For The Win: Championship Round Weekend - Footballguys

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Last weekend was exciting, but also a little disappointing. First, a dropped late (and meaningless) touchdown by Daurice Fountain cost a backdoor cover on the Colts-Chiefs over, and then the Los Angeles Chargers failed to show up for the first half against New England. Despite the fun action and excitement, the week was a disappointment overall. That should be expected somewhat with just four games on the slate – and that brings us to this week. With only two games, some intelligence (and possibly conservative play) are in order. Two games, two strong matchups. Here we go:

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS

LINES: Saints (-3.5), Over/Under 57
MONEY LINES: NEW ORLEANS -175 to -180; LOS ANGELES RAMS +150 to +160

(Sunday, 3:05PM Eastern, FOX)

Both contests this weekend are rematches, starting with the Rams at the Saints. These two squared off back in Week 9, with the Saints winning the shootout by a 45-35 score. New Orleans broke out to a large 35-14 lead in the first half behind Alvin Kamara’s three touchdowns before the Rams rallied to tie the score at 35-35. The Saints pulled away with a long catch and run by Michael Thomas, capping his incredible day (12-211-1). New Orleans will host this matchup once again on Sunday and will be at full strength, while the Rams will be without Cooper Kupp who happened to have a very strong game (5-89-1) in the first meeting. Look for Los Angeles to try and control the ball and clock with not only Todd Gurley but recently added C.J. Anderson, who has racked up over 100 yards rushing in his last three games with the Rams. The two-headed ground attack with Anderson and Gurley could be enough to keep the score down, but New Orleans has been dominant on both sides of the ball, with a defense that has not given up a 100-yard rusher (or game) all season. If the Rams struggle to run the ball, then the play action passing game for Jared Goff may have difficulty creating space for receivers. New Orleans was in a dogfight with the Eagles last week, but the matchup with the Rams looks like another shootout if Los Angeles hopes to stay in it. Either the Saints win by a touchdown or they blow the Rams out – so the prediction is somewhere in-between the two. Saints 38, Rams 20. PICK: Saints

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LINES: Chiefs (-3), Over/Under 55 to 55.5
MONEY LINES: KANSAS CITY -150 to -160; NEW ENGLAND +130 to +140

(Sunday, 6:40PM Eastern, CBS)

The second rematch has the Chiefs taking on the Patriots, but this rematch of a 43-40 thriller from Week 6 moves from Foxboro to Arrowhead Stadium. In the first meeting, Patrick Mahomes II struggled in the first half, throwing two interceptions as the Patriots took a 24-9 lead into halftime. Kansas City rallied in the second half, scoring 17 points in the third quarter to push the score to 27-26 in favor of New England before an epic fourth quarter. Over the final 15 minutes, the Patriots and Chiefs traded scores, resulting in two lead changes until Kansas City tied the game at 40-40. Tom Brady led the home team on a final scoring drive, where Stephen Gostkowski connected from 35 yards to win the game fore New England, 43-40. Since that October matchup, much has changed but several things have also stayed the same for these two AFC titans. The Chiefs lost Kareem Hunt but discovered Damien Williams as a strong lead back, and Eric Berry may be back this week for Kansas City. That would really help defend the middle of the field, as even the decaying performance of Rob Gronkowski was able to rack up 97 yards on just three catches (and four targets) back in Week 6. Kansas City has been one of the worst teams against tight ends, so expect Brady to look for his big target once again on Sunday. This game seems destined for another dramatic finish between the top two teams from the AFC, and this time the deck seems stacked towards the home team. Mahomes has both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to move the ball through the air, and the home crowd will make it difficult for Tom Brady. Weather is expected in Kansas City, dragging down the Over/Under from 57 down to 55, but these offenses will be hard to shut down. New England had a big performance from rookie Sony Michel (24-106-2) in their first meeting, and he is coming off of three touchdowns against the Chargers last week. Knowing Bill Belichick, he may anticipate that Andy Reid will expect this, so James White or Rex Burkhead could be featured more. Never count out the Patriots, but this looks like Reid’s next (and best) shot at a Super Bowl. Chiefs 38, Patriots 34. PICK: Chiefs

PICK(S) OF THE WEEK: Saints, Chiefs

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND PLAYS

The intent of this column is to give out not only the Plays for the Week in the NFL but also a rating of each one on a 1-3 Unit scale. The more units, the bigger the emphasis on that side of the game. (More units = More $$$).

Before diving straight into the picks, it must be pointed out that this time of the year is when you can really use Las Vegas against themselves. The sportsbooks spend extra time analyzing these four contests, and the lines they set are usually rather strong. To use this, it is a great time to use teasers and pair up teams you expect to win and take the leverage that those teasers give you.

In addition, the spreads this week are set up perfectly for several Wong Teasers in play. These are teasers that target margins of victories of 3 and 7, so point spreads at -8.5 to -7.5 are perfect targets as a 6-point teaser moves across both 3 and 7 (i.e. moving -8.5 to -2.5 or -7.5 to -1.5).

* ONE STAR *

  • NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-3.5) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS
  • KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-3) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
  • NEW ENGLAND “FOR THE WIN” (+140) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
  • 6-POINT TEASER: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+9) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (OVER 49)
  • 4-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (2.65-1 ODDS):
    • NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (+2.5) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS
    • KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+3) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
    • KANSAS CITY CHIEFS vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (OVER 49)
    • NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+9) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

** TWO STAR GAMES **

  • 6-POINT TEASER: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+3) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (OVER 49)
  • 3-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER (9-5 ODDS):
    • NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (+2.5) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS
    • KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+3) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
    • KANSAS CITY CHIEFS vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (OVER 49)

*** THREE STAR GAMES ***

  • 2-TEAM, 6-POINT TEASER:
    • NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (+2.5) vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS
    • KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (+3) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

RESULTS

Last Week

  • OVERALL: 1-2 (33.3%)
  • PICK(S) OF WEEK: 1-2 (33.3%)
  • WEEKLY TOP PLAYS: 7.6-10 (43.2%)

Postseason

  • OVERALL: 3-3-1 (50%)
  • PICK(S) OF WEEK: 3-3-1 (50%)
  • WEEKLY TOP PLAYS: 13.75-21 (39.6%)

Regular Season

  • OVERALL: 128-119-9 (51.8%)
  • PICK(S) OF WEEK: 61-46-5 (57.0%)
  • WEEKLY TOP PLAYS: 362.1-194-3 (65.1%)

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com