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Play, action or pass recap: What we learned in Week 17

Marcus Mariota and the Titans slipped into the playoffs. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As we discussed last week, you shouldn't look too much into the results of some of the games in Week 17, but the final weekend does give us a chance to sharpen our power rankings on teams advancing to the postseason. What did we learn from some of last week's performances?

FALCONS 22 PANTHERS 10

In a game that had implications for both teams, Cam Newton came up short in an abysmal performance. Many are saying that Cam looked unconcerned during the contest, but I see it the opposite. Cam was entirely into the game, and you can see that on his Quarterback runs and his reactions after them. What affected him was the inability of his wide receivers to create separation in addition to the horrible performance from Greg Olsen. On numerous plays, the two seemed to be on different beats with Olsen running completely different routes and dropping multiple passes. The Panthers have run an unconventional offense the entire year with a playbook that doesn't require a true #1 wide receiver. While it did work the first time around, when playing divisional foes in the yearly rematch, the Panthers only averaged 17.7 points and 260.7 yards a game. Are the adjustments from their opponents in their second meetings a mold of how to stop the unorthodox attack of the Panthers? If so, what does it say when a team sees the scheme for the third time this year? The Saints held Carolina to an average of 17 points in their two encounters this season.

BUCCANEERS 31 SAINTS 24

In a "need" game for the Saints, they failed to win outright as a 7 point road favorite. New Orleans was very fortunate the Panthers lost to the Falcons. Otherwise, they wouldn't be playing at home this weekend. The Saints managed to lose the game with a +2 turnover margin. When you look at the boxscore, and the final stats for the Saints offensive stars Alvin Kamara (9/44/1) and Mark Ingram (13/35), you see modest numbers compared to what we have been accustomed to the entire season. The reason behind these low totals has to be accredited to Tampa Bay's ability to convert on third down where they were 12 for 14, ultimately keeping the ball away from the Saints offense.

TITANS 15 JAGUARS 10

Doug Marrone's decision to play Blake Bortles and the rest of the starters has to be the worst coaching decision of the season. Bortles limped off in the second quarter after a low hit but surprisingly was put back into a meaningless game. Many would use the "gaining postseason momentum" theory, and if that's the case, then the Jaguars achieved the contrary. Bortles finished with a 33.7 QB rating while going 15-34, with a shameful 158 yards and two picks. On the Titans side, we saw what we have been watching all year, a putrid offense that only netted 232 total yards. Tennesse will be a team we look to take advantage of in the playoffs.

BENGALS 31 RAVENS 27

The Bengals looked like the inspired team as  Baltimore had five drops in the first half. The Ravens failed to hold the late lead, and Andy Dalton's late-game heroics punched a ticket for Buffalo's first postseason since appearance since 1999.

VIKINGS 23 BEARS 10

The Vikings finished 6-2 ATS at home while finishing +7.9 in ATS +/- in those contest.

CARDINALS 26 SEAHAWKS 24

Arizona's defense played inspired for Bruce Arian's farewell, allowing Seattle only 13 first downs in a must-win game for the Seahawks.

CHARGERS 30 RAIDERS 10

Not much to be said, the Raiders are the Raiders.

Inside The numbers

Based on the odds of -110 (11/10) for a straight football wager, a handicapper needs to be right 52.38% to break even. If you can manage to exceed that figure, you have beat the book, something many fail to do over a large sample size.

For example, If you make ten wagers to win $100 (risking $110 to win $100) and win 6 out of 10, you won $600. Take out the losses at -110 odds you subtract -$440. So you profited $160.

Let's say you make the same wagers and spilt, five wins and five losses. Now you won $500, but you lost $550 after the -110 odds. Going even ultimately cost you a -$50 result. The one game difference holds a value of +/- $210.

The smallest of percents are critical to your final net gain and losses.

Play Action or Pass went 3-5 in Week 17 bringing the final regular season number to 48-38-2 (55.81%)

Patriots -15    WIN
Raiders+8     LOSS
Packers+7     LOSS
Redskins -3     LOSS
Panthers+4    LOSS
49ers Moneyline   WIn
Teasers 7 point
Panthers+11/ Patriots-8  LOSS
Teasers 10 point
Patriots-5/Vikings-1/Saints-Bucs over 40  WIN

Favorites finished 2017 with a 132-110-9 ATS record.
Home Teams 126-116-9 ATS
Over/ Under 118-133-5 ATS
72 of 110 underdogs won their games outright this season 65%

Best teams ATS in 2017

Vikings    11-5
Patriots   11-6
Chiefs     10-6
Eagles     10-6
Bills      9-6-1
Jets       9-6-1

Final Regular Season Power Rankings
Patriots
Steelers
Vikings
Saints
Rams

Super Bowl Odds
New England Patriots    +210
Minnesota Vikings    +375
Pittsburgh Steelers    +525
New Orleans Saints    +750
Los Angeles Rams    +900
Philadelphia Eagles    +1200
Kansas City Chiefs    +1800
Jacksonville Jaguars    +2200
Carolina Panthers    +2500
Atlanta Falcons    +2500
Tennessee Titans    +7500
Buffalo Bills    +7500

For any question or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter
 

 




 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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