Just a quick reminder SMOTE stands for Spread, Moneyline, Over/Under, Trends, and Evaluation. Treat this like gospel, because it is exactly what you are going to be seeing on Sunday.
(All lines are provided by Bovada.lv as of 1/13/17)
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys 4:40pm ET on Fox
Spread: Packers +4
I see this game ending up similarly to how the Alabama and Clemson National Championship went down. Dallas is the better overall team, but NFL football is a quarterback driven sport. Green Bay just so happens to have the best quarterback in the game playing at the top of his game. Nothing against Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and company but Aaron Rodgers is playing at another level right now, taking a cast of misfit skill position players and making them look like studs.
Aaron Rodgers is magical. While Dallas has had an amazing season they simply do not have the defense to stop Rodgers on a consistent basis. I see this game as being relatively high scoring, and to me that does not favor a offense lead by two rookies. Earlier this season Dallas was able to take it to Green Bay to the tune of 30-16, but do you know what happened that game? Green Bay had four turnovers, Eddy Lacy (hold on a second while I vomit in my mouth) was still playing, and Rodgers had yet to give his yearly “we’ll be fine” speech. That game was right in the middle of the period that we all though the Packers were done and Minnesota was on the way to a division title. Oh how just a few weeks can change an entire perspective.
Over/Under: Over 52.5
Green Bay has seen their last 5 games all hit the over. Green Bay and Dallas are the 4 and 5 ranked scoring offenses respectfully. Neither team has a defense really worth a damn. This game is going to be a barn burner. Dallas may try to run Elliott as much as possible to slow the game down and keep the top offensive weapon (Rodgers) in the league off the field, but this can only last so long. I fully expect Rodgers and his much improved blocking and running game to be able to move down the field with ease. What I am less sure about it a rookie quarterback and running back in their first NFL playoff game.
Dallas is 1-5 SU and 2-5 ATS against Green Bay in their last 6 match ups, BUT…Dallas has been killing Green Bay to the tune 9-1 SU and 7-1 ATS in their most recent home games verses Green Bay. Green Bay has ripped off 7 straight wins with only a fluky game against the Chicago Bears being relatively close. in 13 of 19 nineteen match ups between these teams the over has been hit, to go along with 9 of 10 when playing in Dallas. In the last 7 seasons rookie quarterbacks are 2-6 in the playoffs, with both of those win coming against other rookie quarterbacks. In case you don’t remember, Aaron Rodgers is not a rookie.
NFL football is hard, NFL playoff football is harder, being a rookie starting in a NFL playoff game with a rookie running back verses the best quarterback in the league…is near impossible. Nothing against Dallas here, they have had a wonderful season, but they are not equipped well enough on the defensive side of the ball to stop Green Bay. They will try to run the ball, keep Dak Prescott in rhythm with short throws to his favorite targets (Witten, Beasley), and take the deep shot to Bryant to keep the defense honest. Thinking of it that way, especially against a Green Bay defense that isn’t even ‘meh,’ makes it seem like Dallas has a real shot at this, AND THEY ARE HOME! However, as a Bears fan I have seen plenty of Aaron Rodgers, and when he is playing like this he is as close to unbeatable as anyone.
*GAME OF THE WEEK*
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs 8:20pm ET on NBC
Spread: Kansas City -1
*Andy Reid coming off a bye alert, Andy Reid coming off a bye alert, ANDY REID COMING OFF A BYE ALERT!* 16-2 in the regular season after a bye, 3-0 in the playoffs with a bye (this year’s bye pending). Andy Reid may be one of the worst clock management coaches in the NFL, but when it comes to game planning he is elite. On top of that the weather in Kansas City will be nasty, Arrowhead is already a tough place to play, and I think this will kill Pittsburgh’s big play capabilities. Without those big plays Pittsburgh still has Le’veon Bell, which is a damn good backup option. Like last week when they played a bad run defense in Miami (ranked 31st) they play another pretty meh run defense in Kansas City (ranked 26th in the regular season). For that reason I think this game will be close, and ultimately come down to the turnover battle. A battle in which Alex Smith is well equipped to win.
Moneyline: Kansas City
Not much to say here that you don’t see in the spread section. I full expect Kansas City to win this one in a close battle.
Over/Under: Under 45
A wise man once told me that life is too short to bet the under (@BigCat). I think that is the case 90% of the time, but not when a game is being played in a frozen tundra. Pittsburgh has seen their games go under in 15 of 21. Similarly, Kansas City has seen the same in 8 of 12. This game is not going to have many points in it. Expect a slow, running, defensive slog. The only chance that I see for high points is if there are many turnovers, something I don’t see as likely seeing that both Kansas City (tied for 1) and Pittsburgh rank in the top 11 teams in the league in turnover margin.
Kansas city is 5-1 SU and ATS in their last 6 games, while Pittsburgh is 4-2 ATS and 6-0 SU. Of recent when playing in Kansas City Pittsburgh has not been good, just 1-5 ATS and 2-4 SU. In a game with such a low point spread I think this stat matters a whole lot: Kansas City is 12-2 in their last 14 at home. I also think this stat matters a lot less than normal: 3-8 ATS in their last 11 at home.
Vegas seems to have a pretty good read on Kansas City when they are playing at home (see stats above), but in a game that is more or less a pick’em that goes out the window. What matters to me that in the last two years Kansas City has been elite at home and off a bye. After being killed by Pittsburgh in their last meeting, I believe that they will have even more motivation to win this one. I think Pittsburgh is a solid team, but I think Ben Roethlisberger plays significantly worse when on the road, and he is good for at least one turnover a game these days. Le’veon Bell will have his hands full against a defense that knows he will be the focal point.
SEA @ ATL: Seattle +4.5, Atlanta to win, Over 52,
HOU @ NE: New England -16, New England to win, Over 44.5
GB @ DAL: Green Bay +4, Green Bay to win, Over 52.5
PIT @ KC: Kansas City -1, Kansas City to win, Under 45
Check out my Saturday picks here: https://mcsnetwerk.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/2017-divisional-round-smote-analysis-saturday-games/