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I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015-16 NFL Week One Playoff Preview

Cowboys are out of it, but gambling is on
Betting information VegasInsider.com at the time of post (this blog has no affiliation with that site).

We're not going to talk about the disaster that was the NCAA College Football Bowl Game picks.  You have to try to be so bad to be 1-9 in relatively 50/50 bets. Burn the tape.

The NFL playoffs are ripe for betting and I'm never one to turn away. Each week of the NFL Playoffs, I'll preview the games, predict final scores, and keep track of my overall (certainty) winnings straight up, ATS, and O/U on each game.  For ATS and O/U, $110 is the Wager.  For S/U (a.k.a. Money Line), it's $100 on either side.

My approach is pretty simple.  Look at teams home/road performance.  Look at the last streak of games.  Look at record against playoff teams (everyone can beat Titans and Browns).  And look at their health.  Most of the teams are relatively even when it comes to W-L record.  The week one theme seems to be perceived stronger teams playing weaker division winners at their house.  And all are favored.

January 9, 2016: 16:35 EST
Kansas City Chiefs (-3, -180) at Houston Texans (+3, +160) O/U 40.5

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Last ten games: 10-0
Road: 5-3 (avg score KC 27 vs. Opp 20)
Against Playoff teams: 3-4 (2-3 on road)
Key Injuries: None

Houston Texans (9-7)
Last nine games:  7-2
Home: 5-3 (avg score Hou 20 vs. Opp 16)
Against Playoff teams: 1-3 (0-2 at home)
Key Injuries: None

You cannot argue that both these teams are not extremely hot entering the postseason.  In their last 20 games combined, they are 17-3 (all losses by Texans to Patriots, Dolphins, and Bills ).  The Texans, however, have allowed 9 or fewer points in six of their last nine games.  The Chiefs 10 game winning streak only featured two playoff teams, the other five they faced were in the first six weeks (1-5, lone win against Texans).  Chiefs won the season opener 27-20, it's be tighter and more low scoring but the Chiefs move on.

Final Prediction: Chiefs 17 Texans 16.

January 9, 2016: 20:15 EST
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, +130) at Cincinnati Bengals (+3, -150) O/U 45.5

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
Last seven games: 5-2
Road: 4-4 (avg score Pit 22 vs. Opp 19)
Against Playoff teams: 3-4 (1-3 on road) 
Key Injuries: RB DeAngelo Williams (questionable)

Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Last eight games: 4-4
Home: 6-2 (avg score Cin 25 vs. Opp 18)
Against Playoff teams: 3-4 (2-2 at home)
Key Injuries: QB Andy Dalton (doubtful)

This is one to watch the health of Dalton, because it doesn't seem plausible that the Bengals can without their mainstay QB (see last eight games record).  The Steelers have been hot (minus a mulligan loss to the Ravens) and are playing with house money after the Jets lost a game to offer them a Wild Card spot.  If Dalton plays, who knows whether he can be effective, so it seems that the Steelers got this one.

Final Prediction: Steelers 26 Bengals 14.

January 10, 2016: 13:05 EST
Seattle Seahawks (-5, -220) at Minnesota Vikings (+5, +180) O/U 40

Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Last seven games: 6-1
Road: 5-3 (avg score Sea 31 vs. Opp 15)
Against Playoff teams: 3-4 (2-2 on road)
Key Injuries:  Marshawn Lynch (questionable)

Minnesota Vikings (11-5)
Last seven games:4-3
Home: 6-2 (avg score Min 25 vs. Opp 20)
Against Playoff teams: 2-4 (1-2 at home)
Key Injuries: Adrian Peterson (probable)

I look no further than the Seattle Seahawks hot streak to settle this one.  Only loss in the last 7 games was a mulligan against the Rams.  Most impressive, in their last five road games in defense points allowed (3, 12, 7, 6, 6) and they're facing a green playoff quarterback.  In their last three road games, they've scored 35 points or more.  The Vikings have been average in their last 7 games, and against playoff teams only wins against the Packers in the finale and Week 5.  The Seahawks are battle tested and they may be getting Lynch back.  Weather is supposed to be bad, but neither of these teams need ideal conditions to throw the ball all over the place.

Final Prediction: Seahawks 31 Vikings 10

January 10, 2016: 16:40 EST
Green Bay Packers (-1, -105) at Washington Redskins (+1, -115) O/U 45

Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Last ten games:4-6
Road: 5-3 (avg score GB 23 vs. Opp 23)
Against Playoff teams: 3-4 (1-3 on road)
Key Injuries: None.  

Washington Redskins (9-7)
Last four games: 4-0
Home: 6-2 (avg score Was 26 vs. Opp 19)
Against Playoff teams: 0-2 (0-0 at home)
Key Injuries: None

It is tempting to look at the Redskins four game winning streak against a reeling Packers team and go with the home team. But then you look at their schedule and realize how soft it was.  Two playoff teams faced (Patriots and Panthers) with an average score of 35-13.  That leaves 7-7 against non-playoff teams, talk about average.  The Packers lose to playoff teams but can handle softer foes.  They'll roll pretty well.

Final Prediction: Packers 27 Redskins 21

If I had to pick the three "best bets" it would be:
Seahawks: ATS
Chiefs vs. Texans: Under
Steelers: ATS

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