Sunday's Division Playoffs (January 13, 2013)
HERE'S THE SUNDAY MATCHUPS FROM ATLANTA AND FOXBOROUGH
By Jim Hurley:
What many folks believe to be the single-best football weekend of the whole year is here - and Sunday's NFL Divisional Playoff showdowns are previewed below but let's take a moment to show you how Jim Hurley has been doing in the wonderful world of hoops.
Jim Hurley's Cashline Basketball at 1-800-323-4453 has been smoking-hot with recent NBA winners including Utah's 100-94 triumph over Dallas on January 7th and College B-Ball winners such as Missouri's wipeout win against Alabama one night later and Temple's recent cover against double-digit betting fav Kansas.
And remember Jim heats it up on the hardwood with his Blue Ribbon Basketball line that recently has featured such hoop winners as West Virginia (+ 5 ½) over Texas 57-53 in overtime and Missouri State's rollicking upset win against 9 ½-point fav Illinois State 62-55.
Make sure you're all aboard for all the hard-court winners - check out Jim Hurley's Cashline Basketball, Blue Ribbon Basketball and Private Line Basketball - all at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 -- and win all winter long and make sure to cash this weekend on all the Sides/Totals Winners in the NFL Divisional Playoff Round Games!
NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
SEATTLE (12-5) at ATLANTA (13-3) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Do any of the still-remaining NFL playoff teams have more real pressure on their shoulder pads this weekend than these Atlanta Falcons?
Okay, so everyone's quite aware of the Falcons' 0-for-3 mark in post-season games under fifth-year head coach Mike Smith but were you aware that Atlanta's last playoff win came in the Jim L. Mora Era back in 2004 and so that's a long time between whiskey sours!
If Atlanta wishes to march on into next weekend's NFC Championship Game, than a couple of obvious things must happen - and also a couple of not-so-obvious things too: The Falcons' three-headed pass-catching corps of WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones (a combined 171 receptions and 17 TDs this year) along with ageless TE Tony Gonzalez (93 catches and 8 TDs) must make a splash here sooner rather than later in a statement to the Seattle secondary that spooked many of the Washington Redskins' pass-catchers a week ago - will Seahawks' CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have Atlanta's receivers in alligator-arm postures here?
And can Atlanta QB Matt Ryan (4,719 yards passing with 32 TDs and 14 INTs) get enough time in the pocket to pick-and-choose his downfield targets - after all, Ryan's a master after completing nearly 69 percent of his forward tosses this year.
The not-so-obvious factors include the following: Is Atlanta's defense - often considered a tad finesse - tough enough to handle the running of "beast" RB Marshawn Lynch (1,590 yards rushing) and physical enough to make Seattle wide receivers pay when they go over the middle? A big part of this game will be whether or not Atlanta's DBs can dislodge the ball from WR Golden Tate (45 catches and 7 TDs) who has a way of making the big play when QB Russell Wilson looks 'em up.
What else to watch?
Will Seattle head coach Pete Carroll have immediate faith in new PK Ryan Longwell who replaces the injured Steven Haushka (calf) with field-goal tries of beyond 45 yards here?
Gotta believe the Seahawks will be in "four-down territory" a few times here when otherwise they would settle for a Haushka three-pointer, right?
Spread Notes - Atlanta is 9-6-1 ATS (against the spread) overall this season and a healthy 48-33-2 vig-wise since the arrival of head coach Smith prior to the 2008 season. The Falcons - 0-3 ATS in playoff games under Smith with failures against Arizona (2008), Green Bay (2010) and the New York Giants (2011) - split their eight regular-season games as home betting favorites this year and are 23-15-2 ATS overall as chalk sides the past three seasons. Meanwhile, Seattle is now 12-5 against the Las Vegas prices overall this year and that includes a sizzling 6-1 ATS mark whenever in the underdog role. In fact, the Seahawks are 15-5-1 ATS as pups dating back to the start of 2011 and Seattle's a composite 6-5 spreadwise in post-season action the past 10 years.
Now here's the game-by-game look at both the Seahawks and the Falcons and note all home teams are in CAPS:
|#3||SEATTLE||+ 3||Green Bay||14-12|
|#4||ST. LOUIS||+ 2||Seattle||19-13|
|#6||SEATTLE||+ 4.5||New England||24-23|
|#7||SAN FRANCISCO||- 7.5||Seattle||13-6|
|#10||SEATTLE||- 5.5||NY Jets||28-7|
|#16||SEATTLE||- 3||San Francisco||42-13|
|#17||SEATTLE||- 11.5||St. Louis||20-13|
|#1||Atlanta||- 2||KANSAS CITY||40-24|
|#3||Atlanta||+ 3||SAN DIEGO||27-3|
|#10||NEW ORLEANS||+ 1||Atlanta||31-27|
|#12||Atlanta||- 1||TAMPA BAY||24-23|
|#13||ATLANTA||- 3.5||New Orleans||23-13|
|#15||ATLANTA||- 1||NY Giants||34-0|
|#17||Tampa Bay||+ 3||ATLANTA||22-17|
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
HOUSTON (13-4) at NEW ENGLAND (12-4) - 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The plain-and-simple fact is that the New England Patriots have been part of the Super Bowl hoopla in four of the last nine years - not winning it all since the 2004 season.
If the Patriots are gonna get over this initial playoff hurdle than QB Tom Brady (4,827 yards passing with 34 TDs and 8 INTs this season) needs the matchups to go in his favor here ... just as they did in that 42-14 slam-bang win against Houston back on December 10th.
In that prime-time Monday Night Football tilt, Brady threw for 296 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs and the Pats scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions and keep in mind that one was played without the services of TE Rob Gronkowski (11 TD catches this season) who was out with a broken arm - Gronk's back here and Brady will be eyeballing him and fellow TE Aaron Hernandez plenty but will the Texans' defense be "giving away" their defensive schemes too early in the play clock as was the case last month?
No doubt that Houston head coach Gary Kubiak has just as much pressure on 'em here as does his defensive coordinator Wade Phillips: While Phillips must get monster games by the likes of DE J.J. Watt - a major force in last weekend's 19-13 AFC Wild Card win/cover against Cincinnati - and this veteran secondary, it's Kubiak who must come up with the answers of how to deal with New England DT Vince Wilfork who busts up these type games. Look for draws/traps to be run for Houston RB Arian Foster (32 carries for 140 yards last week against the Bengals) and expect the Texans to test the still-shaky Patriots secondary.
Gut feel is both WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels (112 and 62 receptions, respectively, this year) must catch 15-to-18 balls between 'em and some of them have to be "chunk plays".
One X-factor at work here: Houston cannot abandon the ground game even if it gets down two scores here: Foster has to touch the ball 30-plus times and Texans' QB Matt Schaub can't afford any in-game slumps with his accuracy - the AFC South crew may not have to be absolutely perfect to win here but they gotta be pretty darn close to perfect!
Spread Notes - New England's 9-6-1 spreadwise overall this 2012 season and the Patriots enter this playoff clash having failed to cover seven of its last eight post-seasons games. Note that New England has notched spread wins in its last three head-to-head games versus Houston including covers back in the 2006 and 2010 regular seasons. On the flip side, Houston is 10-7 ATS overall this year (remember the Texans darted out of the starting gate on a four-game spread winning streak this year) and the AFC South crew is a solid 6-3 ATS as underdog sides since the start of last year. P.S., Houston has covered all three of its playoff games - last year's pointspread wins against Cincinnati and Baltimore and, of course, last week's Wild Card cover against the Bengals.
Now here's the game-by-game look at both the Texans and the Patriots and note all home teams are in CAPS:
|#5||Houston||- 9.5||NY JETS||23-17|
|#6||Green Bay||+ 4||HOUSTON||42-24|
|#11||HOUSTON||- 14.5||Jacksonville||43-37 (ot)|
|#12||Houston||- 3.5||DETROIT||34-31 (ot)|
|#14||NEW ENGLAND||+ 5.5||Houston||42-14|
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
|#1||New England||- 5.5||TENNESSEE||34-13|
|#2||Arizona||+ 13.5||NEW ENGLAND||20-18|
|#3||BALTIMORE||- 2.5||New England||31-30|
|#4||New England||- 4||BUFFALO||52-28|
|#5||NEW ENGLAND||- 6.5||Denver||31-21|
|#6||SEATTLE||+ 4.5||New England||24-23|
|#7||NEW ENGLAND||- 11||NY Jets||29-26 (ot)|
|#8||New England||- 7||St. Louis||45-7|
|#10||NEW ENGLAND||- 13.5||Buffalo||37-31|
|#11||NEW ENGLAND||- 10||Indianapolis||59-24|
|#12||New England||- 7||NY JETS||49-19|
|#13||New England||- 7||MIAMI||23-16|
|#14||NEW ENGLAND||- 5.5||Houston||42-14|
|#15||San Francisco||+ 4||NEW ENGLAND||41-34|
|#16||New England||- 14||JACKSONVILLE||23-16|
|#17||NEW ENGLAND||- 11||Miami||28-0|
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