Written By Billy Attridge
We’ve made it to the playoffs, and boy, do we have intriguing storylines entering Wild Card Weekend. New England missed out on a golden opportunity to clinch a bye, losing outright to Miami, and the 49ers and Seahawks played a thriller Sunday night that changed the trajectory of multiple NFC teams. This week we uncover if the OVER move on the Foxboro total is warranted, and we dive into an ugly ‘dog in New Orleans that may pack some bite. Before investing your hard-earned money on the NFL this weekend, find out why numbers have moved and where they could ultimately close.
Tennessee @ New England Over 43.5:
This total opened as low as 40 at FoxBet.com, before market consensus moved to 42.5. At that point, we saw professional money take OVER, pushing this number out to 43.5 and even to the key number of 44 at some shops. Let’s take a look at why we’ve seen such drastic movement on a total after 17 weeks of data. Starting with Tennessee, we’ve seen a drastic increase in offensive production since the insertion of Ryan Tannehill. The Titans have worked their way up to #6 in offensive efficiency, and that includes the dismal first six weeks of the season. Trending metrics are much higher, and now Tennessee faces a Patriots defense that’s trending in the wrong direction. New England has faced the EASIEST schedule of opposing offenses this season, and when they’ve stepped up in competition against Baltimore (#1, allowed 37 points), Houston (#17, allowed 28 points) and Kansas City (#3, allowed 23 points), they’ve been susceptible, especially against the run. The lone elite offense New England was able to stifle was in a windy downpour against a dome team in Dallas where Dak admitted to not throwing with a glove in preparation of the weather. Throughout the year, New England faced 11 teams that ranked outside the Top 20 in in offensive efficiency! On the other side of the ball, we’ve seen the way the Titans can be exploited through the air. Tennessee is another club that has faced an easier group of offenses this season (9th easiest), and yet they rank 23rd in defensive pass success rate. Say what you will about the way this Patriots offense has performed throughout the season (and it is justified), this is the playoffs and this team has a knack for finding your weakness and attacking it. Julian Edelman should have success in the slot against Logan Ryan, who has had an extremely difficult time this year covering that position. Both teams should have the ability to put up points here, and the move on the total has reflected that sentiment.
Minnesota +8 @ New Orleans:
The feeling this year seems to be that the NFC playoffs should bring about more drama and excitement due to the caliber of teams vying for a chance to play in Super Bowl 54. What better way to kick it off, as we get a rematch from two years ago where Stefon Diggs pulled off the Minnesota Miracle. The narrative around this game seems to be that New Orleans is playing on a different level right now, while Minnesota is at one of their lower points this season. The Saints last 3 games consisted of a blow-out win on Monday Night Football against a very banged up Indianapolis team (game closed +8/8.5 after professional money backed the Colts), a road win at Tennessee that was deemed “meaningless” for the Titans about two hours prior to kick, and a road win against a Panthers team that arguably ended the year playing the worst football of any team in the league. Minnesota lost a giant game to the Packers on MNF two weeks ago, and they dropped their Week 17 games as they rested their starters. This spread opened New Orleans -8 at FoxBet.com , before we started to see resistance. Minnesota will be the healthiest its been on offense since Week 6, with the return of Cook and Theilen, plus its looking more optimistic that stud linebacker Eric Kendricks will go. We’re not sold on the Colts and Vikings being equals, and keep in mind the market felt Minnesota was better than Green Bay just two weeks ago.