Total Talk - WC Sunday
January 1, 2020
By Chris David
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Best Bet Selections
As I mentioned in the AFC Total Talk piece, it’s great to be back and producing the “Total Talk” pieces for the postseason. We appreciate the support this season on the Bet and Collect Podcast and while the profits weren't spectacular at 29-22 (57%), I hope you all cashed more tickets than you burned.
Saturday's Best Bets
Bills Team Total Under
Titans Team Total Over
Titans-Patriots Game Over
The Saturday picks are listed above and my "Fearless Predictions" for Sunday are listed below each breakdown plus you can listen to the analysis every weekend as well on the Podcast.
As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!
Minnesota at New Orleans (FOX, 1:05 p.m. ET)
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened this total at 46 and as of Wednesday morning, the number has been pushed up to 49 ½. This is the highest total of the Wild Card weekend and based on the public perception of shootouts in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, you can understand the uptick.
Even though quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints have the ability to light up the scoreboard, the ‘over’ was only 9-7 this season. More surprising, Minnesota owned a 9-7 ‘over’ record and that included a 5-3 mark to the high side on the road. Delving into that number further, the Vikings closed the season a 5-0 run as visitors and as much heat as QB Kirk Cousins takes, they averaged 32.4 points per game over that stretch. Minnesota went 3-2 in those games and the reason it didn’t do better was because the defense allowed 25.4 PPG. On the season, the Vikings were ranked sixth in scoring defense (18.9 PPG) but that number spiked against playoff teams (25.4 PPG). The Vikings went 1-4 in those games and that’s why Cousins gets criticized and why I often label Minnesota as a “bully” team.
The total results (4-4) at New Orleans for home produced a stalemate despite averaging 28.4 PPG. The attack did have two clunkers during this span, defeating Dallas 12-10 in Week 4 before getting humbled 26-9 by Atlanta in Week 10. New Orleans was ranked 13th in scoring defense (21.6 PPG) and while the unit has improved over the last few seasons, watching the 49ers captured a 48-46 road win over the Saints in Week 14 reminded us of those weaknesses. The loss to San Francisco was the only setback for New Orleans against a playoff team this season, who finished 4-1 overall. Make a note that all five of those games went ‘over’ the number and they were clear-cut shootouts with an average combined score of 64 PPG. If you take out the combined 94 points versus SF, the average is still strong at 56.5 PPG. These teams have met three times over the last three seasons and all of those encounters took place at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota. The ‘over’ went 2-1 and that includes Minnesota’s improbable 29-24 win over New Orleans in the 2018 Divisional Playoffs.
Cousins has only started one playoff game in his career when he was with Washington and they were blasted 35-18 at home to Green Bay in the 2016 Wild Card Round. Meanwhile, the experience edge goes to Brees with an 8-6 record in the playoffs with New Orleans and the ‘over’ has gone 9-5 in those games.
New Orleans saw the ‘under’ cash in both home playoff affairs last season as it rallied past Philadelphia 20-14 in the Divisional Playoffs before getting stunned 26-23 by the L.A. Rams in the NFC Championship. The totals on those games both closed in the fifties (52, 55) and I believe this one will too by kickoff. Prior to those results, the Saints were on a 5-0 ‘over’ run at home with Brees in the playoffs and the best production for the future Hall of Famer came in Wild Card game. New Orleans has averaged 40.3 PPG in its last three WC spots at home and I believe they put up another crooked number and cash its Win Total Over (28 ½). I do believe Minnesota will score as well and its Team Total (20) Over is tempting, but let’s keep it simple and drill the Over (49 ½) in the game only. I’ll call it New Orleans 42 Minnesota 27 in the Sunday’s opener.
Seattle at Philadelphia (NBC, 4:40 p.m. ET)
Of the four Wild Card playoff matchups, this is the only total that has seen early ‘under’ money. The SuperBook sent out an opener of 45 ½ and the total sits at 45 as of Wednesday evening. This is also the game that features a rematch from this year’s regular season as Seattle captured a convincing 17-9 road win over Philadelphia in Week 12 as a two-point road favorite and the ‘under’ (45 ½) was never in doubt. Both clubs had to deal with windy conditions at Lincoln Financial Field and that likely helped make the game very sloppy. The pair combined for seven turnovers, with the Eagles coughing it up five times. Plus, Seattle has 12 penalties and key drops by their wide receivers.
Including that win, Seattle has now won five straight against the Philadelphia and QB Russell Wilson is now 4-0 in his career against the Eagles while the ‘under’ has cashed in all four of those games. While everybody knows Seattle is one of the toughest venues in the NFL, what we’ve seen from Wilson in his career (38-25-1) on the road is impressive and the 7-1 record this season was tied for the best mark in the league as a visitor.
What’s more eye-opening is that Seattle has been able to score while traveling great distances and that’s been a common theme. In their last seven games played in the Eastern Time Zone, the Seahawks are averaging 27.4 PPG and that includes the 17-spot versus the Birds. The ‘over’ has gone 4-3 in those games and the numbers would probably be better but Seattle’s defense has been better on the road (21.1 PPG) this season than at home (28.6 PPG), which is crazy when many of us still reminisce about the “Legion of Boom” unit.
Philadelphia has some crazy home-away numbers as well, especially for totals. The Eagles saw the ‘over’ go 6-2 on the road but the ‘under’ was 6-2 at the Linc. The difference has been the Philadelphia defense, which allowed 16.8 PPG compared to an eye-opening 27.5 PPG on the road. Another factor helping the ‘under’ at home has been the inept Philadelphia offense. The unit posted 21 PPG at home and 27.1 PPG as visitors and all those stats produce identical 6-2 marks.
What head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles did this season was incredible, especially winning their final four games with a short-handed club. It should’ve been five straight but people forget the embarrassing 37-31 collapse at Miami in Week 13. The one thing those opponents had in common is that none are in the playoffs. Against postseason clubs, Philadelphia went 2-3 and that includes a 0-2 record at home against the Seahawks and Patriots (10-17), both ‘under’ winners. Seattle went 3-3 against playoff teams this season, two of the victories coming on the road and the total went 1-1 in those games.
Seattle has watched the ‘over’ go 8-2 in their last 10 road playoff games and they’ve allowed 30.3 PPG in their last three postseason trips. Those trends combined with Seattle’s ability to score on the East Coast lately should have you supporting the ‘over’ with confidence but the injuries and depth concerns for Philadelphia are hard to overlook. QB Carson Wentz, who’s making his playoff debut, has been playing great lately but I expect the home squad to lean on their defense and the form at home in their last six games (13.3 PPG) has been lights out. I don’t see both teams getting to 20 points and I believe kicking will be a key factor. I’d lean to ‘over’ bets in total field goals made but my only lean for this contest is on the Under (45). I see a 19-16 outcome here, likely Seattle, but whoever wins this game will get lit up for 30-plus points at Green Bay or San Francisco in the Divisional Playoffs.
Chris David can be reached at email@example.com