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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

PLAYBOOK: DIVISION ROUND GAMES BEGIN, INCLUDING MAHONES VS MAYFIELD SHOOTOUT

By Marc Lawrence — NFL ROUND 2 — Baltimore over BUFFALO by 6 —

Like Browns fans, the Buffalo faithful rejoiced as their team won their fi rst playoff game since 1995 in last week’s close-call escape over the Colts. However, there is a lot to like about Baltimore these days. For openers, they became the first team to lead the NFL in point-differential two years in a row this season. The Ravens have held their last three foes to 228 YPG, including a season-low 209 to the Titans last week. In addition, the Black Birds traveled the fewest miles of all teams this season (6310), affording them fresh legs for this season-ending push. More impressive, Baltimore is averaging 262 rushing yards per contest the last six games, topping 230 RYPG in five of these games. That’s the most in a 6-game span since the 1949 Eagles, who averaged 267 RYPG and won the NFL title that year. Head coach John Harbaugh is 20-10 SU and 20-7-2 ATS versus the AFC East, including 11-6 SU and 13-2-2 ATS against those with a winning record. And Harbaugh’s 8 playoff road wins are the most in league history. That’s not to take anything away from the Bills, who are 10-2 SU and 9-3 ATS under Sean McDermott in games with the better record against foes coming off a win. They also enter on an impressive 8-1 SUATS winning run. The key will be keeping this a one score contest, as the Bills are 5-1 SU this season after going 4-6 in such games last year. However, we can’t overlook Baltimore’s ball-busting 11-6 SU and 13-4 ATS mark in playoff road games since 2001, including 9-0 ATS when not coming off a win of 17 or more points.

KANSAS CITY over Cleveland by 8

Prior to Sunday’s stunning shocker when Cleveland snapped a 12-year losing skein at Pittsburgh, the last time the Browns won a playoff game was in 1995, back when ‘Forrest Gump’ won Best Picture over ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ in a total injustice, Bill Clinton “did not have sexual relations with that woman”, and Seinfeld was still the No. 1 show on television. Safe to say should the Browns pull off another upset today, they will indeed be a team of destiny. In order to do so, they will rely heavily on the hot-hand of ‘veteran’ QB Baker Mayfield, the eldest AFC quarterback playing this weekend (thanks to Sam R from Ohio State for that gem). Since Thanksgiving week, Mayfield sports a 104.96 QB Rating, completing 165 of 255 passes for 1976 yards, 14 TDs and only 1 INT. It won’t be easy, though, not with teams coming off a SU underdog win in the Wild Card Round just 12-48 SU and 22-38 ATS in Divisional Round matchups. And not when teams who score 40 or more points in a playoff game being only 7-26-1 ATS the next game since 1996. And then there is KC head coach Andy Reid who is 6-2 SUATS with rest in the postseason. Lest we forget, AFC No. 1 seeds in Division Round games are 19-11 SU… but only and 12-17-1 ATS. However, because they are the defending Super Bowl champion, and a rested No. 1 seed in the AFC, they are overpriced in spite of the fact that over the 2nd half of the season they bring a 0-7-1 ATS mark into this contest, with no wins by more than 6 points. Simply too many points for a cold hand to lay into a hot one.

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2 Responses

  1. Your picks make more sense than last week’s whiffs. Cleveland- s running game, if it is still working and taking time away from the young wonder KC QB, should be the difference but neither game attracts my $ and cannot root versus the Real windy city, Buffalo. I’m leaning on the former ‘Aints who should go all out for the old, small, retiring QB, Brees while Green Bay should Brees by at home. Rodgers’ team is too good right now and Aaron is on a personal mission. 2g-ame parlay✌️

  2. Marc,

    Don’t follow game as much as I used to betting-wise but really looking forward to the battle of the two wunderkins on Sunday. I know since your aim to provide the best underdog plays each week, surprised to see KC pick by such a wide margin. Gonna’ be fun to watch either way.

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