Brad is back with two more bets for the NFL’s championship round
We went 1-1 last week with the Seahawks losing by the hook thanks to a missed FG and a failed 2-point conversion. What’s new eh. We are -2.05 units on the season. Onto the champ games.
Niners Defense To Have Its Way With Green Bay
First up we will have some San Francisco -7.
The numbers I use have been a little lower on SF than the market all year long, but that seems to have flipped this week. First up, this line says GB is about a point worse than Minnesota last week (similar line but SF no longer has extra rest).
However, the market also sent Minnesota off as 5.5 point home favourites against GB three weeks ago, saying they were 2.5 points better. I’m aware this isn’t scintillating #content but closing lines over the last month suggest this line should be at least 8 and Massey Peabody rankings agree.
I said in last week’s column the Niners defense would be restored to its early-season glory with the return of Jaquiski Tartt, Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander, and they promptly held Minnesota to a post-season record-low 7 first downs. I expect more of the same this week.
Remember in the first matchup of these two in Week 12 the 49ers outgained the Packers 7.5 yards to 2.8 yards and Rodgers had less than two net yards per pass.
Rodgers actually had his best-graded performance since Week 6 in the divisional round but its worth noting he didn’t throw an incompletion on a pass that travelled 10 or more yards in the air and the Packers ran hot on third down.
Neither of those things is sustainable and given we can expect stickier coverage and a better pass rush I think Rodgers might be in for a rough game.
Watch the Packers vs 49ers Preview here:
As for when the Niners have the ball?
There looks to be a significant mismatch in the run game.
San Fran has the sixth-best graded rush offense in the NFL and 8th best run-blocking O-line, facing a GB rush D that grades 25th in stopping the run and 31st in adjusted line yards allowed. I expect to see a lot of wide-open spaces for Raheem Mostert and co, and Shanahan will need no invitation to run it 40+ times.
The Niners are faster, more explosive and better coached in this one and I don’t think it will be close.
Remember the Titans when they are gone
It might be a similar story on the AFC side of the bracket.
Since Tannehill took over, the Titans have been a very good team. Or at least a very good offense.
But they are not this good and have in fact been on the right side of a lot of variance, starting in the red zone.
- The second-best team in the NFL this year scored TDs on 66% of their red zone trips.
- The ninth-best team was at 63%.
In other words, there isn’t too much difference in the league, except for the Titans who were up at 78%, and at 87% under Tannehill. Then in the playoffs, they’ve gone 8 from 8 in the red zone while holding their opponents to 1 touchdown on seven trips.
That would be great if red zone efficiency was a repeatable skill, but it isn’t.
As Bill Barnwell noted, when going back to 2001, the 10 top red zone offenses between Weeks 7 and 17 (the timeframe Tannehill started) converted nearly 76% of their red zone trips into touchdowns.
In the playoffs, those same offenses scored touchdowns on just over 61% of their red zone trips. Regression hasn’t come for the Titan yet in the postseason, but it will. And unfortunately, they will need to run hot against the Chiefs.
When Mahomes is fully healthy, with Tyreek, Kelce, Watkins and Damian Willims on the field, the Chiefs are essentially unstoppable.
They also throw at a league-high 64% in neutral situations, which is the perfect way to attack this Tennessee team.
Watch the Titans vs Chiefs Preview here:
The Titans are 21st in pass defense DVOA and 10th in run defense.
It’s very hard to see a world where the Chiefs don’t roar past 30 and what we haven’t seen from Tannehill – a little bit like Lamar Jackson last week – is the ability to throw his team back in the game when defenses don’t care about the run and are not respecting the play action. Remember too the strength of this Chiefs team is the pass defense and it could get messy for Tennessee when they get down early.
- 49ers -7.5: 2 units @ 1.98
- Chiefs -7.5: 1 unit @ 2.12