Sports

It's crunch time as NFL's Divisional Play-offs loom this weekend

JustBet covers all the matches and the spreads

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, January 11, 2019

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WILD Card Weekend of the 2019 play-offs is in the books and stating that the stakes were high is an understatement. There were high expectations from NFL fans and the games delivered as expected. However, when the proverbial bell rang, defence answered the call and offense, for the most part, didn't show up. This also translated into the fact that all the JustBet underdogs covered their respective spreads and three of the four won outright.

Perhaps it was the play-off jitters for the younger quarterbacks (QBs): Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans), Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears) and Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) whose teams all suffered losses. Or maybe defence actually still has a place in today's high-octane, offense-focused NFL.

The most points scored last weekend was 24 by the Dallas Cowboys who, incidentally, were the only home team to win. In total, 145 points were scored, an average of 36.2 per game. However, the defensive effort of last weekends' winning teams needs to be raised a few notches in the Divisional Play-offs this weekend since the total regular season points of the 'Big 4' were daunting (to say the least): Kansas City Chiefs 565 points (average 35.3), Los Angeles Rams 527 points (average 32.9), New Orleans Saints 504 (average 31.5) and New England Patriots 436 (average 27.5).

Not only are the averages more than the points any team scored last weekend, the 'Big 4' are all in the comfort of home with their loyal fans in full voice.

In the first game last Saturday (and the only game that saw any 'offensive explosion') the Indianapolis Colts visited the Houston Texans and pulled off a minor 21-7 upset. The Colts' 21-points resulted from three first half touchdowns and their defence did the rest to hold off the Texan offense until a late, consolation trip to the end zone.

The Colts visit the Chiefs as JustBet 7-point underdogs tomorrow (Saturday) and are going to find it much tougher than last week. These teams last met in October of 2016 where the Colts were 30-14 winners but that was before the emergence of Chiefs' QB Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs boast the league's #1 offense but, due mainly to their fragile secondary, are ranked second-to-last defensively. Exploiting this weakness is the only hope for the Colts but it also means that they will need to outscore Mahomes and his gang. That is highly unlikely, so expect the Chiefs to win and cover the spread.

Dak Prescott, last weekend, became the first Dallas Cowboys QB with both a passing and rushing touchdown in a playoff game. He takes his troops into Los Angeles to face the Rams tomorrow night and had better hope his defence is able to stand stoutly. Their narrow 24-22 victory over the Seattle Seahawks a week ago was a decent warm-up for their defensive unit, but the real test is at hand.

The Rams finished the regular season as the NFL's #2 offense but, just like the Chiefs, their secondary is suspect and Prescott may have considerable success downfield to receivers Amari Cooper and Cole Beasley. The Cowboys have not beaten the Rams in their last three meetings and enter this contest as JustBet 7-point underdogs. They have a very good chance for an upset but, at the very least, they should hold the Rams under the spread.

The 'Field Goal Fiesta' between the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens was last Sunday's early game that finished 23-17 and sent the Chargers off to face the New England Patriots this weekend. Chargers' kicker, Michael Badgley made 5 field goals (Chargers single-game play-off record) and he was a perfect 4-for-4 in the first half which gave the Chargers a 12-0 lead going into the break. The Chargers miraculously held the Ravens to 90 rushing yards and now attempt to duplicate same against the Patriots on Sunday. They enter this encounter as JustBet 5-point underdogs and, having not beaten this team for quite some time, should find themselves fighting uphill against the experience of Patriots' QB Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium. A New England win is anticipated while covering the spread.

Following last week's major 16-15 upset over the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia's QB Nick Foles now has the second-most postseason touchdown passes (10) in Eagles history. Their victory came amidst the drama of a missed Chicago field goal as time expired and Foles is now 5-0 in the playoffs (and Super Bowl) dating back to last season. Additionally, the Eagles have been the JustBet underdogs throughout this run and now face the New Orleans Saints this Sunday in the same position at 9-points.

The Saints, who arguably have the best all-round team this season, ran over the Eagles 48-7 last November and will be looking to pile on the points again this weekend. The expectation is for a New Orleans win with them covering the spread but if, by some miracle, the Eagles are able to muster a win, a lot of people outside Philadelphia will be made into believers. Whatever happens, this is a must-watch event.

The New Orleans Saints are still firm JustBet favourites at $3.25 to win the Super Bowl while the Kansas City Chiefs share the second favourite spot at $4.75 with the Los Angeles Rams. JustBet gives the New England Patriots an outside chance at $6.00.

The full schedule of games for the Divisional Play-offs are provided with odds for the main bet options (visit www.justbetja.com for the all available bet options).

SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS 2018-2019

CODE TEAM ODDS
101 NE PATRIOTS 6.00
102 PHI EAGLES 15.00
106 LA RAMS 4.75
108 NO SAINTS 3.25
109 DAL COWBOYS 17.00
113 KC CHIEFS 4.75
115 LA CHARGERS 10.00
125 IND COLĐS 12.00

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS WEEKEND SCHEDULE & ODDS:

DATE TIME HOME TEAM AWAY TEAM MAIN MATCH BETS
MONEY LINE FINAL WITH 1 2 HC 1

12/01/19 16:35 KC CHIEFS IND COLĐS 1.42 2.85 -6.5 1.95 1.85
20:15 LA RAMS DAL COWBOYS 1.35 3.20 -6.5 1.83 1.98
13/01/19 13:05 NE PATRIOTS LA CHARGERS 1.48 2.65 -4.5 1.88 1.93
16:40 NO SAINTS PHI EAGLES 1.25 4.00 -8.5 1.88 1.93
*Betting odds, handicaps and limits are subject to change.
*If an NFL Match ends in a tie after overtime is played, then all bets on “Money Line Bets” will be given odds
of 1.00 and all other bets will be settled based on the final score. Odds on NFL Money Line bets include the
outcome after regulation and overtime.


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