Tag Archives: playoffs

Fitzy’s Wicked Pissah #1 Cast

John Morgan
January 3, 2017 at 10:30 pm ET

The New England Patriots are the number one seed in the playoffs. The Pats finished the NFL 2016 regular season with a 14-2 record. Despite the best efforts of Roger Goodell on behalf of certain despicable owners such as Jim Irsay, Woody Jones, John Mara, Jerry Jones, no other team finished with a better record than the Patriots.

 

Warning: portion of audio is NSFW.

 

Even if you don’t believe in karma, there was certainly plenty of schadenfreude in the 2016 season. The primary co-conspirators in the witch hunt known as deflategate, the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts, both missed the playoffs. 345 Park Avenue watched their beloved Jets tumble from 10-6 to an atrocious season that could not end soon enough.

Vocal dissidents such as John Mara that don’t understand what happens to air pressure in tires because they’ve been chauffeured everywhere their whole life had to deal with one embarrassing breach of ethics after another. A 28-2 touchdown to interception differential shuts up any fool that still believes that the earth is flat and the ideal gas law is bunk.

Integrity? If there is any in this sport then it will culminate in Tom Brady holding up the Lombardi Trophy in Houston on February 5.

 

NFL Wild Card Playoff Scenarios Entering Week 17

John Morgan
January 1, 2017 at 9:00 am ET

There is relatively little intrigue in regards to which NFL playoff teams will make the playoffs. Entering the final day of the 2016 NFL regular season ten of the twelve playoff teams have been determined. Four NFC teams are battling for two post-season berths, but one (Tampa Bay) has virtually no chance of making it. One other team (Washington) has to win against a club with nothing to play for (Giants). Two others face each other tonight in a de facto playoff game. Unless Green Bay at Detroit ends in a tie the season continues for the winner, while the losing squad can clean out their lockers and schedule tee times.

 

AFC Wild Card Playoff Scenarios

Pittsburgh and Houston are locked in as the number three and four seeds respectively. That leaves three games to determine the conference playoff seeding. The three AFC games that actually matter today are Miami at New England, Kansas City at San Diego and Oakland at Denver. There are a total of eight possible combined outcomes to those games.

  1. Patriots win, Raiders win, Chiefs win
  2. Patriots win, Raiders win, Chiefs lose
  3. Patriots win, Raiders lose, Chiefs win
  4. Patriots win, Raiders lose, Chiefs lose
  5. Patriots lose, Raiders win, Chiefs win
  6. Patriots lose, Raiders win, Chiefs lose
  7. Patriots lose, Raiders lose, Chiefs win
  8. Patriots lose, Raiders lose, Chiefs lose

 

 

 

Before we get to the wild card round, let’s look at the team getting a bye. New England claims the number one spot and home field advantage throughout the playoffs with either a win or an Oakland loss. Kansas City needs a win plus an Oakland loss to gain a bye as the number two seed; the Chiefs cannot advance to the top slot.

If Miami loses then they will be at Pittsburgh regardless of what happens elsewhere. If Oakland loses and Kansas City wins then the Raiders are at Houston. And if Miami win and Kansas City loses then the Dolphins are at Houston and the Chiefs are at Pittsburgh.

  1. Patriots win, Raiders win, Chiefs win – Mia at Pit, KC at Hou, NE #1, Oak #2
  2. Patriots win, Raiders win, Chiefs lose – Mia at Pit, KC at Hou, NE #1, Oak #2
  3. Patriots win, Raiders lose, Chiefs win – Mia at Pit, Oak at Hou, NE #1, KC #2
  4. Patriots win, Raiders lose, Chiefs lose – Mia at Pit, KC at Hou, NE #1, KC #2
  5. Patriots lose, Raiders win, Chiefs win – Mia at Pit, KC at Hou, Oak #1, NE #2
  6. Patriots lose, Raiders win, Chiefs lose – KC at Pit, Mia at Hou, Oak #1, NE #2
  7. Patriots lose, Raiders lose, Chiefs win – Mia at Pit, Oak at Hou, NE #1, KC #2
  8. Patriots lose, Raiders lose, Chiefs lose – KC at Pit, Mia at Hou, NE#1, Oak #2

 

 

 

 

 

That last scenario is what Miami fans are hoping for. It would mean that the Dolphins would face Tom Savage at quarterback in the first round. Then if Kansas City wins the Fins would be up against Matt McGloin at QB in the division round.

 

 

NFC Wild Card Playoff Scenarios

Dallas is number one and New York number 5 in the NFC. Atlanta and Seattle are division champs that could get a bye at number two, or play next weekend at home as either a number three or four seed. Washington is in as the number six seed as long as the Lions and Packers don’t tie. Detroit could finish as high as number two seed, but for that to happen Seattle has to lose to the Niners. The Lions could also miss the playoffs entirely if they finish the season with a third straight loss and Washington wins. The best Green Bay can do is a number three seed, or they too could miss the playoffs. Tampa Bay needs a miracle.

 

Assuming Seattle defeats San Francisco:

  1. Falcons win, Packers win, Wash wins – Wash at Seattle, Giants at Packers; Falcons #2, Lions out
  2. Falcons win, Packers win, Wash loses – Lions at Seattle, Giants at Packers; Falcons #2, Wash out
  3. Falcons win, Lions win, Wash wins – Wash at Seattle, Giants at Lions; Falcons #2, Packers out
  4. Falcons win, Lions win, Wash loses – Packers at Seattle, Giants at Lions; Falcons #2, Wash out
  5. Falcons lose, Packers win, Wash wins – Wash at Falcons, Giants at Packers; Seattle #2, Lions out
  6. Falcons lose, Packers win, Wash loses – Lions at Falcons, Giants at Packers; Seattle #2, Wash out
  7. Falcons lose, Lions win, Wash wins – Wash at Lions, Giants at Falcons; Seattle #2, Packers out
  8. Falcons lose, Lions win, Wash loses – Packers at Lions, Giants at Falcons; Seattle #2, Wash out

 

 

 

 

 

And if the Niners somehow pull off the upset of the year and beat Seattle then the number five Giants will play at number four Seattle. Here is the rest of the field with that scenario.

  1. Falcons win, Packers win, Wash wins – Skins at Packers, Falcons #2, Lions out
  2. Falcons win, Packers win, Wash loses – Lions at Packers, Falcons #2, Skins out
  3. Falcons win, Lions win, Wash wins – Skins at Lions, Falcons #2, Packers out
  4. Falcons win, Lions win, Wash loses – Packers at Lions, Falcons #2, Skins out
  5. Falcons lose, Packers win, Wash wins – Skins at Packers, Falcons #2, Lions out
  6. Falcons lose, Packers win, Wash loses – Lions at Packers, Falcons #2, Skins out
  7. Falcons lose, Lions win, Wash wins – Skins at Falcons, Lions #2, Packers out
  8. Falcons lose, Lions win, Wash loses – Packers at Falcons, Lions #2, Skins out

 

 

 

 

 

Patriots, Panthers both open as 3-point favorites

John Morgan
January 18, 2016 at 7:30 am ET

The New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers have both opened up as 3-point favorites in early odds for NFL conference championship games for the 2015-2016 season. The Patriots travel to Denver to play the Broncos at 3:00 pm ET on Sunday, while the Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals at 6:40 pm Sunday. The notable difference in these two betting lines is that New England is a 3-point favorite despite playing on the road, while Carolina is only favored by three while playing at home.

 

In a bit of a departure from recent seasons, both conference championship games feature teams that finished with the best records. The Broncos and Panthers are the number one seeds, while New England and Arizona both finished number two.

 

AFC Championship Game
#2 New England Patriots (13-4) at #1 Denver Broncos (13-4)
Sunday, January 24 at 3:00 pm ET on CBS
Patriots favored by 3
Over/Under 44½
Money Line: New England -180, Denver +160

 

NFC Championship Game
#2 Arizona Cardinals (14-3) at #1 Carolina Panthers (16-1)
Sunday, January 24 at 6:40 pm ET on FOX
Panthers favored by 3
Over/Under 47½
Money Line: Carolina -165, Arizona +145

 

Reactions from Kansas City on Chiefs loss to Patriots

John Morgan
at 7:00 am ET

While New England is celebrating Saturday’s accomplishments by the defending Super Bowl Champions, the focus in the mid-west is on Andy Reid’s time management. While Reid added another example to his list of games where focus on the clock and timeouts can be questioned, few in the mid-west have yet to grasp the truth that the Patriots outplayed the Chiefs. A loss after winning eleven games in a row it is certainly a sharp jolt and difficult reality check for their loyal fans, but even with better clock management by KC in all likelihood the Pats still would have won the game.Here is a look at some of the reactions from Kansas City on the Chiefs loss to the Patriots.

 

Mellinger Minutes are managed better than Chiefs’ clock, but can we stop pretending that’s why they lost?

The Chiefs lost a playoff game, and so of course, the instinct is to find something to hang on, but this was not a 28-point lead or failing to force even one punt or missing field goals or choking in the final minutes. The Chiefs lost to a better team. They lost to a better quarterback and a better coach. They are in good company there.

The Patriots played better than the Chiefs. Knile Davis lost a key fumble, the Chiefs’ defense failed to convert some turnover opportunities, and the Patriots’ game plan and blocking kept Tom Brady remarkably clean. Even without the injuries — and, it should be noted, the Patriots had a bunch of injuries, too — the Chiefs would’ve had to play at least an A-minus game to win. Instead, they played like a C-minus, maybe D-plus.

The frustration is in the bigger picture. I mentioned this in the column, but this season was a great opportunity for teams like the Chiefs. There is no great contender in the AFC. The Broncos are working around a jagged quarterback situation, the Steelers’ defense is mediocre at best, and the Patriots have some obvious flaws.

If the Chiefs don’t blow the first Broncos game, they would’ve been hosting that band-aid Steelers team at Arrowhead, with a healthy Maclin, and a better rested Justin Houston. That’s the chance the Chiefs blew, not the clock management. Next year, even if the Chiefs are better, it may not be like this.

 

Was Andy Reid lulled into an improper game plan based on New England’s final game(s) of the season?

Chiefs’ magical run ends with 27-20 loss to Patriots in AFC playoffs | The Kansas City Star

The Patriots showed them how — by playing physical, precise, mistake-free free football. In a game where the Chiefs actually out-gained the Patriots (378-340), had superior third-down percentages (60 percent to 50 percent) and dominated the time-of-possession battle (37:51 to 22:09), it was the little things that made the difference.

Like turnovers, of which the Chiefs had one and the Patriots had zero. And execution, as the Chiefs had some on-field breakdowns and clock management issues. And even injuries, as the Patriots’ injured stars — including Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski — outshined the Chiefs’. While Edelman and Gronkowski combined for 17 catches and 183 yards, Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin caught two passes for 23 yards while playing through a high-ankle sprain.

But from the get-go Saturday, it was clear that the Patriots were not the same team that blew a chance at home-field advantage with a 20-10 loss to Miami in the regular-season finale. While they kept the ball on the ground in that game, running with marginal success, star quarterback Tom Brady came out slinging against the Chiefs, completing 28 of 42 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.

“The last couple of games they had run the ball quite a little bit, and this one here, they came out and threw almost every down in the first half,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

 

While the focus of the week’s pre-game talk was injuries to the Patriots, apparently the end result was due in large part to injuries to the Chiefs.

Patriots took away Travis Kelce and the Chiefs pass rush | SB Nation

We talked before the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game in Foxboro that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots would take something away from the Chiefs. Would it be the running game? Would it be an injured Jeremy Maclin? Or would it be the most obvious one: Travis Kelce.

The Patriots put plenty of resources into stopping Kelce and they did a really good job of it. Kelce ended the game with six catches for just 23 yards (and it didn’t help that he dropped a critical third down pass that could’ve put the Chiefs in field goal territory).

This forced the Chiefs to get others involved. Jason Avant was the Chiefs leading receiver. Albert Wilson was next. The first three plays of the game were passes to Demetrius Harris, Anthony Sherman and Frankie Hammond. The Patriots taking Kelce out was made easier with Jeremy Maclin’s injury. Maclin played 34 of the 89 offensive snaps. That is a TON of snaps.

Defensively, what would the Patriots take away from the Chiefs? The pass rush. Like the offense with Maclin, injuries made this easier for New England. Justin Houston played eight snaps in the game. We didn’t know before the game that he would be so limited. Tom Brady got the ball out so fast that the Chiefs had no chance for a pass rush as the Patriots spread the ball out so well. That’s their bread and butter.

Bottom line is that the Chiefs went up against the best coach and quarterback of our generation – at home – and lost. The better team won the game.

 

Speaking of Kelce, the Kansas City tight end apparently made the mistake of poking the bear before the game began.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce Mocks Tom Brady’s Walkout Before Playoff Game | Bleacher Report

Travis Kelce did a very Travis Kelce thing before the Kansas City Chiefs’ divisional playoff matchup against the New England Patriots on Saturday.

The tight end approached Tom Brady during the quarterback’s usual walkout to Jay-Z. Kelce, of course, had “words” for Brady.

 

Then there is the obligatory ‘thanks for the great season’ article, complete with the tired, lame, old, expected and not-so-subtle jabs at the Patriots.

We Lost. We Gained. We Raged. | Arrowhead Pride

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage! Rage against the dying of the light!

Maybe you’re a Dylan Thomas fan. Maybe you’re a fan of Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School. Either way, despite losing to Satan’s afterbirth, and in complete contrast to everything I expect to express in these moments, I find myself at peace with the end.

I know, I know. Brady had enough time and room in the pocket to Riverdance, read tweets about how he was born of a virgin and make reservations for dinner after the game. Gronk SMASHed. Alex was off just enough to rocket the ball over finger tips in crucial red zone moments. Knile turned the ball over on the drive where we most needed to land a face punch. We punched ourselves in the face with late game clock mismanagement.

But somewhere in the void, in the disappointment, in the missed opportunity, in watching Goliath drop kick David in the huevos and then fly off with his mother and girlfriend to Hedonism II, I find myself feeling something deeper, resonant and undeniable: gratitude.

 

On to the elephant walrus in the room.

Basically everyone in the country was questioning the Chiefs’ clock management | The Kansas City Star

The Chiefs’ last scoring drive cut the final score to 27-20 in their loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoff game on Saturday.

But it was the way the Chiefs acted on the drive that had people upset. Charcandrick West’s 1-yard run capped a 16-play, 80-yard yard drive that ate up 5 minutes and 16 seconds of the clock. The clock management was a topic across the nation.

A large number of national-baseball writers joined in the chorus.

 

Andy Reid’s clock management ruined any chance of a Chiefs comeback | SB Nation

It is very hard to win a football game when you’re trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter. That’s the situation the Chiefs found themselves Saturday night: They got the ball back from the Patriots down 27-13 with 6:29 remaining.

It’s especially hard to win a football game when you’re trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter and your coach farts on the concept of clock management. Unfortunately, Kansas City’s coach is Andy Reid, perhaps the NFL’s least clock-savvy coach. Over and over again throughout Reid’s career, he’s been baffled by the very concept of time.

And so, the Chiefs were more doomed than most teams. With Reid manning an astrolabe, the Chiefs embarked on a 17-play drive that took a staggering five minutes and 26 seconds, leaving them little to no chance of winning.

 

Chiefs Run out of Time After Poor Clock Management Sinks KC in Playoff Loss | Bleacher Report

The issues first started in the opening half, when the Chiefs were forced to burn two early timeouts in order to get the offense properly set. In fact, Reid used the first two timeouts on Kansas City’s opening drive—a drive that yielded a mere field goal.

This created problems at the end of the first half, when the Chiefs had the ball inside Patriots territory at the two-minute warning. Kansas City moved from the New England 46 to the New England 11 in just three plays, but it was forced to take its final timeout there with 40 seconds remaining.

Clock management was an even bigger issue late in the second half, when the Chiefs got the football with 6:29 remaining and facing a two-touchdown deficit.

What happened at the 1-yard line was inexcusable.

The Chiefs reached the New England 1-yard line on a 19-yard pass from Smith to Albert Wilson. Wilson didn’t get out of bounds or into the end zone, and the Chiefs ran just one play between Wilson’s reception and the two-minute warning. That play was a one-yard loss on a run by Charcandrick West.

 

Just for fun, there are these pre-game previews that did not quite come to fruition.

Five Reasons Why the Chiefs Can Beat the Patriots | Sports Radio 810 WHB

· The Chiefs defense will present a nightmare match-up for the Patriots offense. Kansas City’s ability to generate a consistent pass rush from their defense line without blitzing will be a huge key. Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard were beasts against the Texans and they will be more than a handful for New England’s porous offensive line. If the d-line can move Brady off his spot and hit him even when they don’t sack him, the rest of the defense will benefit. Also, Bob Sutton will then be free to bring extra pressure with some well-designed and disguised blitz packages at his discretion instead of being forced to generate a pass rush through exotic blitzes.

· Ron Gronkowski will not be 100%. The Pats are getting Julian Edelman back from injury, Edelman will also be less than full strength

 

How the Patriots Lose at Home in the Playoffs | Spots Radio 810 WHB

The Chiefs defense is ranked seventh in the NFL this year and has been much better than that since the 1-6 start. Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe have gotten healthier as the season has progressed and the defensive performance has taken a major step forward. I think we can put a check next to the Chiefs for strong defense.

 

Of course there are also many comments from KC fans calling for the suspension of Danny Amendola for his block on Jamell Fleming. I’ll write that off as expected knee-jerk reactions to a big hit, fueled by inaccurate commentary by inflammatory commentary from one of the television commentators. Dan Fouts was wrong on so many plays and so many opinions Saturday that it became noticeable to even very casual fans not rooting for the Patriots where I viewed the game. It is the second largest topic of conversation in Chiefs Nation behind Andy Reid’s clock mismanagement, but had zero effect on the outcome of the game.

 

Looking Ahead

Have the Kansas City Chiefs Seen Their Ceiling? | Arrowhead Pride

This team had all of the talent, even with the injuries, to make a push for the Super Bowl. When I watched this game, I didn’t come away thinking, “well only if we had Jeremy Maclin and Spencer Ware” or “only if we had Justin Houston.” Do we have a better shot at winning with those guys healthy? Absolutely. But what I ultimately saw out there against New England was 22 men who weren’t being put in positions to succeed. It came down to game planning, discipline and clock management; that is where we took the L. And those are areas where there is only so much room for improvement without changing who is in charge. So with that in mind, it is fair to wonder if the level of optimism surrounding this football team should be static.

The biggest roadblocks in yesterday’s game were the same roadblocks that we faced versus Indianapolis two years ago, Reid and Sutton. These guys are only getting older and their methods are only becoming more predictable. I understand that they are likely the best options available for those two positions. But the real question we have to ask about this football team is, how much talent do we need in order to transcend the ineptitude that Andy Reid and Bob Sutton exhibit in big games against the elite head coaches and coordinators that this league has to offer? Because for all the talent Philadelphia had during those years in the Reid Era, they could never get it done in big games and it was for the very same reasons we haven’t been able to come out the victor in our playoff losses and many of our regular season losses against the better football teams in the league.

 

Packers at Cardinals: Preview, Key Matchups, Betting Odds & Prediction

John Morgan
January 15, 2016 at 6:00 pm ET

Three weeks ago the Arizona Cardinals bludgeoned Green Bay in a shockingly one-sided 38-8 victory. Saturday evening the Packers will have an opportunity to prove that game was an anomaly as they travel to Glendale for the first of this weekend’s NFC Division Round playoff games.

 

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals:
Preview, Key Matchups, Betting Odds & Prediction

Who: #5 Green Bay Packers (10-6) at #2 Arizona Cardinals (13-3)

What: NFC Division Round Playoff Game

When: Saturday, January 16 at 8:15 pm ET on NBC

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale AZ

Odds: The line has been remarkably steady all week, with Arizona favored by seven points at almost all betting parlors. As of Friday afternoon the only exceptions to be found were Treasure Island (-6½) and SportBet (-7½), so consider one of those venues based on which side of a touchdown difference that you are leaning towards, or if you want to play a parlay or teaser.

Most sites list the point total at 49½, though there are a few with an over/under of 50. Money Lines vary slightly from one place to the next, with a typical ML listing Arizona -300 and Green Bay +250. Early in the week over ¾ of the money was being placed on Green Bay and well over 80% of the wagers were on the over. During the course of the week the dollars slowly but consistently shifted, to the point where 60% of the cash is now on Arizona. The point total money is still heavily leaning towards a high scoring game, with more than 70% on the over. Two-thirds of the money line dollars are backing the Cardinals as of Friday afternoon.

Head-to-Head Record: Considering the history of the two franchises, it should be of no surprise that Green Bay holds about a 2:1 advantage in the all-time series. The Packers are 46-23-4 versus the Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals in the regular season, and 1-1 in the playoffs. However, 67 of those games were played before 1991, and the Cardinals have won two of the last three. In a wild card game following the 2009 season Arizona won a shootout 51-45 with Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers combining for nine touchdown passes and 802 passing yards. The game was decided early in overtime when the Packers turned the ball over for the third time, and Karlos Dansby returned a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown. In the 38-8 game three weeks ago Arizona forced four turnovers and recorded nine sacks, limiting Green Bay to 77 net passing yards and 178 yards of total offense.

 

Green Bay offensive line vs Arizona front seven

The Packers were without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari because of an ankle injury, and then lost starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga in the nine-sack debacle three weeks ago. Both should be back for this game, and Arizona will be without OLB Alex Okafor, who was placed on Injured Reserve due to a mystery toe ailment suffered during the bye week. While the loss of Okafor hurts, even without him the Arizona front seven is still one of the best in the league.

The Packers were able to run the ball effectively last week, which – along with the hurry-up, no huddle offense – opened things up for the passing game. Bruce Arians’ defense is much better than Washington’s, and won’t be caught off guard the way the Skins were.

 

Green Bay receivers vs Arizona secondary

Cardinal cornerback Patrick Peterson shut down Randall Cobb in the last game, limiting Cobb to three catches for yards. Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams caught four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown at Washington last Sunday, but he is out with a sprained MCL in his right knee – as is tight end Andrew Quarless. On paper it looks like the Cardinals have a decided advantage in this matchup.

 

Green Bay front seven vs Arizona running game

Mike McCarthy moved Clay Matthews inside to improve the run defense mid-season, with positive results. Once the Packers have a lead Matthews is shifted back outside to capitalize on his pass rushing prowess. The Cardinal offensive line is much better than it was in recent seasons, with the additions of left tackle Jared Veldheer and left guard Mike Iupati providing a significant boost to the unit. Former Patriot Ted Larsen is playing the best ball of his career, and has replaced the #7 pick of the 2013 draft, Jonathan Cooper in the starting lineup.

The Packers need to win this battle of the trenches in order to win this game. In Arizona’s losses this season they were never able to get anything going on the ground, and become one-dimensional with unfavorable down-and-distance situations. Arizona running back David Johnson can run between the tackles and also be a matchup nightmare for a linebacker out of the backfield.

 

Green Bay secondary vs Arizona receivers

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has developed into an accomplished playmaker in the Packer secondary, but the big question is whether or not corner Sam Shields will play. Shields is listed as questionable, but still needs to pass the league’s concussion protocol before he can take the field. Even if Shields can suit up, the advantage here goes to Arizona. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown give Carson Palmer one of the best wide receiver trios in the league, and that’s without considering the tight ends (Jermaine Gresham and Darren Fells) or running backs (David Johnson and Andre Ellington). It is imperative that Green Bay mounts an effective pass rush to give their secondary a fighting chance.

 

I certainly do not expect another blowout, but Arizona appears to be the superior team in nearly every aspect of this game. Matthews and Julius Peppers should create enough havoc on defense for Green Bay to keep it relatively close, but the Cardinals should be able to advance to their first conference championship game since the 2008 season.

Prediction: Cardinals 30, Packers 20

Pick: Arizona minus seven, Arizona -300

 

Chiefs at Patriots: In-Depth Team Stats, Odds, Prediction

John Morgan
January 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm ET

Thanks to the epic meltdown by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers advance in the NFL playoffs – and the New England Patriots will host the Kansas City Chiefs rather than the Bengals in the division round of the 2015-2016 post-season. Below are in-depth team stats, betting odds, and prediction with a pick against the spread.

 

Who: #5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at #2 New England Patriots (12-4).

What: AFC Division Round Game.

When: Saturday, January 16 at 4:00 pm ET on CBS.

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA; FieldTurf surface.

Weather: 100% chance of precipitation. Rain with some snow mixing later in the afternoon. Winds of 15-25 mph; temperature of about 40°. Keep in mind that this is New England, so the forecast could very well change between now and kickoff.

Coaches: Andy Reid 161-110-1 (.594) in regular season with 11 playoff appearances in 17 years. Second post-season in last six years. 10-10 playoff record with no victories since 2008; 0-1 record in the Super Bowl.
Bill Belichick 223-113 (.664) in regular season with 14 playoff appearances in 21 years, including last seven consecutive and 12 of last 13. 22-9 (.710) post-season record with four Super Bowl championships and six conference championships.

Odds: The Patriots opened as 5-point favorites, and by late Sunday afternoon the line had pushed up to 5½ in several venues. The point total began at 44½ but has dropped to 42½ on most sites, with some at 43. The current Money Line has New England at -240 and Kansas City +200. The early money has been relatively evenly split between the two teams.

Head-to-Head Series Record: The Chiefs lead the all-time series 17-13-3, but the Patriots are 5-2 versus KC since Bill Belichick became New England’s head coach. The Chiefs blew out the Patriots early last year by the score of 41-14, causing many mediots to overreact and inaccurately bury New England; the Pats were on to Cincinnati after that loss and eventually won the Super Bowl. The last game in Foxborough between these two clubs was on a Monday night in 2011 when the Patriots overcame a slow start and cruised to a 34-3 victory. The Patriots drove for a Brady-to-Gronk touchdown to open the second half, and after a KC three-and-out, Julian Edelman returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown. Within a span of less than a minute a 10-3 game was suddenly 24-3, and the game was over.

 

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five.

To be fair, some of the statistics below do not tell the story of how these teams are performing right now. To pick one stat as an example, look at the average number of points per play. While the New England offense ranks third for the entire season, the Pats are just 13th over their last three games. On the other side of the ball KC ranks first for the same stat defensively at .261 – but over their last three that figure drops all the way to a minute .162.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus Kansas City Chiefs Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 29.1 (3rd); Chiefs 17.9 (3rd)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 374 (6th); Chiefs 329 (7th)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 21.8 (5th); Chiefs 19.2 (11th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.7 (6th); Chiefs 5.0 (4th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 33.1 (9th); Chiefs 29.7 (8th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.47 (3rd); Chiefs 1.55 (7th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .724 (7th); Chiefs .680 (11th)

Points per Play: Patriots .443 (3rd); Chiefs .261 (1st)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.2 (3rd); Chiefs 2.0 (4th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.5 (2nd); Chiefs 1.4 (7th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 65.6% (4th); Chiefs 58.5% (19th)

Plays per Game: Patriots 65.6 (13th); Chiefs 64.6 (19th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 5.50 (13th); Chiefs 4.50 (5th)

Third Down Percentage: Patriots 40.9% (11th); Chiefs 33.8% (3rd)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.9 (5th); Chiefs 1.6 (2nd)

Punts per Game: Patriots 4.56 (14th); Chiefs 4.81 (13th)

Rushing Yards: Patriots 87.8 (30th); Chiefs 98.2 (8th)

Yards per Carry: Patriots 3.67 (29th); Chiefs 4.10 (16th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 287 (5th); Chiefs 231 (9th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.7 (9th); Chiefs 6.6 (3rd)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 64.2% (12th); Chiefs 57.5% (2nd)

Passer Rating: Patriots 101.9 (4th); Chiefs 76.0 (2nd)

TD Passes/Picks: Patriots +29 (1st), 36/7; Chiefs -3 (4th), 25/22

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 25.3 (7th); Chiefs 21.4 (9th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 14.1 (22nd); Chiefs 16.3 (1st)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 2.38 (17th); Chiefs 2.94 (4th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 14.1 (14th); Chiefs 18.1 (6th)

 

Kansas City Chiefs Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring: Chiefs 25.3 (9th); Patriots 19.7 (10th)

Yardage: Chiefs 331 (27th); Patriots 339 (9th)

First Downs: Chiefs 18.9 (25th); Patriots 18.9 (9th)

Yards per Play: Chiefs 5.5 (14th); Patriots 5.2 (7th)

Yards per Drive: Chiefs 30.4 (19th); Patriots 29.0 (7th)

Points per Drive: Chiefs 2.05 (9th); Patriots 1.59 (9th)

Drive Success Rate: Chiefs .687 (18th); Patriots .666 (8th)

Points per Play: Chiefs .428 (4th); Patriots .302 (8th)

Touchdowns per Game: Chiefs 2.8 (8th); Patriots 2.2 (9th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Chiefs 1.9 (9th); Patriots 1.5 (11th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Chiefs 57.9% (13th); Patriots 57.1% (15th)

Plays per Game: Chiefs 59.8 (31st); Patriots 65.1 (21st)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Chiefs 4.75 (22nd); Patriots 5.25 (18th)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Chiefs 38.1% (18th); Patriots 37.3% (11th)

Punts per Score: Chiefs 1.0 (10th); Patriots 1.5 (5th)

Punts per Game: Chiefs 4.69 (17th); Patriots 5.38 (5th)

Rushing Yards: Chiefs 127.8 (6th); Patriots 98.8 (9th)

Yards per Carry: Chiefs 4.69 (3rd); Patriots 3.98 (11th)

Passing Yards: Chiefs 203 (30th); Patriots 241 (17th)

Net Yards per Pass Attempt: Chiefs 7.4 (12th); Patriots 7.1 (11th)

Completion Percentage: Chiefs 65.5% (9th); Patriots 60.6% (10th)

Passer Rating: Chiefs 95.4 (9th); Patriots 87.0 (13th)

TD Passes/Picks: Chiefs +13 (17th), 22/12; Patriots -12 (16th), 24/12

Complete Passes per Game: Chiefs 19.4 (28th); Patriots 22.6 (20th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Chiefs 10.2 (3rd); Patriots 14.7 (7th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Chiefs 2.88 (26th); Patriots 3.06 (2nd)

Sack Yardage Lost: Chiefs 14.88 (16th); Patriots 22.4 (1st)

 

Turnovers

Patriot Giveaways: 0.88 (14, 1st); Chief Takeaways: 1.81 (29, 5th)

Chief Giveaways: 0.94 (15, 2nd); Patriot Takeaways: 1.31 (21, 22nd)

 

Penalties

Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.0 (4th); Chiefs 6.4 (9th)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 53.8 (9th); Chiefs 54.7 (11th)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 7.0 (15th); Chiefs 6.7 (22nd)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 63.3 (8th); Chiefs 57.1 (18th)

 

Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency: Total DVOA: Patriots 22.6% (6th); Chiefs 25.6% (5th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 15.4% (5th); Chiefs 11.7% (6th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -3.4% (12th); Chiefs -11.4% (6th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 3.9% (5th); Chiefs 2.4% (7th)

 

This game will be a very difficult task for the Patriots. The Kansas City Chiefs possess an extremely good defense, on all three levels. However, New England will be bolstered by the return of Julian Edelman and Sebastian Vollmer, as well as by the improvement in health of banged up players like Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. I’ll take Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at home over Andy Reid and Alex Smith, but expect this to be a close, hard fought game.

Prediction: Patriots 24, Chiefs 20

Take the Pats -240 to win, but KC plus the points – with a slight lean to the over.

 

NFL Division Round Playoff Odds: Patriots favored by 5 over Chiefs

John Morgan
January 11, 2016 at 10:00 pm ET

In a 180 degree swing from last week, all four home teams are favored in this weekend’s NFL division round playoffs. The Patriots are favored by 5 over KC, Denver by 6½ over Pittsburgh, Arizona by 7½ over Green Bay, and in the closest line Carolina – the team with the NFL’s best record – is only a 3-point home favorite over Seattle.

NFL Wild Card Round:
No Surprise That All The Road Teams Won

In the wild card round all four road teams won, and though some in the media are making a big deal about that fact, it should not have been a surprise at all. This season the NFL had not one, but two very sub-par divisions: the NFC East and AFC South. Somebody had to win both of those divisions, and both of those teams by default would host a playoff game – even if they were not one of the six best teams in either conference. That right there gives you two home underdogs, and those two clubs lost by a combined score of 65-18.

The two other games were nail biters, decided by two points and one point. Neither of those home teams had any winning playoff experience. Marvin Lewis now has a career record of 0-7 in the post-season, the Bengals have not won a playoff game in 15 years, and the Bengals were without their starting quarterback. Cincinnati was not favored and the only surprise was not that they lost, but the magnitude of their epic meltdown that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Minnesota was coming off of two losing seasons and has not won a playoff game since 2009.

More importantly, both of those home teams were playing experienced playoff clubs who finished the season hot. Pittsburgh is in the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons, won four of their last five games, and averaged 32 points per game over the last half of the season. Seattle has won 46 games over the last four years, plus six more in the playoffs in the last three; the Seahawks finished the season 6-1, winning by an average of 32-14 during that span.

It is truly not surprising at all that the road teams won last weekend. Considering the circumstances the big news would have been if any of the home teams won.

NFL Division Round Playoff Odds:
Patriots favored by 5 over Chiefs

11-5 Kansas City Chiefs at 12-4 New England Patriots
Saturday, January 16 at 4:35 pm ET on CBS

The Patriots opened as 5-point favorites, and as of Monday night the odds are fairly evenly split between 5 and 5½ points depending on where you visit. The over/under has dropped from 44½ to 42½, most likely due to weather predictions for snow/sleet/ice/locusts during the game. On an average money line you need to risk $240 to win $100 on the Patriots to win straight up, while a $100 bet on KC while return $200 should the Chiefs win.

10-6 Green Bay Packers at 13-3 Arizona Cardinals
Saturday, January 16 at 8:15 pm ET on NBC

The Cardinals annihilated the Packers two weeks ago in the same stadium, 38-8. Arizona’s defense dominated, recording nine sacks, four turnovers, and scored more points (14) than Green Bay’s offense did. Considering that result it is a bit of a surprise that the Cardinals only opened up as 7½ point favorites. On the other hand Green Bay has a much larger following and most fans bet with their heart rather than their head, and the latest memory for everyone was the Packers looking very effective – against a mediocre Washington defense.

As of Monday night the line had dropped to 7 while the point total remains steady at 50 points. A typical money line is Arizona -300 and Green Bay +250.

10-6 Seattle Seahawks at 15-1 Carolina Panthers
Sunday, January 17 at 1:05 pm ET on FOX

This is truly an intriguing matchup, between the two-time defending NFC champions and the team with the NFL’s best record this season. Carolina opened as 3-point favorites which means that on a neutral field the two clubs are seen as even. That line has for the most part remained steady, though a few venues have dropped the odds to 2½. The over/under has inched up from 43½ to 44, with a couple sites now at 44½. Most money lines have Carolina -145 and Seattle +125.

10-6 Pittsburgh Steelers at 12-4 Denver Broncos
Sunday, January 17 at 4:40 pm ET on CBS

The final game of the weekend will be the most hyped, but unfortunately injuries will play a large part in the outcome. Ben Roethlisberger is hurt and will play, and will likely limp quite a bit even though it is his shoulder that is hurt. Peyton manning will gesticulate wildly and be lauded for being all-knowing, and then throw some wounded ducks. The Steelers are already without Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams; now it looks like Vontaze Burfict could be an honorary Bronco for taking Antonio Brown out of this game.

Denver opened as 5½ point favorites but the line has quickly shot up to 6½, with many now listing the Broncos as 7 point favorites. Considering the size of Pittsburgh’s fan base, that is really saying a lot about the injury situation, even when adjusting for the game being played at Mile High. The over/under is 41 and though the majority of betting sites have not yet listed a money line pending an injury report, the sites that do have a ML are at about Denver -250 and Pittsburgh +210.

Chiefs at Texans – Preview, Odds, Prediction

John Morgan
January 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm ET

NFL wild card weekend kicks off Saturday afternoon as the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Houston to take on the AFC South champion Texans. Both clubs overcame the common obstacle of extremely unsuccessful starts to the 2015 season; Houston did not win their second game of the year until Week 6, and KC did not get their second victory until the following week. To accomplish that rare feat both teams leaned heavily on their defenses, both of which ranked in the top ten in the league in points allowed. After a five-turnover debacle against Denver in Week 2, the Chiefs gave the ball away just ten times over the next fourteen games, and finished with a plus-14 turnover differential – second best in the league this year. On December 27 the Texans lost to the Patriots to drop to 6-7 and their playoff chances appeared bleak. Houston’s defense forced ten turnovers over the next three games to carry the team to an improbable comeback, and into the post-season.

 

Who: #5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at #4 Houston Texans (9-7)

What: AFC Wild Card Game

When: Saturday, January 9 at 4:35 pm ET on ABC

Where: NRG Stadium, Houston TX

Odds: Kansas City opened as 3-point favorites and as of Friday afternoon that number still holds, though a few outlets now have the Chiefs at -3½. The over/under is 40, and most venues currently have their Money Line set at KC -180 and Houston +160.

Head-to-Head Record: The Chiefs defeated the Texans in Houston back in Week One by the score of 27-20. Kansas City also won in their prior meeting, 17-16 in 2013. All-time the Chiefs hold a 4-3 all-time series lead; this is the two teams’ first encounter in the playoffs.

 

Kansas City was handed a difficult schedule to begin the season, so it was not a surprise that the Chiefs stood at 1-3 after losses to Denver, Green Bay and Cincinnati. However, after scoring a combined 27 points in losses to the Bears and Vikings, KC dropped to 1-5 – and with Jamaal Charles on Injured Reserve, their season appeared to be over. As we all know since then the Chiefs have won ten in a row, and they enter the playoffs with fewer question marks than any AFC team. Similar to the Patriots in 2014, the Kansas City offensive line jelled and became a very effective unit after a rough start. Odd as it may sound, the loss of Charles may have made this team better. Andy Reid was over-reliant on his star running back, and his absence forced the offense to open up and diversify. Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce and Charcandrick West are all dangerous in open space, and that opens lanes elsewhere. When nobody is open Alex Smith can take off and run effectively. The quarterback rushed for 498 yards at 5.9 yards per carry, running for 30 first downs with three rushes of 20+ yards.

 

While KC’s offense should not be overlooked – they did finish ranked ninth in scoring, with 25.3 points per game – it is their defense that has carried the team to the post-season. The Chiefs have allowed 20 or fewer points in twelve of their 16 games this year, and are averaging 11.7 points against over the last four weeks. Safety Eric Berry has made a miraculous comeback from chemotherapy, and ILB Derrick Johnson’s play has progressed over the season. CB Marcus Peters (8 picks for 280 yards and 2 TD) has stepped up to fill one void the Chiefs had on defense – a shutdown corner – and should be NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. ROLB Tamba Hali was able to play last week after breaking his thumb, and LOLB Justin Houston is listed as probable after missing four games due to a hyper extended knee.

 

In Week One J.J. Watt was able to get to Alex Smith for two sacks, but the Chiefs were without LT Eric Fisher for that game. HC Bill O’Brien faces a difficult task of finding a way to disrupt the Kansas City passing game, because Smith gets rid of the ball quickly and rarely turns it over. Since the fumble fest in Week 2 against Denver, KC has turned the ball over just ten times; the Chiefs ranks second in the NFL with 15 giveaways, just one behind New England. Overall KC has a plus-14 turnover differential, best in the AFC.

 

For Houston to win this game their star players on each side of the ball – Watt and WR DeAndre Hopkins – must come through with big days. The Texans were able to sack Smith five times in their opening game loss to KC, but were unable to take the ball away. Cliché as it sounds, Houston cannot afford to lose the turnover battle in this game.

 

On the other side of the ball is a matchup that all football fans should watch and enjoy, WR DeAndre Hopkins versus CB Marcus Peters. Despite the four-headed monster of Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden at quarterback throwing him the ball, Hopkins finished third in receiving yards (1,521), third in receptions (111), third in first downs (83), seventh in receiving touchdowns (11), and seventh in reception of 20+ yards (19). Hoyer may as well throw it to Hopkins early and often because it is doubtful that Alfred Blue (698 yards rushing, 3.8 ypc), or Chris Polk (334 yards rushing, 3.4 ypc) will be able to get much done on the ground.

 

If the score is close in the 4th quarter then Houston has an excellent chance to win, because history tells us that we can count on Andy Reid to mismanage the clock and his team’s time outs. A late rally could also put Reid and his players in a trance, recalling the 45-44 meltdown two years ago at Indianapolis. However, I don’t think it will come down to that, and the Chiefs will walk away with their first playoff victory since 1993 – when the soundtrack to the Bodyguard was the number one album and Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in order to get out of a record deal.

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Texans 13

Despite their being on the road, take Kansas City minus the points.