NFL: Conference Championship Round – Monday January 22 2018

It’s Conference Championship week so let’s start with something I like to monitor each year and keep updated. Since 1970 there has been 47 years’ worth of Championship games or in other words 94 games played. A situation I have monitored over the years is to simply play the team with the better defence. In this situation we define the better defence as the team who has allowed the fewer points during the regular season. For this year those teams are Jacksonville and Minnesota.

Over those 47 years by simply playing on these teams you would have gone 59-31-3 65.6% ats with one game not applying because both teams allowed the same amount of points. A further breakdown of those games tells us in 20 of those years you would have won both games and in 5 of those years you would have lost both games. In 18 of those years you would have gone 1-1. In the other four years you had a push and a loss, a push and a win and the one year a loss when the other game didn’t apply. So, 21 winning years and 7 losing years calling 1-1 years even if though the juice would be a slight loss.

This situation always serves as a starting point for me but doesn’t force my hand into these teams each year. And, since 2000 it has won both games 4 times, lost both games 3 times and gone 1-1 10 times so it hasn’t been as productive the last 17 years as it was the previous 30 years.

Also, since 1970, when laying less than 10 points the SU winner in these games is 78-3-2 ATS. Essentially, pick the SU winner and you have the ats winner as well. Since 2009, this is 13-3 ats so all three losses have come within the last eight years.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots

Monday January 22, 7:05am AEDT

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville waltzed into Pittsburgh last week, jumped on the Steelers early and never looked back in a 45-42 victory that wasn’t as close as the final score. The Jags rushed for 164 yards at 4.7ypr and threw for 8.2yps against the Steelers defence. Pittsburgh ran for 4.6ypr and threw for 7.7yps. The Steelers were sacked twice and turned the ball over twice. Pittsburgh out gained Jacksonville 7.0yppl to 6.2ypp but the Steelers threw the ball 34 more times while Jacksonville ran the ball 17 more times to skew the final numbers.

TeamPFPAYPRYPSYPPLDYPRDYPSDYPPLTO
Jacksonville26174.36.45.44.35.04.710
23214.06.25.34.06.05.1

Jacksonville is 0.1yppl better than an average team on offense and 0.6yppl better than an average team on defense making them 0.7yppl better than an average team overall.

New England

The Patriots fell behind 7-0 last week and then proceeded to score the next 35 points in their 35-14 victory. The Pats out passed Tennessee 6.4yps to 4.5yps and out gained them overall 5.5yppl to 4.4yppl.

TeamPFPAYPRYPSYPPLDYPRDYPSDYPPLTO
New England29184.27.05.94.76.25.76
22214.16.35.44.16.25.3

NE is 0.5yppl better than average on offense and 0.4yppl worse than average on defence making them 0.1yppl better overall. But, as we know, NE plays much better than their overall stats.

Roster

  • For Jacksonville, they list S Tashaun Gipson as questionable.
  • NE lists QB Tom Brady as questionable.


Verdict

I don’t have a strong opinion on this game. Tom Brady is questionable with some sort of hand injury that may not be a big deal or could get injured worse during the game, etc. making it tougher to support NE or the over in this game. It’s hard for me to support Jacksonville knowing they allowed 42 at Pittsburgh last week although it could have been because of a prevent defence and also allowed 44 at San Francisco with Jimmy Garopollo. Added to that we know NE allowed more than 17 points this year only to the best offenses in the league for the most part so it’s not likely Jacksonville gets a lot of points in this game. If Jacksonville can’t hold down NE to 23 or less points it may not be able to win or cover this game. With all of that said, Jacksonville does have the defensive make up that could cause problems for NE. But, knowing historically teams who win this game SU typically also cover the spread, gets me leaning to NE.

Forecast

NEW ENGLAND 27 JACKSONVILLE 17

Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles

Monday January 22, 10:40am AEDT

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings escaped with a great 61-yard touchdown pass as time expired to advance. Minnesota out passed the Saints 7.3yps to 6.5yps but if you take away the final 61-yard touchdown pass, the Vikings averaged just 6.0yps. Overall, the Vikings averaged 5.7yppl to 5.3yppl for New Orleans.

TeamPFPAYPRYPSYPPLDYPRDYPSDYPPLTO
Minnesota24163.96.85.43.75.34.75
22224.16.25.34.16.35.4

The Vikings are 0.1yppl better than an average team on offense while they are 0.7yppl better than average on defence. Overall, they are 0.8yppl better than average.

Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia was out rushed 4.3ypr to 3.0ypr but out passed Atlanta 7.7yps to 5.0yps. Overall, Philadelphia out gained Atlanta 5.3yppl to 4.8yppl. Atlanta’s lone touchdown came on a very short drive as Philly won 15-10.

TeamPFPAYPRYPSYPPLDYPRDYPSDYPPLTO
Philadelphia28184.46.35.43.85.75.011
22214.16.15.34.16.25.3

 

Philly is 0.1yppl better than average on offense and 0.3yppl better than average on defence making them 0.4yppl better than average overall. Those Philly stats include Carson Wentz numbers. With just Foles numbers they are 0.6yppl worse than average overall. If I only used Nick Foles game from last week I would make Philly about 0.9yppl better than average overall, which would make these teams pretty equal.

Roster

  • For Minnesota S Andrew Sendejo and WR Adam Thielen are questionable.
  • For Philadelphia there are no major injury concerns.

Verdict

My numbers favour Minnesota by three points and project about 35 points. The Vikings qualify in the defensive situation listed above and they also qualify in a 54-23-2 playoff situation.

If I use just Nick Foles games (not counting week 17 where he only played one quarter) I get Minnesota by about five points. If I use all of their games I get Philadelphia by one point.

Blending those two results I get Minnesota by three points. Both of these defences are very good. Philly has scored 34, 19, 0 and 15 points in games Foles played this year. The 34 was against a very bad Giants defence and two touchdowns were the result of two drives following turnovers of 20 and 18 yards so they were basically handed 14 points in that game. The 19 points were really 13 points and then a junk yard fumble on the last play of the game was turned into a touchdown by the defence.

Most of the starters didn’t play much of the last game where Philadelphia was shut out. Last week they scored four times but settled for three field goals. Philly averaged 7.7yps last week but they completed 18 of 23 passes that travelled six yards or less so it was a lot of short passes that I believe Minnesota will defend for this week.

With all of that said, Philly with Foles, has allowed just 29 at the Giants, 10, 6 and 10 points. The 29 at NY was an anomaly and a few big passes led to a few scores for the Giants. The Vikings defence is better from front to back and that difference in the secondary I think could be enough for Minnesota to win this game. I just don’t see both teams getting to 20 points each. One team may not even get to 20 points.

Forecast

MINNESOTA 17 PHILADELPHIA 10


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