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Total Talk - Divisional Playoffs

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Wild Card Recap

The ‘under’ posted a 4-0 record last weekend and all of the games were never in doubt. Those playing first and second-halves also saw a combined record of 7-1 to the ‘under.’ The only half that went ‘over’ this past weekend was the first 30 minutes in the Washington-Seattle matchup. The Redskins built a 14-10 led and even that barely went ‘over’ the closing number of 23. Will the ‘under’ continue to cash in the Divisional Playoffs? We do have three rematches from the regular season on tap and all three went ‘over’ in the first encounter.

Divisional Playoff History

The ‘over’ has gone 7-1 in the second round of the playoffs the last two seasons and the scoreboard operator has certainly been busy. During this span, seven teams scored 30-plus points and two put up 45 or more.

TOTAL History (2004-2011)
2004 (TOTAL 2-2) 2005 (UNDER 3-1)
Pittsburgh 20 N.Y. Jets 17 - OVER 35 Denver 27 New England 13 - UNDER 44
Atlanta 47 St. Louis 17 - OVER 48.5 Seattle 20 Washington 10 - UNDER 41
Philadelphia 27 Minnesota 14 - UNDER 47.5 Carolina 29 Chicago 21 - OVER 30.5
New England 20 Indianapolis 3 - UNDER 52.5 Pittsburgh 21 Indianapolis 18 - UNDER 47.5
2006 (TOTAL 2-2) 2007 (TOTAL 2-2)
New Orleans 27 Philadelphia 24 - OVER 49 Green Bay 42 Seattle 20 - OVER 44
Indianapolis 15 Baltimore 6 - UNDER 41.5 New England 31 Jacksonville 20 - UNDER 51.5
Chicago 27 Seattle 24 - OVER 37.5 San Diego 28 Indianapolis 24 - OVER 46.5
New England 24 San Diego 21 - UNDER 46.5 N.Y. Giants 21 Dallas 17 - UNDER 47
2008 (UNDER 3-1) 2009 (UNDER 3-1)
Arizona 33 Carolina 13 - UNDER 49.5 New Orleans 45 Arizona 14 - OVER 57
Baltimore 13 Tennessee 10 - UNDER 33.5 Indianapolis 20 Baltimore 3 - UNDER 44
Pittsburgh 35 San Diego 24 - OVER 38 Minnesota 34 Dallas 3 - UNDER 45.5
Philadelphia 23 N.Y. Giants 11 - UNDER 39 N.Y. Jets 17 San Diego 14 - UNDER 42.5
2010 (OVER 4-0) 2011 (OVER 3-1)
Pittsburgh 31 Baltimore 24 - OVER 37.5 New Orleans 32 San Francisco 36 - OVER 46.5
Green Bay 48 Atlanta 21 - OVER 43.5 Denver 10 New England 45 - OVER 50
Chicago 35 Seattle 21 - OVER 42.5 Houston 13 Baltimore 20 - UNDER 33
N.Y. Jets 28 New England 21 - OVER 45 N.Y. Giants 37 Green Bay 20 - OVER 54

Coaching Trends

In last year’s playoffs, we mentioned a trend on Bill Belichick in the Divisional Playoffs. The future Hall of Fame coach has now been on the sidelines eight times in this round. In those games, the Patriots have seen the ‘under’ go 6-2. However, the ‘over’ has cashed the past two postseasons but they weren’t easy winners. New England blasted Denver 45-10 last January and the closing number was 50. Two years prior, the Jets beat the Patriots 28-21 and the ‘over’ (45) was blessed with 14 meaningless points in the final two minutes. Lastly, we should make a note that the Patriots’ defense has been stout in this round and it could make you lean to the ‘under’ in the Texans’ team total (19 ½ points). In the aforementioned eight games with Belichick, six were played at Foxborough and New England has given up a total of 88 points (14.7 PPG) in these contests. When you consider Houston has been kicking more field goals than scoring touchdowns lately, it might be worth a look.

Saturday, Jan. 12

Baltimore at Denver: This line opened 45 ½ and got as high as 46 ½ during the week but the number has since returned to the opener. Baltimore looks like an 'over' team on paper but the numbers (8-7-1) don't really justify the stats. Offensively, they have the ability to put up points and defensively they give up the most points (21.5 PPG) amongst the eight teams playing this weekend. The Colts put up over 400 yards and made 25 first downs in last week's Wild Card mtchup. The Ravens did hold them to nine points, but that came on three field goals. Indy also missed a field goal and turned the ball over twice in Baltimore territory. All that was against a rookie QB and now you have to face arguably the best QB of all-time in Peyton Manning. It’s safe to say that if he’s on, Denver will get a minimum of five scores barring turnovers. In eight games at home, the Broncos put up 30-plus points in seven of them. Will rust be a factor? Off the bye in the regular season, Denver put up 34 in a win at home. If you are looking at the ‘under’ here, you could point to Denver’s defense, which is vastly underrated. It does help playing the AFC West but they’re allowing 12.3 PPG in their last six games. When these teams met in Week 15, Denver won 34-17 and the closing number was 48. This contest was 17-0 at the break but the two teams combined for 34 (17-17) in the second-half and three of the touchdowns were plays of 30-plus yards.

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Green Bay at San Francisco:
Something has to give in this matchup! The Packers have seen the ‘under’ go 6-2 in their last eight while the 49ers have watched the ‘over’ cash in four straight and seven of their last eight. In Week 1, San Francisco beat Green Bay 30-22 with Alex Smith at QB and that game got saw 22 points posted in the fourth quarter. The closing number for that affair was 47 and this week’s total is 45, which tells you that the books are expecting a lower-scoring affair than the first go 'round. The Packers saw the ‘under’ go 3-1 in primetime games this year, while the 49ers posted a 3-3 total mark in contests under the lights. On the season, the league has watched the ‘under’ go 32-18 (64%) in primetime games. This total hasn’t seen much movement either way.

Sunday, Jan. 13

Seattle at Atlanta: The books sent out an opener of 44 ½ and it was quickly pushed up to 46, which is where it sits. To be honest with you, I’m not sure why the line was steamed up. If you believe Seattle’s defense will play to its ability then you’d expect a low-scoring affair, considering the unit leads the league in points allowed (15.3 PPG). Also, Atlanta has a balanced offense that likes to control the ball plus it’s hard to ignore the clear-cut fact that the ‘under’ went 7-1 in the Georgia Dome this season. Seattle was on a nice ‘over’ run (5-2) but the ‘under’ has cashed in its last two games, including last week’s Wild Card win against Washington, 24-14. If you look at the four games played by Seattle on the East Coast, the team has given up 12, 24, 17 and 14 points.

Houston at New England: In Week 14, the Patriots blasted the Texans 42-14 and the ‘over’ (50) barely cashed, thanks to a meaningless late touchdown by Houston’s back-up QB. We talked about the Texans’ inconsistent offense last week and once again, the unit put up 19 points with 12 coming from field goals in their win over the Bengals in the Wild Card round. New England’s offense was potent at times this season but it did slow down the last two weeks (23, 28) of the season, which resulted in ‘under’ winners. I’d be surprised to see the Patriots put up six touchdown again, especially against a solid defensive unit that's much healthier. Including last week’s outcome, Houston has watched the ‘under’ cash in four straight and five of the last six games and the lone ‘over’ during this span was the aforementioned “Bad Beat” on MNF versus the Pats.

Fearless Predictions

I understand it’s hard to win ‘over’ bets with backup quarterbacks and even if Christian Ponder played for Minnesota, it probably would’ve been tough to see the Packers-Vikings game go ‘over’ because Green Bay wasn’t clicking offensively last week. If the Packers put up an extra touchdown, we go 3-1 with the plays. Instead, it’s a 1-3 mark and a red figure of $220. On the season, we’re still up close to six units ($590). As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end - Good Luck!

Best Over: Baltimore-Denver 45.5
Best Under: Houston-New England 49
Best Team Total: Over 27 ½ Denver

Three-Team Total Teaser:
Over 36 ½ Baltimore-Denver
Under 55 Seattle-Atlanta
Under 59 Houston-New England

Chris David can be reached at cdavid@vegasinsider.com

  
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