The Thirsty Three: Playoff Elite Eight (Week 19)
Man, six NFL playoff games in three days lived up to the hype. The NFL never stops. They keep providing the action and this past weekend was no different. Who saw the Browns destroying the Steelers? Not I. Who saw the Rams manhandling the Seahawks, again, not me! I loved every bit of it. The NFL playoffs are never going back. I don’t believe the Bears were a playoff team. They lost their way in and at 8-8 they showed they did not belong with the Saints. The Colts on the other hand most definitely belonged and hung tight with the Bills. The NFL Betting action was awesome. It’s so great. You know we are gonna run it back. So let’s get it.
I was 2-1 for the playoffs. I did not see the Browns doing what they did to the Steelers. Still, I worry about their defense playing the Chiefs, but the Browns offensive line, coaching staff and running backs are legit. Baker Mayfield has found his formula for success. Do just enough. The Steelers unraveled starting in late November. Maybe I should have taken that into account, but to allow the Browns in Pittsburgh to put up 48 points is embarrassing. Many changes will coming to the Big Ben Dynasty. The NFL always has story lines.
I hit on the Saints covering at (-9.5). They won by 12 points. I hit on the Colts covering the (-7). They lost by 3. I obviously missed the Steelers. But hey, next week is another week.
This Week NFL Betting: Four Games
This week I’m going to do something a little different with just four games on the schedule. I’m going to give my NFL betting on all four. Then I’m going to put a confidence level on each game. I like to manager my bank roll and bet accordingly. So, last week I wagered 70% on the Saints games. Then I did around 15% for the Colts/Bills and 15% for the Browns/Steelers. I stayed away from the other game because I didn’t have a great feel on the number, but I always bet what I recommend because those are the lines I like most. Sometimes I bet more than three games a week, but usually no more than five games. It’s a matter of bankroll management for me. That is why I am able to take home a little extra at the end of every NFL season I’ve bet since 2001. It’s the strategy I recommend.
So onto week 19.
Season Total 30-21-3
58% win percentage
WEEK 19 – Elite Eight
Game 1: Rams vs. Packers (-7)
This is an interesting game. It really is strength on strength as the NFL’s top rated defense travels to the frigid tundra of Lambeau Field to take on the NFL’s top rated offense. The number is high in my opinion. I know the public loves the Pack. Plus Aaron Rodgers is the MVP this year. The Packers have been rolling, but I worry about the Pack in this game.
Green Bay Offense
Two major things scare me if I’m a Packers fan. Jalen Ramsay and Cam Akers. The Packers love to use Davante Adams to set everything else up. Rodgers and Adams have an NFL sacred connection and will find ways to get him the ball.The problem for the Pack is that Jalen Ramsay shuts down everything.He is a traveling cornerback. So no matter where they line up Adams, Ramsay will be on him.
With the Rams leading the NFL in sacks and the Packers losing All-Pro Offensive Left Tackle David Bahktiari before week 17, I worry that Aaron Donald (if he plays) and more importantly Leonard Floyd go to work against Rodgers. With Ramsay trailing Adams the majority of the game, it will take big time effort from Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, and Aaron Jones out of the backfield to produce for the Packers.
Green Bay Defense
On the other side of the ball the Packers have a very good passing defense. Unfortunately their rush defense leaves much to be desired. Similar to the last game against the Seahawks, Cam Akers should roll against the Packers. Akers has been all the Rams imagined when they took him in the second round. He took over the backfield late in the year and is ready to smash for the Rams in a game where he will be featured heavily.
I actually like the Rams to find a way to win this game. In these games, I like Sean McVey. If he can just muster a little offense from Jared Goff, let his run game and defense lead the way then the Rams have the type of team that can roll into Lambeau Field to shock the #1 seed in the NFC. I’m playing 20% of my bankroll this week. I think the Rams will cover the number, in fact I think the Rams pull off the upset. I’m calling it.
My NFL Betting
Score: Rams 27 – Packers 24
Rams cover the 7
Confidence 20% of bankroll
Game 2 Ravens vs. Bills (-2.5)
This game is tricky. I can see it going either way. This would be a game I would stay away from because I can see it going either way. However in this edition of the thirsty three, I am going to overserve myself and indulge in two fun as hell football teams. The Bills can score on anyone, but the Ravens defense can get up for any offense as we saw last week against an explosive Titans offense.
The Ravens boast the best passing defense over the last three games. They were 5th overall on the season. They don’t get to the quarterback as much as you would like to see, but they cover everything led by their elite secondary. The Ravens are also the best running team in the NFL by a wide margin. They are able to attack a middling Bills run defense that ranked 20th in yards given up on the ground per game.
With the Bills missing Zach Moss, they will have to lean on Devin Singletary in the run game. Good thing the Bills don’t use much of a run game to deliver their 2nd best offensive rating. This team is all about Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and other explosive playmakers in their passing offense.
The key to this game for the Ravens will be to run the rock. Just as the key to stopping any elite quarterback is to limit their opportunities, control the time of possession, grind out first downs and score when you are in the redzone. The Ravens are hot coming into this game. They have figured out their strengths. Run with Dobbins and Edwards and then when the game is on the line sneak Lamar Jackson out in the run game.
This is a close matchup, but I am going to give the Ravens the slight edge. Of course, Josh Allen is the X-factor. He is now in the top 5 QB’s in the league and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. He is elite, a gamer, a great passer from the pocket and when things break down he can still take off and run.
I’m going to say the Ravens eek out a brutal victory over the Bills that break the hearts of their fans everywhere. Probably will break a few tables too.
My NFL Betting
Score Ravens 27 – Bills 24
Ravens cover the +2.5 points
Confidence 15% of bankroll
Game 3 Browns vs. Chiefs (-10)
The Browns. What can you say? Man. Unreal. I love their formula. Coach Kevin Stefanski has changed the culture in one year. Nothing was more evident of that than the Browns destroying their hated big brother rivals, the Steelers while Stefanski was home on his couch dealing with Covid-19 protocols. Unbelievable. The Browns laid it to the Steelers. I could have seen the Browns win although I didn’t think they would. However, I never imagined that game would be 28-0 in the 1st quarter. Big Ben was brutal early then excellent late, but it wasn’t enough. The Browns move on to face the defending champs.
I actually like the Browns in this game. Something seems a little off with Patrick Mahomes and that excellent Chiefs offense. Now, I say that for a team that went 14-2 and rested most of their starters in week 17. This team is a juggernaut. It reminds me of the Patriots from 2000-2020, the Chiefs are going to own the NFL over the next 15 years. Mahomes is that good. Kelce is that good. Tyreek Hill is that good. Coach Andy Reid is that good.
I understand the points. The Browns lost to the Jets in a must have game in week 16. They barely beat a Steelers team in week 17 that rested most of their starters. The NFL gambling community gets lost in recency biased often. As soon as the Browns won, I am sure many people thought, “Hey, the Browns can take it to the Chiefs.” I believe the Browns can hang. They have the right type of team to hang with the Chiefs.
How Cleveland Wins
A common theme in this weeks review will be how to beat elite QB’s. Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes are the three best Quarterbacks this year. Tom Brady is the 4th.The key to beating all these guys is run the rock. That is what the Browns do well. They have the NFL’s best offensive line with the best backfield in the NFL between Chubb and Hunt. Both will have to continue to be explosive and finish in the redzone.
Cleveland’s Pass Defense
The problem I have with the Browns is their pass defense. In a weekend where many of these games feature strength on strength, this game features one of the NFL’s all time best passing attacks vs a Browns’ pass defense that struggles mightily. In all the glory against the Steelers, Big Ben did rack up over 500 yards passing. A better defense would have ended that Browns vs Steelers game in the 2nd quarter, but this passing defense is bad. It gave up over 330 yards per game over their last three games and ranks 25th overall in passing yards surrendered per game.
I like the Browns to try to stay close. The only chance they have to win is getting up early and grinding down the clock, I just worry there is simply too much Mahomes vs. an extremely pass friendly defense. I think this one gets sideways on a 4th quarter Baker Mayfield pick and I’m picking the Chiefs to roll in this game.
My NFL Betting
Score: Chiefs 41 – Browns 24
Chiefs cover the 10 point spread
Confidence 25% of bankroll
Game 4: Bucs vs. Saints (-3)
This game shouldn’t trouble me. Everything the data tells me says I know who is going to cover this game. It’s just one of those games where I shouldn’t bet against the GOAT. Bruce Arians is 0-4 against the Saints as Head Coach of the Bucs. The Saints destroyed the Bucs the last time they played and made Tom Brady look like Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky. Brady was terrible against the Saints the last time they played. He threw three picks and scoring the fewest points the Bucs would score all year.
On the other hand, Drew Brees was great. He threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers. He spread the ball around and genuinely confused Todd Bowles’ defense all day. The number seems low given how the Saints have taken it to the Bucs for two years. It seems to have every matchup you are looking for when assessing the number. However, it is hard to bet against the GOAT especially in the playoffs.
Tom Brady loves a challenge. I’m sure he sees this game as another legacy game in a career filled with legendary performances. Brees vs. Brady. Tom has been embarrassed by this team. This makes for one of those games where you just don’t bet against Brady. Something doesn’t make sense here and it makes me think the sports books want to temp you with the Bucs.
The Saints are the better team. They matchup well against these Bucs. Both Arians and Brady have had trouble, so I’m laying on the Saints. I’ll make Tom prove me wrong. If that happens, like many losers that have been slain by TB12 then I will shake my head and say, “Damn, never bet against the GOAT.”
My NFL Betting
Score: Saints 31 – Bucs 20
Confidence 40% of bankroll
That’s it folks. In the spirit of spirits, I guess you can call this the Frosty Four of NFL Betting. This is when the games get tight. So trust the numbers, trust the data, and bet without fear.
Only three more Sundays folks, then what? Best get paid while the getting is good. Best of luck! I’ll see you back here for the NFL Betting previews for the Conference Championships next week.