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♦ AFC-NFC Divisional Playoffs! ♦ Sunday 1/17/16

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    AFC-NFC Divisional Playoff Notes
    By VI News

    ‘NFL Playoffs’

    ♦Seattle at Carolina♦
    (FOX, 1:00 p.m. ET)

    Line Movement:
    The Panthers opened as 2 ½-point favorites and have moved to 3 (EVEN) at most betting shops. The total is holding steady at 43 ½ but a few outfits are holding 44.

    Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch (abdominal) didn’t make the trip to Minnesota last week and is ‘questionable’ for Sunday.

    Seattle Road Record: 6-3 SU, 4-4-1 ATS

    Carolina Home Record: 8-0 SU, 6-2 ATS

    Carolina snapped a five-game losing streak to Seattle earlier this season with a 27-23 victory as a seven-point road underdog. In last year’s postseason, the Seahawks defeated the Panthers 31-17 in the Divisional Playoff round. In the last three games played at Carolina between the pair, Seattle has won all three but all of the games were decided by five points or less (16-12, 12-7, 13-9).

    Playoff Notes:
    Including last week’s win, Seattle is now 7-2 in the postseason with Russell Wilson at quarterback and that includes a 3-2 record away from home. Carolina is 1-2 in the playoffs with Cam Newton under center and is 0-3 in its last three postseason games played in the Divisional Playoff round, two of those setbacks coming at home and all the losses were by double digits.

    Total Notes:
    Seattle has watched the ‘under’ go 10-7 this season and the ‘under’ is on a 5-0 run headed into this week’s game. Carolina has the second best ‘over’ mark (10-5-1) this season and was 5-2-1 to the ‘over’ at home. The ‘over’ has cashed in the last two meetings between the pair, both of those games were played at Seattle. In the previous three games played at Carolina, the ‘under’ cashed in all three.


    AFC-NFC Divisional Playoff Notes
    By VI News

    ‘NFL Playoffs’

    ♦Pittsburgh at Denver♦
    (CBS, 4:40 p.m. ET)

    Line Movement:
    Sportsbooks opened the Broncos as three-point home favorites with a total of 40. The number has jumped up to 5 ½ at this shop. CG Technology in Las Vegas is holding Denver -6 and has Denver -7 (+120) as of Sunday morning.

    Pittsburgh has three key players knocked up and all are listed as ‘questionable’ for Sunday. QB Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder), WR Antonio Brown (concussion) and RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle). Denver QB Peyton Manning was named the starter for this game after missing six games at the end of the season.

    Pittsburgh Road Record: 5-4 SU, 4-4-1 ATS

    Denver Home Record: 6-2 SU, 3-5 ATS

    The Steelers defeated the Broncos 34-27 in Week 15 and failed to cover as 7 ½-point home favorites. This number closed high but most books had Pittsburgh -6 and -6 ½ prior to the late rush before kickoff. Prior to this result, the most recent meeting between the pair took place in the 2012 season when they squared off against each other twice. Denver won both games at home, 31-19 in the regular season and 29-23 in the playoffs, which was Tim Tebow’s signature win. The Broncos are 7-3 SU and 5-3-2 ATS in their last 10 games versus the AFC North. The ‘over’ has gone 8-2 during this span. Despite beating Denver this season, Pittsburgh is just 5-5 in its last 10 against the AFC West and only 2-7-1 ATS in those games.

    Playoff Notes:
    Including last week’s win over the Bengals, head coach Mike Tomlin is 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS in the playoffs for Pittsburgh. The victory at Cincinnati was just the second postseason win for Tomlin away from home. Since Peyton Manning joined the Broncos, the team is 2-3 in the playoffs which includes a pedestrian 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS mark at home. The ‘under’ has gone 3-1 in those four home playoff games. Denver head coach Gary Kubiak has been to the playoffs four times with the Houston Texans and went 2-2.

    Total Notes:
    The Steelers have watched the ‘under’ go 11-6 this season and that includes a 7-2 mark on the road. Pittsburgh enters this game with a 3-0 ‘under’ streak. Denver has been an ‘under’ (9-6-1) team as well this season, especially at home where it owns a 5-2-1 mark.


    Sunday’s NFL Divisional betting preview

    Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (-2.5, 40.5)

    The Seattle Seahawks escaped a near-certain defeat in the opening round of the playoffs and continue their bid for a third straight trip to the Super Bowl when they visit the top-seeded Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon. Seattle squeezed out a 10-9 victory at Minnesota last weekend when Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field-goal attempt in the final minute.

    The sixth-seeded Seahawks now get a chance to avenge a regular-season home loss to the Panthers, who erased a 13-point, second-half deficit in a 27-23 victory at Seattle in Week 6. The Seahawks have reeled off six consecutive road wins, surrendering a scant total of 43 points in that stretch. Carolina, which won its first 14 games and pounded Tampa Bay 38-10 in the season finale, was expecting a rematch against Seattle. “After we played them, we said, ‘We’ll see you again in the playoffs,'” Panthers star cornerback Josh Norman said. “It’s cool. Fate gives you these chances to prove yourself worthy.”

    TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, FOX.

    Since opening as 3-point home favorites, the Panthers were bet all the way down to -1, before bouncing back to -2.5. The total has yet to move off its opening number of 44.


    Seahawks – DE M. Bennett (probable Sunday, toe), RB M. Lynch (probable Sunday, hernia), TE L. Wilson (probable Sunday, concussion), FB W. Tukuafu (doubtful Sunday, hamstring).

    Panthers – LB D. Mayo (probable Sunday, hamstring), S K. Coleman (probable Sunday, foot), WR T. Ginn (questionable Sunday, knee), LB A. Klein (questionable Sunday, hamstring), RB F. Whittaker (out Sunday, ankle).

    It could be wet in Charlotte on Sunday. It will be partly cloudy wuth a 54 percent chance of rain. Temperatures will be in the low 40’s and there will be a 5-7 mile per hour wind gusting towards the southeast end zone.

    Seahawks (-6) – Panthers (-5.5) + home field (-3) = Panthers -2.5

    “We opened Panthers pick’em and that number got decimated by the public, forcing us to get to 3 within hours of opening our number. We got to 3 flat before the sharp’s got involved, they took +3 -110, +3 -115 and +3 -120, at which point we went down to 2.5 and eventually 2 flat. Then the public got involved again and we got back to 2.5 flat and then -2.5 -120, which is our current number. This game has seen some serious line movement and I honestly hate our position going into tomorrow. This should be a very closely contest matchup and I could see 3 coming into play quite easily. In fact, it’s a game that has Panthers by 3 written all over it, and if it lands 3 as of now we get crushed. We’ve only written Seahawks money at the number 3, so all that money would be refunded and all the action on the Panthers that drove us to 3 would cash.” – Pete Childs, supervisor of risk management for Sportsbook.

    ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (11-6, 8-8-1 ATS, 7-10 O/U):
    After surviving ice-box conditions in Minnesota, Seattle is hoping for the return of running back Marshawn Lynch, who practiced fully last week for the first time since undergoing abdominal surgery on Nov. 25 but said he wasn’t ready to go against the Vikings. Russell Wilson, who threw for 241 yards and a touchdown in the earlier meeting, had 24 TD passes and one interception in a seven-game span before being limited to 142 yards against Minnesota. As good as Seattle’s defense has been on the road, it allowed four 80-yard TD drives to the Panthers in Week 6.

    ABOUT THE PANTHERS (15-1, 11-5 ATS, 10-5-1 O/U):
    Cam Newton was picked off twice in the first matchup, but he has thrown for 21 touchdowns and only one interception over his last eight games. Greg Olsen continued a trend of tight ends burning Seattle’s defense by hauling in seven passes for 131 yards, including the go-ahead 26-yard TD with under a minute to play. Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the earlier meeting, will return to the lineup after missing three games due to a foot injury. Carolina’s defense sacked Wilson four times and is third in the league with 40.


    * Seahawks are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.

    * Panthers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games.

    * Over is 4-0 in Panthers last 4 games following a ATS win.

    * Under is 5-0 in Seahawks last 5 games overall.

    The public is backing the NFC’s No. 1 seed in this rematch from the regular season with 63 percent of wagers on the Panthers. As for the total 68 percent of wagers are on the under.

    PREDICTION: Seahawks 23, Panthers 20


    Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (-7.5, 40.5)

    Peyton Manning knows all too well that the playoffs present a one-and-done scenario. With nine defeats in his team’s initial playoff game on his resume, the 39-year-old Manning isn’t taking anything for granted heading into the AFC West-champion Denver Broncos’ divisional-round clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

    “Playoffs, anything goes,” Manning told reporters on Wednesday. “Everything’s on the table.” The veteran missed Denver’s 34-27 setback to Pittsburgh on Dec. 20 due to a left foot injury but entered the team’s regular-season finale and engineered four scoring drives en route to a 27-20 victory over San Diego. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns while All-Pro Antonio Brown made 16 catches for 189 yards in the initial meeting with the Broncos, but both stars were injured during Pittsburgh’s 18-16 wild-card win over AFC North-rival Cincinnati last week. Roethlisberger returned to the contest despite nursing a shoulder injury while Brown was drilled by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and is in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

    TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, CBS.

    With injuries to several key players to the Steelers the line was held off the board for the majority of the week and eventually opened the Broncos as 5-point faves and quickly moved to -7. With Antonio Brown out the line moved to -8 and has settled back down at Broncos -7.5. The total has been bet up two points from 38.5 to 40.5.


    Steelers – FB W. Johnson (probable Sunday, hamstring), QB B. Roethlisberger (probable Sunday, shoulder), LB R. Shazier (probable Sunday, knee), DE C. Heyward (probable Sunday, back), S R. Golden (probable Sunday, shoulder), WR S. Coates (questionable Sunday, illness), CB D. Grant (questionable Sunday, groin), RB D. Williams (out Sunday, foot), WR A. Brown (out Sunday, head).

    Broncos – LB D. Ware (probable Sunday, knee), S O. Bolden (probable Sunday, groin), S D. Stewart (probable Sunday, hamstring), CB C. Harris (probable Sunday, shoulder), QB B. Osweiler (questionable Sunday, knee).

    It should be a nice day for football in Denver. It will be partly cloudy with just a 12 percent chance of rain and temperatures in the mid 30’s. There will just be minimal wind.

    Steelers (-3.5) – Broncos (-3) + home field (-3) = Broncos -2.5

    WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened up a very bad number on the Broncos, opening up -4 and we paid the price for a poor number. Our limits were low at the time as we had the game circled with Big Ben nursing a shoulder surgery and Antonio Brown very questionable because he was going through Concussion Protocol, we weren’t exactly sure what to open. While we opened up low, we booked this game very aggressively and it didn’t take much for us to get to 6, then 6.5, and eventually to 7; then news broke that Brown wasn’t going to play tomorrow we immediately went to 7.5 which is our current number. So far roughly 65% of the action is on the Broncos, most of that action between the numbers of 4 to 7 points, and any and all Steelers money is on them at +7.5, so once again we’re not in the best position going into this game if it lands 7 it’s going to hurt.” – Pete Childs, supervisor of risk management for Sportsbook.

    ABOUT THE STEELERS (11-6, 9-6-2 ATS, 6-11 O/U):

    With a sprained AC joint and torn ligaments in his shoulder, Roethlisberger likely isn’t going to throw the ball around with the same frequency (season-high 55 attempts) that he did in the first meeting with the Broncos. Should Brown sit out on Sunday, Roethlisberger will turn to wideouts Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton – as well as trusty tight end Heath Miller – to move the ball down the field. Playing without veteran DeAngelo Williams (foot), the duo of Jordan Todman (65 yards) and Fitzgerald Toussaint (58 yards rushing, 60 yards receiving) provided a backfield presence in the wild-card game.

    ABOUT THE BRONCOS (12-4, 8-8 ATS, 6-9-1 O/U):
    Former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders hopes Sunday’s tilt will feature a repeat of his strong performance in the first meeting, when he reeled in a season-high 10 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown. “You get ready for everything, but teams aren’t going to change what they do that much in the playoffs,” Sanders told reporters. “You get ready to adjust, but we do what we do, they do what they do and you execute.” Fellow wideout Demaryius Thomas had two of his six touchdown receptions this season against Pittsburgh.


    * Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Divisional Playoffs games.

    * Broncos are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 playoff games.

    * Under is 8-2 in Steelers last 10 road games.

    * Over is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.

    The public is fairly split in this matchup, with 52 percent of wagers on the Broncos. When it comes to the total, 57 percent of wagers are on the over.

    PREDICTION: Broncos 20, Steelers 17


    NFL Football Betting Trends – Sunday – Jan, 17

    Seattle at Carolina, 1:05 ET
    Seattle: 7-0 UNDER revenging a loss against opponent
    Carolina: 6-0 ATS in games where the line is +3 to -3

    Pittsburgh at Denver, 4:40 ET
    Pittsburgh: 1-5 ATS off 3 or more consecutive unders
    Denver: 7-0 ATS after failing to cover the spread in 3 out of last 4 games


    Panthers host Seahawks in Divisional Round Sunday
    By Zach Cohen

    Kickoff: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET

    ‘NFC Divisional Playoffs’
    Line: Carolina -2.5, Total: 44.0

    The Seahawks will be looking to make it to their third straight NFC Championship Game when they face the Panthers in Carolina on Sunday.

    The Seahawks are fortunate to be playing in this game, as they really only defeated the Vikings in the wild card round thanks to a missed Blair Walsh chip shot. Seattle escaped with a 10-9 victory as a 4.5-point favorite, but the team will not be happy with the way that it played. The Seahawks must do better offensively against a Panthers team that went 15-1 this season. Carolina lost only one game this season SU and was dominant ATS too, going 11-5 on the year. The team did, however, play a week schedule. When these teams met in Seattle on Oct. 18, the Panthers shocked the Seahawks with a 27-23 victory as seven-point road underdogs. Seattle let that game slip away and is still 3-1 SU in this head-to-head series over the past three seasons. The Seahawks have won their last two games in Carolina and both of those contests went Under the total. One trend working in the Seahawks’ favor is that the team is 8-1 ATS after having won four of its past five games over the last two seasons. The Panthers, however, were 6-0 ATS in games where the line was +3 to -3 this season. TE Luke Willson (Concussion) and RB Marshawn Lynch (Abdominal) are questionable for Seattle and RB Jonathan Stewart (Foot) is questionable for Carolina.

    The Seahawks have the league’s best defense and that is going to keep them in games. Seattle allowed just 17.3 PPG this season (1st in NFL) and they’ve allowed just 58 points over the past six games. This team is clicking on defense and will just need Russell Wilson to lead the offense on a few scoring drives in this one. Wilson had a tough time getting things going against Minnesota in the wild card round, throwing for just 142 yards with one touchdown and one pick. Wilson also wasn’t at his best the last time he faced the Panthers, going 18-for-30 with 241 yards and a touchdown in the loss. It wasn’t a poor outing for Wilson, but he did throw for 24 touchdowns and just one interception over the final seven weeks of the season and is capable of having some explosive games. He’ll need to channel that type of play on Sunday or his team may be going home early. Doug Baldwin will be the guy that Wilson is looking at in this one. He caught five passes for 42 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings and emerged as one of the league’s top receivers late in the season. He’ll need to shake free for some big plays in this game.

    The Panthers were one of the best teams in football during the regular season and the team did it on both sides of the field. Carolina was dominant offensively, putting up 31.3 PPG (1st in NFL) with Cam Newton leading the way. Defensively, the Panthers were giving up just 19.3 PPG (6th in NFL). It’s good that Carolina is balanced, as the team will need to bring it on both ends against this experienced Seattle team. Cam Newton’s play will, however, determine the outcome of this game for the Panthers. When he faced the Seahawks earlier in the season, Newton threw for 269 yards, one touchdown and one interception and he also rushed for 30 yards and a touchdown. He was very good in that game, but turnovers were an issue. If he wants his team to avoid being the one that peaked in the regular season then he will need to take care of the football on Sunday. Greg Olsen is Newton’s favorite target all over the field. He had seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting with Seattle. If he can come anywhere near matching that production then the team should be in good position to win the game. One big plus for the Panthers in this game is that Jonathan Stewart is set to make his return. Stewart rushed for 989 yards and six touchdowns this season and really adds another element to the Carolina offense. If he is healthy then he will really help the team in this one.


    Banged up Steelers meet Broncos on Sunday
    By Zach Cohen

    Kickoff: Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET

    ‘AFC Divisional Playoffs’
    Line: Denver -6.5, Total: 40.5

    The Broncos host the Steelers on Sunday and a spot in the AFC Championship Game will be on the line.

    The Steelers are coming off of an 18-16 victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh drove down the field and won on a field goal by Chris Boswell that would have been a lot further away had it not been for a few boneheaded penalties by the Bengals. The Steelers have now won two straight games and they are allowing just 14.0 PPG in those contests. The Broncos, meanwhile, have not played since defeating the Chargers 27-20 as 10-point favorites at home in Week 17. Denver won each of its final two regular season games, but the team did not cover in either. The Broncos and Steelers met in Week 15 and Pittsburgh came out on top in that one. The Steelers won 34-27 as seven-point home favorites in that game and it was the only meeting between these teams in the past three seasons. Denver is, however, 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS when facing Pittsburgh in Denver since 1992. There are a few trends in this game that bettors will want to be aware of. The Broncos are just 0-6 ATS in home games after gaining six or more yards per play in two straight games over the past three seasons. It isn’t all bad for Denver, though, as the team is 7-0 ATS after failing to cover the spread in three of its past four games over the past three seasons. RB DeAngelo Williams (Ankle) is questionable for the Steelers and both QB Ben Roethlisberger (Shoulder) and WR Antonio Brown (Concussion) are listed as questionable, but are expected to suit up in this game. For Denver, LB Demarcus Ware (Knee) is listed as questionable, but it would be surprising if he doesn’t play in this one.

    The Steelers were able to escape Cincinnati with a victory, but the team suffered a number of injuries in the process. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown got hurt and it would be a major blow to Pittsburgh if those guys weren’t playing at the level they are capable of. Roethlisberger will almost certainly have some trouble in this one, as he could barely throw the ball down field when he came back in against the Bengals. The Steelers will have to simplify the playbook and work in a lot of screen passes and short timing routes to allow Roethlisberger to take it a bit easy in this one. Antonio Brown, meanwhile, should be able to play like his normal self as long as he is cleared for this game. Brown had 16 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns the last time these teams played and will certainly be all over the field in this one. Defensively, Pittsburgh will need to step it up with Roethlisberger injured. The Steelers cannot expect as many points as usual and will need to prevent the Denver offense from exploding on Sunday.

    The Broncos finished the season with two wins and Peyton Manning is back under center for Denver. Manning entered the game after Brock Osweiler struggled against the Chargers and the veteran quarterback completed 55.6% of his passes for 69 yards in relief of him. Manning read the defense well and showed enough to prove to Gary Kubiak that he should be starting in this game. One thing Manning will need to do is avoid turning the ball over. Manning threw for just nine touchdowns this season and had a miserable 17 interceptions. He cannot afford to put the ball in the hands of Ben Roethlisberger, no matter how healthy the Steelers quarterback may or may not be. Another thing Manning will need to do is target Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders lit up the Steelers the last time these teams met, hauling in 10 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 24 yards in that game. The Broncos will need to get him involved in this one. The running game will also need to be strong on Sunday. Ronnie Hillman and C.J Anderson combined for just 62 yards on 18 carries the last time these teams met and they will need to be a lot better with Peyton Manning playing quarterback.



    ‘Divisional Games’
    Both sides are Normal plays, meaning they are over 57% against the spread.


    Rot Time (ET) Pick Opp Line Margin Pick% $
    305 1:05 PM SEATTLE ♦Upset Watch Lock of the Week♦ @ CAROLINA 3 1.6 59.9 $79
    307 4:40 PM PIT @ DEN 7 -4.0 58.7% $66

    Rot Time (ET) Favorite Opp Points For Points Against Win%
    308 4:40 PM @ DEN vs PIT 22.2 18.1 61.7%
    305 1:05 PM SEA @ CAR 21.6 20.1 53.1%

    Home Rot Time (ET) Matchup Line Total Points Pick Pick% $
    306 1:05 PM SEA @ CAR 44 41.7 Under 53.9% $16
    308 4:40 PM PIT @ DEN 40.5 40.3 Under 50.4% $0


    Conference Semi-finals

    Seahawks (11-6) @ Panthers (15-1) — Carolina (+7) won 27-23 at Seattle coming off its bye in Week 6, with four 80+-yard TD drives, three in second half. Win ended 5-game losing skid vs Seahawks, who beat Panthers 31-17 in LY’s playoffs and are 7-3 overall vs Carolina, with three straight wins in Charlotte by 4-5-4 points (average total, 23.0). Panthers are 15-1 with only loss in Atlanta threee weks ago; they’re 5-2 as home favorites. Seattle won seven of last eight games, losing only to Rams in Week 16; they held five of last six foes to 13 points or less, are 1-1-1 as an underdog this year. NFC’s #1 seed is 21-4 SU in this round since 1990, winning last three by 2-8-14 points (1-4 vs spread in last five). Newton is 1-2 in his playoff games; Russell Wilson is 7-2 in playoff games; Seahawks won NFC last two years.

    Steelers (11-6) @ Broncos (12-4) — How badly hurt is Big Ben? Antonio Brown? Osweiler might not be available, so what if Manning gets hurt? Steelers (-6.5) rallied from being down 27-13 at half to beat Denver 34-27 at Heinz in Week 15, nine of their four TD drives were longer than 60 yards (won field position by 11 yards). Roethlisberger has damaged shoulder but led winning drive LW; he is 11-5 in playoff games. Steelers are 2-6 in last eight visits to Denver, losing playoff game here in ’11– they’re 3-4 in playoffs vs Broncos. Pitt won five of last six games overall; they’re 3-3-1 as an underdog this year, but they did beat a backup QB in Cincy LW. Rookie Semien could be Denver’s backup QB; Broncos are 5-4 last nine games after a 7-0 start; they’re only 1-5 vs spread as a home favorite this season. .



    Seattle Seahawks +2

    Seahawks / Panthers – Over 44


    Cousin Sal

    ‘Divisional NFL’
    Broncos -7

    ‘Two team teaser’



    Divisional Playoffs

    ‘Key Releases’
    3* Panthers -1.5 over Seahawks
    Opinion Only – Broncos -7.5 over Steelers


    Norm Hitzges

    Denver–Pittsburgh – UNDER 39

    Denver -7 Pittsburgh



    5 unit – Carolina Panthers -2



    Carolina Panthers ML

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