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Mike Handzelek's NFL Wild Card Round Analysis/Review/Notes

By: Point Shaver Handzelek
Date: Jan 9, 2020
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Sunday, January 05, 2020 Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints (NFL) - 1:05 PM EST Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: 8/-110 Minnesota Vikings Rating: 8* Mike's NFL Earlybird Dependable (WIN) There's no DOUBT that HC Sean Payton will have his team READY for this! However, this is a game about numbers. My early line had 13-3 SU New Orleans favored by 4. As you see, this line is definitely inflated. After crunching some numbers, the database reveals the 10-6 SU Vikes are very good off a SU loss when looking @ the pointspread as they take a 38-14 ATS advantage heading into this one. On the flip side, the Saints not only have been over-priced as a home favorite of late (3-8 their last 11), but their last 5 playoff home games have resulted in only 1 cover! While the Mardi Gras Boys were pummeling Carolina 42-10 on the road, the Norsemen were resting numerous starters in their 21-19 home loss to Chicago in Week 17. The Purple Hord was clearly preparing for this game a week early which is an advantage. For QB Kirk Cousins (26/6 TD/INT ratio, 69% completions & a career-high 107.4 QBR) having Dalvin Cook (off 3 weeks rest) is a GIGANTIC advantage since his play-action successes are predicated on him being successful. Forget about the mushes over-emphasizing the "Minneapolis Miracle" & revenge factors. Let's concentrate more on HOW New Orleans played .500 or winning teams @ home this season. Let's start it off with Houston where NO edged them by a slim 30-28 count. The Cowboys came to town & also went toe-to-toe before getting edged 12-10. Most recently, we had that classic slugfest with the 49ers a month ago where the Black N' Gold got edged in the end 48-46. My bottom line says its hard to play a team that's played it very close against good teams especially when the MUSHES have climbed aboard on NO @ close to 70% of tickets and/or money. You think there would be an advantage taking a team with the better record (3 games here). However, that is NOT the case as digging deeper into the playoff database reveals these BETTER record teams have posted a losing 17-22 SU record as well as a 15-23-1 ATS number! Yes, QB Drew Brees will find his connection with the NFL's #1 WR Michael Thomas & TE Jared Cook. But I ALSO look for Cousins to shine in this day affair with connections to WR's Stefon Diggs & Adam Thielen. Yes, Cousins fails in comparison to Francis Asbury Tarkenton. But it's still about numbers as the MAGIC scoring number for the Wild Card road team is 17. If they score 17, their chances of covering the number are dominant as the past 18 seasons reveal a take-me-to-the-window 36-10-3 ATS record coming in. I feel New Orleans wins this SU. Look for some sacks today since these 2 combined have registered 99 (NO -51, Min-48)! Since its still about the number, we'll confidently go to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Louisiana to play the MINNESOTA VIKINGS (buying to + 10 1/2) as my 8* NFL Earlybird Dependable! Saturday, January 04, 2020 Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Texans (NFL) - 4:35 PM EST Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -140 Houston Texans Rating: 8* Mike's Wild Card Round Mushes Nightmare Play (WIN) It was obvious in Week 17 that both teams were laying down @ home til' the playoffs as the desperate Titans beat Houston 25-14 & the New York Jets won a slugfest over Buffalo 13-6. Now it's for real & the mushes have come out in droves to lay their eager money on the Bills ATS & on the ML. They'll be quick to point out that Buffalo's defense ranks 3rd on yards per game (298) & 2nd in points allowed (16 PPG). What they FAIL to point out is these same Bills compiled that 10-6 SU record against a schedule (29th) ranking 4th easiest in the league! The flip side shows the Texans (10-6 SU also) have faced the 7th toughest slate in the league & have defeated a New England team 28-22 @ this venue when the game mattered during Week 13. Having QB Deshaun Watson, WR DeAndre Hopkins, LT Laremy Tunsil & 9-year veteran DE J.J. Watt back in the lineup (especially Watt) gives HC Bill O'Brien & 37-year vet/DC Romeo Crennel an edge. They'll be facing a team that's BEST quality win (14-7) was @ 9-7 SU Tennessee when Marcus Mariota was still QB'ing in Week 5. Yes, Sean McDermott (oddly enough the 10th HC since Levy) is an up & coming HC. However, his QB Josh Allen (with a very pedestrian 85.3 QBR) is NOT a proven commodity in this situation. When was Buffalo's last road playoff win you ask? It was back in 1992 when they beat Miami 29-10. This team is a FAR cry from that one that featured QB Jim Kelly, RB Thurman Thomas & HC Marv Levy's 3-4 defensive scheme that proved to be too much for HC Don Shula, QB Dan Marino & his bevy (7) of receivers. You'd have to go back to 1964 & 1965 (pre-Super Bowl) for the last time they won it all the Bills won the AFL Championship over San Diego twice when QB Jack Kemp (do you believe Daryle Lamonica was the backup) was under the direction of HC Lou Saban. My bottom line says Houston's QB Watson is dangerous out of the pocket & can EXTEND plays. Remember, he (5.0 YPC) & RB Carlos Hyde (4.4 YPC) can match Buffalo with RB's Devin Singletary (5.1 YPC) & Frank gore (3.6 YPC). In addition, the mushes are now TRAINED to fall in love with the roadie in this round since they're 8-0 ATS the last 2 seasons. Digging in a little deeper reveals the HOME team has gone 16-10 SU (#4 seeds are also 16-10 SU) in those early Saturday Wild card games the past 13 seasons. When we look @ who keeps the sticks moving, we also find the Texans enjoying a 43.5% to 35.8% advantage. It all adds up to a win for the home team here! Let's go to NRG Stadium in Texas for the 1st Wild Card game to play the HOUSTON TEXANS as my 8* Wild Card Round Mushes Nightmare Play! Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots (NFL) - 8:15 PM EST Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -220 New England Patriots Rating: 9* 9* Strongest Play Of The Day (LOSS) It looks like Tennessee has better health & the better ground game. However, do you trust QB Ryan "never started a playoff game in his career" Tannehill in the biggest game of his career? Even though Belichick & Co. seem to have their backs against the wall (they did in the last Super Bowl too), their defense finds a way to win the game UGLY! This is also one of those times. Before you make a mistake @ the window, know that Tannehill has played @ this venue 6 times. In those 6 games, he went home empty each time with all losses averaging out to 22 PPG. The archives have also dug up another interesting tidbit on Tannehill. When he's started @ QB against a team coming off a SU favorite loss, he sports a no-show 4-15 SU record. Even though the Pats seem to be heading in the wrong direction (not the 1st time or year everyone has said this), their record the last 8 seasons @ home for their 1st playoff game sits @ 8-0 SU. Forget stats & forget trends as they've not mattered for the playoffs when it comes to the Tea Men in the past. In the unfamiliarity angle, when HC Bill Belichick & NE are up against a team in the playoffs he HASN'T faced in regular season, he's a lights-out 17-1 SU in his career. Sealing the deal for us has to be the fact that home teams in the NFL playoffs coming off a SU home favorite loss have come back to go a near-flawless 13-1 SU. That's where we're going as we go Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA to play the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS as my 9* Strongest Play Of The Day! NOTES: The Texans & Vikings were GOLDEN as the Vikes get the outright win not needing any points. Dalvin Cook proved to be back @ 100% getting 94 rushing & 36 passing yards. However, it's a tall task to go on the road & win the following week after rushing the ball 40 times then facing a Top 3 defense. Houston proved that if DC Romeo Crennel gets his secondary to perform, then they can hang with anyone. I'm still befuddled on how HC Bill Belichick (whose notorious for taking away your best weapon) couldn't devise a scheme to force TANNEHILL to beat the Pats instead of letting Derrick Henry run wild for 182 & receive for another 22 yards. They knew what was coming! It was also shocking to see sure-handed WR Julius Edelman drop a pass that pretty much was the game for Tom Brady & Co.. Here's my revised NFL Power Ratings heading into the Divisional Round: 1) Kansas City Chiefs 2) San Francisco 49ers 3) Green Bay Packers 4) Tennessee Titans 5) Baltimore Ravens 6) Seattle Seahawks 7) Minnesota Vikings 8) Houston Texans Mike Handzelek's 2020 NFL Playoff Record: 2-1 for 67% Mike Handzelek's 2019-20 NFL Overall Seasonal Record: 48-35 for a rising 58%

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