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Inside the Points - Wildcard Week
By Fritz Schlottman
January 2, 2003
 

Tennessee (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 40

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 37
BAL 20, TEN 17

Trends

TEN
Points for =27, Points against = 20
Over/Under =9/7 (Away =5/3)

BAL
Points for =24, Points against = 17
Over/Under = 9/7 (Home =5/3)

BAL has won last five meetings

        TEN     BAL  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/24/2002 TEN 12 BAL 13 402 121 281 199 112 87
11/12/2001 BAL 16 TEN 10 318 90 228 238 77 161
10/7/2001 TEN 7 BAL 26 185 47 138 460 207 253
1/7/2001 BAL 24 TEN 10 317 126 191 134 49 85
11/12/2000 BAL 24 TEN 23 286 62 224 361 103 258
10/22/2000 TEN 14 BAL 6 191 90 101 368 113 255

Motivation

Playoff game. Two old AFC Central teams meeting in the playoffs, probably counts as a rivalry game.

Opinion

Interesting match-up. The Titans have an outstanding rush defense and the Ravens have the leagues number one runningback in Jamal Lewis. Both teams have playoff experience.

The Pros don't have a strong opinion on this game, but if they lean towards a side (and boy is it slight), it's Baltimore. History has shown that home field advantage plays a huge part in these games and the locals will be in a frenzy. The other factor they point to is defense and rushing offense. Both teams are great against the run but Vegas grades the Ravens secondary slightly higher. The big advantage for Baltimore in this game is the Ravens number one rushing attack compared to the Titans who struggled to post a 3.5 yards per carry average this season. Tennessee's big advantage is their passing attack behind a healthier QB McNair. His experience in playoff games is a huge edge over whichever QB Baltimore puts on the field.

Gun to their heads, the pros like this game under the total better than they like either side.

Dallas (10-6) at Carolina (11-5)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 34

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 31
DAL 17, CAR 14

Trends

DAL
Points for =18, Points against = 16
Over/Under = 7/9 (Away =3/5)

DAL won last three

CAR
Points for =20, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 8/7/1 (Home =4/3/1)

        DAL     CAR  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/23/2003 CAR 20 DAL 24 319 65 254 244 75 169
10/13/2002 CAR 13 DAL 14 311 138 173 308 116 192
10/1/2000 DAL 16 CAR 13 291 173 118 272 119 153

Motivation

Carolina lost in Dallas (20-24) on Thanksgiving Day. Carolina will want some revenge for that loss.

Opinion

Vegas is on Dallas in this game for a number of reasons. The first reason, is Cowboys' HC Bill Parcells. Fox is a fine coach, but if the pros had to pick one coach to win a playoff game, they'd go with the legendary veteran. The second reason the handicappers give the edge to the Cowboys is defense. The Cowboys still have the NFL's best rush defense and only surrender 3.5 yards per rush. The Panthers will not want to put this game on Delhomme's shoulders, so Carolina must establish a running game early. Dallas will counter by putting eight in the box and pressing the Panthers wide receivers. Finally, Vegas still has doubts about this "overachieving" Panthers team. They've won nine games by six points or less and seven of those games by three points or less. Carolina hasn't shown that they can blow teams out, but have shown they are tough in tight games. Expect a close, low scoring game here with the Cowboys winning by a field goal.

Seattle (3-2) at Green Bay (1-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 44

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 51
GB 27, SEA 24

Trends

SEA
Points for =25, Points against = 20
Over/Under = 5/10/1 (Away =4/4)

GB
Points for =28, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 9/7 (Home =4/4)

        SEA     GB  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
10/5/2003 SEA 13 GB 35 343 128 215 336 159 177

Motivation

Seattle will want revenge for their October loss. Green Bay seems like the team of destiny and has been the hottest squad down the stretch.

Opinion

Vegas thinks this is going to be a wild game where both teams march up and down the field. Seattle finally got the monkey off their back with a road win over the 49ers to make the playoffs. With that confidence, they should do better than their 13 point total early this year.

The October game was decided by turnovers, Seattle made them while the Packers had one of their few games without a giveaway. Seattle will try and establish a running game, grind out first downs, and keep the potent Packers offense off the field. Green Bay doesn't fear the Seahawks pass rush and won't hesitate to have Brett Favre go down the field against the Seahawks rookie secondary. If Seattle helps their secondary by playing off and playing zone, the Green Bay running game should go well over 100 rushing yards.

The pros like the total (over) better than either side in this game.

Denver (10-6) at Indianapolis (12-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 49

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 44
DEN 24, IND 20

Trends

DEN
Points for =24, Points against = 19
Over/Under = 7/9 (Away =3/5)

IND
Points for =28, Points against = 21
Over/Under = 9/7 (Home =4/4)

        DEN     IND  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
12/21/2003 DEN 31 IND 17 465 227 238 183 47 136
11/24/2002 IND 23 DEN 20 285 113 172 344 128 216
1/6/2002 DEN 10 IND 29 219 115 104 335 151 184

Motivation

The third revenge game this week. Denver rolled over the Colts two weeks ago. Indianapolis has failed to advance in the playoffs under Manning.

Opinion

Denver looked horrible last week, but remember that the Broncos kept their best players out of last week's game. Vegas thinks this rested Denver team will run the ball all over the Colts again this week.

A lot of recreational gamblers will be on Indianapolis this week. They have the revenge angle and the Broncos needed Week 16's game far more than Indianapolis did, discounting that bad loss to some degree. But looking at the statistics, the most glaring advantage is the Broncos rushing game against the Colts rushing defense. Denver (Portis) runs the ball very effectively while Indianapolis struggles to keep opposing ball carriers under five yards a rush.

The Colts playoff struggles are well known. Indianapolis has no experience winning the big games while the Bronocs have two successful Super Bowl runs under their belts. With that in mind and fresh off being blown out of their own stadium by the Broncos only two weeks ago, Denver should be very confident while the Colts will doubt themselves.