Looking Ahead to Next Week’s Championship Games
EXTRA, EXTRA …
THE GUIDE TO GETTING TO NEXT SUNDAY’S AFC & NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
Let’s cut right to the proverbial chase and tell you something that you probably already knew – and something that you probably did not know:
Yes, the New England Patriots have indeed played in the last five consecutive AFC Championship Games dating back to the 2011 season and a Saturday night win in the AFC Divisional Playoffs against two-TD plus underdog Houston would be sending N’England head ball coach Bill Belichick, QB Tom Brady and the rest of the Pats back to the conference championship tilt for a sixth consecutive year.
But did you know that on the NFC side of things we enter this Divisional Playoff weekend with a whopping total of seven teams that have played in the NFC Championship Game the past five years: That’s Arizona (2015), Atlanta (2012), Carolina (2015), Green Bay (2014), New York Giants (2011), San Francisco (2011, ’12 and ’13) and Seattle (2013 and ’14).
Normally, a big-time defense and a star quarterback have been the recipes for getting to the NFC Championship Games and if you want the best combo of defense/QB among the four NFC teams in action this weekend you’d probably have to say the Seattle Seahawks win that particular argument and, as you can see, recent playoff experience is also very much on the Seahawks’ side.
Yet, it ain’t all that easy.
Check out the last couple of years and you’ll see teams that play in the NFC Championship Game – and then win that game – normally are hotter than a summer’s day in Texas: Last year the Carolina Panthers had won 17 of their previous 18 games before dunking the Arizona Cardinals and two years ago the Seahawks had swiped seven games in a row SU (straight-up) before squeezing out that amazing 28-22 overtime home win against Green Bay.
Hottest NFC side heading into NFC Divisional play: It’s Green Bay with seven wins in a row both SU and ATS (against the spread). Not far behind is #1 seed Dallas with 13 wins in its last 15 games and one of those losses really didn’t count (see Week 17’s meaningless tilt at Philadelphia).
One other note is terms of a “guide” to getting to the championship game:
On the AFC side, the Pats sure enough have gotten there five straight years – twice they played the Baltimore Ravens (see 2011 and ’12), twice they played the Denver Broncos (2013 and ’15) and on once they deflated the Indianapolis Colts (2014) and take note the Pats covered their divisional round game four of those five times with a non-cover win against Baltimore happening back in the 2014 season.
Extra, extra …
Get the best plays of this weekend’s NFL Divisional Playoff games plus top 3 basketball plays when you check with us here on game-day mornings at Jim Hurley’s Network.
Cash in with Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots on the Saturday menu; then win with the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers at the Dallas Cowboys on the Sunday card.
And, of course, make sure you’re all aboard for the NBA and NCAA Basketball daily/nightly winners all this week either online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF WEEKEND NOTES
Will the time change in Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Kansas City Chiefs – from 1:05 p.m. ET to 8:20 p.m. ET because of weather – have a negative effect on either one of these teams? Well, in case you were wondering the Steelers did beat up Kansas City 43-14 in a Sunday night prime-time game back in Week 4 play but the Chiefs have thrived in other prime-time affairs including that Christmas Night win/cover against Denver.
Still, gotta believe the crowd noise – always amped up at Arrowhead Stadium – will be booming later in the day after the fans have had more time to, well, enjoy their beverages. On the flip side, maybe the six hour “delay” will help Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and his balky foot that was injured in the game’s second-to-last Steelers’ offensive play last weekend.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Atlanta’s Dan Quinn and Houston’s Bill O’Brien are the lone head coaches working in his first-ever divisional playoff game. The SU/ATS record in this round for the other head coaches are as follows:
Dallas – Jason Garrett 1-0 SU/0-1 ATS
Green Bay – Mike McCarthy 3-3 SU/3-3 ATS
Kansas City – Andy Reid 0-1 SU/0-1 ATS (only his records with KC)
New England – Bill Belichick 10-1 SU/7-4 ATS
Pittsburgh – Mike Tomlin 3-0 SU/2-1 ATS
Seattle – Pete Carroll 2-3 SU/2-3 ATS
NOTE: NFL Divisional Playoff recaps and more in the next Jim Sez.
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