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.