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Total Talk - Wild Card

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Season Recap

When you look at the 2012 regular season from a totals perspective, the season was a wash for the most part and last week’s action summed it up. Week 17 watched the ‘under’ go 8-7-1 and on the season, the ‘under’ produced a 122-117-2 mark. If there was a glaring number, it was the ‘under’ producing a 31-18 (63%) record in the games played in primetime spots. I’ve read numerous reports about the sportsbooks taking it on the chin in the NFL this season and they did. However, it could’ve been a lot worse if the ‘over’ went 31-18 in games played ‘under’ the lights.

First Round Trends

According to the below table, the ‘under’ has produced an 18-14 (57%) record in the first round of the playoffs the last eight seasons, but the 'over' went 3-1 in last year’s playoffs. Will we see the ‘under’ bounce back this weekend? There are some things to take into consideration. For starters, every total in this year’s first round is listed at 43 points or above. It might not seem like a big deal, but that hasn’t happened since 2004 and you could argue that these numbers might be inflated.

First Round Total History (2004-2011)
2004 (Under 3-1) 2005 (Under 3-1)
St. Louis 27 Seattle 20 - UNDER 50.5 Washington 17 Tampa Bay 10 - UNDER 37
N.Y. Jets 20 San Diego 17 - UNDER 43 New England 28 Jacksonville - UNDER 37
Indianapolis 49 Denver 24 - OVER 56 Carolina 23 N.Y. Giants 0 - UNDER 43.5
Minnesota 31 Green Bay 17 - UNDER 49.5 Pittsburgh 31 Cincinnati 17 - OVER 46.5
2006 (Under 3-1) 2007 (Total 2-2)
Indianapolis 23 Kansas City 8 - UNDER 50.5 Seattle 35 Washington 14 - OVER 39
Seattle 21 Dallas 20 - UNDER 48 Jacksonville 31 Pittsburgh 29 - OVER 41
New England 37 N.Y. Jets 16 - OVER 38.5 N.Y. Giants 24 Tampa Bay 14 - UNDER 39.5
Philadelphia 23 N.Y. Giants - UNDER 45.5 San Diego 17 Tennessee 6 - UNDER 39
2008 (Under 3-1) 2009 (Over 4-0)
Arizona 30 Atlanta 24 - OVER 51.5 N.Y. Jets 24 Cincinnati 14 - OVER 34
San Diego 23 Indianapolis 17 - UNDER 49 Dallas 34 Philadelphia 14 - OVER 45.5
Baltimore 27 Miami 9 - UNDER 38 Baltimore 33 New England 14 - OVER 43.5
Philadelphia 26 Minnesota 14 - UNDER 41 Arizona 51 Green Bay 45 - OVER 48
2010 (Under 3-1) 2011 (Over 3-1)
Seattle 41 New Orleans 36 - OVER 45.5 Cincinnati 10 Houston 31 - OVER 38
N.Y. Jets 17 Indianapolis 16 - UNDER 44 Detroit 28 New Orleans 45 - OVER 59.5
Baltimore 30 Kansas City 7 - UNDER 41 Atlanta 2 N.Y. Giants 24 - UNDER 47
Green Bay 21 Philadelphia 16 - UNDER 46.5 Pittsburgh 23 Denver 29 - OVER 34


The eight teams in action this weekend will have different faces on the field but there are some telling trends for a few of the clubs.
  • Baltimore has seen the ‘under’ go 3-0 in its last three Wild Card games. The team has surrendered 9, 14 and 7 points in this round.
  • Indianapolis (with Peyton Manning) has watched the ‘under’ go 3-1 in its last four Wild Card contests.
  • Despite scoring 17, 14 and 10 points in its last three Wild Card appearances, the Bengals have watched the ‘over’ go 3-0 in these games.

Saturday, Jan. 5

Cincinnati at Houston: The oddsmakers sent out a total of 44 on this game and the sharps knocked it down to 43 quickly. Cincinnati’s defense is vastly underrated and the reason why a lot of people believe it could win on the road in this spot. In the second-half of the season, the Bengals gave up an average of 12.8 points per game, which helped the ‘under’ go 7-1. Now Cincinnati faces a Houston offense that is struggling. The Texans have 10 field goals and three touchdowns (one special teams) the last three weeks and the ‘under’ has cashed in all three games. In last year’s Wild Card game, Houston beat Cincinnati 31-10 and three of the touchdowns came on big plays, including one defensive score. The total closed at 38 and the ‘over’ barely cashed.

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Minnesota at Green Bay:
This total opened 45 ½ and was pushed up to 46. Last Sunday, the Vikings outlasted the Packers 37-34 in a wild shootout from the Metrodome. Now the pair squares off a week later from Lambeau Field, where temperatures are expected in the twenties for the night game. Will we see a combined 71 points again? It’s unlikely but it should be noted that the Vikings’ offense is averaging 29.3 PPG during their current four-game winning streak. Including last week’s effort of 199 years, running back Adrian Peterson has now put up 409 rushing yards in two games against the Packers this season. He does move the chains but he also keeps the clock running too, which is great for ‘under’ tickets. Along with last week’s matchup, these teams met on Dec. 2 from Wisconsin and Green Bay stopped Minnesota 23-14. The Vikings actually led this game at the break (14-10) before getting outscored 13-0 in the second-half. The problem for Minnesota was its quarterback Christian Ponder, who had 119 passing yards and two interceptions in the loss. In his first start at Lambeau Field last year, Ponder was 16-of-34 (47%) for 190 yards and a pick. If you’re looking at the ‘over’ then you’re hoping the second-year starter from Florida State plays well and he hasn’t proven that he can at this venue. Offensively, Green Bay has the more consistent attack and it hasn’t been held under 22 points at home this season. Also, since QB Aaron Rodgers took over the full time duties in the 2008 season, the Packers haven’t been held under 23 points against the Vikings.

Sunday, Jan. 6

Indianapolis at Baltimore: Did you know the Colts have the worst scoring offense (22.3 PPG) amongst all playoff teams and along with the Redskins they have the worst scoring defense (24.2 PPG). Indianapolis is the only team in the postseason that gives up more points than it scores. What does this mean to me? It tells us that Indy knows it can’t win a shootout on the road with the talent it has. The Colts have 11 wins and the ‘under’ went 9-2 in those games. Indy needs to control the ball and make this a low-scoring game. That’s easier said than done against a Baltimore offense that put up 30-plus in five of its eight home games this season. The Ravens’ defense is definitely a step slower but most would expect the experienced unit to give rookie QB Andrew Luck trouble. And for everybody that’s already sold on the kid, he did toss 18 interceptions and only completed 54% of his passes.

Seattle at Washington: This is probably the hardest side to gauge and total as well. Washington has won and covered seven straight behind an offense that’s averaging 30 PPG over this span. Meanwhile, Seattle has ripped off five consecutive wins (4-1 ATS) and its defense has only surrendered 12 PPG during this stretch. Plus, we can’t ignore the fact that Seattle’s offense has averaged 38.6 PPG during this winning streak. The total opened 45 ½ and was pushed up to 46 at most shops. If you believe both teams can get to 23 points, which they’ve been doing rather easily the past two months then you’re looking at an easy ‘over’ ticket. You do have rookies under center for each team and the travel factor for Seattle to the East Coast should definitely be considered. In three road trips to the East Coast, the Seahawks went 2-1 and the ‘under’ went 2-1 as well. If you watched their loss to the Dolphins (21-24), they could’ve easily won that contest and the game should’ve stayed ‘under’ the number. The key to Seattle’s success in these games was its defense, which is ranked first in scoring (15 PPG) and fourth in total yards (306 YPG). RG3 is a different dynamic but he hasn’t faced a unit like this all season and most believe he’s still playing with a banged-up knee.

Fearless Predictions

We finished up the year strong with a 3-1 mark and picked up $190. On the season, we’re ahead just about eight units ($810). As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end - Good Luck!

Best Over: Minnesota-Green Bay 46
Best Under: Seattle-Washington 46 1/2
Best Team Total: Over Green Bay 27 1/2

Three-Team Total Teaser:
Over 37 Minnesota-Green Bay
Under 55 ½ Seattle-Washington
Under 56 Indianapolis-Baltimore

Chris David can be reached at cdavid@vegasinsider.com
 

  
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