Jim Sez for Thursday, Jan. 8 …
HERE’S THE NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
PREVIEWS FOR SATURDAY AS
RAVENS-PATS, PANTHERS-SEAHAWKS CLASH
The beat goes on in the NFL Playoffs – it’s now time for the #1 and #2 seeds to swing into action this weekend and we get it all goin’ with a look at Saturday’s AFC and NFC Divisional Playoff Games:
AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
#6 BALTIMORE (11-6) at #1 NEW ENGLAND (12-4) – 4:35 p.m. ET, NBC
It’s the fourth time in six years that the Ravens and Patriots are colliding at playoff time and you might be interested in knowing Baltimore has won two of the three games (all in Foxborough) and covered all three of ‘em … but does that necessarily mean anything here?
The fact of the matter is New England has played with a real chip on the shoulder this season – keep in mind Bill Belichick’s club actually was a home underdog twice this season (beat both Cincinnati and Denver outright) -- and while NE’s the betting choice here all week long QB Tom Brady (4,109 yards passing with 33 TDs) and Company has been hearing about a “fear” of having to play a physical Ravens team here.
But this just in:
The here-and-now Patriots have held nine opponents to 20 points or less – no small feat in this high-scoring age of the NFL – and here will do everything in their collective power to get in QB Joe Flacco’s grill.
Keep in mind the Pats had 40 sacks this year led by LB Rob Ninkovich’s eight sacks and that’s gonna be a large part of this game because if New England can’t rattle Flacco (two scoring strikes in last Saturday’s 30-17 AFC Wild Card win in Pittsburgh) than everything’s gonna fall on those Pats corners and so it could be high time CB Darrelle Revis earned his scratch here.
On the flip side, the Patriots make no secret of the fact Brady loves to chuck it to TE Rob Gronkowski (82 receptions for 1,124 yards and 12 TDs) and Baltimore’s patchwork secondary could have major problems handling him in the middle of the field but we say the Pats need to out-rush the Ravens in this clash and so RBs Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount must be more than mere after-thoughts in this pass-first offense.
The Patriots want to win time of possession in this tilt – the Steelers succeeded in that regard for much of the first half in last week’s Wild Card Game but simply didn’t do enough with the ball – and expect Belichick and Co. to shoot for 35-plus minutes of possession time here.
Spread Notes – New England is 9-7 against the odds this year and note the Patriots are a collective 38-34-1 spreadwise as betting favorites the past five years. Meanwhile, Baltimore enters this playoff tilt with a sizzling 10-4 ATS (against the spread) in all post-season games in the John Harbaugh Era that started in 2008 and the Ravens are 9-8 ATS overall this year (see charts below).
Here’s a game-by-game look at this year’s Baltimore Ravens and note all home teams are in CAPS below:
|#6||Baltimore||- 3||TAMPA BAY||48-17|
|#12||Baltimore||+ 2.5||NEW ORLEANS||34-27|
|#13||San Diego||+ 6.5||BALTIMORE||34-33|
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Here’s a game-by-game look at this year’s New England Patriots and note all home teams are in CAPS below:
|#1||MIAMI||- 3.5||New England||33-20|
|#2||New England||- 3||MINNESOTA||30-7|
|#3||NEW ENGLAND||- 13.5||Oakland||16-9|
|#4||KANSAS CITY||- 3||New England||41-14|
|#5||NEW ENGLAND||+ 2.5||Cincinnati||43-17|
|#7||NEW ENGLAND||-9.5||NY Jets||27-25|
|#13||GREEN BAY||-3||New England||26-21|
|#14||New England||-4||SAN DIEGO||23-14|
|#16||New England||-9.5||NY JETS||17-16|
Your attention, please …
Get all the NFL Divisional Playoff Game winners this Saturday and Sunday when you check with us after 10 a.m. ET on game days plus there’s NBA and NCAA Basketball winners each and every day right here online at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 â€“ pile up the profits this winter!
We will have the Side & Totals winners of the College Football Championship Game between Oregon vs. Ohio State on game-day Monday after 11 a.m. ET … so make sure you cap the college season with a bang!
NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
#4 CAROLINA (7-8-1) at #1 SEATTLE (12-4) – 8:15 p.m. ET, Fox
The “12th Man” is all fired up – playoff football is back in Seattle one year after the Seahawks copped their first-ever Super Bowl crown and now the $64,000 question is this:
Is there really anybody out there that can beat the Seahawks if Pete Carroll’s club plays its proverbial “A game”?
In a word …no!
Still, Seattle is no lead-pipe cinch to make it to Super Bowl 49 even though the NFC West champs roar into this tilt riding a six-game SU (straight-up) and six-game ATS winning streak powered by that “Legion of Boom” defense that’s held those last half-dozen opponents to a grand total of 39 points (or 6.5 ppg).
The Seahawks have obliterated enemy offenses in the past month-and-a-half but the key to beating the champs is getting ahead of ‘em – Seattle ranks just 27th in the NFL in passing offense and making QB Russell Wilson (3,475 yards passing with 20 TDs) chuck it when he has to chuck it is key.
Wilson’s killed teams with his legs lately – some designed runs (see the big win against the NY Giants) and some coming on the old-fashioned scramble plays (see versus Arizona a couple of weeks back) – but if Carolina’s underrated defense can keep Wilson in the pocket and turn ‘em over a couple of times here than the dogged Panthers have a shot … did you know Carolina has allowed just 59 points in its last five games?
Obviously, the Seahawks’ defense is the top unit on the field here with CB Richard Sherman getting the task of stopping rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin (73 catches for 1,008 yards and 9 TDs) and we don’t believe it’s at all possible that the Panthers can spring the upset unless the QB Cam Newton-to-Benjamin combo strikes for a batch of “chunk plays” here.
Yes, we know Newton (3,127 yards passing with 18 TDs) has done plenty with his legs in recent weeks for a Carolina offense that ranks 7th in the league in rushing offense (127.2 yards per game) but unless the visitors can strike up some flip-the-field plays here it’s gonna be lights out for another Seattle foe.
Looking for a key number here?
How about 30-plus carries for Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin and Wilson combined here … if that’s the case it’s the Seahawks more likely than not by two TDs or more.
Spread Notes – Seattle is 10-6 versus the vig this year and that features a current six-game spread winning streak. Note the Seahawks are 5-2 ATS in post-season games in the Pete Carroll Era. On the flip side, Carolina is 9-8 against the Las Vegas price tags this season and that includes three outright upset wins as road dogs (at Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta) plus the Panthers are 16-11 ATS as dogs the past three years.
Here’s a game-by-game look at this year’s Carolina Panthers and note all home teams are in CAPS below:
Here’s a game-by-game look at this year’s Seattle Seahawks and note all home teams are in CAPS below:
NOTE: Get Sunday’s NFL Divisional Playoff Game Previews in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.