NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend

Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs!  Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs!!  That's the song Hazel and I made up on Sunday.  We also went running around the neighborhood in excitement, stopped at a park and watched the sunset over the ocean.  It was a great moment.

Kansas City @ Indianapolis (-2.5):
Now that it's the playoffs, I add interception rates to my analysis of games.  It's easy to say that whoever has more turnovers will lose.  Fumbles are too random, scheme and talent can produce or reduce interceptions.  So in addition to comparing Pythagorean winning percentage, I also look at which QB-opposing defense matchups are most likely to result in interceptions.  In this game, the Chiefs have the better Pythagorean winning percentage and are less likely to throw an interception.  The only thing keeping the Colts in it is home field advantage.  The Chiefs defense is tied with the Panthers defense at second in intercepting the ball and among playoffs quarterbacks, Alex Smith throws the second fewest interceptions.  That's the recipe that could take them...well, not exactly far, because you need a lot more than that...but if they can get 2 interceptions per game, they will be pretty hard to beat in the playoffs.  Home field advantage brings it much closer.  In fact, I think the Chiefs should be favored, but only by half a point.  That means I'm getting some decent value with an extra three points.  The harder question is how much to bet.  I have a lead.  Do I make smaller bets to protect my lead? Increase my bets for the playoffs?  Stay consistent with my level of confidence?  I'll wait until I see your comments.
Kansas City +2.5

New Orleans @ Philadelphia (-2.5):
Remember how Alex Smith is the second best playoff QB at avoiding interceptions? (It wasn't that long ago.) Nick Foles is the best.  You were expecting me to say Drew Brees, weren't you.  Actually, in these playoffs, there are a lot of good quarterbacks with low interception rates.  And Drew Brees is right smack in the middle.  The Eagles defense is only average (among playoff teams) in intercepting the ball, but the Saints are towards the bottom.  So Foles is better at avoiding interceptions, The Eagles D is more likely to intercept the ball, and they are in Philly?  Slam dunk, right?  (Of course not.)  By Pythagorean winning percentage, the Saints should win 60% of the time on a neutral field.  In Philly, the Saints should be favored by half a point.  But I'm going to incorporate interception rates in my analysis and make the decision that the Eagles win, but the Saints cover.
New Orleans +2.5

San Diego @ Cincinnati (-7):
Remember how this group of playoff quarterbacks is pretty good at avoiding interception?  Andy Dalton is the exception. He throws more picks than any playoff QB and is the most likely QB to throw three picks and allow the Chargers to win.  The problem is that the Chargers defense doesn't do the greatest job intercepting the ball.  And Philip Rivers is average in avoiding interceptions and the Bengals are above average in intercepting the ball.  Cincy is still more likely to throw an interception, but it's pretty close.  And by home-field adjusted Pythagorean winning percentage, the Bengals should be favored by 6.5.  I'm taking the Chargers ATS and pointing to games like the Colts, Chiefs and Broncos where they won outright as underdogs.
San Diego +7

San Francisco @ Green Bay (+2.5):
I can feel the lazy coming on.  I'll keep chugging along and see what comes out.  A lot of Packers analysis has to be differentiated with Rodgers or w/o Rodgers.  I just looked at Rodgers interception rate, not the Packers.  In general, it feels good to take a home dog.  They cover at a higher rate than home teams in general.  They win 58% of the time as either a favorite or underdog.  But Kaepernick did a much better job avoiding interceptions and the 49er defense is better at intercepting the ball.  On a neutral field the 49ers should be favored by 7.  It will be interesting to see which game plan the 49ers use against the Packers.  What do you think is more likely? Kaep runs for 100 yards or throws for 400?
San Francisco -2.5.


  1. I'm not even going to wait for you guys before making my picks.

    $55 on KC +2.5
    $44 on SD +7
    $33 on SF -2.5, Phi -2.5

  2. Much more likely for Kaep to run for 100.

    Since I'm down by over $250, I'll be betting on all games this week:

    $55 on IND -2.5
    $44 on SF -2.5
    $33 on SD +7
    $22 on PHI -2.5

  3. Oops - that last one should have been New Orleans +2.5

  4. I find this slate of games particularly tough to pick. Tight lines and like Aaron said, a lot of times the points seem slightly favorable but sub-3 isn't exactly a screaming deal. Except the SD pick... 7 points just seems like a favorable number.

    $50 on Indy -2.5
    $50 on New Orleans +2.5
    $50 on San Diego +7
    $50 on Green Bay +2.5

  5. PS - didn't Kap run for like a million yards against Green Bay in last year's playoffs? Any possibility that he is able to do that to them again?

  6. Wow awesome finishes to both games. The first one was one of the wildest effing rodeos I've ever watched in the playoffs. I'm not even mad the Colts didn't cover, that was crazy.

    Aaron nailed the KC pick - but what happened with your Philly pick? You chose NO +2.5 in the column, but then put your money on Philly -2.5. Did you chicken out at the last minute?

  7. I was mistaken about Andy Dalton throwing three interceptions. He only threw two and lost a fumble.

  8. As for NO-PHI, I got confused between our blog picks ATS and the confidence points SU. I legitimately meant to pick the Eagles SU and the Saints ATS (which is exactly what I said in the paragraph). It's the kind of thing where I would ask to go back and make the bet I meant to make, but I didn't catch it in time (like Scott did). Oh well, I'll take the loss on the Eagles.

  9. I also wanted to point out that I kind of predicted Andrew Luck to throw more interceptions than Alex Smith and Drew Brees to throw more interceptions than Nick Foles amd Andy Dalton to throw more interceptions than Philip Rivers. Doesn't guarantee success, but I like my process and will be using it again next week.

  10. I don't mind losing money on the Eagles...but can I still get credit for going 4-0?

  11. No.

    But, you did advance your lead.

    The KC/IND game made a pretty big difference

  12. Royce - so close to being third!

  13. I am SO close! Damn you MP! I am coming for you!