For the playoffs, I will post picks on sides and/or totals on all the games since I know people are in contests and pools. I will highlight the ones I have personally wagered on and will be including the units I have bet as well. I will also mention the specific games I did not wager on and are for pools and contests only. Note, I will only count the sides and totals that I have personally wagered on for my playoff record. Up first is the Wildcard slate.
2019 NFL ATS Record posted in this article:
Supercontest Picks: 40-44-1 (48%)
Thursday Night Football: 11-3-1 (79%)
Other Posted Picks: 18-9 (67%)
All Posted Picks: 69-56-2 (55%)
Sides and Totals I have wagered on:
Patriots -4.5 (1 Unit -110 5Dimes)
- First and foremost, this is still Ryan Tannehill who is leading the Titans into the playoffs and it will be his first start in a playoff game. According to the Action Network, since the playoffs were expanded in 2002, first-time playoff QBs are just 12-31-1 ats (28%).
- Since the 2013 playoffs, there have been 17 instances of first time starting QBs in the Wild Card round who did not face another first-time playoff QB and those QBs are 4-13 straight up and 5-12 ats. There have been 25 total first-time playoff QBs in the Wild Card round since 2013 and in aggregate, those QBs have only completed 57% of their passes for 207 passing yards per game and only a 5.9 YPA average. Only one of those 25 QBs threw more than 2 TDs in a single playoff game, Alex Smith in 2014.
- Expect Stefon Gilmore to lock up rookie A.J. Brown and force Tannehill to look to Corey Davis, Tajae Sharp, and TE Jonnu Smith. In a similar spot against lockdown CB Marshon Lattimore, Brown only caught one pass for 34 yards.
- Tennessee ranks 10th in DVOA run defense and 21st in DVOA pass defense. CB Logan Ryan has been torched in the slot and has been targeted the most in the NFL this season. Ryan has allowed an absurd 80% catch rate, 4 TDs and a league-leading 198 yards after contact since Week 10. Julian Edelman has spent 68% of his snaps in the slot and is a juicy matchup against Ryan.
- New England has covered 6 of their last 7 home playoff games. And these haven’t been close covers by the Patriots either. In the 6 games that NE has covered, they’ve won by an average margin of 23 points per game while averaging a spread as a favorite of 8.3 during that stretch. They’ve won by double digits in all but one of the last 6 home playoff covers. Overall under Tom Brady, the Patriots are 13-9-1 ats at home in the playoffs.
- The Patriots, for all of their offensive struggles, have faced 7 teams in the bottom half of defensive DVOA, like the Titans, and have averaged 30 offensive points per game in those outings. The only game that they scored under 24 was in driving rain and windstorm at home against Dallas.
- Where the Patriots have struggled of late is protecting Brady. Fortunately, the Titans are 24th in generating pressure on defense. Brady should have plenty of time to scan the field.
- Look for the Patriots to also potentially lean on Sony Michel and run more heavy personnel. Similar to last season when Michel dominated the postseason, he has been getting more action down the stretch. We could see the same this year.
NE/TEN over 44.5 (0.5 Units -110 5Dimes)
- New England games have gone over in 11 of the last 14 home playoff games.
- Look for Derrick Henry to carry the load for the Titans and he has been hot lately, averaging 149 yards per game in his last 6. The Patriots have faced an easy schedule of run offenses, having only faced three teams all season in the top 10 in DVOA run offense. Against Cleveland, Baltimore, and Dallas, the Patriots allowed over 100 yards rushing in all three games and allowed 478 yards on 89 attempts and 5.37 ypc.
- Under Tannehill, the Titans have scored 27.5 offensive points against an aggregate set of defenses that have allowed 23 points per game.
- The Titans rank 19th in neutral game situation pace and have only played four other teams that rank in the top 20 in Kansas City, Carolina, Tampa, and Houston (ignoring Week 17 against backups). In those four games, the combined point totals were 67, 50, 50, and 45. In each of those games, the total combined plays were above the combined play average of the two teams.
- Also, don’t underestimate Tannehill taking deep shots that can benefit the Titans but also has the potential of turning the ball over and creating short fields for New England.
- One thing to always keep in mind in playoff games, is that unlike the regular season teams don’t pack it in even in a blowout. They will do whatever it takes to score late and keep the game alive. A backdoor score is always more available in the playoffs.
Philadelphia +1.5 (1.5 Units -110 5Dimes)
- I totally disagree with this line and my ratings have Philly -1.5
- Not that it’s a huge discrepancy but every point counts, especially against a Seattle team that plays so many close games.
- I’ve faded Seattle a ton this year and it took a while, but it started to pay off at the end of the season. Seattle has lost 3 of its last 4 and was blown out in two of those games. On the season they only have a plus-7-point differential which is much more indicative of an 8 or 9 win team than an 11-5 team. Compare this to the plus-31 differential for the Eagles.
- In their last 5 games, Seattle has been outgained by over 1.3 net yards per play. They’ve been outgained 6.0 to 4.0 at home versus a bad Arizona team that had Brett Hundley at QB for two quarters and the Niners at home 8.3 to 4.9.
- The Seahawks defense ranks 15th defending the pass and 26th defending the run, based on DVOA. They will also be without Mychal Kendricks who was the highest-graded run defender in their first matchup with the Eagles, per PFF.
- Miles Sanders is expected to play although it’s hard to know how effective he can be. In the prior five games to his injury against the Giants, Sanders had averaged 4.7 ypc and 78 yards per game rushing. He also added back to back 50+ yard receiving games prior to his injury. Boston Scott did step in nicely last week with 138 total yards and 3 TDs against the Giants. Seattle is 25th in success rate allowed to RBs out of the backfield. Look for both Sanders and Scott to excel in the passing game.
- Carson Wentz has played at an MVP level down the stretch and over the final five games he has thrown for at least 266 yards in every game and over 300 yards in three of his last five games.
- Seattle has been torched by TEs all season long, ranking 30th in yards per game allowed to TEs. The Eagles are well known for using the highest percentage of 12 personnel in the NFL at 52%. Seattle has allowed a fifth-worst 59% success rate to TEs out of 12 personnel formation, which is ideal for the Eagles. In their Week 12 matchup with the Seahawks, the Eagles threw the ball 19 times to TEs out of 12 for an excellent 63% success rate. Wentz completed 16 of 19 attempts to TEs out of 12 personnel in that game. In recent games against two teams who rank in the top 10 in TE targets, Tyler Higbee and George Kittle combined for 14 receptions and 202 yards against this Seattle defense.
- As great as Russell Wilson is, he has clearly been hampered by the losses to offensive weapons Rashad Penny, Chris Carson, and Josh Gordon. Wilson has cooled down after a red-hot start and has thrown more than two touchdown passes in just once in his past 11 games, with one or fewer touchdown passes in five of those games. He has not thrown for over 300 yards since Week 10 against Tampa. The Eagles can be beat especially on the outside. Seattle continues to focus way too much on the run game especially early in games. The Seahawks run the ball at the third-highest frequency in the first half of games. That will play right into the hands of an Eagles defense that ranks fourth in DVOA run defense.
- I also think the Eagles have a coaching edge where Doug Pederson has embraced analytics and is willing to go for it on fourth downs, compared to Pete Carrol who is still stuck in the 90’s.
New Orleans -1.5/Philadelphia +7.5 tease (2 units -120 bookmaker.eu)
- I think this is a great teaser and already explained why I like the Eagles. It’s even better when getting over 7 points as the Seahawks have only won two games by more than 7 and one of them was by 8 points.
- The Saints should have an advantage against the Vikings offense. They are unique in that they don’t use a lot of 3WR personnel groupings and instead use much more 12 and 21 personnel sets. Unfortunately, the Saints defend both sets very well. While they defend 11 personnel essentially at a league-average rate, they rank second in the NFL defending 12 and first defending 21 personnel.
- Dalvin Cook is expected to be back but may have a tough time against the Saints. He is only 23rd in success rate among RBs this season and has lived off explosive runs as he ranks eighth with 13 runs of 15+ yards. Unfortunately, the Saints defense ranks seventh in the percentage of explosive runs allowed to RBs. And they did face Christian McCaffrey twice this season holding him to just 90 yards on 31 carries. Even against Ezekiel Elliot early in the season, he was held to just 35 yards on 18 carries.
- Kirk Cousins will have to face a defense that ranks in the top 5 in pressure rate. In general, Cousins has performed well against pressure but in his last start against Green Bay, he was pressured all game and was sacked 5 times. He completed only 52% of his passes for 122 yards and a terrible 3.9 ypa average. Minnesota throws the ball 45% of the time from 12 personnel, the second-most in the NFL. The Saints are the fifth-best in pass success rate allowed from 12.
- The handicap for the Saints on offense is pretty simple. They have Michael Thomas and the Vikings have a depleted secondary with two CBs missing. They also are going to try and defend Thomas with Xavier Rhodes who ranks 85th out of 87 CBs in passer rating allowed. The Saints will also get use Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray against a Vikings run defense that has been burned lately. They allowed Aaron Jones to rush for 154 yards on 23 carries in Week 16 and Chris Carson and Rashad Penny to rush for 176 yards on 38 carries in Week 13.
- Any time a team is laying over 7 in a playoff game it always makes me nervous but having Drew Brees and the Saints defense with a teased line in my back pocket under 3, I feel more comfortable.
For Contest or Picks pool only:
New Orleans -8