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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Inside The Points - Wildcard Week
Fritz Schlottman
January 7, 2005

ST LOUIS AT SEATTLE

Vegas Line

SEA -4 TOTAL 51

Predicted Outcome

SEA 31 STL 28

Records

STL

SU (8-8-0)

ATS (5-10-1), ATS AWAY (2-6-0)

OVER/UNDER (9-7-0), O/U AWAY (5-3-0)

SEA

SU (9-7-0)

ATS (5-11-0), ATS HOME (1-7-0)

OVER/UNDER (11-5-0), O/U HOME (7-5-0)

Recent Meetings

        STL     SEA  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
11/14/2004 SEA 12 STL 23 462 202 260 372 206 166
10/10/2004 STL 33 SEA 27 441 124 317 391 187 204
12/14/2003 SEA 22 STL 27 316 86 230 366 135 231
9/21/2003 STL 23 SEA 24 308 82 226 316 96 220
12/22/2002 STL 10 SEA 30 271 17 254 392 100 292
10/20/2002 SEA 20 STL 37 478 218 260 290 50 240

Commentary

The total has moved down from 53.5 on a bad weather forecast for Seattle.

When I look at playoff games, I look at how teams have done on the road and against quality opposition. Let’s take the visitors first: the Rams were 2-6 straight up and on the road this season and in their last five games St. Louis was 0-2 (SU, ATS) on the highway…not good. Further, the Rams were 1-4 as a road dog in 2004…not good either. The Rams two road wins and covers were against the 49ers 24-14 and against the Seahawks 33-27. On the good side, the Rams wins were against the Cardinals, 49ers (twice), Seahawks (twice), Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and the Jets. So at least two quality wins for St. Louis.

Now let’s look at the Seahawks. Seattle was 4-4 straight up and ATS on the road this season and 1-1 SU and ATS on the road in their last five games. ‘Not going to knock you over but at least par for the course. At home, the Seahawks were 1-7 as favorites (ouch!). On the road, Seattle beat New Orleans, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, an Minnesota..not a quality win in the bunch. At home, Seattle beat San Francisco, Carolina, Miami, Arizona, and Atlanta for one quality win this season.

So what are my choices: I can lay four points with a team that is 1-7 ATS as a home favorite with one quality win (and a home win at that) all season and Ray Rhodes is the defensive coordinator, or I can take four points with a Rams squad that was 2-6 on the road this season, 1-4 as a road dog, had a -23 in turnover margin, and Mike Martz is the head coach. God, I’d love to be betting against both of these teams but my bad luck, they’re playing each other; so I’ll pass quickly on the sides and never look back.

For the total, since the third week of the season when the Seahawks over/under record was 0-3, the Seahawks have played 11 overs and 2 unders. Both of the unders were on the road ( Minnesota and St. Louis), so the over was undefeated in Washington during that period. On the other hand, the Rams have played four straight under games on the road (scoring 17 at Buffalo and Green Bay, 7 points at Carolina and Arizona) and the fifth game was an over, but St. Louis contributed very little to the cause (14 points at Miami). On the other hand the Rams defense gave up 31 to Arizona, 20 to Carolina, 45 to Green Bay, 37 to Buffalo, 31 to Miami, and 27 to Seattle, and 31 to Atlanta on the road this season. The Seahawks defense hasn’t been great either. Since Seattle opened the season 3-0 they’ve held only two teams to 17 points ( Carolina and Miami), two other teams to less than 25 points ( Arizona and Minnesota) and four teams have scored more than 30 points against the Seattle defense. So given those numbers, you wouldn’t expect a strong defensive effort from either squad.

If St. Louis can score on the road, the game sets up as an over because neither defense looks like they will hold the other offense to less than 24 points. The Rams have gone over 400 yards offense in each of the two prior meetings this season. At 1 point per 15 yards, that would equate on average to an expected point total of 30. Unless the weather is dreadful, the best bet on this game would be on the over.

NY JETS AT SAN DIEGO

Vegas Line

SD -7 TOTAL 44.5

Predicted Outcome

SD 24 NYJ 17

Records

NYJ

SU (10-6-0)

ATS (8-7-1), ATS AWAY (4-3-1)

OVER/UNDER (7-9-0), O/U AWAY (3-5-0)

SD

SU (12-4-0)

ATS (13-1-2), ATS HOME (6-1-1)

OVER/UNDER (9-7-0), O/U HOME (6-2-0)

Recent Meetings

        NYJ     SD  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
9/19/2004 NYJ 34 SD 28 380 122 258 327 111 216
11/3/2002 NYJ 44 SD 13 413 165 248 243 73 170

Commentary

You don’t need a lot of fancy analysis in this game because you have one team ( San Diego) that was 13-1-2 ATS and covered against everyone…and the only team that beat them and covered were the Jets in week two.

This is where you test that grand old theory, “defense wins football games”. Here the better defensive team ( New York) is getting seven points. If you truly believe that offense is for show and defense is for dough, take the touchdown with the Jets.

Me, I like teams that win football games, and I like teams that play at home in the playoffs. The odds are that if you pick the winner of the game, the team will also cover the number and the home team in this round of the playoffs wins more than two-thirds of the wild card games. The Chargers have won nine of their last ten games and this will be their first home playoff game in quite some time so home field advantage may be more than three points in this game.

The Jets stumbled into the playoffs, losing three of their last four games. On the road, New York’s last six games have been 29-32 loss to the Rams, a 6-17 loss to the Steelers, a 13-3 victory over the Cardinals, a 10-7 victory over the Browns, a 17-22 loss to the Bills, 7-13 loss to the Patriots. For those of you counting at home, the Jets have one quality win on the road all season ( San Diego). Unfortunately for New York, that was their one quality win all season.

The Chargers didn’t exactly light it up either. SD beat Houston, Carolina, Oakland, Kansas City, and Cleveland on the road…not a winner in the bunch. San Diego’s only quality wins were against Denver and Jacksonville (both at home).

Put a gun to my head and I’d have to lay the touchdown with the Chargers. Like the STL/SEA game, I’d love to be betting against either of these teams, but I’ll have to wait until next week. If I play the game, I’ll play it under the total. In a big game between JETS offensive coordinator Paul Hackett and Martyball, I think both offenses will be vanilla and the game will be decided by whichever team runs the ball better and makes the fewest mistakes.

DENVER AT INDIANAPOLIS

Vegas Line

IND -10 TOTAL 57

Predicted Outcome

IND 31 DEN 21

Records

DEN

SU (10-6-0)

ATS (6-7-3), ATS AWAY (3-3-2)

OVER/UNDER (6-8-2), O/U AWAY (2-6-0)

IND

SU (12-4-0)

ATS (9-6-1), ATS HOME (5-3-0)

OVER/UNDER (11-5-0), O/U HOME (6-2-0)

Recent Meetings

        DEN     IND  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
1/2/2005 IND 14 DEN 33 453 214 239 200 34 166
1/4/2004 DEN 10 IND 41 322 146 176 479 85 394
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

Commentary

This is one of those games were you can really get into trouble quickly. If you’re a statistical handicapper, the Broncos look like the best bet of the weekend. Denver is a top five offensive and defensive team. So here you have a spot where you’re getting ten points with the better defensive football team and a team that can run the ball and control the clock as well. If you believe “defense wins championships” you’re betting the mortgage on the Broncos this week.

Let’s look at the last three meetings. Last season, the Broncos go on the road to Indianapolis and beat the Colts in a meaningful game by a score of 31-17. A few weeks later, when the two teams meet in the playoffs, the Colts bury Denver 41-10 in a game that was more lopsided than the score would indicate. Last week, the Broncos, needing a win to make the playoffs, beat-up Indy’s second team 33-14. Now, call me silly but don’t you think the Colts wanted to play the Broncos? Why else would you rest your starters knowing that giving the victory to the Broncos would mean the two teams would meet again this week in Indianapolis. Obviously, the Colts have seen something on film. Indy went after it in last year’s playoff win and they think they can attack again this time.

At the same time, Denver has shown they can be more physical than the Colts and rough them up on both sides of the ball. The Broncos have also shown that they can come into Indianapolis and run the ball for more than 200 yards and control the clock. If they can do it again, the Broncos can win this game straight up.

I know handicappers that have this game as their best bet of the weekend. Unfortunately, you can find them on both sides of the game, it’s just a matter of approach and what you think is important in handicapping. Myself, I’m staying away from this game like the plague until I see the first half. If Denver gets into second and third and long, they’re toast. The Colts can’t stop the pass and they can’t stop the run, but the one thing they do exceedingly well is rush the passer and if Plummer is under pressure he’s going to make dumb mistakes. Playoff games aren’t like regular season game where you call off the dogs if you get a lead because you don’t want to embarrass an opponent you may see again that season. If the Colts get a lead, they will not hesitate to run up the score. I’ll wait until halftime to play the game, so it’s a pass for now with a slight lean to the under.

MINNESOTA AT GREEN BAY

Vegas Line

GB -6.5 TOTAL 49

Predicted Outcome

GB 34 MIN 31

Records

MIN

SU (8-8-0)

ATS (7-9-0), ATS AWAY (4-4-0)

OVER/UNDER (8-8-0), O/U AWAY (5-3-0)

GB

SU (10-6-0)

ATS (7-9-0), ATS HOME (2-6-0)

OVER/UNDER (11-5-0), O/U HOME (5-3-0)

Recent Meetings

        MIN     GB  
Date Away Home TOTAL RUSH PASS TOTAL RUSH PASS
12/24/2004 GB 34 MIN 31 416 131 285 452 102 350
11/14/2004 MIN 31 GB 34 416 71 345 442 206 236
11/2/2003 GB 30 MIN 27 323 125 198 451 261 190
9/7/2003 MIN 30 GB 25 337 154 183 304 62 242
12/8/2002 MIN 22 GB 26 316 191 125 328 124 204
11/17/2002 GB 21 MIN 31 425 218 207 367 71 296
12/30/2001 MIN 13 GB 24 302 199 103 213 56 157
10/21/2001 GB 13 MIN 35 377 196 181 234 74 160

Commentary

I love this game over the total. I think the Sports Gods made an error setting the opening line at 48. My best guess is that they didn’t want to get caught with their briefs around their ankles if there was bad weather in Wisconsin and have every Tom, Dick, and Harry’s seven cousins parlaying the under if weather conditions were extremely bad. However, as the forecast firms up, it looks like the field conditions won’t be ideal, but certainly playable.

Let’s face it, neither of these teams has a secondary and haven’t for quite some time, but they can play a ton of offense. The totals in the previous six meeting have been 65, 65, 57, 55, 48, and 52 so five of the last six meeting have gone over this week’s total. The Packers have gone over 400 yards in total offense in each of the last three games in this series and the Vikings have gone over 400 yards in total offense in each of this year’s games. Daunte Culpepper was the Leagues leading passer with 4717 yards and Favre was number five with 4088 passing yards. The Packers were number three in total offense and the Vikings were number four. Green Bay’s defense was 25 th against the pass (and total defense), the Vikings were 29 th (28 th in total defense). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s likely to happen in this game if weather conditions aren’t brutal.

As for sides, how can you lay points with either team? The Packers blew a 17 point lead at home earlier this season and it took a late touchdown to win (but not cover) that game and the Pack hand a miracle come from behind win in Minnesota. No reason to lay a touchdown there. The Vikings went down the toilet again late this season and backed into the playoffs on the final day after blowing a game at Washington. Moreover, this team is 6-15 ATS outside in their last 22 road games including loses to Chicago and the Redskins this season. Do I want either team? Hell, no. I’ll take the total play and pass on the sides once again.

Best of luck this week!