What a Christmas period that was! It’s been a very busy one where I’ve driven about 1,000 miles and suffered for Flu for most of it. As apparently most of the UK were also infected with. It’s taken me until now to feel most of the way human again and my throat is still shit, so not a great one.
That’s the main reason I didn’t get anything out for last week, which was actually quite annoying as I had a decent gambling evening on a personal level finishing with the Skybet treble landing, the half time boost for them landing and a couple of other TD scorers I liked all scoring as well.
From another personal point of view I and a few others, (DarkDyson, Sportingminute and Tom_Selwyn who writes for WeLoveBetting) had a cracking finishing to the season from a spread betting standpoint. We went 5-0 in the final week to finish the year in joint 6th place in the RedZone Supercontest returning £625 from our £250 entry fee. A very good year from the boys as I’m not great vs the spread in general so the fact that we did so well was a great achievement for us and we’ll be in again next year aiming for that £12k top prize!
The Texans take their usual spot as the early game, it’s the 6th year in 9 they’ve been dumped in the losers spot as the first game, basically reserved for the one the TV companies think will be the least entertaining, and frankly they could well be right in this one again.
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Buffalo Bills (+2.5) at Texans: 43.5
The Bills have been disrespected by a lot of us for a lot of the season. They finished the year at 10-6 but did it by beating up on one of the easiest schedules in recent history. The games they lost this year? Pats twice, Eagles, Browns, Ravens, and the Jets when resting everyone last week. So basically, the 3 decent teams they played, and the Browns.
It makes this game a really tough one to call and I find the Bills as a whole very tough to handicap. They have a good enough QB in Josh Allen. While he’s not an accurate passer and there’s a chance he never will be, his mobility is a huge asset for the team as he’s rushed for over 500 yards this year and ran in for 9 TDs. Unsurprisingly given the fact he only threw for 20 scores he led the team in TDs this season. He played just the first quarter last week so should be nicely rested up.
They also rested their wide receivers last week. John ‘smokey’ Brown topped 1,000 yards for the second time in his career and had his high for receptions scoring 6 times on the year. He’s the downfield threat for the team and had 10 games in a row to start the season with at least 50 yards receiving in each game, so a line of 60.5 isn’t a bad one at all. Cole Beasley is the short range threat and has led the team in targets in recent weeks. He’s found the endzone 6 times this year as well something that I didn’t think he’d be able to do, he’s set at 51.5 yards for this game. The WR3 for them looks like it will be Isaiah McKenzie, he’s an explosive kid who can make something from nothing, although too often it’s closer to nothing, surprisingly he’s actually had at least 2 receptions in most games this year. He’s set at 17.5 for this one.
Tight end is a mix between Tyler Kroft and Dawson Knox. The rookie here started the season well while Kroft was out and is still used more in the passing game although Kroft has scored most recently of the two. Neither are really trust-worthy for betting, Knox is set at 24.5
The running game has come on considerably since they started using rookie Devin Singletary more. He leads the league in yards per rush at 5.1 and has at least 14 carries per game in the last 6 of the regular season. He’s decent catching out of the backfield as well though isn’t targeted as much as I’d have expected. He makes a lot of yards by bouncing to the outside and the Texans aren’t exactly great at defending that type of runner. When he needs a rest they’ve still got Old man Gore who averages about 9 carries per game. I’d have to lean under 27.5 rec. yards for Devin and o63.5 for his rush yards.
The Bills have the 5th ranked pass defense led by Tre’davius White who has proven himself to be one of the best CBs in the league and should have a great match for us to watch against DeAndre Hopkins. They’ve been getting a bit of pass rush recently as well, although is Shaq Lawson misses out then that’s a loss for them.
The Texans were guaranteed 4th seed after the Chiefs beat the Chargers last week so they took their chance to rest starters as well. Deshaun Watson, Nuk Hopkins, Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil all sat out last week and should be back for this one (a slight worry on Tunsils health but I think he’ll be fine) – They will more than likely be without Will Fuller though who is a key player for them.
Watson is one of the best QBs in the league since he first started for the Texans and until the Ravens game this year hadn’t lost by more than one score since high school, that’s happened twice this year now as they slipped up against the Broncos. Watson has been nursing a back injury for the last month or so, so last weeks rest came at a good time for him, similar to Allen his mobility is a big asset in his game. When Watson is protected he’s one of the best QBs in the league, even with the usual poor protection he’s still able to find his men for the most part. He’s run a little less than Allen and ‘only’ scored 7 TDs on the ground but he’s far better throwing the ball.
It helps when you’ve got a first team all-pro on your team in the form of DeAndre ‘Nuk’ Hopkins. He finished with 1,100 yards and 7 TDs, which in fairness is a down year for him and honestly I’m a little surprised he finished with such high yardage. He’s set at 77.5 yards for this one and will be the clear main man in this one with Kenny Stills the WR2. Stills came across as a bit part in the Tunsil trade earlier in the year but has become an important part of the passing game with Will Fuller more often than not out injured. He’s got a similar skillset but not to the same ability of Fuller. Outside of those two you’re probably looking at Deandre Carter who seems to have stepped ahead of Keke Coutee for now. Neither have been reliable this year.
His main tight end seems to be Darren Fells, but Lucas Akins mixes in as well. Fells has scored more this season but good luck if you pick either of them to do anything in this one.
The run game has actually been pretty good for the Texans with Carlos Hyde topping 1,000 yards on the ground at 4.4 per carry and scored 6 times. He’s set at 64.5 rush yards. He’s the first two downs back while Duke Johnson is the 3rd down guy who’s adept pass catching and running the ball. He’s at 27.5 rec. yards, 16.5 on the ground.
The Texans defense isn’t great. Ranked 26th vs the pass, 22nd vs the run. They should welcome back JJ Watt for this one though, despite being off for nearly 2 months he still leads the team in pressures but he’s coming back very early from a torn pec. injury.
This is a really tough start to the weekend and it will probably be decided by 3 points or so.
I’d have to lean under as the Bills defense is that solid. But other than that I’m not sure how it will go.
There’s a strong trend on the team who’ve played the toughest strength of schedule winning the first game in the playoffs as well as a trend against first time playoff QBs which would be Josh Allen. So that helps the Texans on both counts.
Add to that home-field and I’ve got to lean to the Texans winning this one.
- Josh Allen anytime TD – 2.88 (William Hill)
Tennessee Titans (+4.5) @ New England Patriots: 45
Form vs History. Which do you take? If you’re taking form there’s only one team winning this one and that’s the Titans, they’ve been far far better over the last month of the season. In fact the Dolphins won more games in the second half of the season than the Patriots did.
But do you really think the Patriots are going to lose two home games in a row, including one in the playoffs? I’m not quite so sure.
Ryan Tannehill has been brilliant since coming into the team to replace Mariota, he’s been a top 5 QB in accuracy and on QBR for the last couple of months of the season, he doesn’t throw a whole lot but when he does he makes it count and the red zone efficiency of the Titans this season has been remarkable. They’ve scored TDs on 3/4 of red zone trips. That’s just a ridiculous record. Some stats for Tannehill – 22:6 TDs to Ints, 70% completion percentage, a 117 passer rating, and he’s ran 4 TDs in himself as well.
It’s his connection with AJ Brown which has really bloomed in the back half of the season, the man is an absolute beast and plays much bigger than the 6’2″ he’s listed as. I’ll admit I wanted to the Bengals to draft him just so they’d have AJ Green and AJ Brown on the same field, but I didn’t realise he was actually a monster. He’s scored 6 times in their last 6 matches, he went over 100 yards in 4 of those games and has a couple of big rushing attempts in them as well as the Titans realise they just need to get him the ball. I do think that they’ll probably double team him in this one rather than trying to leave Gilmore on him though. That means Gilmore will probably be on Corey Davis. It’s between him and Tajae Sharpe for WR2 and 3 duties.
Jonnu Smith has proven himself a decent enough player filling in for Delanie Walker who’s missed most of the year, he’s not scored a whole lot but is a physical freak who can break off some long runs. Just the 3 TDs this season, 2 of them coming in their last 4 games. They do use Firkser and even Pruitt in the redzone though so there’s a few big targets to be aimed at.
I’ve not even mentioned the AFCs leading rusher yet, Derrick Henry had over 30 carries last week to get him the record. That usually means a downturn the following week but he was coming off a week rest and frankly I’m not sure human things like that affect Henry anyway. He’s a machine. He finished the season with 16 rushing TDs, only missing the endzone in 4 of his 15 games. He’ll be the main man in the offense as always and the Pats main weakness is against the run so it should be a fruitful choice.
The Patriots have been terrible. It has been a stupid thing to say for the last few years, but Brady looks past it, the offense as a whole hasn’t been working, the run game stinks, the pass game stinks. They’ve got this far almost entirely on the back of D/ST.
But it’s January and the Patriots regular season is generally completely pointless once the year turns over. I’m not entirely sure that’s the case this time around as the offense has been so completely inept for a lot of the year but historically that’s what they do. Brady has only had one QBR above 50 in the last 7 games, in their game against the Bills. That alone is a damning stat. He was poor vs the Bengals constantly over-throwing his receivers and he’s got no-one he seems to trust in the passing game.
Jules is his man and he’s not fit at the moment, they would have been expecting to have this week off to give him the rest he needs, but that fuck up against the Dolphins has screwed that for them. They really need him back healthy and I’m not sure he will be. They brought in Mo Sanu from the Falcons and he’s a talented guy but things aren’t clicking with him and Brady at the moment. They’ve been getting N’Keal Harry involved through the air and on the ground as they try and get some kind of spark going on offense and tight end Ben Watson has quite a few targets over recent weeks.
The run game has been garbage as well, as someone who drafted Sony Michel in fantasy I can confirm he’s been dogshit this year despite still getting most of the carries for the team. In fairness his efficiency is up slightly towards the end of the year but they’ll need a big game from him, Burkhead or more likely playoff James White. Burkhead has actually looked pretty good in recent weeks, and 19.5 is a fairly low rush line for him. I do like James White o50.5 combined yards though. It’s the playoffs. It’s what he does.
They’ve made it this far on the back of their defense and special teams, they create turnovers and mean the rest of the team don’t have to be at their best. I think it’s safe to assume an interception or blocked kick/punt could change this game in the Patriots favour at some point in this one. Especially as the Titans kicking game has been the worst in the league and the kid they’ve got in now hasn’t even kicked a FG for them.
In fact a missed field goal is probably a decent bet if you can find a line on it.
The Titans are the better team at the moment, they’re the form team and they’ve been far better this season and definitely more entertaining to watch.
They’re the cool teams as well, the public is all over them. But it’s January and this is the Patriots.
It’s Tannehills first playoff game, but he does have a good record vs the Pats from his time in Miami.
I’ve got to lean to the Pats. It’s horrible and I don’t want it to happen, but as the saying goes. You don’t win money betting against the Pats. The cunts.
- Jonnu Smith anytime – 7/2 (Uni/888),
- James White o50.5 rush and rec. yards – 5/6