Posted 01/07/2013 at 06:31 PM
All four favorites covered in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs last week. Only four favorites covered in the entire 11-game postseason last year and favorites went just 5-6 in the 2010 playoffs. Teams in the divisional round of the playoffs at home, off the bye week seem to have a huge inherent advantage but those teams are just 7-5 ATS the last three year and 9-15 ATS the last six years. The ‘under’ also hit in all four wild card games last week with none of the games really ever threatening to go ‘over’. All four totals this week still opened at 45 or higher.
There were some bizarre circumstances last week with Christian Ponder being a late scratch for the Vikings. Joe Webb got the start and despite some early success in the game running the ball, Minnesota opted to pass far more often than expected. A sequence of pass calls late in the first half was particularly dooming as the Vikings had to give the ball back to the Packers, who scored and basically put the game away right before the half.
The Colts also dealt with a great challenge with offensive coordinator and former interim head coach Bruce Arians being hospitalized late in the week and missing the game. Indianapolis still moved the ball with some success but it had to be very difficult to deal with making the play-calling adjustments.
The biggest issue of the week will be discussion around Robert Griffin III, playing despite clearly being limited with his late season injury and then sadly injuring that knee more severely late in the game. It is not clear what the extent of that in injury is at this time but it is certainly a sour end for a very encouraging season for the Redskins. Washington had a 14-0 lead in the game and still held the lead in the 4th quarter but the Redskins ended up with only 203 total yards in the game with 134 of those yards coming on the first two possessions.
The AFC home teams this week sit as favorites of 9 or higher early in the week. While Green Bay technically covered as a heavy favorite last week, teams in that role have done poorly in recent playoff runs. Playoff favorites of nine or more are just 8-13-1 ATS since 2002 with eight of those 22 teams losing outright. Slight favorites have also fared poorly in the NFL playoffs, as postseason favorites of three or less are just 8-11-1 ATS since 2006. The 49ers and Falcons could be in that position this week.
Favorites also dominated the late season bowl action. A few games could be graded either way depending on when and what number was used but on New Year’s Day favorites went 6-0 or 5-0-1 by the most common numbers. Only Louisville’s upset over Florida ended the late bowl season chalk momentum, as the post-New Year’s Day favorites have gone 4-1 heading into the BCS Championship game.
Seven NFL coaches were fired in the off-season but only two vacant spots have been filled so far with Andy Reid going to Kansas City and Doug Marrone heading to Buffalo. The hottest candidate on the market was Chip Kelly but signs point to him staying at Oregon. Best of Luck, on to this week’s slate…