Play action or pass: The Wild Cards are on the table
Wild Card Weekend has arrived, and we've separated the contenders from the pretenders, or have we? Although these teams have advanced an "earned" a spot in the postseason, we look to take advantage of teams who may not be so deserving of its credentials.
Play action or pass is 48-38-2 (55.81%) for the season.
Be selective and don't force plays!
Titans at Chiefs -8.5 O/U 44.5
When handicapping a game, a few stats are crucial for measuring teams and the "wise guys" use these numbers to adjust their ratings. Strength of schedule is one of those stats. A great trend that I read about this week: Since 2002, teams with the tougher strength of schedule are 41-19 straight up and 41-18-1 ATS in the playoffs. The Titans are one of two teams in the playoffs with a negative point differential while playing a bottom five SOS. The only problem I see with fully believing in Kansas City is backing a team that has such a bad defense carrying such a big spread. Kansas City's defense has been terrible, ranking 32nd in weighted DVOA. The Chiefs are dead last vs. the run and that will allow Tennessee to be able to move the ball while keeping the clock ticking. When justifying large spreads, one must question how dominant the favorite is over the dog. Although I think the Chiefs can cover, I don't want to fully back them knowing the defense might struggle to get off the field at times and create separation on the scoreboard. The play I like for this game is the under. In Arrowhead, the Chiefs have held 14 straight opponents to 20 points or less. The Titans, only put up 17.5 points a game on the road and I see them having trouble scoring on Saturday. As I mentioned, the Chiefs defense will struggle vs. the run, but I see more of a bend, not break system vs. a team they can stack the box against not fearing a big play wide receiver which the Titans lack. Marcus Mariota’s road splits have been terrible where he holds a 5 to 11 TD to INT ratio. In situations where he will be asked to move the chains, can he be trusted to not turn the ball over? The total is slightly high, and I see value in the under. Temperatures are expected to be sub 30 with 10 MPH winds.
Play UNDER 44.5
Bills at Jaguars -9 O/U 39.5
How important is LeSean McCoy to the Bills offense? The Bills ball carrier is responsible for 33% of his team's offense, trailing only one other player in the NFL, Todd Gurley. McCoy will be a true game-time decision leaving us wondering how close to 100% can he be? The dropoff to 10-year veteran Mike Tolbert is drastic, as he has failed to surpass seven carries since week 5. The ground game will be critical as Sunday's forecast is calling for 12 MPH winds, favoring the Jags and their 12th ranked rushing offense in DVOA that will be facing the second worse rush defense in the league. If the Bills get behind or fail to have any success running the ball, they will have to rely on their quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The problem with this is he won't have much time to work within the pocket. Jacksonville's defensive line ranks #1 in pass rush on the season while the Bills offensive line ranks 27th in adjusted sack rate (8.6%). Sean McDermott is one of two 1st year head coaches making their playoff debuts in 2017. But this is nothing new for McDermott as he has a good history of coaching in the playoffs as a coordinator. He was the defensive coordinator for the Panthers team that reached the Super Bowl in 2015, and he was the Eagles defensive backs coach in 2004 when they got to the Super Bowl. Although it wasn't as the head coach, this won't be his first rodeo. I see this as a hard fought game that will be won in the trenches. We all know about Blake Bortles and his ability to throw away a game, but let's look further on how that can be expunged. The Jaguars will need a conservative gameplan to limit the pressure and the "need" to make plays from Bortles. The Jaguars play caller has been exceptional in first halves tossing 13 touchdowns to 3 interceptions compared to an 8 to 10 ratio in the second half. With no pressure, Bortles is able to manage the game knowing his stout defense will keep him in the game. His QBR in first halves is 96.0, the closing 30 minutes 72.4. Jacksonville will lean on the defense to set them up with short fields and turnovers while limiting the need for Bortles to create.
Play Jaguars -9
Falcons/Rams over 48.5
Titans Teams Total under 17.5
Teasers 10 point
Chiefs +1/ Jags+1/ Falcons-Rams over 38.5 (2X)
Money and tickets
Chiefs 60% money 57% tickets
Falcons 51% money 50% tickets
Bills 52% money 49% tickets
Saints 52% 48% tickets
For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter.