Play, action or pass week 17: Pressure; pushing down on me

Play, action or pass week 17: Pressure; pushing down on me
Tom Brady and the Pats are big favorites this week. Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Pressure, depending on the quality of the group, can influence a team in different ways. Teams already having clinched a spot in the postseason, but playing for seeding have much less pressure than those that are in "win or go home" situations. According to BetLabs, since 2003, teams in must-win games during Week 17, are 56-68-4 (45.2%) ATS.

Where we can find an edge is through public perception and average bettors thinking the "need" factor benefits them. Using the same BetLabs tool, dating back to 2003, teams playing at home, in must-win games hold a record of 31-42-2 (42.5%) ATS in Week 17.

A must-win situation doesn't mean "Must win by the spread." It solely indicates win and advance. There are various reasons why you won't see the better team cover a given spread. One is the pressure of mistakes late in games when playing with a lead. Games that hold higher implications tend to be called slightly more conservative towards the final quarter as teams don't have an obligation to press for more points and instead just maintain a score to advance. Also the look-ahead factor, and when playing with a substantial lead, some teams use clock management with one eye ahead to the next opponent and also to avoid injuries. Especially, when a group knows it will be playing the following week (Wild Card Weekend).

Most Bet Teams:

Chiefs 78%
49ers 73%
Cowboys 72%
Redskins 71%
Colts 71%

Play action or Pass is 45-33-2 on the year, winning at a rate of 57.7%.


New England has already clinched the AFC East title, 14th in the last 15 years. What can the Patriots gain? The coveted No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. By defeating the Jets on Sunday, or a loss by the Steelers, the Patriots can pave the road in the AFC through Foxborough. Standing in their way is an overachieving Jets team playing with a backup quarterback. In the last three games, the Jets have mustered up a league-low 8.7 points a game. Ironically, the Jets have been good vs. the Patriots as of late, going 7-1-1 ATS in the last nine. Much has to do with the extra motivation teams have when playing Tom Brady and the Patriots, a stat which fails to show up in the box score. Don't let the big spread scare you as the Patriots have covered seven straight games as a home favorite of 14 points or more. The Patriots are 14-4 ATS in their last 18 games in Week 17. The Jets score an average of 15.1 points on the road, New England tallies up 29.9 per home game. Throw in a few turnovers and the large spread is justified. Patriots, in a beatdown.

Oakland +8
We spoke about the pressure of having to win to get in and how it can affect a team. Games played in December tend to have more influence than games earlier in the season. By weeks 12 and 13 the playoff pictures have become somewhat clear, and the path that needs to be taken becomes apparent. When the pressure has been on, the Chargers have gone 2-7 ATS in their last nine home games in December. This a divisional matchup in a so-called home game, we say that loosely because countless locals are predicting the old LA Raider faithful to run the stadium 75-25%. I expect the Raiders to get up for this game behind the extra motivation behind the fans. Rather than going into the offseason on a four-game losing streak, a win playing the spoiler vs. a division foe can serve as some kind of redemption for a team that unquestionably underachieved this season. With Melvin Gordon a little banged up and limited all week, look for LA to coast to the finish line leaving the back door open. The Raiders are 32-25-1 on the road against the Chargers; look for the Raiders to keep this close and make the Chargers earn a playoff berth.


Redskins -3
49ers Moneyline

Teasers 7 point
Panthers+11/ Patriots-8

Teasers 10 point
Patriots-5/Vikings-1/Saints-Bucs over 40

Be very selective this week as motivation will play a big factor. Don't fall into the trap "because a team needs to win they will cover." Bad teams with extra pressure is not a warranted combination. A wise man once told me, "If a team needs to win in week 17 to advance, then they probably aren't that good anyway." DONT FALL FOR THE TRAPS.

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz

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More plate appearances for Yordan Alvarez? Yes, please! Composite Getty Image.

Have you ever looked forward to something so much that you wish you could fall asleep and wake up on that day?

That’s how I feel about the upcoming Houston Astros season. The Astros are hosting the New York Yankees on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on March 28. Astros v. Yankees! Does it get any better than that?

Let’s get this out of the way now. The Astros better beat the Yankees that day — otherwise they won’t be able to sell beer the rest of the season. Why? They will have lost the opener. (Credit: Highlights Magazine in my dentist’s office.)

Why am I so excited and optimistic about the Astros in 2024? Plenty of reasons …

Mostly it’s because there’s a new sheriff in town. Manager Joe Espada is not shy about taking the Astros on a different course. The names on the back of the jerseys will be the same as last year, but this is Espada’s team and they’ll be playing an exciting, whole different style.

It seems like Espada may have been a yes man standing next to former manager Dusty Baker the past few years, but things will change now. The Astros will be playing Espada ball.

First the Astros will run more, they’ll take extra bases more aggressively. Last year the Astros finished dead last in “extra bases taken percentage,” meaning the runner on first held up at second when the batter hit a single, or the runner didn’t advance more than two bases on a double. This year Astros baserunners will have their butts in gear. Coaches Gary Pettis and Dave Clark have the Astros practicing base running down in West Palm Beach like it’s back to Baseball 101.

Oh, and pitchers can’t pick their boutique catcher anymore. Last year divas Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez insisted that Martin Maldonado be behind the plate. Maldonado with his .191 batting average and horrible defensive performance. Astros management asked/told Baker that rookie Yanier Diaz needed to be the primary catcher, or at least play more. Baker dug in his heels and Maldonado caught practically every game the last couple of months.

And that’s why Maldonado is gone. And a big reason that Baker is gone, too. The question is, if Baker had made Diaz the starting catcher, would Baker be managing the Astros in 2024? The Maldonado thing really did become that contentious between Baker and Astros management, particularly general manager Dana Brown.

Espada has created a bit of a ruckus by announcing that he plans to bat slugger Yordan Alvarez second in the batting order. Some fans argue, no, the best power hitter belongs batting third or fourth. That’s how baseball has been played since Babe Ruth batted third and Lou Gehrig hit cleanup for the Yankees’ Murderers Row in the 1920s.

Espada’s current vision for the batting order has Jose Altuve leading off, followed by Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker. I’d go to war in the American League West with that top of the order.

Alvarez batting second makes a whole lot of sense. Baseball is a numbers game today. The leadoff hitter gets 19 more plate appearances than the 2-hole hitter. And so on down the line. Each position gets about 19 more plate appearances than the next batter in the order.

You don’t think Yordan Alvarez getting 30-40 more plate appearances than if he hits fourth would help the Astros? Heck, the Astros missed the World Series by one stinking home game in the ALCS last year. The more Yordan, the more homers, the better.

It’s not like Espada has stumbled on the secret to the universe. According to MLB nerd boys, statistically the No. 2 hitter was the most productive bat in the lineup in 2023.

Mike Trout bats second for the Angels. Shohei Ohtani batted near the top of the lineup last year. Freddie Freeman bats second for the Dodgers. Ronald Acuna Jr., maybe the best all-around hitter in baseball, bats leadoff for the Braves. Remember when George Springer led off for the Astros? As Larry David would say, that worked out pretty, pretty, pretty good. It’s not like Altuve is a Punch and Judy slap hitter, either.

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge batted leadoff down the stretch in 2022, the year he broke the all-time American League single season home run record.

The Astros have sold more season tickets than any year before. The food has been upgraded on the concourse. The Astros will stretch doubles into triples. We have the best bullpen in the league. All the regulars are back from last year’s American League West championship team. And new manager Joe Espada has the right players on the field.

It’s going to be a fun season. If the season would just get here already.

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