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NEW YORK JETS (12-5) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (14-2)
Sportsbook.com Line/Total: New England -9 & 44.5
The Patriots and Jets meet for the season rubber match in New England with an AFC Championship Game berth on the line. The Jets dominated the second half and frustrated Tom Brady in beating the Pats 28-14 in Week 2, but New England crushed New York 45-3 in the Week 13 rematch as Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers.
Since that drubbing, the Jets have won road games in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, whom they beat 17-16 on a last-second field goal last week. New York ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (148 YPG), and actually rushed for 152 yards in the 45-3 loss in New England. LaDainian Tomlinson (914 yards, 4.2 YPC, 6 TD this year) has gained 831 total yards and five touchdowns in seven career games against New England. The Jets’ passing offense has been inconsistent, with Mark Sanchez throwing just one touchdown and six interceptions in his past five games, including three picks at New England. The Patriots pass defense currently ranks third-worst in the NFL with 259 passing YPG allowed, but their 25 interceptions lead the NFL.
Speaking of interceptions, Brady has not thrown one since Week 6, an NFL-record run of 335 passes in a row without a pick. He has 36 TD and 4 INT for the season and has only lost one home game in his past 29 starts, a 33-14 defeat to Baltimore in last season’s playoffs. Brady is also 8-1 at home in his postseason career with his only loss coming against the Ravens. The Patriots also rank ninth in the NFL in rushing (123 YPG), but the Jets boast the third-best run defense in football (91 YPG). The Patriots have turned the ball over just once in the past eight games, while forcing 24 turnovers in those eight contests. They are a perfect 8-0 over this span, winning by an average score of 32 to 16.
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GREEN BAY PACKERS (11-6) at ATLANTA FALCONS (13-3)
Sportsbook.com Line/Total: Atlanta -2.5 & NFL Betting Lines 43.5
The red-hot Packers travel south to face the NFC’s top-seeded Falcons on Saturday night. This is a rematch of Week 12, when Atlanta edged Green Bay 20-17 at home.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers earned his first career playoff win last Sunday when his team upset the Eagles 21-16. Rodgers threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns in the win. He connected with nine different receivers and seven of those were targeted more than once. That gives Rodgers 603 passing yards, 7 TD and 1 INT in two career playoff games. The big star for Green Bay last week was rookie RB James Starks who set a franchise rookie playoff record with 123 rushing yards.
Matt Ryan makes his second playoff start, and first at home where he is 20-2 as a starter. In his 2008 rookie season, Ryan had a disappointing postseason debut, throwing for 199 yards, 2 TD and 2 INT in a 30-24 loss at Arizona. This year, Ryan has been stellar, throwing for 3,705 yards, 28 TD and just 9 INT. WR Roddy White has 115 catches for 1,389 yards and 10 TD, while TE Tony Gonzalez has caught 70 balls for 656 yards and six scores. All three players will have to perform at the top of their game against the Packers’ fifth-best pass defense in the league (194 YPG). Atlanta also boasts a top-notch running game with Michael Turner who has rumbled for 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns. He should find some holes in a Green Bay rushing defense allowing 115 YPG (18th in league).
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-6) at TENNESSEE TITANS (5-7)
Sportsbook.com Line: Indianapolis -4 & 45.
The Colts try to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2001 when they visit Tennessee, losers of five straight, on Thursday night. Both teams know their only shot to make the playoffs is to win their final four games to take the AFC South Division crown. While Tennessee is relatively injury-free, the Colts have a gaggle of injury concerns. RB Joseph Addai (neck), RB Mike Hart (ankle) and WR Austin Collie (concussions) are all out for Thursday’s game, while TE Jacob Tamme (knee) is questionable and WR Reggie Wayne (knee) is probable to play at Tennessee.
Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown an uncanny 11 interceptions during the losing streak, but he has won three straight games against the Titans, throwing for five scores and just one interception in those contests. The big reason Manning is forcing the issue through the air is that the running game has been terrible without Addai and Hart. Over the past five games, the Colts are averaging a mere 55 rushing YPG on 3.0 yards per carry.
Sportsbook.com opened the Colts -3 & a ridiculous 92% of action is behind Indianapolis.
Tennessee is glad the Colts are forced to throw the football because the Titans can’t stop anybody on the ground. Tennessee has allowed 159 rushing YPG during its losing skid, including 258 to Jacksonville last week. The Titans have many more issues on the offensive side of the ball, failing to score an offensive touchdown in 13 straight quarters of action. Kerry Collins will start at QB again, despite his woeful performance against the Jaguars (14-of-32, 169 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT). RB Chris Johnson also needs to pick up his game, as he has gained a paltry 58 rushing yards in his past two games. He could find plenty of holes in a Colts defense surrendering 171 rushing YPG during their three-game losing skid.
These teams have been pretty evenly matched when they play in Tennessee, with Indianapolis 5-3 SU (4-4 ATS) in the past eight games at LP Field. These two trends show why home underdog Tennessee is the play for Thursday night.
Play On - Home underdogs or pick (TENNESSEE) - after 2 or more consecutive losses against the spread, in December games. (79-38 since 1983.) (67.5%, +37.2 units. Rating = 3*)
Play Against - Favorites (INDIANAPOLIS) - after gaining 99 or less rushing yards in 3 straight games against opponent after being outrushed by 100 or more yards last game.
(34-10 since 1983.) (77.3%, +23 units. Rating = 3*).
Play Over - Any team against the total (INDIANAPOLIS) - after allowing 25 points or more in 2 straight games against opponent after 2 straight losses by 10 or more points.
(31-8 over the last 10 seasons.) (79.5%, +22.2 units. Rating = 3*).
INDIANAPOLIS is 23-6 OVER (79.3%, +16.4 Units) off an upset loss as a home favorite since 1992. The average score was INDIANAPOLIS 23.6, OPPONENT 26.3 - (Rating = 3*).
Sportsbook.com has recently put up “Team Playoff Props”. Will the Colts make the postseason for the ninth consecutive year? The Yes is -120.