Written by: The Crier/SR Crew
Date posted: 1/21/2011
HOW THE CRIER'S DOING?
After 20 weeks of NFL and college football, the blog result ATS (excludes “pushes”) for the Crier is an overall 170-112 (3-1 last week).
That's 60% over a span of over 280 games for all the non-believers out there.
Below is the schedule for this weekend's NFL Playoffs:
NON-MILLIONAIRE NFL PLAYOFF GAME
SUNDAY, JANUARY 23 – 3 PM ET
GREEN BAY at CHICAGO*
If you were properly prepared and pounced on the Green Bay Packers as Best Bets at +3 and +2.5 on consecutive weekends at Philadelphia and Atlanta prior to their appearance in the NFC Championship Game at division-rival Chicago, then you are ahead of the game, earning the right to back off and think about the next move as far as those very nice Packers might be concerned! You don’t double-up on Green Bay trying to be Mr. Joe Blow Three-in-a-Row, and potentially end up with nothing to show for being 2-1.
You first respect the Bears, their defense, their Moe-Larry-Curley-Shemp coaches who nevertheless have tons of NFC North experience (Lovie, Martz, Marinelli, Tice), and Chicago’s improving offensive line play, where the ripples have enhanced the running game and passing game. You also have to respect how the Bears played the best players to try to win in the 10-3, Week #17 loss at Green Bay when they could have layed down in a game that meant nothing to them and everything to the Packers’ post-season chances.
Later on, good karma can follow teams like the Bears after they give fans and viewers a real ballgame when they don’t have to. For instance, the 2007 New York Giants, who went all-out trying to beat then-unbeaten New England in Week #17, then won three straight post-season road games prior to a winning re-match with New England in the Super Bowl.
But did the Bears play as hard as they did at Green Bay because they know that the Packers are as large an obstacle that the NFL Playoff Tournament could give them? The situation on January 2 in Green Bay created an unusual point-spread: Green Bay was -10. The opening line for this game seems to be unusual, too: Green Bay is -3, despite playing on the road. But anyone who spends a little bit of energy to research the Week #3 Monday Night Football meeting between the teams will note that the Packers were also favored at Soldier Field in Chicago that evening: Green Bay, -3. The Packers were also favored in last season’s Week #14 meeting at Chicago: Green Bay, -4.
To look at this game’s line, and be surprised that Green Bay is favored on the road at Chicago, would be to be unprepared at the start here. Because the Packers were the favorite in each of the last two road games at Chicago before this one, you can also remove thoughts of “bad line, overreaction to the Packers’ 48-point outburst at Atlanta” from the list of fantasy reasons to possibly bet against Green Bay.
If you recall early-season NFL team mindsets, the Packers talked about how they weren’t comfortable with where the offense was at. Obviously, they’ve gotten it going since then. But in Week #3, despite still being almost in pre-season mode (as was the Bears’ offense), they managed to out-gain Chicago by 103 yards, 379-276. Green Bay was -1 in Turnovers, and was flagged for 18 penalties totaling 152 yards (the Bears were flagged 5 times for 38 yards).
We’re not here to suggest that the referees were colluding that night, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more drastically one-sided disparity in penalties and yardage in an NFL regular-season game between teams where the talent gap is as small as this one is. "That's not the way we play," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the penalties. "That's disappointing. We're not that team. We took points off the board and took big plays off the board as well."
The Bears won the game 20-17 on the final play, a field goal the last of 13 fourth-quarter points. Their touchdowns came on a 60-yard punt return by Devin Hester (TD returns by Hester, of course, are not unusual), and at the end of a drive that began near midfield. The Bears gained only 227 yards in December’s 10-3 loss in which they earned their style points for playing hard. But if they haven’t been able to crack 300 yards against Dom Capers’ 3-4 Green Bay defense we keep pointing out is limiting opponents to nearly a TD less than their average per game, then why expect that unit to roll up enough yardage and points to outscore a Packers team that is refusing to be out-scored?
The Bears cannot have confidence that they can move the ball and score against this Packers defense, because they haven’t. It’ll take Chicago’s often-superior defensive-scoring and special teams efforts to get that done. If the Bears can get the production from those other two units, then more power to them. But that defense allows too many pass completions: 23 per game, 26 to Seattle last Sunday, and Green Bay has a pretty good pass offense. GREEN BAY, 20-16.
MILLIONAIRE NFL PLAYOFF GAME:
SUNDAY, JANUARY 23 – 6:30 PM ET
NY JETS (+3.5) over
(TOTAL UNDER 38.5) PITTSBURGH*
Franchise-wise, the Jets have such a comical meltdown history in their AFC Championship Game appearances (other than 1968’s AFL), that people will forget that the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost more than twice as many AFC Championship Games than the Jets have played in. In other words, the past – and the illusions it can create despite different players and coaches - is pretty meaningless as it relates to the present, in instances such as this.
In case you hadn’t noticed, plays on the road-underdog Jets in each of the last two weeks came as New York was preparing to face future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. It reminded at least one person in this world of the 1990 New York Giants – a defensive-minded team with Bill Belichick as the d-coordinator – who, on consecutive underdog Sundays, beat future Hall of Famers Joe Montana of the 49ers and Jim Kelly of the Bills in the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.
Overpowering, smart defense, combined with a conservative offense that moves forward without committing turnovers, eats the clock and maintains good field position – is always going to put us on an underdog in a big game. Now-Patriots’ head coach Belichick was once again victimized by the blueprint he himself authored way back when. When we say “history” is meaningless, we mean the kind of historical trivia the media reports: “This team is 0-3 in AFC Championship Games,” or whatever, over the last 32 years.
History, insofar as how coaches plan to use their team’s strengths to minimize opponents’ strengths within the confines of a 60-minute game clock, is something that coaches and bettors can do a better job of understanding when they encounter certain situations, in order to win big games and bets more often. The Jets have shared a stadium with the Giants for a long time, but they have finally had some of the Giants’ brains rub off on their clown-show operation.
Now, can New York keep it going against an opponent that plays more like they do? The Jets beat the Steelers, 22-17, on this field in December, a game that ended with the Steelers deep in Jets’ territory in position to win. The Jets were good enough to offset a hurry-up New England offense that got 78 snaps to only 54 offensive snaps by New York.
It figures to be easier to contain the Steelers’ offense, which plods along at 59 plays per game. The Steelers gained only 263 yards from scrimmage against Baltimore a week ago. Against decent defenses, the Pittsburgh offense’s ability to bust open a game is highly suspect. Way too often – as we very accurately pointed out prior to their projected win against Baltimore – the Steelers manage to make a big pass play or get an instant turnover that snatches momentum and victory from the jaws of defeat.
In last week’s post-game discussions, Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked about banged-up offensive linemen on the Steelers, noting how Flozell Adams could barely walk, and how back-up offensive linemen Trai Essex and Doug Legursky were playing out of position to spell Adams and the other starting tackle, Jonathan Scott.
The Jets were able to get good coverage on New England receivers that allowed them to put effective pressure on Tom Brady. Expect more of the same against the Steelers’ offensive line that always seems to place Roethlisberger under a siege. When Rex Ryan came to the Jets from Baltimore, he brought along twice-a-year personal game-planning for the Steelers, and a few ex-Ravens who know what the Steelers are all about. His brother Rob was defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns the last two seasons, and represents a “phone-a-friend” option with twice-a-year game-planning experience against the Steelers.
Meanwhile, we just want to know one thing: Where is the halfback option pass by LaDainian Tomlinson? Can’t believe the Jets haven’t reached into the bag of tricks for that one yet. Do it! Do it!
Finally, this kind of relative trivia is not our favorite piece of information, but let’s say it anyway: Since Roethlisberger returned, the only team with a winning record that the Steelers have beaten is Baltimore, and they almost always beat Baltimore. But the best teams all beat patsies and split with similar-quality foes. For instance: the only opponents with winning records besides New England that the Jets have beaten this season? Indianapolis, by one point. Oh, and Pittsburgh. Hello.
Last weekend’s Total of Under 38 in Baltimore at Pittsburgh did not work out very well for us, but the two offensive units involved gained only 126 and 263 yards. How often will a game go Over the total when the teams combine for only 389 offensive yards? Not very often. Not that we shouldn’t have anticipated defensive touchdowns and short-field set-ups that led to quick and easier-than-normal scores. There were the following:
BAL – Fumble return for TD
BAL – 5 plays, 23 yards, FG
BAL – 6 plays, 16 yards, TD
PIT – 2 plays, 23 yards, TD
PIT – 4 plays, 25 yards, TD
PIT – 8 plays, 6 yards, FG
We thought we’d done a pretty good job of breaking down the mostly futile offensive drive history in the prior Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh match-ups this season, surmising that nothing much would come out of the ensuing offensive drives in the Divisional Round Playoff Game…and then THAT had to happen. In Baltimore’s case it happened very early in the game, which launched Pittsburgh into chase mode, and chase mode almost always accelerates the scoreboard movement.
But at any rate, the list above shows six short scoring drives of 23 yards or fewer in one game, which generated 34 of the game’s 55 points. It would seem silly to let something that aberrational instill “fear of Under” in our hearts going into a Conference Championship Game involving the two best defenses in the AFC.
The Jets allowed only 4.8 yards per play to the Patriots last Sunday, and only 5.0 yards per play to the Colts the week before. The Colts had averaged 5.6 yards per offensive play prior to meeting the Jets (tied for fifth-most in the NFL), and the Patriots had averaged 5.9 yards per offensive play (third-most in the NFL). The Jets-Pats game went Over in a weird way as well, with New England’s defense tiring badly very late (neither of these defenses will collapse), and the Jets’ defense willing to play in prevent mode with a two-touchdown lead, which enabled the Patriots to score in the waning seconds to turn an Under into an Over.
In the regular season, the Steelers averaged the same 5.6 yards per play as the Colts, then were held to a meager 3.8 yards per play by the Baltimore defense (while limiting Baltimore’s offense to only 2.8 yards per offensive play). The Jets just held offenses led by Manning and Brady to 19% and 11% less than their average net per play. Those percentages may not sound like much, but add them up over the 55-60 plays and they net out to more punts and field goals than the typical ballgame. Expect more of the same from both sides, on a cold night (6:30 pm kickoff) on a grass field after a day slated for a high of only 18 degrees. NY JETS, 17-11.
NEWSLETTER RESULTS - Week #20
Week #20 resulted in a 1.8 unit profit for the Crier, as he went 3-1 ATS. For the first 20 weeks of the season, the record is now 217-137 (over 61% for the mathematically-challenged) for a cumulative profit of 109.9 units.
By playing the newsletter games, your results should have been the same as or close to the Crier's results depending on your lines compared to the Crier's with maybe a 5-10% margin of difference, either way.
For those smart and lucky ones who have been receiving and following the Crier's selections, NFL Playoff coverage will end with the Super Bowl. And for those of you who have been getting basketball action through daily e-mails from the Crier, you're doubling your fun and your pleasure.
Good Luck, as we continue down the backstretch of the football season playing with a lot of "house money", but please be reminded to follow the rules and don't get greedy now just because the season is winding down.
Last week's newsletter results follow:
Week #20 (using Crier’s lines):
Date W/L Team Line Opponent Amt. Of Play Final Score
1/15 L Baltimore Under 37 Pittsburgh* BB 24+31=55
1/15 W Green Bay +2.5 Atlanta* BB 48-21
1/16 W Seattle Over 41 Chicago* RP 24+35=59
1/16 W NY Jets +8.5 New England* RP 28-21
* - Home team
N - Neutral site
SBB - Super Best Bet (3 units)
BB - Best Bet (2 units)
RP - Regular Play (1 unit)
Type of Wager: W-L (excludes “pushes”); Profit/Loss (Cumulative in parentheses)
NFL Results ATS:
Super Best Bets: 0-0 = 0%; 0 units (2-1 = 66.7%; =2.7 units)
Best Bets: 1-1 = 50%; -.2 units (36-22 = 62.1%; +23.6 units)
Regular Plays: 2-0 = 100%; +2 units (40-31 = 56.3%; +5.9 units)
Week #20 Totals: 3-1 = 75%; +1.8 units (78-54 = 59.1%; +32.2 units)
College Football Results ATS:
Super Best Bets: 0-0 = 0%; 0 units (10-2 = 83.3%; +23.4 units)
Best Bets: 0-0 = 0%; 0 units (54-36 = 60%; +28.8 units)
Regular Plays: 0-0 = 0%; 0 units (75-45 = 62.5%: +25.5 units)
Week #20 Totals: 0-0 = 0%; 0 units (139-83 = 62.6%; +77.7 units)
Total Combined NFL and College Football Results ATS
Super Best Bets: 0-0 = 0%; 0 units (12-3 = 80%; +26.1 units)
Best Bets: 1-1 = 50%; -.2 units (90-58 = 60.8%; +52.4 units)
Regular Plays: 2-0 = 100%; +2 units (115-76 = 60.2%; +31.4 units)
Week #20 Totals: 3-1 = 75%; +1.8 units (217-137 = 61.2%; +109.9 units)
Yesterday’s Record ATS: 1-5
Cumulative Season Record ATS: 263-168
Today’s Action (for reading purposes only):
ORLANDO* (-12) over TORONTO
General Manager Otis Smith put his bid in for executive of the year with the huge trade, but the Magic still need a useful big man for insurance with Dwight Howard foul prone. Superman also has had his share of run-ins with the referees with 12 technical fouls through January 13. With Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas, the Magic added two guys that can distribute the rock and shoot it. The Raptors only have six other NBA teams beat in the scoring department. ORLANDO, 106 -89
WASHINGTON* (-1) over PHOENIX
The Suns have a team that is loaded with the same kind of players. They have a glut of tweeners and it has been hard for Coach Gentry to distribute playing time and gain any type of rotation. Vince Carter has been relegated to a minor role and that’s because of how deep the Suns are with mirror players. The Wizards can step up at times and John Wall is quietly having a solid season as he is 5th in assists in the Association. WASHINGTON, 111–103
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (-1) over DENVER*
Traditionally, Kobe has been super tough in the Mile High. He had 34 in 41 minutes in the November loss. After losing the first game of the year, the Lakers won their next 7 only once failing to score 100 or more. Carmelo is a horse, we all know that, but Ron Artest will make him work for his points and he’ll be sore after the contest. The Nuggets as a team are walking on eggs with the trade looming. L.A. will miss Matt Barnes, but for Lakers fans, it’s better he has work done on his knee now than in April. Denver won here by 6 in November but Bryant was way off shooting only 11 for 32. LOS ANGELES, 109 – 99
GOLDEN STATE* (-7) over SACRAMENTO
Both teams have had a full day to rest for this division match-up. The Warriors compete and that’s half of the equation. One of the reasons they are so potent and pop with 104 points per game is because Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are both in the top 5 in steals. In the first meeting this year in Sacramento, the game went into OT but the Warriors controlled the extra stanza to win by 8 despite missing Curry and getting beaten on the glass. GOLDEN STATE, 117 -102
There is no action for the Crier today.
THE CRIER/SR CREW