2018 Record ATS: 51-34-3 (60 percent)
In the regular season, I gave you (usually) five plays a week. During the NFL playoffs, I’ll be breaking down every game on a weekly basis…telling you what to play and what to punt.
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs (-6)
Just like last week, the first game of the divisional slate is going to be a non-play for us.
Based on ANY/A Value, the first-ranked Kansas City Chiefs will be hosting the eighth-ranked Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon. The Colts have been hotter as of lately, especially after quarterback Andrew Luck’s slow start to the season, so that number might actually be too low considering the circumstances.
Overall, this line seems right. If it dips below four, take Kansas City. If it goes above 7.5, take Indianapolis. As of right now, this is simply a non-play for us, but we do have opinions on the other games.
Two-team, six-point tease
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams (-1)
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints (-3)
That’s right…a playoff teaser. What could go wrong?
The Dallas Cowboys are the last team alive that both has a below average pass offense and pass defense according to ANY/A Value, ranking them as 19th-ranked NFL team overall when considering both ends of their passing game. The Eagles (14th) are the only other team still in the playoffs ranked below ninth. I think you can see where we are going here.
Despite all of the Nick Foles excitement, we still need to remind ourselves that he didn’t have a great game against Chicago and that the Bears could have tied that game had they not shifted then motioned Khalil Mack on a bunk two-point play (which they missed) instead of going for a standard PAT, and they could have won it on a reasonable field goal at the end of the game.
Only one pass offense (Kansas City) was better than New Orleans’ this year. Only the Atlanta stands between Los Angeles and New Orleans. We can get two of the four best passing offenses in the sport, when we know that passing offense translates better to the playoffs than pass defenses, against much lower ranked teams (especially in the offensive passing game) at home…as favorites of a field goal or less.
I usually do not like teasers, especially this deep into the playoffs, but both Dallas and Philadelphia are still here today because of some awful coaching decisions. Don’t expect Sean McVay or Sean Payton to fall into the same trap.
Los Angeles Chargers (+4.5) @ New England Patriots
Here come the takes. The Los Angeles Chargers are a better team than the New England Patriots this year. They just are. This is a matchup between the third-ranked Chargers and the fourth-ranked Patriots, who, by ANY/A standards, are close but it still leans Los Angeles’ way by about 100 yards.
There are a couple of things to think about here:
- The Chargers might actually be better equipped to play on the road than people think. Their unique circumstance in Los Angeles doesn’t really provide them much of a home field advantage, so their road success shouldn’t really be surprising to anyone.
- This line is probably taking into account the west coast traveling east early narrative, which does have some merit to it, but the Chargers have basically played 17 road games this year and are just coming off of a road win in an early start in Baltimore, which had a much better overall defense and offensive run game than New England has.
- New England hasn’t really been stress tested since receiver Josh Gordon took his leave. Remember when the Patriots looked awful to open the season, before Gordon was traded for and Julian Edelman was off of his suspension? We very well might be in the mix for that offense this week.
If this line were -2.5 or -3, with the Patriots as favorites, I would not touch it. With all of the factors coming into this game…AND the line being over the key number of three…we have a play.