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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - JAN. 14

By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/17/2013 at 12:24 PM

After four low scoring wild card games, we were treated with four incredibly high scoring divisional NFL playoff games. Every game featured at least 58 points and cleared the closing total by double-digits, a week after all four games played out well below the totals. Four hosting top seeded defenses that had two weeks to prepare for their opposition allowed an average of 437 yards over the weekend. The lowest output of the weekend belonged to the Green Bay Packers who had just 352 yards, the only team that was held below its season average output. They weren’t far off their average either despite being on the road against the top statistical defense in the NFC. In frigid conditions in Denver there were 28 points scored in the 1st quarter in a game that eventually featured six touchdown plays of more than 30 yards. Sometimes in the NFL playoffs, things just don’t make sense.

 

Favorites continued a strong playoff clip, splitting last weekend to go 6-2. Five out of six conference championship favorites have advanced to the Super Bowl the last three years but those teams are just 3-3 ATS. Conference championship games have also been high scoring in recent years with the ‘over’ going 10-4 the last seven years though last year both games played ‘under’. Three of the four teams involved in last year’s conference championship games are back with New England and Baltimore in an AFC rematch and San Francisco returning, although this time on the road. New England will be the biggest conference championship favorite since they were -14 against the Chargers in January of 2008 following the 2007 season, the year they were undefeated. They won but did not cover in that game. The last four double-digit underdogs in conference championships have all covered in the New England line would rise to that level but only one of those teams, the 1998-99 Atlanta Falcons, actually won the game.

 

Last week every team scored at least 28 points but the last two years in the conference championship games no team has scored more than 24 points and the losing team has been held to 20 or fewer points in 15 of the last 20 conference championship games. Three of the four teams involved this week scored at least 38 points last week but no team has hit that mark in a conference championship game since the 2006-07 season when Chicago and Indianapolis both reached that mark prior to Super Bowl XLI, won by the Colts 29-17.

 

Five of the last seven postseason favorites of nine or more have now covered with teams in that category splitting last week. The ‘over’ is now 6-1 in the last seven instances with a spread that large. This has been the year of the rookie quarterback and while Russell Wilson was awfully close, veteran quarterbacks will take center stage this week with the glaring exception of Colin Kaepernick, making just his ninth career start. Tom Brady has a chance to further elevate his legendary status by going to a 6th Super Bowl while the opportunity is huge for Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, who were both first round picks in the 2008 NFL draft and just got the signature wins of their careers last weekend. Best of Luck, on to this week’s slate…

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