- When: Saturday, January 12, 2018 @ 4:35 pm EST
- Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
- (Betting odds from Sportsbetting AG and current as of 1/8 at 10 pm)
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Total (over-under)|
|Indianapolis Colts||+ 5 -104||+ 195||Un 57 -110|
|Kansas City Chiefs||– 5 -116||– 225||Ov 57 -110|
If you’re going to bet along with me, make sure to find the most favorable odds at the best NFL betting sites to maximize your earnings. Following the 2018 NFL regular season – and now, one week of the playoffs- here are my results:
NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Saturday Quick Picks
Saturday’s early Divisional Round action takes place in Arrowhead Stadium, home to the AFC-first Kansas City Chiefs. Fresh off vanquishing their AFC South foe in the Wild Card Round, Andrew Luck, and the Indianapolis Colts go back on the road looking for a second consecutive playoff upset. Before I get into the specifics of this matchup, here are some stats playing a significant role in my predictions:
- The Colts are 5-0 against opponents with winning records over the past eight weeks.
- In their last five home games, Kansas City has only covered the spread once – against Oakland.
- The Chiefs are the only team in NFL history to score at least 26 points every game for an entire season.
- Colts running back Marlon Mack has carried over 24 times and gained at least 119-yards rushing in three of his past four games – including back-to-back weeks. He ran 24 times for 148-yards last week to eliminate the Texans.
- Kansas City has the 27th ranked run defense, giving up over 132-yards per game and 19 touchdowns this year while allowing 5.0 yards per carry.
- KC is 1-11 in playoff games – both against the spread and straight up – over a period of nearly two-and-a-half decades.
My picks for this game:
- Colts +5 at -104 betting odds
- Colts ML at +195 betting odds
- Under 57 at -110 betting odds
Gambling Stats for Saturday’s Early Game
Sometimes you can find data to help with your handicapping that may not directly focus on the action on the field. Looking at how a team has traditionally performed against the spread can be worth analyzing as well. You can even take these meta stats further, looking for patterns in performances following losses, at home, and as favorites or underdogs. I was able to find these statistics at TeamRankings.com.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Kansas City is 9-6-1 against the spread, covering 60% of the time.
- At home, they’re 4-4-0 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
- As a home favorite, they’re 4-4-0 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
- Following their last two bye weeks, Kansas City is 0-2-0 against the spread, covering 0% of the time.
- Against other AFC teams, the Chiefs are 8-4-0 against the spread, covering 66.7% of the time.
- Kansas City is 10-5-1 (66.7%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Following their last two bye weeks, the Chiefs are 1-1-0 (50%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- As a home favorite, Kansas City is 3-4-1 (42.9%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Against other AFC teams, the Chiefs are 7-4-1 (63.6%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Indianapolis is 9-7-1 against the spread, covering 56.2% of the time.
- On the road, they’re 6-3-0 against the spread, covering 66.7% of the time.
- As a road underdog, they’re 4-2-0 against the spread, covering 66.7% of the time.
- Following a win, Indianapolis is 6-3-1 against the spread, covering 66.7% of the time.
- Against other AFC teams, the Colts are 6-6-1 against the spread, covering 50% of the time.
- Indianapolis is 8-9-0 (47.1%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Following a win, the Colts are 4-6-0 (40%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- As a road underdog, Indianapolis is 2-4-0 (33.3%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
- Against other AFC teams, the Colts are 7-6-0 (53.8%) at covering the totals/over-under line.
Away – Indianapolis Colts (+5)
This Colts team is absolutely the real deal. Don’t let their 10-6 record or Wild Card status fool you; after starting the year 1-5, Indianapolis found their rhythm, with Luck eventually returning to his All-Pro form after missing extensive time over several years with a damaged throwing shoulder. Now, they’re on a 10-1 run and appear to be one of the more dangerous squads likely to play spoiler in this year’s postseason.
Beating the seriously flawed and drastically overrated Houston Texans was one thing though, now the Colts have to go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes, and his Chiefs offensive buzz saw that saw the first-year starter score 50 TDs this season. Between Indy’s form as of late, KC’s awful defense, and the emergence of Marlon Mack, I really like their chances.
Kansas City ranks near the bottom on defense against the run and pass alike. Combined with Indy’s offensive line’s ability to keep Luck clean in the pocket and run-block, I think this is a disastrous matchup for the home team. With time to throw, TY Hilton, Dontrelle Inman, and Eric Ebron are going to torch this Chiefs secondary through the air. There’s no hope for this KC secondary if they don’t get steady pressure on Luck.
I’m not sure any defense can outright stop this Chiefs unit led by Mahomes, but the Colts group has been much improved as of late. With their soft zone, Indianapolis is one of the best organizations in the league at preventing explosive plays (passes 20-yards or more and runs of 15+ yards). If they keep Kelxe and Hill from beating them deep, Indy just needs a couple of mistakes from the inexperienced Mahomes to steal this game.
While both of these squads can score at-will, the Colts have the much better defense. Punts will be hard to come by, so the outcome could easily be decided by just one or two tough stands. Indianapolis will have the added weapon of Marlon Mack, who should continue his recent explosion running the ball. He’ll be able to eat up clock and keep the Chiefs’ offense off the field, which is the best defense of all.
- WR – TY Hilton (ankle)
- WR – Dontrelle Inman (shoulder)
- WR – Ryan Grant (toe)
- LB – D Leonard (shoulder)
- S – Malik Hooker (hip)
- S – M Mitchell (calf)
Home – Kansas City Chiefs (-5)
Kansas City has dominated the NFL headlines this season as one of the three top franchises all year long. The move to second-year player Patrick Mahomes at the starting QB spot paid immediate dividends, resulting in an up-tempo, creative, multi-faceted, and – most of all – high-scoring offense. Mahomes can make magic while scrambling out of the pocket, and speed-demon Tyreek Hill and neo-Gronk Travis Kelce find ways to dissect defenses in those chaotic moments.
It will be fascinating to watch how Andy Reid and Mahomes choose to attack this soft zone coverage employed by the Colts. They may have to settle for long, methodical drives consisting of lots of short-to-intermediary completions with explosive plays so limited by this system. They’ll need to work Tyreek into space with crossing routes across multiple zones.
Patrick Mahomes may have that gunslinger mentality, and while that’s what makes him special, it could also backfire in the playoffs. One of those three-interception games won’t cut it against an Indy team unlikely to have any problems putting up points of their own, even if he also has his usual 350-yards passing and 4 TDs.
Another issue I see for Kansas City comes from historical failures. The Chiefs have an abysmal postseason history, with their last trip to the AFC Championship coming in 1993. Since then, they’ve gone 1-11 in the playoffs. While that may not affect any of the players mentally, as none of them were employed by the team for the vast majority of those struggles, but if they get behind early, the sense of doom will be tangible in the stadium.
Then you have Andy Reid’s career full of postseason blunders to worry about as well. While his teams tend to look unstoppable early in the regular season, they rarely look the same in the winter time. With Mahomes under center, they’ve stayed effective throughout the entire campaign, but you have to wonder if a few clock management goofs and some questionable play-calling decisions will end yet another of Reid’s Super Bowl hopefuls chances in the Divisional Round.
- HB – Spencer Ware (hamstring)
- WR – Sammy Watkins (foot)
- LB – Dorian O’Daniel (calf)
- S – Eric Berry (heel)
Fantasy Football Sit/ Start
With so much of the gambling public wagering through daily and even season-long fantasy, I’ve decided to share my sits and starts for the game as well. By playoff time, most year-long leagues have concluded, but sites are now experimenting with playoff fantasy not to mention Daily Fantasy which is still ongoing. For the owners still playing some form of fantasy, I share my sit, start, and sleeper recommendations.
This game should produce a wealth of offensive highlights as two of the NFL’s best offenses face off in Kansas City. Saturday’s contest will feature two starting QBs who have scored a combined total of 89 TDs this season, a league record. Which is why I believe this contest comes down to two things: explosive scoring plays and turnovers.
While Indianapolis’ defense has become very good – even holding Deshaun Watson and the Texans to a single second-half touchdown – the Chiefs’ group has never climbed out of the basement. They are consistently burned through the air for long gains, and can’t seem to stop the run. If the Colts get a lead, they’ll be able to dominate time-of-possession.
Meanwhile, Indy’s defense will sit back in zone with that “bend don’t break” approach, hoping for a Mahomes mistake. I think it’s far more likely that he coughs up some untimely turnovers than it is that the Chiefs defense finds a way to slow this reborn Colts offense featuring prime Luck, solid blocking, a receiving trio of TY Hilton, Eric Ebron, and Dontrelle Inman, and the rushing abilities of Marlon Mack.
These sit/start options reflect this prediction:
- Andrew Luck – Colts QB – The Colts are playing one of the worst defenses in the league just as his team is peaking. Luck picked Houston’s D apart – a group far greater than the unit KC trots out there. With Mahome and the Chiefs putting up huge point totals every week, Luck will likely have to throw quite a bit to keep pace.
- Marlon Mack – Colts RB – Mack absolutely demolished the Texans, turning 24 carries into 148-yards rushing. This week he faces a much weaker run defense, though the game script is a risky bet. If KC explodes early, the Colts may be forced into passing all day. However, I seriously doubt this, as Mack’s matchup is just too sweet.
- TY Hilton – Colts WR – I’d pay whatever it costs to start Hilton this week. Fresh off humiliating Houston’s secondary once again – a common theme throughout his career – TY gets another ideal matchup. With Luck’s consistently clean pockets behind this strong o-line, it’s hard to imagine a game in which Hilton doesn’t earn over 100-yards receiving and a TD or two.
- Eric Ebron – Colts TE – Eric Ebron is having a career year catching passes from Luck. If Eric Berry plays, he’ll be a tight cover for the breakout TE, but I still like any offensive starters facing this KC defense, especially in the playoffs with so much pressure on them not to choke.
- Patrick Mahomes – Chiefs QB – If you’re in one of those playoff leagues and own Patrick, obviously you have to start him. But if it’s DFS, I’m not sure I’d spend on Mahomes this week. He’ll almost always get his, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this Indy zone and Marlon Mack hogging the ball for the Colts is going to produce the worst start of his young career.
- Tyreek Hill – Chiefs WR – The thing about facing soft zones is that you can dink and dunk up the field with short, easy passes all day. Reid will undoubtedly put Hill in motion throughout the contest, letting him get a head-of-steam before running across the face of the zone coverage, and attacking the spots between defenders. He’ll have the receptions and yards after the catch to reward owners.
- Travis Kelce – Chiefs TE – Kelce is the top TE receiving option in the sport at the moment. Whether the Colts find a way to quiet him or not, you have to imagine he’ll play a significant role in KC’s gameplan and see plenty of targets.
- Either Defense – The line for the point total is set at 57 for a reason. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of either of these offenses, though, if I had to take one defense to start, it would be Indianapolis’.
- Damien Williams – Chiefs RB – Williams has been excellent since Kareem Hunt was cut from the team, but this is a rough matchup. This Colts team isn’t given up rushing yards, and their zone coverage limits the opportunities for big breakaway runs. If the KC defense can’t slow Luck’s passing, the Chiefs won’t be looking to run for most of the game anyway.
- Dontrelle Inman – Colts WR – Inman has emerged as Indy’s second-most-dangerous receiving weapon. He’s scored a TD in three consecutive contests now and will see a favorable matchup regardless of the CB in coverage. Expect Dontrelle to continue playing a huge role in the red zone.
- Nyheim Hines – Colts RB – The Chiefs are terrible against receiving backs, allowing the fifth-most receiving yards and tied for the most receiving TDs surrendered to the position. Should the game script call for more passing, limiting Marlon Mack’s carries, Hines will have a prime opportunity to gash KC through the air out of the backfield.
NFL Playoffs Week 2 – Divisional Round – Saturday
Colts +5 at -104 betting odds
$75 to win $72.12
Colts ML at +195 betting odds
$75 to win $146.25
Under 57 total points at -110 betting odds
$100 to win $90.91