MAKING A PLAY

Gambling guide: Forecast of a low Tide in Championship game; recapping the NFL Wild-Card weekend

Nick Saban leads Alabama against Georgia tonight. Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Alabama -4 vs. Georgia  O/U 46

50-1, the odds you could have got on Georgia to win the National title over the summer. Tonight, you will see a team that can match up with anyone in the nation.

Nick Saban the dominator

How good has Saban been exactly? Well, within his conference when listed as a favorite he is 49-39 ATS. Even more impressive, is his dominance over his former assistants. In games when facing his disciples, he is 11-0 straight up and 9-2 ATS. In these games, the master always makes statements covering the spread by double digits.

xThe clock is our friend

We all know about the potent rushing attack the Bulldogs embark onto the field. The duo is now the all-time FBS leaders in career rushing yards by a pair of running back teammates, surpassing SMU's Eric Dickerson and Craig James. The same two phenoms that set the Rose Bowl on fire with a combined 326 rushing yards on 25 carries. Alabama will need to figure out how to limit the big play. Another key stat we lean to when analyzing how to stop teams with such dominant run games is defensive adjusted line yards, where both of these teams rank inside the top 15. Converting on third downs is crucial in keeping the clock running, and the Bulldogs hold a significant advantage in Power success rate.  Look for UGA to have success in short yardage situations through the ground game, keeping the clock ticking.

Being extra " Special" on special teams

Keeping these teams outside of the red zones will be pivotal for both sides. Georgia ranks 5th in the country in red zone efficiency where they score on 95.7% of their drives inside the 20. Nick Saban's bunch not far behind at 88.1%. Limiting the opponent to playing outside the 20's is a ritual both teams will be looking to exercise throughout the night. Another factor in the special teams tonight will be the inconsistency of both kickers from the 40-49 yard range. Alabama's kicker from such distance is 4-8; Georgia's kicker 4-7.

Turnovers

When handicapping a game with such a low total, you have to try to unveil any possible ways of getting extra opportunities to tack points on the board. Turnovers are a good way to juice a low scoring game, but the truth is turnovers are one of the more random stats in football. In Monday night's matchup, we have two teams ranked inside the top 35 in TO margin. Alabama leads the Nation with only nine turnovers the entire season and much has to do with the ability of Jalen Hurts to make smart decisions. Hurts has only thrown one interception all season! The Bulldogs haven't been exactly sloppy on the offensive side either; they only gave the ball away 14 times this year, five more than the tide.

A game that will be won in the trenches, I think the value is on the under. Georgia is aware of Bama's injuries to the linebacker group. They know if they can get past the defensive line, beating a linebacker group that shares three career starts, could be the way to the title. Look for Georgia to keep pounding away looking to break one open on an inexperienced linebacker group. The last thing Alabama wants is these Georgia's running backs in the open field vs. those linebackers. On the other side, Saban's bread and butter with Hurts under center is the read pass option. This is what hides his quarterback's inability to throw downfield and limits his turnovers. The only problem is the Georgia front seven is more than prepared for this having faced the RPO multiple times shutting it down vs. Brandon Wimbush(Notre Dame), Nick Fitzgerald (Miss St), and Jarrett Stidham(Auburn). Most recently they saw it with the Heisman Baker Mayfield, and although they didn't entirely "shut" him down, in the closing half, they limited Oklahoma to 171 yards and one touchdown including OT. The path to the 2018 College Football National Championship will be through the ground game, ideal for the under 46 -(-120)

Under 22.5 First Half

Under 46 full game

Lines as of 1/8/18 3:15 pm Bovada

Stats provided by Sports Insights

Wildcard Weekend: Book It

Wildcard weekend was huge for the books in the opening weekend of the NFL postseason. Bettors that chased last year's results were torched, let's see how the numbers differed.

Last Years Wild Card Weekend
Raiders vs. Texans (-4)  27-14 HOU
Lions vs. Seahawks (-8.5)  26-6 SEA
Miami vs. Pittsburgh (-11)   30-12 PITT
N.Y. Giants vs. Greenbay (-5)  38-13 G.B
4-0 Favorites

2017-2018
Titans (+9) vs Chiefs 22-21 TENN +350
Falcons (+6) vs Rams 26-13 ATL +210
Bills (+9) vs Jauguars 10-3 JAX
Panthers (+7) vs Saints 31-26 NO
 

Favorites 0-4
With all four contest being covered by the underdog, this year's trend lived on as two won outright. 72 of 110 underdogs won their games outright during the regular season 65%.

Totals
The over/under went 1-3 this week compared to a 2-2 record in last years Wildcard Weekend. An impressive number to keep your eye on, last year starting in the divisional round, the over dominated going 6-1. Did the books adjust their opening numbers anticipating action to the over?

Divisional Round lines
Falcons -2.5 at Eagles  O/U 41
Titans at Patriots -14   O/U  47
Jaguars at Steelers -7.5 O/U  41
Saints at Vikings -3.5  O/U  45

Play action or pass went 3-5 bringing our record to 51-43-2 (54.2%)   52-44 Updated after CFB Title Game
Titans/Chiefs under 44.5 WIN
Jaguars-9 LOSS
Panthers +7  WIN
Falcons+6   WIN
Falcons/Rams over 48.5   LOSS
Titans Teams Total under 17.5  LOSS
Teasers 10 point
Chiefs +1/ Jags+1/ Falcons-Rams over 38.5 (2X) Ties on 10 point teasers are a LOSS (X2) Keep your records honest!
Update

Alabama /Georgia Under first half 22.5 WIN

Alabama/Georgia under 46 LOSS
Updated Super Bowl Odds

New England Patriots    +200
Minnesota Vikings    +375
Pittsburgh Steelers    +500
New Orleans Saints    +550
Atlanta Falcons    +700
Philadelphia Eagles    +1400
Jacksonville Jaguars    +1800
Tennessee Titans    +5000

Any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on Twitter.

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Watson was missing from practice again. Photo by Zach Tarrant/HoustonTexans.com.

The Houston Texans had their second day in pads and it was a bright day for a couple of rookies.

1. Deshaun Watson was absent again from practice. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly explained the team is keeping Watson "engaged" and he has been helpful in the meeting room with the offense.

2. Watson, if Kelly is telling the truth, can absolutely help the quarterbacks with his knowledge. The offense shouldn't be that different, and Watson doesn't have anything against the quarterbacks specifically. It is strange to think Deshaun Watson would be helping the quarterbacks while actively wanting to be playing elsewhere, but Kelly has no reason to lie about Watson's level of engagement.

3. It was Roy Lopez day on Wednesday. The rookie defensive lineman had a sack and is quite the load to handle upfront. Lopez will have to build on these days to earn time on a busy defensive line but if he repeats this day, people will have to beat him out.

4. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins finds himself open quite a bit. Collins isn't afraid of traffic, though there aren't any real big hits in training camp. Collins' athleticism is very clear and as he grows more, he should earn more opportunities.

5. Brandin Cooks threw his hands up and let out an exasperated sound as Tyrod Taylor found Collins wide open in the middle of the field. Cooks was even more wide open in the end zone, and Taylor didn't see him.

6. Tyrod Taylor's legs will be a weapon in this offense. Taylor doesn't take off in a lot of the drills, but his mobility is apparent. Taylor did run into a sack by defensive lineman Derek Rivers.

7. Veteran wide receiver Chris Conley is extremely athletic and speedy. Conley can get vertical on all the defensive backs. In a pass-catching drill Conley wowed. The drill consisted of a coach wearing a pad and attacking the wideouts on a jump ball. Conley skied, ripped the ball out of the air, and withstood the attack from the coach easily coming down on both feet. Conley would make the team if the season started tomorrow.

8. Tight end Pharaoh Brown had a great catch beating Justin Reid for a touchdown on a pass from Tyrod Taylor. Reid was very upset he lost the rep. Brown was solid last year and he remains one of the better tight ends on the team.

9. Linebacker Neville Hewitt has had some flashes in camp. Hewitt had over 100 tackles for the Jets last year to go along with 12 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons. Hewitt had a hurry on Tuesday and a pass breakup on Wednesday. Hewitt is certainly in consideration for a spot in the revamped linebacker room.

10. Defensive linemen Charles Omenihu and Jonathan Greenard each had sacks in a team period. Omenihu's rep was a forced fumble and Greenard darted through the middle of the line for his successful rep.

11. Tytus Howard had a hold your breath moment when he slowly got off the ground and gingerly walked off the field. Howard had to walk it off, but returned to practice with no issue. He has played a multitude of positions in training camp.

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