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GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-6) at ATLANTA FALCONS (13-3)
Sportsbook.com Line/Total: Atlanta -2.5 & 43.5
The red-hot Packers travel south to face the NFC’s top-seeded Falcons on Saturday night. This is a rematch of Week 12, when Atlanta edged Green Bay 20-17 at home.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers earned his first career playoff win last Sunday when his team upset the Eagles 21-16. Rodgers threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns in the win. He connected with nine different receivers and seven of those were targeted more than once. That gives Rodgers 603 passing yards, 7 TD and 1 INT in two career playoff games. The big star for Green Bay last week was rookie RB James Starks who set a franchise rookie playoff record with 123 rushing yards.
Matt Ryan makes his second playoff start, and first at home where he is 20-2 as a starter. In his 2008 rookie season, Ryan had a disappointing postseason debut, throwing for 199 yards, 2 TD and 2 INT in a 30-24 loss at Arizona. This year, Ryan has been stellar, throwing for 3,705 yards, 28 TD and just 9 INT. WR Roddy White has 115 catches for 1,389 yards and 10 TD, while TE Tony Gonzalez has caught 70 balls for 656 yards and six scores. All three players will have to perform at the top of their game against the Packers’ fifth-best pass defense in the league (194 YPG). Atlanta also boasts a top-notch running game with Michael Turner who has rumbled for 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns. He should find some holes in a Green Bay rushing defense allowing 115 YPG (18th in league).
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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-6) at TENNESSEE TITANS (5-7)
Sportsbook.com Line: Indianapolis -4 & 45.
The Colts try to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2001 when they visit Tennessee, losers of five straight, on Thursday night. Both teams know their only shot to make the playoffs is to win their final four games to take the AFC South Division crown. While Tennessee is relatively injury-free, the Colts have a gaggle of injury concerns. RB Joseph Addai (neck), RB Mike Hart (ankle) and WR Austin Collie (concussions) are all out for Thursday’s game, while TE Jacob Tamme (knee) is questionable and WR Reggie Wayne (knee) is probable to play at Tennessee.
Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown an uncanny 11 interceptions during the losing streak, but he has won three straight games against the Titans, throwing for five scores and just one interception in those contests. The big reason Manning is forcing the issue through the air is that the running game has been terrible without Addai and Hart. Over the past five games, the Colts are averaging a mere 55 rushing YPG on 3.0 yards per carry.
Sportsbook.com opened the Colts -3 & a ridiculous 92% of action is behind Indianapolis.
Tennessee is glad the Colts are forced to throw the football because the Titans can’t stop anybody on the ground. Tennessee has allowed 159 rushing YPG during its losing skid, including 258 to Jacksonville last week. The Titans have many more issues on the offensive side of the ball, failing to score an offensive touchdown in 13 straight quarters of action. Kerry Collins will start at QB again, despite his woeful performance against the Jaguars (14-of-32, 169 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT). RB Chris Johnson also needs to pick up his game, as he has gained a paltry 58 rushing yards in his past two games. He could find plenty of holes in a Colts defense surrendering 171 rushing YPG during their three-game losing skid.
These teams have been pretty evenly matched when they play in Tennessee, with Indianapolis 5-3 SU (4-4 ATS) in the past eight games at LP Field. These two trends show why home underdog Tennessee is the play for Thursday night.
Play On - Home underdogs or pick (TENNESSEE) - after 2 or more consecutive losses against the spread, in December games. (79-38 since 1983.) (67.5%, +37.2 units. Rating = 3*)
Play Against - Favorites (INDIANAPOLIS) - after gaining 99 or less rushing yards in 3 straight games against opponent after being outrushed by 100 or more yards last game.
(34-10 since 1983.) (77.3%, +23 units. Rating = 3*).
Play Over - Any team against the total (INDIANAPOLIS) - after allowing 25 points or more in 2 straight games against opponent after 2 straight losses by 10 or more points.
(31-8 over the last 10 seasons.) (79.5%, +22.2 units. Rating = 3*).
INDIANAPOLIS is 23-6 OVER (79.3%, +16.4 Units) off an upset loss as a home favorite since 1992. The average score was INDIANAPOLIS 23.6, OPPONENT 26.3 - (Rating = 3*).
Sportsbook.com has recently put up “Team Playoff Props”. Will the Colts make the postseason for the ninth consecutive year? The Yes is -120.
NEW YORK JETS (9-2) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-2)
Sportsbook.com using Patriots -4 & 45
One of the NFL’s biggest rivalries is renewed, and these are two of the league’s hottest teams. The Jets dominated the second half and frustrated Tom Brady in beating the Pats 28-14 in Week 2. Since then, each team has gone 8-1 SU, with New England 5-3-1 ATS and the Jets 6-3 ATS. The Patriots offense is much more diverse since they traded Randy Moss, which should lessen the impact of shutdown CB Darrelle Revis. Both teams are relatively healthy, with Jets OT Damien Woody (knee), WR Jerricho Cotchery (groin) and DBs Marquice Cole (hamstring) and Dwight Lowery (concussion) all expected to play on Monday night.
The Jets have been true road warriors, carrying an eight-game SU winning streak away from home, including a 5-0 mark this year. New York ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (148 YPG), led by LaDainian Tomlinson (741 yards, 4.5 YPC, 5 TD). The future Hall-of-Famer has gained 770 total yards and five touchdowns in six career games against New England. The Jets’ passing offense has been inconsistent, but Mark Sanchez has averaged 279 passing YPG in his past four games, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Sanchez had a huge day in the Week 2 win over New England, completing 70 percent of his passes for 220 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Patriots pass defense currently ranks last in the NFL with 289 passing YPG allowed.
New England has won 25 straight home games with Tom Brady as the starting quarterback. With the Jets boasting the third-best run defense in football (86 YPG), Brady will look to air it out Monday night. Tom Terrific has been just that in his past six games, throwing for 250 YPG, 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. For his regular-season career against New York, Brady has a 12-5 record and has thrown for 3,614 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Patriots have not turned the ball over in five of their past six games, while forcing 11 turnovers in those five contests.
Brady has also won six of seven at home versus the Jets. These three trends show why Brady and New England will win and cover on Monday night.
Belichick is 31-10 ATS (+20.0 Units) after having won 4 out of their last 5 games as the coach of NEW ENGLAND. The average score was NEW ENGLAND 25.9, OPPONENT 17.0 - (Rating = 4*).
NEW ENGLAND is 27-10 ATS (+16.0 Units) revenging a same season loss against opponent since 1992.
The average score was NEW ENGLAND 21.9, OPPONENT 19.0 - (Rating = 2*).
Play Against - Road teams (NY JETS) - solid team - outgaining their opponents by 50 or more yards/game, after allowing 200 or less total yards in their previous game. (44-18 over the last 10 seasons.) (71%, +24.2 units. Rating = 2*).
Sportsbook.com betting trends show that 75% of action on the spread is backing Brady & the Patriots tonight.
Bill Belichick is 8-0 UNDER (+8.0 Units) in home games when playing against a top-level team (Win Pct. > 75%) in the second half of the season as the coach of NEW ENGLAND. The average score was NEW ENGLAND 21.1, OPPONENT 10.5 - (Rating = 3*).
Play Under - Any team where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points (NY JETS, NEW ENGLAND) - in a game involving two good offensive teams (335 to 370 YPG). (204-128 since 1983.) (61.4%, +63.2 units. Rating = 2*).
Andre Johnson and Finnegan fined for fight
The Houston Texans crushed the Tennessee Titans 20-0 in Sunday’s game. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson crushed Titans corner back Cortland Finnegan in an all-out brawl during the fourth quarter of that game.
The NFL announced today that both Finnegan and Johnson have been fined $25,000 for Sunday’s fight. But they were not suspended. This is very important news for NFL betting fans. Without Johnson the Texans would be a risky bet going forward.
“He kept doing little things and I told him: ‘Just because you’re frustrated, you need to stop what you're doing. I guess he thought it was funny,” said Johnson after the game, which he caught nine passes, including one for a touchdown.
Finnegan started it all by jabbing at Johnson’s neck and face mask at the line of scrimmage. Johnson then proceeded to end it by ripping off Finnegan’s helmet, spun each other around, allowing Johnson to land two solid hits to the back of Finnegan’s head and one to the neck.
Johnson, usually soft-spoken, a gentle giant if you will, had apparently been putting up with Finnegan all day, and when Finnegan began to get physical, that’s when he lost control: “It's just a buildup of things over plays. I just lost my cool.” After the game, Johnson was apologetic, saying: “I would like to apologize to the organization, our owner, and my teammates. What happened out there today was not me. I just lost my cool and I wish that I could take back what happened, but I can’t. It’s over and done with now.”
While Johnson sought forgiveness and demonstrated regret over his actions on the field, Finnegan was no where to be found after the game, and did not comment on the incident. Interestingly enough, this isn’t Finnegan’s first run-in with the laws and regulations of the National Football League, and these two have actually mixed it up before. Last season, Johnson was fined $7,500 for taking Finnegan to the ground by the facemask.
Earlier this season, Finnegan was fined for personal fouls in three consecutive games and warned by the league to watch his behavior after the whistle.
What’s really interesting is that the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans do in fact play each other one more time this season, so we’ll see how high the fines go after that game. NFL betting is hot and the season is winding down. Get into the fire today at www.sportsbook.com where everybody bets!