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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 3, 2018

2017-18 NFL Wildcard Weekend Playoff Preview

I'm back whether you
like it or not!
As is the tradition for NFL playoff time, Dallas native and Cowboys fan (moment of silence) J.R. Ewing will offer you a full range analysis of the NFL playoffs week by week.  Here each playoff game will have a short analysis with thoughts on key factors then a final score predict.  The final score predict then gives you a Straight Up, Over/Under, and Against the Spread (ATS) pick to chew on for "recreation purposes only".  We'll be tracking our own progress.  Or if you're someone with disposable income, gamble away (but this blog is not responsible for losses).

The legend is back!
For the second year in a row, our regular blog consultant "Bulldog Babe" (@bulldogbabexo) will be offering breakdown.  Those of you who followed our blog during college football season knows she hit over 64% against the spread throughout the season.  And this year she's actually 21 so you don't have to feel so dirty taking her bets to the books.  Once again, her Pittsburgh Steelers are in the middle of it and this year (this week only), we'll also pick the National Championship Game featuring Alabama vs. her Georgia Bulldogs.  Let's just say BDB is really really happy right now.  When she's not blogging here, you can find her at the NASCAR Blog Ladies in Black.

Lines and spreads are from VegasInsider.com.

January 6, 2018: 16:20 EST
Tennessee Titans (+8, +350) at Kansas City Chiefs (-8, -450) O/U 44

Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Last four games: 1-3
Road: 3-5
Against Playoff teams: 2-2 (1-1 on road)


Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Last four games: 4-0
Home: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 2-2 (1-2 at home)


J.R. Ewing prediction
At a glance, particularly looking at the last month of football, the Chiefs should roll in this one.  Neither team has really done that well against playoff competition.  The Chiefs two playoff wins came in their first two games.  They didn't have the mojo after that.  Meanwhile the Titans had to scratch and claw to win their finale.  I think this is closer and more low scoring that people think.  The Chiefs win, but on a last minute score.

Final Prediction: Chiefs 21, Titans 17

Bulldog Babe prediction:
I don’t feel like this will be a close game at all, I think that it’s an easy pick based off previous games from the regular season. I feel like Kansas City has a stronger team on both sides of the balland they will make it to the divisional round to face Pittsburgh.

Final Prediction: Chiefs 34, Titans 20

January 6, 2018: 20:15 EST
Atlanta Falcons (+6.5, +250) at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5, -300) O/U 48.5

Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
Last eight games: 6-2
Road: 5-3
Against Playoff teams: 2-5 (0-3 on road)


Los Angeles Rams (11-5)
Last eight games: 4-4
Home: 4-4
Against Playoff teams: 3-2 (1-1 at home)


J.R. Ewing prediction
We all pick our spots for upsets, and this is it.  The Falcons are playoff tested and a bit hungry after last year's 28-3 blown lead in the Super Bowl.  After muddling through the first half of the season, they improved over the last eight.  Matt Ryan will enjoy the good weather out west and play a good game.  Meanwhile this is the Rams first playoff rodeo in a while.  They were not spectacular at home or over their last eight games.  I think Todd Gurley gets shut down and the Falcons begin their revenge tour (Eagles next).

Final Prediction: Falcons 28, Rams 23

Bulldog Babe prediction:
These are two of the emotionally toughest teams in the NFC, in my opinion. They have never given up and I feel like they both have their strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball. I think that the Rams have more motivation and more talent and they will go on to play the Eagles. This will be a close win for the Rams though.

Final Prediction: Rams 34, Falcons 31

January 7, 2018: 13:05 EST
Buffalo Bills (+9, +350) at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9, -450) O/U 39.5

Buffalo Bills (9-7)
Last six games: 4-2
Road: 3-5
Against Playoff teams: 2-4 (2-2 on road)


Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
Last six games: 3-3
Home: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 1-3 (0-2 at home)


J.R. Ewing prediction
This game at the surface seems like a slam dunk for Jacksonville.  But if you look more closely, the teams are only separated by one game.  And Buffalo played playoff teams much much better than the Jags.  I definitely think this is closer than the points suggest, but I do believe the Jaguars defense will step up and shut down the Bills offense.  Jaguars win.

Final Prediction: Jaguars 20, Bills 13

Bulldog Babe prediction:
I’m so proud of my hometown team, the Buffalo Bills, breaking the 17 year long playoff drought. I think they can go far in the playoffs. Jacksonville has been surprisingly very good all season and they will be a very tough matchup for Buffalo. I think it’ll be very close, but Buffalo will prevail.

Final Prediction: Bills 34, Jaguars 27
 
January 7, 2018: 16:40 EST
Carolina Panthers (+6.5, +250) at New Orleans Saints (-6.5, -300) O/U 48.5

Carolina Panthers (11-5)
Last five games: 4-1
Road: 5-3
Against Playoff teams: 4-4 (2-2 on road)


New Orleans Saints (11-5)
Last six games: 3-3
Home: 7-1
Against Playoff teams: 4-4 (2-1 at home)


J.R. Ewing prediction
With three teams making the playoffs from the NFC South, which was matched against the AFC East and two more playoff teams, both of these teams essentially played half their games against playoff teams.  And split those games, although the Saints won both head to head matchups.  Again, two teams evenly matched in the standings.  Home field means everything to the Saints, who also have veteran Drew Brees on their side.  The Panthers have been the hotter team lately and keep it close, but the Saints march on.

Final Prediction: Saints 26, Panthers 20

Bulldog Babe prediction:
The third matchup for these two teams this season. The Panthers are on a roll with their games and the Saints have a vengeance. I don’t think the Panthers will have enough in the tank this time. With them being in New Orleans, home field advantage is a major plus for the Saints and they’ll take advantage of that and win.

Final Prediction: Saints 24, Panthers 10

BONUS GAME, COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
January 8, 2017: 20:00 EST
Georgia Bulldogs (13-1) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)
Alabama (-4, -180)
Georgia (+4, +160)
O/U 45

J.R. Ewing prediction
While the rest of the country complains about an all SEC matchup, these are the two best teams.  And the committee got it right including Alabama.  One loss teams are better than two loss conference champions and better than undefeated teams without a Top 10 win.  Plain and simple.  But on to this game.  I wasn't sure what to expect out of Alabama after the Auburn loss.  It looked like they got exposed.  But from the first snap against Clemson, you could see an edge to them.  They smelled victory.  That being said, Georgia is a very complete team.  Balanced on offense, and strong defensively.  This will be a low scoring game, but I think Georgia's defense matches up well to Alabama's offense while Georgia's two headed running attack monster eventually wears down the Tide.  I go Georgia.

Final Prediction: Georgia 24, Alabama 20

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Alabama and Georgia competing for the national title is the perfect ending to a down season for the SEC. No matter the outcome, it’s gonna be a great game! After Georgia’s miraculous comeback victory against Oklahoma, they’ve officially proven that they’re title contenders and even winners and they won’t back down from Alabama. Alabama is strong, but they didn’t have much competition against Clemson. They haven’t faced an offensive or defensive line like Georgia’s, you have to take into consideration that their defense has been plagued with injuries all season, so I don’t think they will have enough to beat the Dawgs. I know the last time these two teams met to contend for a championship, it was close and a very physical game and it won’t be any different this time around. This time, it’s Georgia’s turn to shine. I know for a fact it will be very close, but UGA will win the national title for the first time since 1980.

Final Prediction: Georgia 34, Alabama 31


The best part about the NFL playoffs is that the best teams play every week.  No more Cleveland vs. Denver or Chicago vs. Tampa Bay.  But with home field advantage coveted and earned by the better team, you get some expected winners when it comes to point spread.  Hopefully we see some sharp play and close games.  Weather may actually be nice, with three of the four games in Florida, Calfornia, or a dome.  Next week, get ready for Philly, Boston, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh.  Quite the contrast!  Enjoy your football weekend, fans!

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