Total Talk – WC SaturdayTotal Talk - WC Sunday
Wild Card Total Betting HistoryPlaying the ‘under’ on Wild Card weekend has been a money-making machine for bettors over the years, especially lately. The low side has gone 3-1 each of the last two postseasons and it’s on a 20-7-1 (74%) over the last seven years. If you go back to the 2004-05 playoffs, the ‘under’ is 38-21-1 (64%).
2018 Wild Card ResultsIndianapolis 21 at Houston 7 - UNDER 49
Seattle 22 at Dallas 24 - OVER 43.5
L.A. Chargers 23 at Baltimore 17 - UNDER 42.5
Philadelphia 16 at Chicago 15 - UNDER 42
2017 Wild Card ResultsTennessee 22 at Kansas City 21 - UNDER 44
Atlanta 26 at L.A. Rams 13 - UNDER 48.5
Buffalo 10 at Jacksonville 3 - UNDER 40
Carolina 31 at New Orleans 26 - OVER 47.5
Will we finally see a ‘over’ barrage in the Wild Card round? That’s a hard question to answer but if there was a sign of change coming, Week 17 did watch the high side go 12-3-1 and that was eye-opening considering the last week of
the season has always trended to ‘under’ tickets.
Best Bet SelectionsEleven games left in the NFL season and I’m happy to write the “Total Talk” pieces again for the playoffs. For those of you following along to my “Best Bet” selections on the Bet and Collect Podcast this season, thanks for the support and hope you cashed tickets. The 17-week record finished at 29-22 (57%) and for the postseason, I’m going to provide my selections here plus you can listen to the analysis every weekend as well.
As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!
Buffalo at Houston (ESPN, 4:35 p.m. ET)The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened this game at 39 ½ and it’s been pushed up to 43 as of Tuesday. Houston has been installed as the short home favorite (-2 ½) and based on that number, oddsmakers are expecting a 23-20 win for the Texans. The number getting juiced up does look like a headscratcher on paper, knowing Buffalo has watched the ‘under’ go 12-4 this season with identical 6-2 marks coming at both home and on the road. Houston has also leaned to the ‘under’ (9-7) and that could easily be 10-6 if Titans running back Derrick Henry didn’t scamper for the late score last week.
Looking at those numbers, the obvious lean would be to a low-scoring match up on Saturday but I can see why the number was nudged up. Including the meaningless loss to Tennessee in Week 17, the Texans went 3-3 against playoff teams this season and they averaged 27.6 points per game in the wins while only scoring 16.3 PPG in the losses. We can toss out the statistics from last Sunday but it’s hard to forget the 41-7 shellacking at Baltimore on Nov. 17. Including that result, the Texans have allowed 28.3 PPG against playoff teams and while that number drops to 22.3 PPG in the three wins, it’s still not great.
Can Buffalo get anywhere near that average? While the Bills defense (15.6 PPG) has been lights out on the road, the same can’t be said for the offense (21.5 PPG). Overall, the Bills schedule was very weak and they only faced five playoff teams and a 1-4 record certainly doesn’t offer up much confidence. If you want to rationalize to the Bills at all, they did go 1-1 on the road versus playoff teams but the offense only mustered up 15.5 PPG versus the Titans (W 14-7) and Patriots (L 17-24).
Houston defeated Buffalo 20-13 in the 2018 regular season at home and the ‘under’ (40 ½) was never in doubt. Including that result, the ‘under’ is on a 4-1 run in this series.
The Bills haven’t had much postseason history, their last trip coming in the 2017 season and that ended with a 10-3 loss at Jacksonville in the Wild Card round. Houston owns a 3-5 all-time record, and that includes a 3-2 mark at NRG Stadium. The ‘under’ has gone 3-2 in those games. When Houston wins at home in the playoffs, it’s held opponents to 14, 13 and 10 points. When it loses, it’s allowed 21 and 30 while only scoring seven points in those games. Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson wasn’t sharp in last year’s Wild Card 21-7 loss to Indianapolis at home.
Fearless PredictionI often tell myself not to “overthink it” and I believe that’s the case here. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see Buffalo go into Houston and win the game, I don’t believe second-year QB Josh Allen will be the reason if that happens. The Bills Team Total Under (20) looks like a solid lean knowing they’ve only cracked that number five times in their last 16 road games and never against a team with a winning record. I think we’re looking at a 21-16, 20-13 outcome with Houston coming out on top.
Tennessee at New England (CBS, 8:15 p.m. ET)The late-night matchup on Saturday also saw upward steam as the total was sent out at 41 ½ and the number is up to 44. It’s going to be weird to see New England playing in the Wild Card round, something it hasn’t done since the 2009 playoffs. For those who remember, the Patriots were embarrassed 33-14 at Foxboro by the Ravens as running back Ray Rice dominated for Baltimore.
Fast forward to this matchup and it appears that bettors are expecting another upset in New England, with the early action going to Tennessee (+5 ½ to +4 ½). Since that loss to the Ravens, the Patriots have gone 12-2 at Gillette Stadium in the playoffs but plenty of those victories came on the shoulders of QB Tom Brady. If you’ve watched New England play this season, you’re well aware that the offense is nowhere near previous squads. The Patriots are ranked seventh in scoring offense (26.2 PPG) but the production has dropped a bit at home (25.2 PPG).
Defensively the unit only allowed 14.1 PPG albeit against a strength of schedule that was tied for second to last in the NFL. When facing playoff opponents, New England went 3-3 and the defense was great in the wins (12.3 PPG) but humbled in the losses (29.3 PPG). The ‘under’ was 9-7 on the season. The Titans defense (20.7 PPG) wasn’t on the same level as New England but it was sneaky good this season and it played a tougher scheduled (8th). Also, the unit traveled well and only allowed 17.6 PPG outside of Nashville. Tennessee was a clear-cut ‘under’ team at the beginning of the season, with the low side cashing in five of their first six games. Then, QB Marcus Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill and the Titans averaged 27.6 PPG compared to 16.3 PPG with Mariota. That production led to a 9-1 ‘over’ mark down the stretch and that includes the aforementioned lucky ticket last week in Houston.
It’s nice to see Tannehill getting some recognition but I still have my reservations on him and the Titans defense too. Tennessee only faced four playoff teams with him under center and they went 2-2, which includes Houston laying down last week. A 35-32 home win over Kansas City in Week 10 was surprising for the Titans, especially since the Chiefs let up the box score with 530 total yards. Including the Week 5 outcome to the Bills (L 7-14) at home, the Titans were 2-3 overall against playoff squads and the ‘under’ went 3-2 in those games.
These teams have met twice in the last three seasons. Tennessee stomped New England 34-10 in the 2018 regular season at home and the ‘under’ (46 ½) connected. This was a statement win for Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls playing linebacker for Bill Belichick. The pair also met in the 2017 playoffs and New England blasted Tennessee 35-14 as the ‘over’ cashed late with a meaningless touchdown by the Titans. Prior to that results, the Titans saw the ‘under’ cash in their previous five postseason games – dating back to 2004 though.
Fearless PredictionThe question for me in this game - Can you back Tannehill in his first career playoff spot at Foxboro? During his tenure with Miami, he went 0-5 at Gillette Stadium while the Dolphins only averaged 11.6 PPG in the losses. All the blame can’t be placed on him, but his 4-10 touchdown-interception ratio didn’t help the cause. Fortunately for Tannehill, this Titans team has playmakers and I believe the Tennessee Team Total Over (19 ½) is a strong look. I also believe New England wins this game and that will have me leaning to the Over (44) in the game as well. I’ll call it 26-23 for the home team.
Chris David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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