Predictions for this weekend's action
The key members of Plan Z Sports are here to help you navigate playoff betting action with our predictions for this weekend's games.
Saturday 1/12/2019 Games
(6) Indianapolis Colts
Record ATS: 9-7-1
(1) Kansas City Chiefs
Record ATS: 9-6-1
Spread: KC -4.5
The Colts have won 10 of their last 11 games and roll into Kansas City after dominating the Texans in an impressive 21-7 road victory on Wild Card Weekend. Most notably, the Indy defense made Deshaun Watson and the Texans' 12th ranked scoring offense look completely inept, keeping them off the scoreboard until a late touchdown. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have been the darlings of the league all year behind a powerhouse offense led by sophomore Patrick Mahomes and his 5,000 yard, 50-TD passing season. The Chiefs led the league in scoring posting the 3rd highest total in NFL history (35.3 PPG), but also carry the worst scoring defense of all playoff teams allowing 26.3 PPG.
A-Team Projection: KC 67.5% straight-up; pick 'em ATS; Under 67.0%
The A-Team has this one settling between a 4-5.5 point KC victory, with a very slight lean towards KC against the spread (51.7%), led by Mahomes throwing for 340+ yards. Big plays will be the difference between these two, as the Colts will move the ball easily but the Chiefs offense will ultimately be too much.
Chris Velissaris's Pick - Chiefs 34, Colts 28
The line has moved back towards the Colts coming up on game time, but give me Indy with the points (especially if you could get them with 5.5). The Chiefs are going to score 30+ points, which means that for the Colts to cover I am also taking the over in this game which could see a total score go up into the 60s.
Rob Wilder's Pick - Chiefs 28, Colts 27
I like Indy to cover in this one, but in what should be a high-scoring game 5-points is not as much as it seems so I take this with only some confidence. With money going towards the under on this game moving up to kickoff, I am staying away from the O/U at this point. If you got the under at 57, that seemed about right.
(4) Dallas Cowboys
Record ATS: 10-7
(2) Los Angeles Rams
Record ATS: 7-8-1
Spread: LA -7.0
Los Angeles had the luxury of "coasting" into this divisional round matchup by way of two lopsided wins over Arizona and San Francisco to end the season after losing in weeks 14 and 15 to the Bears and Eagles, respectively. Prior to those losses, the Rams were the odds on favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Were those losses in which the Rams committed 7 combined turnovers an anomaly? America's Team sure does not think so, as the Cowboys are fresh off beating Seattle in the Wild Card round in a game that was not nearly as close as the 24-22 final would appear. Dallas held Seattle's offense to a measly 3.0 yards-per-carry and only 11 first downs, while rushing for 4.8+ yards per tote themselves. That is the blueprint for a Dallas upset here, as they will need to contain Todd Gurley and force Jared Goff to beat them, while controlling the clock with Ezekiel Elliott if they will move on.
A-Team Projection: LA 76.6% straight-up; LA 53.9% ATS; Under 55.2%
As expected, the confidence level later in the playoffs gets much lower against the spread, with this being no exception. In 5,000 simulations, the Rams eked out a 7+ point victory in just over half of the games, which does not exactly make us thrilled about either side of this one. Similarly, there is not a clear pick for the over/under, but since we are technically just a set of algorithms that is supposed to spit out an answer without giving any long-winded disclaimers like this one - we will take the under with 55.2% confidence.
Chris Velissaris's Pick - Rams 28, Cowboys 20
This is one of those lines that has made me waffle back and forth several times, but I am settling on the well-rested Rams riding the home-field advantage to an 8+ point win. Technically I am also taking the over here, even though I know this prediction makes that a push... so there's that. I do think it is more likely to be a 30-21 type game rather than a 20-17 fight. LA does not have to worry about playing in the cold on Saturday (or possibly again this season).
Rob Wilder's Pick - Rams 28, Cowboys 21
It may seem to you like I am just copying my counterpart's prediction, but in reality I picked the score first, so there's that. I do not have Chris' confidence in the Rams winning this game by a touchdown, which is why this is a good spot to consider a teaser if you get the right price. I am coupling this with the Saints and a 6-point teaser which presents a considerably more comfortable bet featuring each home favorite only needing to win by a point or two. Book it.
Sunday 1/13/2019 Games
DIVISIONAL ROUND BEST BET
(5) Los Angeles Chargers
Record ATS: 10-7
(2) New England Patriots
Record ATS: 9-7
Spread: NE -4.0
If you watched the Chargers win on Wild Card Weekend, then you witnessed a Baltimore Ravens offense look like a high school team against LA's vicious defensive unit. Baltimore allowed 7 sacks, 3 turnovers, and only could produce 11 first downs, with most of the offensive production coming in the last 5 minutes of the game. This game could have been a lot worse, but the Ravens elite defense kept them in the game long enough to have a snowball's chance at the end for a miracle. Nevertheless, it was a strong road win against a very tough team. The Philip Rivers' led Chargers' offense obviously will need to pick up their production in order to beat the ageless duo of Belichik and Brady in Foxboro. The Pats had another ho-hum year by their standards extending their own record to 10 straight AFC East Division titles, so we know what to expect from New England. You can throw some of the regular season numbers out the window with this club as the Patriots are always playoff-ready, but their middle of the pack defense does provide some cause for concern if the Chargers can resume their mojo. Still, as one of the only two teams (along with the Rams) to be favored in every game this season, the Pats are consistently in this spot for a reason and that is not changing prior to Sunday.
A-Team Projection: NE 50.5% straight-up; LAC 63.0% ATS; Over 65.3%
We see this game as much more of a coin flip than than a 4-point spread, making this our highest confidence ATS play of the weekend. Expect the Chargers to overcome 1-2 turnovers and keep this one close through chunk plays both on the ground and through the air, but ultimately fall short to Brady and the Pats 27-25... which is an odd score to predict, but computer simulation results are not liars like all of you humans.
Chris Velissaris's Pick - Patriots 28, Chargers 27
I am very tempted to have the Chargers winning outright, and have sprinkled the money line accordingly, but still sticking with the Pats experience in these situations and home field ultimately giving them the edge to escape with a narrow victory. The over seems like a fairly high confidence play as well, but for ATS action bet on Rivers keeping this game close until the finish.
Rob Wilder's Pick - Chargers 29 - Patriots 27
I am going out on a limb here (in part because otherwise we are taking all chalk here and that is just plain boring). New England has the lowest spread of the weekend at only -4.0, and the Chargers look like they will be a bit too much to beat given the roll this team is on this year. This could finally be Philip Rivers' year.
(6) Philadelphia Eagles
Record ATS: 8-9
(1) New Orleans Saints
Record ATS: 10-6
Spread: NO -8.0
The last time these two teams saw each other was week 11 and New Orleans steamrolled Philly 48-7. That game proved to be a catalyst of sorts for the Eagles who won 6 of their next 7 games including last week in Chicago against the top ranked Bears defense. Do not overlook the Eagles in this game as they went into a tough environment last weekend and beat a team that was a good bet to see this Saints team in the NFC Championship. Nick Foles has been phenomenal once again as the backup QB-turned-savior for the Eagles winning their last 4 straight with Foles under center, and these have not been all cupcake matchups - @LAR, HOU, @WAS, @CHI... very impressive. The Saints defense is certainly much more exploitable than the Bears top ranked D, so the Eagles will look to cut out the turnovers (2 TO @CHI) and move the ball more effectively on the ground (1.83 YPC @CHI) in order to have a chance at keeping up with the Saints. Drew Brees is riding his mobility scooter into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday on a mission this year to add another Super Bowl ring to his legacy as a surefire 1st-ballot Hall of Famer. Brees has been awesome while leading the NFL with a personal best 115.7 passer rating (#2 in QBR) at age 39, yet it is the Saints' potent running game led by Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram that helps carry the load. New Orleans is 2-2 this year when they rush for less than 98 yards, with those two wins each being by 3 points. So while the temptation for the opponents is to focus on containing Brees, Michael Thomas, and this passing offense, the reality is that the Saints' offensive balance is really what makes them an elite unit so stopping the running attack will be a key to the Eagles' keeping the scoring in check.
A-Team Projection: NO 73.9% straight-up; PHI 50.8% ATS; Under 62.8%
Eight points is a lot of points to be getting in the playoffs. Over the last 10 years, road teams getting more than a touchdown have been 14-11 against the spread, and with the very slightest bit of confidence our 5,000 simulations have the Eagles following suit and covering just over half of the time although the juice alone makes that a bet we would steer clear of unless you can get even money. The under is where we will live in this game, as the final should be closer to 28-21 Saints. We do have the Saints finding room on the ground and averaging almost 4.5-yards per tote along with Brees doing Brees things and leading the offense to just under 400 yards of offense.
Chris Velissaris's Pick - Saints 31, Eagles 17
The Eagles could be a team of destiny (again), but my money is on them crapping out in the Superdome. My key to victory for the Saints will be showing up to the game on time. I get it, the Eagles have been on a roll, Nick Foles is amazing in the playoffs, this defense played great against the Bears, blah blah blah. They may not lose by 41 points again, but double digits is likely. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is the same Eagles team as last year - they are not. In what will be a raucous road environment against the odds on favorite to win the Super Bowl, unlike my spineless partner in crime below who is hiding behind a teaser I have the Saints covering all day plus the under.
Rob Wilder's Pick - Saints 27, Eagles 23
If you define"spineless" as the ability to make smart decisions to turn otherwise unfavorable betting situations into more profitable situations, then I would have to completely agree with Chris on that fact. Listen, the reality is that I am pretty highly confident that the Saints will win this game, and that they will win it by at least few points. But you heard it from the A-Team - 8 is a big number, especially in the playoffs, which makes this a line that I would steer clear of by itself if only for fear of the dreaded back door cover. Of course here at Plan Z Sports we are always looking for angles to discuss with you, so enter the parlay with a teaser. I have the Rams and Saints in a similar boat as far as loving them to win by a few points, but not necessarily by a touchdown. With the 6-pt teaser I am getting a better price than taking both teams in a parlay on the money line, but am putting myself in a situation where I see my probability of winning at almost the same as taking these two teams on a money line parlay. I don't always buy a teaser, but when I do I tease the winners.