Welcome to AFC and NFC Championship picks against the spread! This week Kyle and Brian are back to break down their favorite picks for Sunday. Bobby Adcock joins the guys to throw in his two cents. Lets get to the picks!
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots – Julian Edelman Most receiving Yards +600
If I am picking a side in this game, I’m rolling with the Chiefs -3. I understand that means going against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
That said, this week I am taking Julian Edelman for most receiving yards in either Conference Title game. It might be my favorite bet of the whole weekend. While I expect the Chiefs to cover, I expect the Patriots to have to throw a ton to keep up.
Some may worry about the offenses struggling in the cold but per The Action Network’s John Ewing, the when temperature drops below 40 degrees the over is 264-251-8 (51.3%). Drop the temperature 10 degrees and the over hitting jumps to 58.8%.
As someone who already jumped on the under when the total was at 57.5, I do feel like points will be at a premium even with the relative success of overs in cold weather. I still like the under at 56 but it will be a real sweat.
Despite my expectations of a lower score than the total suggests, I think yards will be plentiful. In Tom Brady’s 6 road playoff starts he has averaged 274.5 yards per game but only 1.33 TDs per game. He also has an INT in 4 of his last 6 playoff games including 3 multi-INT games over that span.
Edelman broke out a week ago for a monster performance against the Chargers. He would have had the most yards in the Divisional Round if not for Michael Thomas going ham in the dome. This could happen again this week which is why Thomas is the favorite for most receiving yards at +200.
If you want to sprinkle a few names to have some fun, I don’t hate Brandin Cooks (+900) in a semi-revenge spot. He and teammate Robert Woods(+650) have a pretty sizeable difference in odds despite Woods only having 15 more receiving yards on the season and 4 more yards in their first playoff game against Dallas.
Alvin Kamara at 20/1 is worthwhile long shot IMO. The Rams have not allowed a ton of receiving yards to opposing RBs which helps explain the long odds but as we saw a week ago even though it was called back, he is capable to catching a long TD to significantly boost his yardage total.
Pick: Most Receiving Yards Julian Edelman +600
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New Orleans Saints -3 vs Los Angeles Rams
For this game I am backing the home team despite The Rams currently getting 52% of the bets. This is great news for those backing Drew Brees, as he is 16-7 ATS in home games when the road team is getting more than 50% of the spread bets per The Action Network’s John Ewing. Brees is 1-0 in the playoffs under the same circumstances. The other QB in this match-up, Jared Goff via is 3-9 ATS against QBs that have won the Super Bowl per The Action Network’s Evan Abrams.
As far as the total goes, the contrarian in me says go under. These two teams both have dynamic offenses that put up a combined 70 points when they matched up earlier this season. Despite 54% of the bets and jarring 70% of the money on the over the line has only moved a half of a point from 56 to 56.5. To me this says the public is pounding the over with tons of smaller wagers and the sharps took the under with larger wagers.
Gimme the home team and the under.
Pick: Saints -3.5
New Orleans Saints -3 & Under 56 ½ vs Los Angeles Rams
Well here we are, the match-up we all expected for the NFC title since way back in week 9 when New Orleans defeated LA 45-35. Both of these teams are aware of the other offensive prowess which will make this second installment all the more intriguing.
The Rams have ridden the coat tails of their ground attack led by resurgent C.J. Anderson and their all pro DT Aaron Donald. The Saints are coming off a nail biter against Philly which saw their defense make some critical plays as well as be handed the game winning interception.
In this weeks Championship game, it will be a test of genius and clock management. The Rams will try to jump out to an early lead taking the crowd out of it while the Saints will attempt to control the game on the ground making LA one-dimensional. Both head coaches are risk takers and this one will likely be decided by who is successful in calling a few trick plays or fakes.
Being in New Orleans, the edge has to go to Drew Brees and the Saints. A 4th and goal TD conversation will put the Saints up two scores late as they hang on to advance to Atlanta. Saints 30 Rams 21
The Picks: Saints -3 & U 56.5
Kansas City Chiefs vs New England Patriots ML & Under 56
After defeating the Chargers in week 1, Kansas City lost 3 of 4 games against eventual playoff teams with their only win coming in overtime against a rookie QB and the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs defense allowed an average of 37.6 pts in those 4 games, while AFC Championship game opponent New England put up 43 in week 6 albeit in Foxboro.
Speaking of scoring, the average total points in the last 7 AFC title games, in which the Patriots played in them all, is just under 45. Both the Patriots and Chiefs can put up tons of points but I expect the Patriots to implement a ball control game plan to limit possessions to avoid entering into a shootout.
Kansas City enters their second 2018/19 game against the Patriots as a 3 point home favorite and rightfully so. New England hasn’t played a road playoff game since 2015, losing to Peyton Manning and the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos. Prior to that, they played Peyton and Denver for the AFC crown in 2013, and in San Diego waaaaay back in 2006! There isn’t much road playoff history to go on when looking at trends for this season’s clash of Titans in Arrowhead. In fact 4 of the 5 Patriots losses since 2011, away or home have come to the eventual Super Bowl champion.
Sure is a great sign if you’re a Chiefs fan or better yet, a Patriots hater. Do I expect the Chiefs led by potential MVP Patrick Mahomes and notorious clock mishandler Andy Reid to win the big one? Not if my money is on the line. I’m taking the legend Tom Brady, and master of scheme Bill Belichick to quiet the crowd of Arrowhead in a lower than expected scoring game, Patriots 26 Chiefs 24.
The Picks: Patriots ML & Under 56
Kansas City Chiefs vs New England Patriots ML
After last week’s 0-4 abomination thrown out by yours truly, I should probably suspend myself from making picks. Or, maybe just stop talking all together for a while. However, the silver lining in all of it is that we have a final four that is literally sports cat nip. After cycling through the seven stages of grief over 48 hours, I want to get my nibbles in like everyone else.
Let’s start in Kansas City, where Belicheat and TB12 will look to continue the dynasty against the new guard attempting to overthrow them. Last week, the theory was simple going against the Chiefs. They’ve demonstrated zero ability to get stops when they need them. Especially, against competent offenses.
Therefore, Andy Luck and his dominant offensive line should, at the very least, put up points and be in the game late with a chance to steal a win. Four to five points sounded lovely to me! And, it was lovely. Until the game started, where it was as if Luck got in the huddle and said, “all right guys, defecate all over yourself on three, ready break!” for an entire half of football. What’s the lesson? I have no clue. Or better yet, I don’t think there is one.
Similar to life, sports sometimes just doesn’t make any sense. Why are there 13 movies nominated for best picture every year? Why does my Dad continue watching The Curse of Oak Island when clearly nothing has happened for six years? Why did the Chargers look like a JV team at New England last week? Why do I continue to gamble?
There isn’t a logical explanation for any of it. Which is why I’m sticking with the general rule to the Chiefs season, and not the exception we saw last week. I refuse to believe the Patriot’s offense will sleep walk through the first half. They can, and will keep pace with Kansas City it what should be a highly entertaining game, chock-full of story lines.
Going into the post season if there was anything clear, it was there isn’t necessarily a consensus favorite. A credible case could be made for anyone left to be hoisting the Lombardi trophy in a couple of weeks. Even though gambling isn’t necessary to enjoy a Hollywood script match-up like this, I’m taking any points I can get. New England 34 Chiefs 30.
Pick: Patriots ML
New Orleans Saints (-3, O/U 56 ½) vs Los Angeles Rams
Speaking of sticking to rules. The Saints are now a perfect 6-0 in home playoff games during the Brees era. Getting home field this year wasn’t an accident. It was business.
After the way their season ended last year, the Saints have made it necessity to leave no stone unturned in 2018. They’ve set everything up perfectly to play for what they should have been playing for last year. And, if they were going to get tripped up being down 14-0 against Big Dick Nick would have been the time.
As it turned out, they did what Championship teams do. Execute big play after big play when it mattered most, finishing the game 20-0, with a little kiss from the football gods to seal it.
Nothing against the Rams. I believe they’ll be in it with a chance to win. But if I’m making a pick here, Brees gets to 7-0 at home in the playoffs. New Orleans 37 Rams 28.
Pick: Saints -3