Join us throughout the NFL playoffs as Josh and the Baker give their thoughts on the matchups. Josh will be writing from his usual gambling angle, while the Baker will be picking who he thinks will move on.
Josh (ATS): 3-1
Baker (SU): 3-1
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
Saturday, January 12 4:35 PM EST (NBC)
Josh: Kansas City is 0-9 ATS in home playoff games in 1970. With their playoff struggles highlighted in this game against a red-hot Colts team, there is a legitimate case to be made against Kansas City.
However, I think historical bias and Kansas City’s play since the loss of woman-beater Kareem Hunt is skewing this line a bit. The Chiefs major weakness is their run defense. Given that I’m primarily concerned about Indianapolis throwing the ball, I believe that Kansas City matches up better with Indianapolis than people think.
I could see the pass-rush duo of Justin Houston and Chris Jones forcing Andrew Luck into one of patented turnover-heavy games. The Colts offensive line has proven all year to be much better than in previous seasons, but I’m banking on the home team in a line that I feel should be significantly higher (and by that, I mean 2+ points). Give me a Chiefs team favored by five points (a dead number in my opinion if you’re looking to bet Indianapolis) at home looking for revenge from one of the worst playoff defeats in recent memory.
*Note* If you’re on the Colts side (dumb), bet the money line. You’re not getting much value with the spread. If Kansas City wins, I think it’s a big win.
Pick: Chiefs -5
Baker: Josh has his system and I have mine. They’re disagreeing here. There’s been no hotter team as of late than the Colts who have won ten of their last eleven. I’m a firm believer in riding the team with the hot hand and the Colts certainly fit that mold. Last week I picked against the teams I felt had playoff demons (Houston and LAC) and went 1-1. The Chiefs as a franchise are never far from heartbreak and this feels like a cruel twist of the knife coming their way. I also don’t trust Andy Reid as far as I can throw him (hint: it’s not very far).
It won’t be as easy for Indy as it was last week, but I don’t have faith in the Chiefs defense to consistently stop the Colts. I do believe the Chiefs will score points and this should be an interesting game. I’m sticking with the hot hand and taking the underdog.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
Saturday, January 12 8:15 PM EST (FOX)
I didn’t think I was going to bet the Cowboys after watching their win last week. This line opened at 7.5 and I quickly changed my stance.
The Cowboys, while not quite on the Rams level if we go position-by-position, have played better than the Rams by a significant margin for much of the second half. Dak Prescott, who I find to be particularly mundane, has finished six of his last seven games with a QBR over 60, throwing only four interceptions over that stretch. Jared Goff, meanwhile, has struggled since the start of December, with two touchdowns and six picks heading into his four-touchdown Week 17 performance against San Francisco.
I’ll take Dallas’ defense, though it plays significantly better at home, and the run game is a wash between these two teams. Oddly enough, I trust Dallas to be able to consistently move the ball more than I trust this year’s first-half juggernaut. This number is too high, and, as much as I hate writing it, I’ll gladly place a significant bet on the Cowboys this week.
Pick: Cowboys +7.5 (7 is also a good number)
Baker: I am an old school believer that the recipe for success in the NFL playoffs is still running the football and playing good defense. The first criteria looks to be a wash in this game as long as Todd Gurley is 100%. When it comes to defense though I think Dallas has a bigger edge than most are giving them credit for in this game. Outside of Aaron Donald, I think the Rams defense and secondary can be exploited. How much can Dak take advantage of that? It’s a big question mark, but I really like both Cooper & Gallup to matchup this week. Like Josh, I’m not sure if I trust Jared Goff in a game like this. Let’s start the weekend with a Saturday full of upsets.
Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
Sunday, January 13 1:05 PM EST (CBS)
I wouldn’t be much of a sports guy if I didn’t pick my Super Bowl team at the first sight of a visit to Touchdown Tommy Town in the Divisional Round. Give me the Chargers, with a good number and the (much) better defense.
Last week, the Chargers were three-point underdogs against a rookie quarterback on the road. The Patriots, while employing arguably the best quarterback of our generation, do not have anywhere near the defense that Baltimore brought to the table last week. I like the matchup, given also that it could be argued that Phil Rivers had an even better year than Brady this past season.
Also, for you real degenerates out there, the under (47) is looking sexy right now for a cold weekend in Foxborough.
I’ll say it again: Give. Me. The. Chargers.
Pick: Chargers +4.5
Baker: I want to pick another underdog here. I want to do it bad. I thought the Patriots were washed last year and I don’t mean that in any insulting way. I thought age finally caught up to them and that they didn’t have the talent in key positions like normal. They won the AFC, but I looked right during the Super Bowl. I have similar thoughts again this year. I think they’re slow and they’re old and playing in the AFC East has inflated them. Let me say it…The Chargers are better than the Patriots.
It’s supposed to snow 3-5 inches in Foxborough Sunday. If you’re a gambler can you really bet against old men river? Belichick & Brady just don’t lose home playoff games in whiteout conditions. Remember this?
The Chargers are a better team than the Patriots. I’m taking New England.
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, January 13 4:40 PM EST (FOX)
Josh: There are a lot of reasons to bet the Saints. Given homefield advantage, Drew Brees and juggernaut that we’ve seen all season (or most of it, rather), it’s hard to bet against them. The New Orleans wideouts are salivating at the chance to face this puppy-dog secondary that allowed many Bears wideouts to be open throughout the contest last week. And the Eagles are lucky to be here, right?
If you watched the game last week, you would’ve seen that Mitch Trubisky threw 3+ interceptable passes that were all dropped. The Bears early touchdown was spurred by a pair of third down penalties. The Eagles also turned it over twice in Chicago territory. One could say the Bears were lucky to be close, especially in the first half.
This Eagles team struggled in several aspects, but I will tell you a pair of areas where they didn’t: Protecting Nick Foles (one sack allowed) and stopping the run (allowing 2.5 yards per carry if you take out Taylor Gabriel’s early 21-yard rush).
This line opened at 10 and I bet on Philadelphia at nine. As sad as I am for missing on that point, the line dropped to 8 and likely will drop some more come kick-off. Give me the Eagles, in a game where the number should be closer to a touchdown as opposed to a two-possession game.
Pick: Eagles +9
Baker: The Eagles beating the Bears last Sunday brought feelings beyond joy into my life. Nothing better than seeing the Bears go home in heartbreaking fashion. The question now is: Did the Eagles use up all of their magic to escape Chicago with a win?
I’m not so sure. I almost could copy and paste my write up on this team from last week again. Nobody is giving them a chance. They’re heavy underdogs and facing one of the most hostile environments in the NFL. And yet, I still feel good about their chances. They’ll be there with their ski masks and dog masks ready to spoil another season. This team is dangerous and Nick Foles is one of the best stories we’ve seen in sports in a bit.
I’m always curious to see how a bye week affects a team and it will be interesting to see if it hurt or helped the Saints on Sunday. They didn’t play their best ball down the stretch and it looked like their offense had been figured out a bit. I think Michael Thomas is going to have a field day on Sunday, but I think it’s going to be tougher sledding for Alvin Kamara. I think this game may be more of a slugfest than the analysts and Vegas are predicting.
For some reason I’m predicting a weekend full of pure chaos. I’m taking the Eagles because I want to be a part of it. Let’s have some fun.