Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:00 PM
Total Talk - Championships
Divisional Playoffs Recap
The totals went 2-2 last weekend and while the 'over' in the Rams-Cowboys needed help late, the Chiefs-Colts matchup slowed down considerably in the second-half. Bettors playing the first-half watched the 'over' go 3-1. Through eight postseason games, the 'under' owns a 5-3 record.
Championship Game History
Including last year's under' winner between the Patriots and Jaguars, the low side is now 6-1 in the previous seven AFC Championship games. While this matchup is projected to be a shootout, we haven't had a back-and-forth contest in the AFC title game in years. The losing team has been held under 20 points in eight of the last 10 years.
|AFC Championship Total History (2008-2018)|
The NFC Championship has watched the ‘over’ go 7-3 the last 10 years. New Orleans helped in the 2009-10 NFC title game with a 31-28 home win over the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings. The winning team in this conference matchup is averaging 31.4 points per game since 2018.
|NFC Championship Total History (2008-2018)|
After a 3-3 week in the Wild Card round, we went 2-3 in the Divisional Round and two of the losers were clear-cut as the Saints and Eagles never came close to their number. Hopefully we can get back into the black with the title games. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!
NFC Championship - L.A. Rams at New Orleans (CBS, 3:05 p.m. ET)
opened this total at 56 ½ and as of Friday morning, the total is sitting at 57. When the pair met in the regular season on Nov. 4, the Saints captured a 45-35 home win over the Rams and the ‘over’ (57 ½) connected easily. New Orleans led 35-17 at halftime and the high side cashed early in the second-half with plenty of time to spare.
Will we see another shootout in the rematch from the Superdome? If the offensive units both show up like they did in the Week 9 encounter, it’s hard to argue against another high-scoring affair. The Rams are ranked second in scoring offense at 32.8 PPG while the Saints are ranked third with 30.8 PPG.
While those numbers are hard to ignore, the eyeball test may have you thinking otherwise especially after what we saw from both teams in the Divisional Round last week.
Los Angeles captured a 30-22 home win over Dallas last Saturday and the ‘over’ (48) barely connected thanks to a pair of late touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Even though bettors on the high side had to sweat it out, the ‘over’ was the right wager. The Rams led 20-7 at halftime and they left points off the board in the first 30 minutes as they settled for a pair of short field goals (25, 23). Plus, they missed a field goal at the end of the first-half. The offense racked up 459 total yards for the game, which included an eye-opening 273 yards on the ground. They controlled the clock and held the ball for just over 36 minutes on nine possessions. They scored on six of their nine possessions while punting once in the game and the final drive concluded with them running out the clock.
If the Rams offense was on target in the red zone, they could’ve posted over 40 points on the Cowboys. That’s been an issue with this team and they’re ranked 18th in the league in red zone percentage (57%) this season, the lowest number among the four teams left. New Orleans is fourth, with a 70.4 conversion percentage. If head coach Sean McVay and the Rams don’t produce against the Saints and they only get nine possessions, they might be lucky to break 20 points in the rematch.
In the Week 9 encounter, both teams had 11 possessions and both offenses got six opportunities apiece in the first-half. New Orleans executed much better early, scoring five touchdowns and the other possession was one play that resulted in a fumble. Another takeaway from the first meeting was the ability of New Orleans to move the chains or deliever the knockout punch. Three of their scoring drives took five minutes off the clock while two others took less than a minute.
The Saints offense wasn’t clicking last Sunday as they defeated the Eagles 20-14 at home. The total (52 ½) was pushed up late and while the final score looked like an easy ‘under’ winner, Philadelphia led 14-10 at halftime and that’s not a terrible pace for ‘over’ wagers. The Eagles tightened up in the second-half while the Saints buckled down and only 10 points were scored in the final 30 minutes. New Orleans missed a field goal (52 yarder) late in the game, which would’ve helped bettors backing the home favorite (-8).
The 20-point effort by New Orleans was the lowest amount of points that it’s scored at home this season in meaningful games. They lost 33-14 in Week 17 to Carolina but the Saints started many of their reserves. Some pundits believe that the Cowboys put out the blueprint on how to stop New Orleans. In their Week 13 matchup from Arlington, Dallas stifled New Orleans 13-10 and held them to 176 total yards while dominating the time of possession battle (37-23). The Saints finished the game with nine possessions and four of them were three plays or less.
Including that game, New Orleans averaged 19.2 points per game in its final six games and if you take out the Carolina result, the number moves slightly up to 20.2 PPG. The ‘under’ went 4-2 during this span and while the inconsistent offense has helped those results, the Saints defense (18.5 PPG/15.6 PPG) has been very solid during this span as well.
Quarterback Drew Brees (34 TDs, 6 INTs) has had another great season but since the Dallas game, he’s only thrown for five touchdowns and he’s been picked off four times. Outside of wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara, this squad doesn’t boast many weapons on the outside. You can now see why the club picked up WR Dez Bryant, who never played due to an injury. Also, the Saints announced on Friday that tight end Ben Watson (illness) will be 'out' for Sunday's game. He wasn't a major threat (35 catches, 400 yards) this season but his veteran experience could be missed.
Prior to last Sunday’s result, the Saints had watched their last five playoff games at home go ‘over’ with Brees under center. New Orleans has played in two title games with the future Hall of Famer and the ‘over’ cashed in both of those games, the most recent victory (31-28) coming in 2009 against Minnesota. The postseason total numbers for the Rams are 1-1 since the team moved back to Los Angeles.
Fearless Prediction: After watching what the Rams did to the Cowboys last week with their running game, many believe we'll see a repeat of that performance and that's just a knee-jerk reaction. I don't see it happening, especially against a Saints defense that’s ranked second against the rush (78.4 PPG). The unit did lose a solid piece to injury last week (Sheldon Rankins) but executing on the road won't be easy for Los Angeles. I believe the better route to attack New Orleans is through its secondary, which isn’t great. Rams QB Jared Goff tossed for 391 yards in the first meeting and I expect him to take shots early and often again on Sunday. I’m not sure both teams will get into the thirties but I expect Los Angeles to get at least five scores in the Superdome and I'm hoping they finish drives this week. My selection is on the Rams Team Total Over (26 ½).
AFC Championship – New England at Kansas City (CBS, 6:40 p.m. ET)
The total between the Patriots and Kansas City opened as high as 59 at the Las Vegas Westgate SuperBook on Sunday afternoon while New England was still putting a beatdown on the L.A. Chargers. As of Friday morning, the number has dropped to 56 at the SuperBook and most global betting shops are holding 55 ½. The downward movement can be attributed to meteorologists, who called for an ‘Arctic blast’ by kickoff earlier in the week with temperatures dropping below zero. Sure enough, those so-called experts now project the game to be played in the twenties as the cold front is expected to come sooner than later to Arrowhead Stadium.
Either way, the conditions won’t come close to the temperatures in the seventies when the pair met in Week 6 from Foxboro. In that contest, New England captured a wild 43-40 shootout over Kansas City and the ‘over’ (59 ½) was never in doubt. The Patriots (500) and Chiefs (446) both put up monster numbers, but they racked up the yards differently.
New England was able to establish both its passing (327) and rushing (173) games while racking up 31 first downs. They finished with 11 possessions and scored nine times, five field goals and four touchdowns. Kansas City had the same number of touchdowns (4) as New England, but one less field goal (4) than the Patriots. The Chiefs hurt their defense by scoring all four touchdowns in less than two minutes and two of the scores came on 67 and 75-yard plays.
Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes led the charge with 352 yards and four touchdowns but he was also picked off twice and he missed a couple passes that would’ve resulted in sixes on the board instead of threes. One of his main targets for that game was RB Kareem Hunt (15 touches, 182 yards), but he hasn’t been with the team since Week 11 due to off the field troubles. His absence hasn’t been felt yet and backup Damien Williams has stepped in nicely.
Last Saturday, the Chiefs ran over the Colts 31-13 in the Divisional Round at home and the ‘under’ (55) connected because the Indianapolis offense forgot to show up. The Colts were punched in the mouth quickly and that’s been a staple of the KC defense at home, which is only allowing 17.4 PPG. Kansas City had three sacks last week against Indy, pushing their league-leading total to 55 on the season. That production has helped the ‘under’ go 6-3 at Arrowhead this season.
New England’s wire-to-wire 41-28 home win over the Chargers last Sunday in the Divisional Round watched the ‘over’ (47 ½) connect rather easily. The Patriots led 35-7 at halftime behind QB Tom Brady (343 yards, 1 TD) and RB Sony Michel (129 rushing yards, 3 TDs).
Despite that ‘over’ ticket, the Patriots have seen the ‘under’ go 11-6 this season and that includes a 5-3 mark away from home. New England went 3-5 on the road and it only faced one playoff team during and it defeated the Bears 38-31 with the help from their special teams (2 TDs). Including that result, the Patriots were outscored by close to three points (24 to 21.6 PPG) on the road this season.
The Chiefs finally snapped their six-game losing skid at home in the playoffs last Saturday and head coach Andy Reid improved to 2-4 in the postseason with Kansas City. The ‘under’ has gone 4-2 in those games, which includes a 3-0 mark at home. Overall, he’s 12-13 in the playoffs and that includes a 10-9 record in his previous coaching stint with Philadelphia. During his tenure with the Eagles, Reid led his squad to five championship games. The Birds went 1-4 while the ‘over’ was 3-2 in those games.
Including last week’s outcome versus the Bolts, the Patriots have seen the ‘over’ go 9-3 in their last 12 playoff games and that dates back to the 2014-15 postseason. Coincidentally, all three ‘under’ tickets occurred in the Championship round and that’s been a common theme for the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Looking above, you can see that New England will be making its eighth straight appearance in the title game and the ‘under’ has gone 6-1 the last seven years.
New England has only played two of those games on the road and what’s amazing is that Patriots have only been visitors seven times in the postseason with Brady as QB and that’s less than the number of Super Bowls (8) that they’ve played in. In those games, New England has gone 3-4 while the ‘under’ is 4-3. Their last two trips to Denver (2014, 2016) watched the offense get stifled to 16 and 18 points.
Fearless Prediction: Of the four units on the field Sunday, I believe the Kansas City offense is the best and it has a big advantage of playing at home. The New England defense hasn’t faced many tests this season and when it does, it allowed 28.6 PPG to playoff teams. The Chiefs have pumped the breaks under Reid in the second-half at times but the offense hasn’t been slowed down when pressed. I don't see both clubs getting into the forties again but I have more confidence in the Chiefs, which is why I’m leaning to the Kansas City Team Total Over (29 ½).
Chris David can be reached at [email protected]