Happy James Richard Garoppolo weekend to all who celebrate. Our boy has carried us through these playoffs and we’re not giving up on him anytime soon. More on that later, for now let’s take a look at the updated numbers.
NFL Playoffs: 10-10-1 +1.78u
NFL YTD: 110-94-5 (53.9%) +10.53u
It was a positive divisional weekend but just barely thanks to the Titans shitting the bed and losing to the Bengals and the Bills giving up that absurd last drive to send the game to OT. However, I feel great about this weekend. I have my biggest bet of the NFL season ready to go and a couple of other spots that I really like. As we did in the first two rounds, let’s start with some general trends about this weekend:
While the first two rounds have been traditionally dominated by underdogs ATS, this weekend is DEAD EVEN. Over the last 25 years, favorites are 25-25 ATS. Favorites of 7+ in the Super Bowl or Conference Championship (the Chiefs) are 19-8 SU but 9-16-2 ATS. Also in the first two rounds, traditionally unders have been the move but in the Championship Round overs are 30-17-3 in the last 25 years. Based purely on these trends that would indicate Chiefs win but Bengals cover and the other game would be a coinflip as to who covers. Now, let’s dive into these games:
Bengals @ Chiefs (-7.5) o/u 54.5
Patrick Mahomes and the offense have obviously led the way for the Chiefs so far in these playoffs, scoring 42 points in each of their first two games. However, despite how awesome the Burrow/Mixon/Chase/Higgins group is, it’s really the Bengals’ defense that has led the way in their first two playoff games, giving up only 35 points COMBINED to the Raiders and Titans (less than the Chiefs gave up in one game to the Bills). The form the Bengals’ D is in makes this matchup really interesting but that being said, the Chiefs are a different animal compared to the Raiders and Titans. Obviously, this is the Conference Championship Game so it’s hard to compare recent form since both teams are here, but these two teams are both on fire. The Bengals have covered 6 straight overall and the Chiefs have covered 6 straight at Arrowhead.
Another thing that makes this matchup interesting is that these teams met in Cincy just a month ago and Joe Burrow had one of the best single-game passing performances in NFL history with 446 yards 4 TDs and 0 INTs. Jamarr Chase caught 11 balls for 266 yards and 3 of those TDs. Mahomes got his as well but not enough to keep up with what Burrow was doing. Both QBs will get theirs in this game but I think the biggest key to who wins or even covers here is if the Bengals can covert long drives to TDs like they did in the first matchup. Spags is famous for his bend-don’t-break in the postseason that they did NOT have last week against Buffalo who racked up TDs (granted on a lot of 4th down conversions). The Bengals scored with a rookie kicker who is already a top-5 kicker in the NFL, but Zac Taylor can’t allow that fact to stop him from being aggressive. We saw the Bills go for two 4th downs on their opening drive last week and they got 7. They also scored a TD on 4th & long (although they really had no choice there) at the end of the game. Taylor HAS to be aggressive and go for those 4th’s the way McDermott did (and even more often than the Bills did).
Ultimately, I think the Chiefs find a way to win this game like they always seem to do. Patrick Mahomes is an insane 7-1 at home in the playoffs and I don’t see him losing this one. That being said, Joe Burrow does have big game magic and has really never lost a big game in his life dating back to college. If I had to pick a side ATS it would probably be the Bengals but it would have to hit +8 for me to get involved there. Instead, I’m going with the angle I’m more comfortable with and that’s with the Chiefs as a tease piece. However, I am once again going with the Chiefs 1Q fade. It pushed last week as the 1Q tied 7-7 but I’ll repeat the trends I gave last week. Mahomes is now 3-5-2 SU in the 1Q of playoff games despite being 8-2 overall in those games. This time we’re even lucky enough to get a +2.5 so even if we tie or go for 2 and don’t get it or something weird happens we’d still cover that.
Picks: Chiefs teaser (see full card), 0.5u Bengals 1Q (+2.5)
49ers @ Rams (-3.5) o/u 45.5
Nothing like getting a divisional matchup in the Conference Championship. Two teams and two coaches that know each other very very well with a Super Bowl spot on the line. However, usually the home team and division champs aren’t the ones that went 0-2 against their opponent in the regular season. In fact, the 49ers have won 6 straight against the Rams and Shanahan is 7-3 ATS overall against McVay. Shanny has completely owned his old pal ever since they both came to the NFC West as head coaches but this will be the first time they’ve faced in the playoffs. Both coaches have been to one Super Bowl as a HC and both have lost that SB so they’re both incredibly hungry for another shot.
Part of the reason that the 49ers own the Rams is that it’s basically a home game for them no matter where the game is. The Rams don’t really have fans and it’s usually a majority 49er fans when the game is in LA. Even for this playoff game where a bunch of fair weather LA celebs will probably show up, this crowd should be 50% 49er fans at a minimum and the Ram fans that show up shouldn’t be very loud. Another reason for the domination is that Jimmy G and Shanny are road dog GODS. Shanny is 18-9 ATS as a road dog and Jimmy G is 15-4 ATS and 14-5 SU (!!!!!) as an underdog. That’s the best SU winning percentage as an underdog for any QB in NFL history. Put some respect on my man Jimmy G!!!!
Some guys are just pure winners. Wanna cry about it Mina Kimes??? PURE. WINNER. Jimmy G is ready to go into LA and take his team to a 2nd Super Bowl in the past 3 years.
These teams played in Week 18 and the Rams blew a 17-0 halftime lead due to their inability to run the football. They had the same problem in the first matchup in SF when the 49ers routed them 31-10. The Rams only averaged 59 rush yards per game over those two games and that plays into the 49ers hands so well. As we saw against Green Bay, the 49ers can get pressure with just 4 guys and that allows them to drop 7 back and take away weapons which is crucial against this Rams team. The 49ers also have the OL to stop this dangerous Rams passing attack and that should force the Rams to bring more blitz and then Jimmy G can dump off to Deebo and Kittle in the middle of the field and let them light it up. Deebo averaged 96 receiving yards in the first two matchups against the Rams and I’m looking to play his yards over on Sunday. Elijah Mitchell also averaged 88 rush yards between the first two games so look for him to have another big day on the ground. I just really believe in this 49ers team and I think they win one more to get to the Super Bowl.
There are two narratives people are pushing against the 49ers right now. One is totally idiotic, “it’s hard to beat a team 3 times!!” Well divisional teams that went 2-0 in the regular season and then rematched in the playoffs are 5-3 SU in the rematch so throw that one out. Then, the “it’s hard to win 3 straight road playoff games” which actually has some validity due to historical trends, but this year is different. One, the Rams had to fly to Tampa and back last week so they’ve had their own fair share of travel. Two, most teams hosting a Conference Championship in those historical trends have had a first-round bye, but due to the new rules of only one team having a bye, that isn’t the case with the Rams so both of these teams have played two playoff games already. Thirdly, as I was saying earlier, this is basically a home game for the 49ers. The travel from GB was just like travelling back home, it’s a stadium/city/locker room/field they’re incredibly familiar with, and they should have a huge crowd of their fans at the game. Also, last year’s NFC Champions, the Bucs, went to the Super Bowl after winning 3 games as road dogs against an NFC East team, the Packers, and a division rival. Sound familiar??
Go Shanny Go.
Picks: 49ers teaser (see card), 1.5u 49ers +3.5, 0.5u u46.5 (would play to u45)
0.5u Bengals (1Q) +2.5 (-105)
3u Chiefs -0.5/49ers +9.5 Teaser
1.5u 49ers +3.5
0.5u 49ers/Rams u46.5
Prop leans: Deebo over receiving yards, Deebo anytime TD scorer, Cam Akers rush yards under, Tyreek Hill yards receving yards under, Burrow pass attempts over, Jimmy G rush yards under, 49ers anytime D/ST TD
Let’s have a weekend!