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Inside the Points - Championship Week
By Fritz Schlottman
January 16, 2003
 

Indianapolis (14-4) at New England (15-2)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 43.5

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 41
NE 24, IND 17

Trends

IND
Points for =29, Points against = 21
Over/Under =11/7 (Away =6/3)

NE
Points for =22, Points against = 15
Over/Under =7/9/1 (Home =3/6)

Last four meetings have gone over

NE has won the last six meetings ATS

NE is 8-1 ATS at home

IND is 5-0 ATS as a dog

Under is 6-1 in NE's last seven at home.

        IND     NE  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/30/2003 NE 38 IND 34 370 98 272 282 56 226
10/21/2001 NE 38 IND 17 484 179 305 385 123 262
9/30/2001 IND 13 NE 44 322 82 240 336 177 159
10/22/2000 NE 23 IND 30 398 130 268 386 155 231
10/8/2000 IND 16 NE 24 408 84 324 301 124 177

Motivation

The Patriots won the 11/30 contest on a goal line stand at their own one-yard line. Indianapolis contributed to the loss by missing a number of kicks.

Opinion

Here we go again. After Carolina and Indianapolis burned the touts last week, you may have thought that the pros would give a nod to one of the upstarts. But no... their contrarian nature gets the best of them again this week as they go against the hot hands.

Speaking of hot hands, what team is hotter than the Indianapolis Colts? You may follow the NFL for your entire lifetime and never see two straight games were a team didn't punt. No one is stopping the Indianapolis offense, especially QB Payton Manning. As one tout put it, you have a guy that has a history of doing nothing in the post season and he goes out and plays two perfect games, go figure.

Indianapolis has outgained the Patriots in four of the last five meetings. Unfortunately, that yardage advantage hasn't translated into points as New England has covered the spread in each of these contests.

The reason for that success may be Patriots HC Bill Belichick. New England's Head Coach is 9-1 ATS against Manning as a Head Coach and as a Defensive Coordinator for the Jets. That success may come down to design, the Patriots' secondary plays tough over the middle of the field and the Colts love to throw the ball between the hash marks. New England's defensive design funnels WRs to New England's safeties and that means to S Rodney Harrison who is still one of the most feared hitters in the NFL. A big part of the Colts offense is yards after the catch, and if they have to throw to the sidelines, YAC is limited.

New England's offense doesn't have to play their "A" game against a very weak Colts' defense. Indianapolis didn't have to punt last week, but neither did Kansas City. The Colts are giving up about five and a half yards per rush and every member of their secondary went out of last week's game with some kind of injury. The Patriots have their own QB on a hot streak; Tom Brandy has never lost a playoff game.

Pretty tough to win two road games as dogs in the playoffs. Teams in this situation are 7-17-1 ATS. Vegas thinks the public money will come down on the Colts this week and they'll take those extra points and play the Patriots

Well known touts on the Patriots: Andy Iskoe, Phil Steele, Brent Crow, Mike Lee, Teddy Covers (lean), Scott Spencer.

Well known pros on the Colts: none (at deadline).

Carolina (13-5) at Philadelphia (13-4)

Vegas Line

Total Points = 36

Predicted Outcome

Total Points = 39
PHI 23, CAR 16

Trends

CAR
Points for =21, Points against = 19
Over/Under =10/7/1 (Away =5/4)

PHI
Points for =23, Points against = 18
Over/Under = 9/7/1(Home =6/2/1)

        CAR     PHI  
Date Away Home Tot Rush Pass Tot Rush Pass
11/30/2003 PHI 25 CAR 16 336 136 200 283 124 159

CAR is 5-1 in last six as a dog

PHI is 10-2 ATS is last 12

Over is 6-1-1 in PHI's last eight home games

Motivation

The Eagles beat the Panthers in Carolina earlier this season 25-19. Philadelphia has lost three straight NFC Championship games.

Opinion

This is the Eagles third straight trip to the NFC Championship game. After two straight overtime games (a loss to San Francisco and a victory over the Packers), they're pretty happy and pretty lucky to be there.

The Eagles stats last week were terrible. Philadelphia can't stop the run (GB 210 rushing yards (5.7 yards avg. per rush) last week and lost). The Eagles can't protect McNabb (the Packers had eight sacks) and, other than McNabb's scrambles, they don't have a running game (Staley 45 rushing yards, Buckhalter 12 rushing yards, McNabb 107 rushing yards). Philadelphia was terrible on third down (PHI 4 - 17, GB 10 - 19) and had to convert two fourth downs to keep drives alive. Bottom line, the Eagles won ugly like they have all season. If you're a stat guy, you've been betting against Philadelphia all year, and losing money. All those numbers may be meaningless again this week.

The previous game in this series is another example were stats didn't translate into points. Carolina out rushed (136-124) and out passed (200-159) Philadelphia at home and lost the game on the scoreboard 25-16. Typical Eagles victory. They let you move the ball between the 20's then find a way to keep opposing teams out of the end zone.

Carolina looks like a team that matches up very well against Philadelphia. The Panthers have a great rushing game and the Eagles can't stop the rush. Carolina should be able to control the clock. The Panthers have the better special teams (especially kick returns with Westbrook out) so they should win the field position game. If the Packers can get eight sacks, there's no reason why the NFL's best front four can't get a least five on McNabb.

So, why do the touts like (although it's not universal) the Eagles? It comes down to experience. Philadelphia has been in this game the last two seasons, the current Panthers have not.

Notable touts on the Eagles: Phil Steele, Mike Lee, Andy Iskoe

Notable touts on the Panthers: Teddy Covers (lean), Brent Crow, Scott Spencer.