Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 7:00 AM
THE NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS:
NEWS/NOTES & POINTSPREAD GOODIES …
PLUS OUR COLLEGE BOWL BREAKDOWN CHART TOO! …
COLLEGE BASKETBALL’S KEY
WEDNESDAY NITE GAMES AS #2 DUKE, #3 VIRGINIA,
#4 WISCONSIN & #5 LOUISVILLE ARE ALL IN ACTION
Okay, so last week at this very time we asked whether or not we were about to get many – or any – upsets in the NFL Wild Card Playoff Round and the Baltimore Ravens (+ 3) over the Pittsburgh Steelers was the sole answer to that particular query.
Hmm, might the Ravens be the only upset answer again this weekend with that Saturday late afternoon tilt in New England?
What we did want to tell you heading into what many folks consider to be the best single football weekend of the season is that the underdog quartet of Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas and Indianapolis have a grand total ATS (against the spread) record of 14-9 as pups this year – not bad – and dig a little bit deeper and you’ll see that the Ravens/Panthers/Cowboys/Colts have won 10 of these underdog games in outright upset fashion … again, not bad.
And remember what CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz told us all during last Sunday’s Cincinnati at Indianapolis game and that is in six of the last nine years a team that came out of the Wild Card Round weekend actually made it to the Super Bowl with Baltimore (2012), the New York Giants (2011 and 2007), Green Bay (2010), Indianapolis (2006) and Pittsburgh (2005) each winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy after having to first play in the Wild Card Round.
So, hope you aren’t automatically believing that the top two seeds in the AFC (see New England and Denver) and the top two seeds in the NFC (that’s Seattle and Green Bay) are anything resembling lead-pipe cinches here.
The fact is we’re bound to have at least one “surprise” this weekend … but will we have more?
Your attention, please …
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NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS –
Let’s take quick-hitter pointspread looks at the NFL’s #1 and #2 playoff seeds that drew byes last weekend:
In the NFC, it’s …
#1 SEATTLE (12-4) – The Seahawks are 10-6 versus the vig overall this year while heading into the post-season and that includes the current six-game ATS winning streak.
Note that Seattle is 6-2 ATS at home this year including three-of-five spread wins against non-NFC West teams and take note that Seattle is 30-11 spreadwise at home in the Pete Carroll Era that started back in 2010. Also, the Seahawks are 9-6 ATS as betting favorites this year but note Seattle’s failed to cover two-of-three games this season when placed in the role of double-digit favorite and that’s the case this Saturday night against Carolina
Meanwhile, the ‘Hawks have covered two-of-three home playoff games in the Carroll Era including last year’s hang-on-for-dear-life 23-17 win/cover against 4-point underdog San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.
#2 GREEN BAY (12-4) – The Packers are a rock-solid 9-6-1 against the odds this year and so that makes Green Bay a tidy 89-60-3 ATS in the Mike McCarthy Era that started back in 2006.
The NFC North champs – 8-0 SU (straight-up) this season at Lambeau Field – are an electric 6-1-1 spreadwise at home this season and all while in the chalk role.
Green Bay will host Dallas this Sunday in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game and it’s worth noting the Packers are just 5-4-1 ATS against non-divisional foes and so that makes G-Bay a composite 13-17-1 ATS the past three years when playing teams outside the rough-and-tumble NFC North.
Finally, the Packers are 6-4-1 ATS in all post-season games under McCarthy including that dynamic 4-and-oh spread run back in the 2010 campaign.
In the AFC, it’s …
#1 NEW ENGLAND (12-4) – The Patriots enter the post-season with a slightly-above-average 9-7 ATS mark and the breakdown includes a 5-3 spread log in Foxborough and a 5-6 ATS mark as betting favorites.
Note that New England’s just 6-11 against the odds in all playoff games since the last time the Pats won a Super Bowl (see 2004 season) and can you believe that this AFC East team is just 5-6 odds-wise in all home playoff games these past nine years? Ugh!
Overall, the Pats are 45-43-2 ATS at home since that last Super Bowl triumph 10 years ago.
#2 DENVER (12-4) – Last year the Broncos were the AFC’s top seed so this is a little flip-flop with New England but this 2014 Denver edition dropped to 8-8 ATS after going 11-7-1 (in 2013) and 11-6 ATS (in 2012) the past two years.
Note the Broncos are a collective 3-6 against the odds in post-season games the past 10 years and that includes failing to cover three-of-four in the head coach John Fox/QB Peyton Manning Era.
This year’s Broncos have split their eight home decisions spreadwise while going 7-7 ATS as betting favorites going into Sunday’s game against underdog Indianapolis.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL CHART
Now, here’s a look at the College Football Bowl Conference-by-Conference Pointspread Breakdown Chart as we head into Monday’s Championship Game between #2 Oregon vs. #4 Ohio State (and we’ll have an in-depth preview of that title tilt in this weekend’s Jim Sez):
CONF WON LOSS TIE PCT
Indep. 2 1 0 .667
Big 10 6 4 0 .600
C-USA 3 2 0 .600
SEC 7 5 0 .583
ACC 6 5 0 .545
Pac-12 4 4 0 .500
Mt. West 3 4 0 .429
AAC 2 3 0 .400
Mid-Am 2 3 0 .400
Sun Belt 1 2 0 .333
Big 12 2 5 0 .286
Okay, so none of the major conferences – a/k/a the Power 5 – “killed it” spreadwise this post-season as the Big 10, SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 combined to go 25-23 versus the vig (.521) while the so-called smaller conferences registered a 13-14 ATS mark with Major Independents (that’s Notre Dame, Navy and BYU) covering two-of-three bowl tilts.
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT
Here’s what we are keeping our eyes on in terms of the Wednesday night college basketball sked as four of the nation’s five top-ranked teams are in action:
#2 DUKE (13-0, 1-0) at WAKE FOREST (8-7, 0-2) – 9 p.m. ET
Three of the four games we’re giving a quickie preview to here are ACC games and whatta surprise considering college basketball’s pre-eminent league boasts five teams in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll and three of these squads are ranked #2, #3 and #5.
If the heavy-duty favored Dookies are gonna stay right near the top of the polls this year – got a feeling they’re all going to be trailing Kentucky for the better part (or all of) this 2014-15 season – than freshman C Jahlil Okafor looks to stay on a roll after winning both the ACC Rookie of the Week and ACC Player of the Week awards.
Okafor is shooting 68.2 percent from the floor this year – that’s second-best nationally – and among last week’s starring roles was a career-best 28 points versus Boston College.
N.C. STATE (11-4, 2-0) at #3 VIRGINIA (13-0, 1-0) – 7 p.m. ET, espn2
No surprise that the Virginia Cavaliers rank second nationally in points-per-game defense (50.8 ppg) while heading into this prime-time ACC clash against the N.C. State Wolfpack but can Tony Bennett’s squad starring Justin Anderson (15.1 ppg) squash G Trevor Lacey who’s shooting it at 50.6 percent from the field while averaging a team-best 17.2 ppg?
Virginia has stepped up its offensive production this year (the Cavs rank a decent 54th nationally while averaging 72 ppg) and no wonder laying some hefty prices hasn’t been a problem for Wahoo Nation.
PURDUE (10-5, 2-0) at #4 WISCONSIN (14-1, 2-0) – 7 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
The Badgers may have the best player in the land in C Frank Kaminsky but here Wisconsin’s inside/outside threat will get a major challenge from Purdue C A.J. Hammons who has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 11 games.
No doubt Wisconsin – averaging 85 ppg through its first two Big 10 games – has stepped on the gas pedal on that end of the floor and so don’t be shocked if/when the Boilermakers decide to take some air out of the basketball here. It can’t hurt!
CLEMSON (8-5. 0-1) at #5 LOUISVILLE (13-1, 1-0) – 9 p.m. ET
Rick Pitino’s U of L Cardinals had a real battle on its hands this past Sunday night before pulling away late in an 85-76 triumph over 13-point home pup Wake Forest – the hero was Chris Jones who poured in 20 of his 22 points after intermission and so expect some gimmicky defenses here by visiting Clemson to slow down Jones who banged home 8-of-9 FTs along the way versus Wake Forest.
Clemson shot just 28.3 percent from the floor in last weekend’s ugly 74-50 home loss against North Carolina – the Tigers actually shot a rancid 6-of-26 from beyond the three-point stripe in that ACC setback.
NOTE: Get our NFL Divisional Playoff Previews in the next couple of Jim Sez columns.