbage-time score or two for good measure.

Regardless, this one should be closer to 50 than 40.

Predicted score: Vikings 31, Bears 17

Under of the week: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Total: 41

Baker Mayfield is on fire and the Browns offense has become legitimately good, which might explain why the total for Sunday’s matchup between the Browns and the Baltimore Ravens is up above the 40 mark.

But that’s an overreaction. These teams combined for just 21 points when they met earlier this year, the Baltimore defense is the best in the NFL, and Mayfield and the Browns offense haven’t been the same on the road.

Mayfield has more interceptions (four) than touchdown passes (three) and a mere 78.9 passer rating on the road this month (and the Browns have averaged just 15.0 points per game), compared to four touchdowns and no interceptions and a 125.1 rating at home (where the Browns have averaged 26.0 points per game).

The Cleveland defense has also performed well and should have the playmaking ability to limit mistake-prone Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.The Browns have an AFC-high 30 takeaways (Jackson has fumbled 10 times), and they recently shut down mobile quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jeff Driskel on the ground (Jackson sorta likes to run).

Predicted score: Ravens 16, Browns 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 19-12-1

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 17 Picks

It's the most dangerous betting week of the NFL season. Week 17 provides so many challenges that a normal week doesn't. Most of the league has already been eliminated from playoff contention. How can we possibly pick games in which we don't know either team's motivation? Better yet, how can we pick any

It’s the most dangerous betting week of the NFL season. Week 17 provides so many challenges that a normal week doesn’t. Most of the league has already been eliminated from playoff contention. How can we possibly pick games in which we don’t know either team’s motivation? Better yet, how can we pick any games in which the normal favorite will likely be resting its starters? It’s a very hard week to pick and to avoid the madness, we’re going to make sure we pick games in which at least one team is guaranteed to have something to play for. Here we go one last time in the regular season as we try to go out with a bang.

Redskins +7 vs. Eagles (-115)

The Eagles are red hot and I’d be shocked if they lost this game. However, they seemingly only play in close games, so this seven-point spread looks pretty juicy. Also, Jay Gruden has quietly done one of the best jobs in the NFL this season. He has lost three quarterbacks as well as countless other playmakers on both sides of the ball and his team is 7-8. They are not a good football team with Josh Johnson at quarterback, but they’ve shown heart.

This game is also in D.C. With just one game to play, Washington’s season comes down to them getting a chance to knock their rivals out of the playoffs. Of course, if Philly wins and Minnesota loses, the Eagles sneak in. If either of those fails to happen, they don’t. This could randomly turn into a blowout, but I really don’t see it going that way. Philly wins a close one and the Redskins cover the spread. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.61.

Texans -6.5 vs. Jaguars (-110)

Houston is still playing for a first-round bye, something they choked away for the time being against the Eagles last week. Now, they’re tied with New England and the Patriots have the tiebreaker. The danger here is that if the Texans see the Patriots are up big on the Jets at halftime, there’s a very real chance they could rest their starters in the second half. If that happened, it could really throw off this bet.

However, playing at home and with home field on the line, let’s just assume that the Texans, a team far superior to the Jaguars, will come out and dominate in the first half. If that’s the case, hopefully they can hang on by a touchdown in the second half. We have slim pickens this week, folks, so this is one we’re going to roll with and hope for the best. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Colts -3.5 vs. Titans (-115)

This one’s for all the marbles. These two AFC South foes are battling it out for the final playoff spot in the AFC. It’s on Sunday Night Football, because it is the only game in which the winner is guaranteed a playoff spot. Both these teams have been so inconsistent this year, it’s torture to pick this game. However, we don’t know how healthy Marcus Mariota’s going to be and the Colts offense can run away from you fast.

Indy hasn’t beaten many good teams this year, but I’m still not convinced the Titans are a good team anyway. It’s in Nashville, but the Colts feel like the more deserving team. That doesn’t always add up to a win and in such an intense match up, the game should be close. That makes a 3.5-point spread seem like a lot. Let’s just say Indy wins by a touchdown in a relatively low scoring game and call it a day. The bet: $5 for total payout of 9.35.

Chargers -6.5 at Broncos (-110)

As it turns out, the Chargers wasted their shot at the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC last week with a loss to the Ravens. Kansas City ended up losing to the Seahawks, so L.A. would control its own destiny this week had they won. However, they have to win and have the Raiders pull off the huge upset of the Chiefs in order for that to happen now. Meanwhile, their opponents, the Broncos, are flat out broken. If you didn’t see them against the Raiders on Monday Night Football, you’re lucky.

They look like a downtrodden team that will have no motivation to finish the season strong for a head coach in Vance Joseph, who will likely be fired Monday. While L.A. might be a long shot to get the top seed in the AFC, they still have a shot and that’s enough to convince me Phillip Rivers and Co. have what it takes to cover a touchdown spread, even if they’re playing on the road. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Ravens-Browns UNDER 41 points (-110)

This is a very interesting game. Baltimore is into the playoffs with a win and will clinch the AFC North division title. Cleveland is mathematically eliminated from the postseason, but is among the hottest teams in football. These are also two of the best defenses in the league. Combine good defense with the Ravens’ new affinity for running the football and this one has the under written all over it.

Even if Baltimore is successful moving the football, they’re likely going to run a lot of clock in the process. It isn’t hard at all to see this game ending 20-17 or somewhere in that neighborhood. In that case, we’d be in the under right where we want to be. The Ravens might not be the most exciting team to watch, but they’re among the most effective and if they run their game plan to perfection, this game is likely to hit the under. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.50.

In our last week, maybe we will finally get the 5-for-5 week we’ve been looking for all year long. If that happens, we will have a pretty little parlay payout of $486.55. Best of luck in your last week of betting before the real fun starts in the playoffs.

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