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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Week 18: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) WILD CARD ROUND EDITION

Week 18:  #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)

165-89-1 .650 (WINS); 137-110-8 .555 (ATS); 134-115-6 .538 (O/U)

48-23-3 (.676)
Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS). *All images from Google with permission to reuse without license* Statistical sources include, but not limited to: Pro Football Reference; Pro Football Focus;;; Point spreads and over/under figures are taken from the opening lines via Vegas Insider

< Drake voice >
"TOP 5 TOP 5 TOP 5"
Pro Football Media will choose the Top 5 Betting Games of the Week for either the spread OR O/U denoted by an asterisk (*). Roll with our Top 5 and watch the money pile up all season!

 Deshaun Watson hasn't fared as well in the NFL playoffs as he did at Clemson, but he gets another chance Saturday.

Buffalo Bills (5) 10-6 (+2.5) @ Houston Texans 10-6 (4) (44): Bills 26-20

Saturday, 4:35 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Keys: The Texans are one of the most average teams in the playoffs, as evidenced by their poor metrics outside of rushing the ball and an Expected W-L Record of 8-8 according to Pro Football Reference. Yet, the same statisticians rank the Texans 12th via their SRS metric (0.52), and the Bills, with an Expected W-L Record of 10-6 and far better metrics, especially defensively, only rank 13th. Any advantages one might afford the Texans at home indoors should be equally, if not more, applicable to the Bills, who have put up average offensive numbers despite only playing two games outside of the northeast since November (MIA; DAL). This Bills defense is nasty, and the turf grass is only going to make them faster, as well as their offense. Not to mention, the Bills are a little healthier. If Deshaun Watson can’t put the Texans on his shoulders and have one of his better games of the year Buffalo could pull off the upset and face a too-well-rested Ravens team they came within one score of tying/beating a few weeks and then a Patriots team they’ve already faced. Then they’re in the Super Bowl for the first time in 30 years. 

 It could be curtains for The Golden Boy, but don't count these Patriots out yet.

Tennessee Titans (6) 9-7 (+5) @ New England Patriots (3) 12-4 (44.5): Patriots 24-21

Saturday, 8:15 PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: 80% rain; mid-40s)

Keys: Let’s face it, the Titans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winners of seven of their last ten since Ryan Tannehill took over. In fact, Tannehill led the league in passer rating for qualified QBs (117.5), setting the 4th highest mark since they started keeping the PR statistic. It’s also worth noting the Titans haven’t played an actual defense since Tannehill took over, however. Yet, Titans also have the league’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry and a WR with the highest ypc of any WR with at least 50 receptions (20.2 ypr); did I mention he’s also a rookie? That rookie will likely be lined against Stephon Gilmore, who had his worst game of the season in Week 17 or these teams wouldn’t even be facing each other in the Wild Card Round. Does that mean Gilmore shows out and shuts down Brown, forcing the Titans to run heavy? Would it matter? The Patriots supposedly historic defense has feasted off the NFL’s easiest schedule all season, while just happening to be worst at stopping the run then anything defensively (14th ypa allowed). It boils down to Gillette, the heavy rain, and whether or not these Patriots and their fans are willing to say goodbye. If the Patriots lose, the dynasty could officially be ovah, but with a little help from the weather, a fan base that can pretend not to be spoiled for a change and some familiarity with Tannehill from Bill Belichick’s 11 games v. him with the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots actually stand a chance. Yeah, I said it. A chance.

 Drew Brees broke the all-time passing TD record this season, but he'd really like to go out with another Super Bowl trophy.

Minnesota Vikings (6) 10-6 (+7.5) @ New Orleans Saints (3) 13-3 (49.5): Saints 27-23
Sunday, 1:05 PM, Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: The Vikings struggle on the road, Kirk Cousins threw four of his (only) six INTs on the road, Dalvin Cook has missed a lot of time and the Vikings tend to shrink under the bright lights. Even if Cook was 100% the Saints excel at stopping the run. However, when we pull back the curtain using some of the metrics we’ve used all year (EW-LR; SRS) we see that the Vikings are right we’re they’re supposed to be at 10-6, and rank 6th in SRS. The Saints, however, grade out the same at 10-6, yet won three more games than expected. They also rank just one spot higher in SRS, meaning on a neutral field they’d likely come close to tying. The Saints also play in the NFC South and played Jacksonville and Arizona, so despite the preseason SoS metrics one could argue Minnesota played the tougher schedule. So why the 7.5-point spread? Because Kirk Cousins is as inconsistent as any QB making more than $20M/year not named Eli Manning or Nick Foles, the Vikings great pass defense is coming in with a banged-up secondary and the Superdome is nearly impossible to get a rhythm, hurry up, audible or even hear yourself in if you’re the opposing offense. This game will likely come down to either team’s elite pass rush and/or a key TO, as both defenses sack the QB (NO: 3rd; MIN: 5th) and take the ball away (MIN: 4th; NO: 10th), but the Saints led the league in fewest TOs, so that might narrow things down. I wonder if they’ve factored in the officials yet, though, because it’s that time of year.

If the Seattle Seahawks are going to advance past the Wild Card Round it's going to take another mercurial performance from Russell Wilson.

Seattle Seahawks (5) 11-5 (-1.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6) 9-7 (47): Eagles 23-21

Sunday, 4:40 PM, Lincoln Financial Stadium, Philadelphia, PA (Weather: 50% rain; mid-50s)

Keys: The Eagles don’t stand much of a chance here unless they’re able to shut down Russell Wilson. Seems like a simple enough plan, but the execution will be somewhat more difficult. The Seahawks seemed clipped last week before mounting a furious comeback against the San Francisco 49ers and nearly taking the NFC West, which would have nullified this game and given the Seahawks home field advantage. Would it have mattered? The Seahawks were 7-1 on the road this season, but 4-4 at home in the famous Home of the 12th Man. They’re Expected W-L Record was also 8.2-7.8 because they had a point differential of only 0.4 ppg, despite being the 9th-ranked scoring offense. The Eagles almost have no offense to speak of, but the Seahawks brought Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, which speaks volumes about their problems on offense. The Seahawks defense is also a shell of its former self. The Eagles have a real shot at beating Seattle, I just don’t know what Carson Wentz is going to do if Zack Ertz can’t go.

Stay tuned for Tuesday's Gone: Week 18 #NFL Game Reviews WILD CARD ROUND EDITION coming Wednesday!



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