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Mike Handzelek's NFL Divisional Round Analysis/Review/Notes


By: Point Shaver Handzelek
Date: Jan 13, 2020
   
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Sunday, January 12, 2020 Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) - 3:05 PM EST Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: 9.5/-105 Houston Texans Rating: 10* Mike's NFL Playoff Game Of The Year (LOSS) How about this matchup between the #10 pick in the 2017 NFL draft (Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City) versus the #12 pick of that draft (Deshaun Watson of Houston)! Would you believe that the Chicago Bears traded up (from 3rd to 2nd) to take Mitchell Trubisky? It happened. Unlike the 2 teams who exited for the golf course yesterday (the Minnesota Vikings who played the 28th toughest schedule & the Baltimore Ravens played the 22nd), the 11-6 SU Houston Texans played the 13th toughest & the 12-4 SU Kansas City Chiefs when up against the 12th toughest putting them in close to even paths in getting here. However, the Chiefs did benefit by playing a weaker divisional schedule (went 6-0 vs. the AFC West) compared to the Texans' 4-2 vs. the AFC South. What I like about this matchup is Houston is supposed to have both WR's in service with DeAndre Hopkins (104 receptions for 1,165 yards, 7 TD's) & Wil Fuller (that's right Wil Fuller back from hamstring issues with 49 catches for 670 yards & 3 TD's). Another interesting tidbit about this one focuses on Texans' DC Romeo Crennel who got KC QB Pat Mahomes (4,031 passing yards, 26/5 TD/INT ratio, 65.9% completions for a 105.3 QBR) to cough up 2 of those turnovers in a 31-24 upset Houston win (they were down 17-3 in that game) @ this venue back in Week 6 this year. The Chiefs were 3 1/2-point favorites then. What justifies them being this high of a favorite now? I feel it should be slightly higher but not double-digits territory. Looking @ the Texans playing winning clubs on the road, they lost a nail-biter in New Orleans 30-28 while also beating the Titans (with Tannehill) outright 24-21 in Nashville. The mushes point out that Bill O'Brien is a coaching mismatch for Andy "The Walrus" Reid. The tide may have turned since O'Brien was 0-22 SU after going down by 16 or more points. Now he's 1-22. It ALSO seems Reid's club (are notorious for under-performing in January) has been over-priced in the playoffs of late going a dismal 2-5 ATS. My bottom line says Houston QB Deshaun Watson (3,852 passing yards, 26/12 TD/INT ratio, 67.3% completions & a 98.0 QBR) should be able to stretch the field with Wil Fuller. Even though DC Steve Spagnuolo's "D" has been stingy since their bye week, they also played losing teams like Oakland, Denver, Chicago & the L.A. Chargers in that stretch. Let's crunch some numbers! it's hard to side with the Featherheads here knowing they're a no-show 1-7 SU & ATS @ Arrowhead during the playoffs! We'll gladly side with Watson as he's 12-4-1 ATS as a dog for his career & THAT includes an even BETTER 10-2 IF the Texans are getting 2 1/2 points or more. It's decided! Let's jettison out to Missouri's Arrowhead Stadium to play the HOUSTON TEXANS (we're still buying to + 11 1/2) as my 10* (Single Play Only) NFL Playoff Game Of The Year! Saturday, January 11, 2020 Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers (NFL) - 4:35 PM EST Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: -7/-110 San Francisco 49ers Rating: 9* Mike's NFL Public Missed Perception Play (WIN) It's pretty easy to take the mushes side after what the eye test has shown over the past weekend. But this is the more consistent Divisional Round & NOT the unpredictable Wild Card Round. The last time these 2 tangled up was last season on September 9th in a game that Minnesota win 24-16 as 6 1/2-point home chalk. This game has many RED FLAGS that need to be stressed. Vikings' QB Kirk Cousins got that proverbial monkey (or jinx) off his back by getting a "big game" win when the Norsemen stunned the Saints on the road 26-20 in OT (1st road playoff win since 2004). This time they hit the road again but have to travel to the west coast. However, expect Cousins to come in as a "Fat Cat" & RB Dalvin Cook to not have that same fresh bursts from the line of scrimmage. Why? Because it's hard for a team to rush the ball 40 times & immediately come back & do it again ESPECIALLY up against the #2 defense in the NFL in San Francisco. If SF gets a decent lead, don't forget their passing "D" is #1 in the league & we're not sure if Purple People Eaters' WR Adam Thielen is 100% or will even see decent action here. Remember, last week was a comfy cozy game indoors on a fast track. This week could likely be on wet grass in the Santa Clara wind. How do you think Cousins will fare now? My bottom line says HC Kyle Shanahan will have a fresh offensive arsenal & diverse playmakers @ his disposal by using RB's Raheem Mostert & Tevin Coleman along with TE George Kittle & WR Emmanuel Sanders. Did somebody say what about the numbers? Let's start by saying that NFC #1 seeds are a solid 26-3 SU & 19-10 SU in this round the past 29 seasons. But IF they're facing a team coming off an upset win in the Wild Card Round, those numbers get much more dominating showing a near-perfect 17-1 SU & 13-5 ATS (against the spread) record the past 18 instances. When Minnesota QB Cousins faces a team who finishes the season with 10+ wins, his SU (straight up) career record is a no-show 4-26! QB Jimmy Garoppolo is just the opposite as he's posted a rugged 5-2 SU record versus winning teams this season. In addition, home teams in this round have showed some dominance since 2010 going a decent 30-10 SU but SATURDAY home teams have been unstoppable during that span with a 18-2 SU & 15-5 ATS record. Even though these numbers look very promising, we're going to drop this one under a FG & lay the juice SINCE #1 NFC seed lines have been over-inflated as witnessed by a 4-9 ATS success rate in ALL rounds the past 13. Let's go to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA to play the SAN FRANCISCO 49ers as my 9* NFL Public Missed Perception Play! Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens (NFL) - 8:15 PM EST Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: 10/-115 Tennessee Titans Rating: 8* Mike's Pig Slop Pointspread Survivor (WIN) If this game was played on a fast track under ideal conditions, I feel the pointspread outcome could be different than the rainy, nasty & sloppy conditions scheduled for M&T Bank Stadium In Inner Harbor. The one big catalyst for this game HAS to be Tennessee DC Dean Pees. Pees is very familiar with this offense since he has to prepare a scheme for every practice while DC @ Baltimore. His employment of a 3-4 scheme with exotic blitzes & manufacutured pressures created fits for Tom Brady last week. OLB Harold Landry, III, DT Jurrell Casey & Kamalei Correa lead an attack that registered 43 sacks & 14 INT's. The BIG news actually occurred on the other side of the ball as Titans' RB Derrick Henry became the FIRST player to reach 200 scrimmage yards versus a Bill Belichick team in the playoffs. Since Ryan Tannehill (22/6 TD/INT ratio, 70.3% completions, 2,742 passing yards & a #1 QBR of 117.5) took over for Marcus Mariota, he's been on a tear posting an 8-3 SU & ATS tab. In fact, the Ravens beat these Titans last season by a 21-0 count when Mariota was still under center. Let's look @ some interesting numbers. The past 36 seasons have produced 17 playoff teams who scored 510 or more points in a season (Baltimore finished with 513). Of those 17, just ONE survived as a Super Bowl winner with HC Dick Vermeil & his St. Louis Rams of 1999-2000 (with QB Kurt Warner, RB Marshall Faulk, WR Isaac Bruce & WR Torry Holt) being the only exception when they beat these same Titans 23-16. Even though the knee-jerk reaction is to perceive Tennessee will be flat after knocking out the Super Bowl Champion, the traction difficulties projected for this game says this one will be low scoring. My bottom line says the key number to remember is 27. When home teams fail to reach it during the Divisional Round, they've gone a sub-par 16-18 SU but a more important 5-27-2 ATS since 2002. It's hard to ignore the Titans' success on the road going a profitable 6-3 ATS on the road while scoring around 25 PPG. Since their bye week, the "Boys From Nashville" have gone 5-2 SU but not losing any decision by more than 10 (New Orleans 38-28). HC John Harbaugh definitely has the best 1-2-3 punch on the ground with Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram & Gus Edwards combining for 2,935 yards of their league-best 3,296 rushing yards. Baltimore will be hard-pressed to replicate their average offensive output considering field conditions. Let's jet over to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore's Inner Harbor to play the TENNESSEE TITANS (buying to + 12 1/2) as my Pig Slop Pointspread Survivor! Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens (NFL) - 8:15 PM EST Premium Pick Pick: Total: 46.5/-105 Under Rating: 9* 1st Playoff Total In Years Win UNDER buying to 49 1/2 is where I'll go with this one. No, I'm not into totals. However, with Tannehill's 39 QBR performance versus New England, I expect them to run the ball & chew up the clock. I also feel this will be how Baltimore should game plan this one as well. Remember, the Ravens ran rickshaw threw many defense on their way to rushing for 3,296 yards! These 2 met last season under BETTER conditions than this (wasn't rainy & windy) & still only 21 points were put on the board. Note the WIND angle here. When the winds are 10 mph+ (scheduled for over that), the UNDER has been coming in @ a VERY consistent rate of 64% by going 23-13 overall. My bottom line says with 60% winners coming in when the line drops to the UNDER by at least a point, I think we have something brewing! Let's finish the tandem by going to the crappy field @ M&T Bank Stadium to play UNDER (buy to 49 1/2) as my 9* 1st Playoff Total In Years! NOTES: We'll take a 3-1 every weekend it's given to us regardless if we wind up losing a game on Houston after going up 35 1/2 points (24-0 & getting 11 1/2). I strongly felt the Texans would reach 21. When road teams in this round do, they've covered the spread to the tune of 25-10 the past 17 years! This happened but we still can up short. I felt the turning point of the game was when HC Bill "What Are You Doing" O'Brien woke up a sleeping giant when he failed with a fake punt on 4th down deep in his own territory AND up 24-7. The rest is history as KC scored 41 unanswered points. San Francisco looked like the rest did them good as getting key defensive personnel showed they can shut down Dalvin Cook & Co. who came in hot. My NFL Power Ratings for the Championship Round remain unchanged: 1) Kansas City Chiefs 2) San Francisco 49ers 3) Green Bay Packers 4) Tennessee Titans Mike Handzelek's 2020 NFL Divisional Round Record: 3-1 for 75% Mike Handzelek's 2019-20 NFL Overall seasonal record: 51-36 for a profitable 59% (currently ranked 2nd in winning percentage behind Mike Anthony (64%-went 1-2 this weekend) among cappers who picked an average of 2+ games per NFL week (38 pick minimum to qualify).
 


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