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NFL Betting News and Notes Saturday, January 11

NFL Betting News and Notes Saturday, January 11

NEW ORLEANS (12 - 5) at SEATTLE (13 - 3) - 1/11/2014, 4:35 PM
Top Trends for this game.
SEATTLE is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 24-10 ATS (+13.0 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 24-10 ATS (+13.0 Units) in all lined games over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 12-4 ATS (+7.6 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 12-4 ATS (+7.6 Units) in home lined games over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 12-4 ATS (+7.6 Units) in all games where the total is between 42.5 and 49 points over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 19-7 ATS (+11.3 Units) against conference opponents over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 12-4 ATS (+7.6 Units) in home games in games played on turf over the last 2 seasons.
SEATTLE is 14-4 ATS (+9.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 3 seasons.
SEATTLE is 10-1 ATS (+8.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last 3 seasons.
SEATTLE is 57-83 ATS (-34.3 Units) off a division game since 1992.
SEATTLE is 24-45 ATS (-25.5 Units) off a win against a division rival since 1992.
Head-to-Head Series History
SEATTLE is 1-0 against the spread versus NEW ORLEANS over the last 3 seasons
SEATTLE is 1-0 straight up against NEW ORLEANS over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
INDIANAPOLIS (12 - 5) at NEW ENGLAND (12 - 4) - 1/11/2014, 8:15 PM
Top Trends for this game.
NEW ENGLAND is 159-120 ATS (+27.0 Units) against conference opponents since 1992.
NEW ENGLAND is 9-1 ATS (+7.9 Units) off a division game over the last 2 seasons.
NEW ENGLAND is 11-2 ATS (+8.8 Units) off a win against a division rival over the last 3 seasons.
NEW ENGLAND is 97-71 ATS (+18.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992.
NEW ENGLAND is 68-44 ATS (+19.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season since 1992.
INDIANAPOLIS is 19-7 ATS (+11.3 Units) when playing with 6 or less days rest over the last 2 seasons.
Head-to-Head Series History
NEW ENGLAND is 1-1 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
NEW ENGLAND is 2-0 straight up against INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New Orleans's last 6 games when playing on the road against Seattle
New Orleans is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Seattle   
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Seattle's last 6 games when playing at home against New Orleans
Seattle is 15-1 SU in its last 16 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Indianapolis's last 5 games when playing New England
Indianapolis is 7-18 SU in its last 25 games when playing New England
New England is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games when playing Indianapolis
New England is 12-2 SU in its last 14 games when playing at home against Indianapolis

New Orleans at Seattle
New Orleans: 0-6 ATS in road games off 1 or more consecutive unders
Seattle: 8-1 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points

Indianapolis at New England
Indianapolis: 7-0 ATS after allowing 30 points or more last game
New England: 0-7 ATS after 2 consecutive covers as a favorite

New Orleans @ Seattle

When these 2 teams met back on December 2nd in a Monday Night affair it was all Seattle in a 34-7 romp. The Saints were held to all time lows under head coach Sean Payton in points scored and total yards of offense getting out gained 429-188. New Orleans did get the monkey off their back last week with the road win over Philadelphia, but the Saints are still just 2-7 ATS on the road, 6-12 ATS when playing in January, 5-7 ATS in the playoffs and 0-5 straight up and 1-4 ATS as underdogs of 3½ to 9½ points. Seattle comes in 6-1 ATS versus NFC South opponents, 9-1 ATS as favorites of 3½ to 9½ points, 34-15 ATS overall, 18-6 ATS at home, 28-10 ATS versus NFC opponents and 14-4 ATS versus winning teams. However, the Seahawks are 7-17 ATS aftr a bye week and 24-45 ATS after a divisional win. Note the home team in New orleans games are 14-4-1 ATS.

Indianapolis @ New England

The Colts are a lackluster 11-13 ATS on the road, 36-44 ATS when getting 3½ to 9½ points, 15-23 ATS as a road underdog of 3½ to 7 points, but the Colts are 8-4 ATS versus AFC opponents. The Patriots were 8-0 straight up and 6-2 ATS at home this season. They are also 14-2 ATS after a divisional game and they play the favorite role well at 18-9 ATS when favored by 3½ to 9½ points. On the flip side New England is a mediocre 13-16 ATs after a bye week, 14-15 ATS in playoff games and 0-6 ATS in playoff games versus an opponent of back to back straight up wins. Note Indianapolis is 6-2-1 ATS the last 9 versus New England and the underdog is 4-1-1 ATS the last 6 meetings. Note the home teams in Indianapolis games are 6-1 ATS and in New England Games 10-2 ATS, plus the visitor in Indianapolis playoff games are 5-13 ATS.

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NFL Football: Streaks, Tips, Notes

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

New Orleans previously 0-5 in playoff road games earned a trip to Seattle Saturday with a 26-24 victory in Philadelphia. Saints having held the NFL's top rushing offense to 80 yards in the victory will head into the next hostile environment with a boat load of confidence. However, Saints 4-5 (2-7 ATS) outside of the Big Easy this season the next hurdle will be a bigger challenge. No team in the NFL enjoys a home-field advantage more than Seattle. The Seahawks have won an amazing 15-of-16 (12-4 ATS) in front of the frenzied home crowd including a 34-7 statement victory over Saints in week-13. Early odds have rested Seahawks laying 8.5 to 9.5 points depending on locale. Contemplating a bet in this contest here are a few betting nuggets to consider. Home favorites of 7.5 to 10 points are 17-18-1 ATS this season, home favorites of 7.5 to 10.0 points in this round are on a 4-8 ATS slide. N'Awlins 1-4 ATS on the road this year vs a team with a winning record have an ugly 0-5 ATS skid last five away vs NFC West opponent. Seahawks are 13-4 ATS last two years vs a team with a winning record, 6-4 ATS last ten vs the NFC South, 8-3 ATS last eleven overall when asked to lay 7.5 to 10 points.

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

Hard to quibble with Patriots, Seahawks, Broncos being home favorites in the divisional round. But, laying 7.5 to 9 points you'll certainly take risks backing Patriots (-7.5), Seahawks (-8), Broncos (-9) this weekend. Our trusted NFL database tells us home favorites in that range have been a vig losing 17-17 at the betting window this season. The number crunching machine also tells us that since the 2000-01 campaign home teams in this round have enjoyed a 65.3% winning clip (34-18 SU) outscoring visitors by 6.1 points/game. However, when adding the great equalizer it's the highwaymen with the edge as they're 27-24-1 against the spread over the span. Breaking it down further, home teams laying a touchdown to 9.5 points in the divisional round are a vig losing 9-9 against the number with a cash draining 1-5 ATS mark the past four years. Other key trends the database offers up - Pats are in a 2-6 ATS slide at Gillette Stadium in second season. Hawks are 2-1 ATS as a home favorite in the 7 to 9.5 range since coach Pete Carroll took over. Manning is 1-8 ATS as favorite vs Bolts including 0-2 in post season. The number crunching machine closes with this divisional round betting nugget. It's been a toss up for total players (26-23-3 O/U) but it chips in the 'Over' has a dominate 11-1 mark since the 2010-11 season. Good luck this weekend but above all enjoy the games.

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Saturday Divisional Tips
By Kevin Rogers

Saints at Seahawks (-8, 46)

New Orleans: 12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS
Seattle: 13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS

The first Monday game of December took place at CenturyLink Field between the top two teams in the NFC, the Seahawks and the Saints. Seattle entered that contest at 10-1, while New Orleans came in at 9-2, with NFC home-field advantage on the line. The Seahawks humbled the Saints, 34-7 as 6½-point home favorites, as Seattle built a 27-7 advantage at the half and never looked back. New Orleans was limited to 188 yards of offense, while Russell Wilson picked apart the Saints' defense for three touchdowns. Now, the Saints will look to do something for the second time in two weeks that had never been accomplished in franchise history heading into this season.

New Orleans finally won a road playoff game (not counting the Super Bowl victory in 2009) last Saturday after five postseason defeats away from the Superdome dating back to 1990. The Saints edged the Eagles in the Wild Card round, 26-24 thanks to a game-winning field goal in the final seconds by former Bengals' kicker Shayne Graham. New Orleans put together a 20-7 lead, but the Eagles outscored the Saints, 14-3 in the second half prior to Graham's game-winning boot. Sean Payton's team cashed outright as three-point underdogs, the first-ever ATS road win in the playoffs in franchise history.

The Seahawks own the best home-field advantage in the league, but Seattle didn't finish with the top home record in the NFL. New England, New Orleans, and Cincinnati each ended the regular season at 8-0 at home, while Seattle put together a 7-1 record at CenturyLink Field. However, Pete Carroll's club has won 15 of their past 16 games in the Pacific Northwest with the lone blemish coming in a 17-10 defeat in Week 16 to division rival Arizona. In five December contests, Seattle has cashed the 'under' five times, as the Seahawks' defense allowed a total of 52 points in those games (3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS).

In Carroll's previous three seasons as coach of the Seahawks, the team has made the playoffs twice, accumulating a 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS record. The last time Seattle hosted a postseason contest, the Seahawks shocked the Saints, 41-36 to cash outright as 9 ½-point underdogs in 2010. New Orleans built an early 10-0 lead, but Seattle stormed back to win in spite owning a 7-9 record in the regular season. Last season, the Seahawks were a missed field goal away from advancing to the NFC Championship as Seattle fell at Atlanta in the divisional round, 30-28, but managed to cover 2 ½-point 'dogs.

Colts at Patriots (-7, 52½)

Indianapolis: 12-5 SU, 11-6 ATS
New England: 12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS

These two old rivals have met a handful of times in the playoffs since 2003, as the Colts and Patriots are hooking up for the fourth time in this span in January. However, it is the first occurrence since the 2006 AFC Championship (won by the Colts) and the first without Peyton Manning in the rivalry. Andrew Luck is fresh off his first playoff victory for Indianapolis in one of the most epic comebacks in NFL postseason history.

Kansas City put together a nearly insurmountable lead in last Saturday's Wild Card contest at Indianapolis with a 38-10 advantage in the third quarter. As luck would have it, the former Stanford quarterback jump-started the rally as Indianapolis scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to pull within 41-31. Luck recovered a Donald Brown fumble for another score in the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to three, while Luck later hit T.Y. Hilton for a 64-yard strike to give Indianapolis its first lead at 45-44 with less than five minutes remaining. The Colts held on for the victory and actually cashed as 1½-point home underdogs, as the line moved in Kansas City's favor heading into last Saturday.

The Patriots are sitting back following their 10th AFC East title in the last 11 seasons, but New England has failed to win a Super Bowl since 2004. Bill Belichick's squad compiled an unbeaten record at home in the regular season, while covering six of eight games at Gillette Stadium. The two non-covers came as favorites of 9½ points or more against the Jets and Browns, as the Patriots are 8-1 ATS the last two seasons at home as a favorite of 7 ½ points or less.

New England and Indianapolis didn't meet this season, but the two teams faced off at Gillette Stadium in Luck's rookie campaign of 2012. The Colts took a 14-7 lead after one quarter but the Patriots rolled from there by outscoring Indianapolis, 52-10 the rest of the way, including two defensive scores and a special teams touchdown. The Pats easily cashed as 10-point favorites as Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns in New England's third consecutive victory over Indianapolis since 2010.

The Colts won five of eight games away from Lucas Oil Stadium this season, including underdog triumphs against playoff clubs Kansas City and San Francisco. The last time Indianapolis won a road playoff game came back in 2006 in the second round at Baltimore, as the Colts dropped postseason contests at New England in 2003 and 2004 by double-digits each time.

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Saints at Seahawks: What Bettors Need to Know

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (-8, 46)

The New Orleans Saints are coming off their first postseason road win in franchise history, but the degree of difficulty will rise dramatically when they visit the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks on Saturday. It will be a rematch of a Dec. 2 game in Seattle, when the Seahawks manhandled New Orleans 34-7 and held the Saints to their lowest point total since October 2008. "This is definitely going to be a personal game," New Orleans cornerback Keenan Lewis said. "They embarrassed us last time."

The Seahawks have embarrassed a number of opponents, particularly on their home field, where they are 15-1 over the past two seasons. Among the reasons for Seattle's dominance at CenturyLink Field is its rabid fan base known as the 12th Man, which set a Guiness Book World Record for crowd noise with a reading of 137.6 decibels in the thrashing of the Saints last month. The Seahawks are hoping to see the return of explosive wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has played in only one game since returning from offseason hip surgery.

LINE: Seattle opened -8.5 and is now -8. The total is down two points from the opening 48.

WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the high-40s with a 98 percent chance of rain. Wind will blow toward the N endzone at 21 mph.

ABOUT THE SAINTS (12-5): New Orleans' high-powered offense struggles away from home, managing only 36 points in three December road losses before pulling out a last-second 26-24 win at Philadelphia last week. Drew Brees, the only QB with three 5,000-yard seasons, threw for 250 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against the Eagles but now must contend with a defense that limited him to 147 yards and held the Saints to 188 total yards - the lowest total since Brees and head coach Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006. New Orleans overcame an injury to running back Pierre Thomas to churn out 185 rushing yards against Philadelphia - including 97 by former first-round pick Mark Ingram - while its defense held the NFL's leading rusher, LeSean McCoy, to 77 yards on 21 carries.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (13-3): Seattle leveled off after steamrolling the Saints, losing at San Francisco and falling to Arizona for its first home defeat in two seasons before closing the campaign with a dominant defensive performance against St. Louis. Wilson was being mentioned for league MVP honors at one point in the season but he stumbled down the stretch, averaging  171.3 yards passing and throwing for four touchdowns and three interceptions in the four games following the beatdown of New Orleans. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns but he cracked 100 yards only once in the last eight games. The Seahawks led the league in fewest points (14.4) and yards (273.3) allowed per game while registering an NFL-high 28 interceptions - eight by cornerback Richard Sherman.


* Saints are 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games.
* Seahawks are 12-3 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Saints last four Divisional Playoffs games.
* Under is 5-0 in Seahawks last five vs. NFC.


1. Brees owns the highest completion percentage (67.0) in postseason history and is the only QB with three 400-yard games in the playoffs.

2. Wilson has 24 overall wins and 15 at home in his first two seasons, the most by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

3. Saints TE Jimmy Graham had 16 TDs during the regular season but was limited to three catches for 42 yards and a score by Seattle.

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Colts at Patriots: What Bettors Need to Know

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-7.5, 51.5)

Andrew Luck's first visit to New England resulted in the worst defeat of his two-year career - a 59-24 beating at the hands of the Patriots in his rookie season. Luck appeared on the way to absorbing a defeat of similar magnitude a week ago, but he rallied the Indianapolis Colts from a 28-point second-half deficit to a stunning 45-44 victory over Kansas City in the opening round of the playoffs. The improbable win earned Luck a second crack at Tom Brady and host New England on Saturday night.

Luck has amassed 11 wins in the fourth quarter and overtime in his first two seasons - the most in the NFL during that span - but now the Colts have to find a way to take down the winningest quarterback in postseason history. Brady is 17-7 in the playoffs, which includes five trips to the Super Bowl and three championships, and guided New England to an 8-0 home record this season. Brady is working with a patchwork receiving corps that is missing tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught two touchdown passes against the Colts last season.

LINE: The Patriots opened -7.5. The total is down to 51.5 from the opening 53.

WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the low-50s with an 86 percent chance of rain. Wind will blow toward the N endzone at 13 mph.

ABOUT THE COLTS (12-5): While Luck stole the headlines by leading five second-half touchdown drives and throwing for four TDs and a career-best 443 yards, second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton also had a coming-out party by hauling in 13 catches for 224 yards and a pair of scores in the second-biggest playoff comeback in league history. The onus will again be on the Luck-to-Hilton combination due to the absence of a consistent running game by Indianapolis, which has relied more on Donald Brown that early-season acquisition Trent Richardson, who fumbled on his lone carry last week. Another concern for the Colts is a defense that allowed a total of 20 points in winning the last three regular-season games but was shredded by a Kansas City offense that was without its top weapon in Jamaal Charles for the majority of the contest.

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (12-4): Multiple injuries to Gronkowski and the departure of Wes Welker to free agency has left New England scrambling to cobble together an effective passing attack and it's reflected in the numbers - Brady's 25 touchdown passes and 87.3 passer rating are his lowest since the 2006 season. Converted college quarterback Julian Edelman helped fill the void with 105 receptions - nearly tripling his previous career high - and 1,056 yards, but the Patriots have shown an increasing reliance on sledgehammer running back LeGarrette Blount, who rambled for 265 yards and four touchdowns in the last two games. The defense, which lost Pro Bowl tackle Vince Wilfork and middle linebacker Jerod Mayo to season-ending injuries, suffered another blow when third-leading tackler Brandon Spikes was placed on injured reserve.


* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Colts are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in January.
* Patriots are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 playoff games.
* Under is 13-6-1 in Patriots last 20 playoff home games.


1. Brady, who is 11-3 at home in the postseason, needs three TD passes to surpass Brett Favre (44) for the second-highest total in playoff history.

2. Colts OLB Robert Mathis led the league with 19.5 sacks during the regular season and had a pivotal strip-sack in last week's victory.

3. The Patriots joined San Francisco as the only teams to win at least 10 games in 11 consecutive seasons.

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Saints look for revenge

New Orleans (12-5 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) at Seattle (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS) Opening Line & Total: Seattle 7 ½ & 48 ½ Line & Total: Seahawks -8 & 48

The Saints look for double payback when they visit the top-seeded Seahawks in the NFC Divisional playoff round on Saturday.

Not only did New Orleans lose its only playoff trip to Seattle, 41-36 three seasons ago, but it was clobbered 34-7 at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 2. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw 3 TD passes and totaled 357 yards in that win, which was nearly double the 188 total yards the Saints gained that night.

Although New Orleans compiled 434 total yards, including 185 on the ground, in last week’s road win at Philadelphia, Seattle allows just 254 total YPG (4.4 per play) at home this season, where it is 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS) and outscores visitors by an average score of 29 to 14.

The Seahawks are also 11-0 ATS versus good passing teams (7+ YPA), and 15-3 ATS (83%) coming off a home win in the past three seasons.

But the Saints have also thrived versus good offenses (24+ PPG), going 19-7 ATS (73%) against such teams under head coach Sean Payton. And since 2011, they are 15-6 ATS (71%) after gaining 6.5+ yards per play in their previous game.

Seattle is in great shape injury-wise after the week off, with WR Percy Harvin (hip) expected to play for the first time since Nov. 17. New Orleans is concerned about two players who are both considered questionable for Saturday.

RB Pierre Thomas missed the win over the Eagles because of a chest injury, while CB Keenan Lewis suffered a head injury in that victory.

The Saints have averaged 25.9 PPG and 402 total YPG this season, but those numbers drop considerably on the road where they score just 18.7 PPG with 364 total YPG. This includes a pathetic 2.6 yards per carry and 3.9 yards per pass attempt when they visited Seattle in Week 13. But New Orleans was outstanding in all facets on offense in last week's win at Philadelphia, scoring 26 points with 5.1 yards per carry and 8.3 yards per pass attempt.

QB Drew Brees finished with 250 passing yards and 1 TD, but was picked off twice. The interceptions were quite out of character considering he is 6-4 in his playoff career where he's thrown for 3,230 yards (7.7 YPA), 23 TD and only 6 INT in these 421 pass attempts. These numbers also include going 39-for-60 for 404 yards (6.7 YPA), 2 TD and 0 INT in the playoff loss in Seattle after the 2010 season. The key to the passing offense is TE Jimmy Graham, who gained 1,215 yards and 16 TD in the regular season, but caught just three passes for 44 yards in last week's win. The Seahawks did a nice job containing him on Dec. 2, limiting him to three catches for 42 yards, but Graham did score the lone touchdown for his team.

But the three main running backs -- Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles -- could go nowhere against the talented Seahawks front seven in that Week 13 meeting, as the trio combined for 33 yards on 15 carries (2.2 YPC). It was a much different story last week when Ingram rumbled for 97 yards on just 18 carries (5.4 YPC) and a touchdown versus Philly, while Sproles gained 7.2 YPC and finished with 60 total yards from scrimmage. The Saints will need to sustain some long drives to stay in this game, and that is something they have done well all season, ranking fourth in the NFL in first downs (22.4 per game) and third in the league in third-down conversions (44%), leading to a 32:40 time of possession (3rd in NFL).

The New Orleans defense hasn't been too bad on the road this year, allowing 22.6 PPG and 332 total YPG, but the run defense has surrendered 124 rushing YPG on 4.4 YPC away from home, while opposing passers are completing 65% of their throws for 208 YPG (7.1 YPA) in these road tilts. The Saints have also been unable to create turnovers, tallying a mere four takeaways in their past 10 games combined. However, they did post 49 sacks this season, good for fourth in the NFL. If they fail to rattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, he will pick them apart like he did last month when he was sacked only once.

Wilson has been outstanding this season (3,357 pass yards, 8.3 YPA, 26 TD, 9 INT), especially at home where he has a 103.8 passer rating with 8.4 YPA, 14 TD and 5 INT. But despite their 26.1 PPG (T-8th in NFL), the Seahawks rank only 26th in the league in passing offense (202 YPG). The probable return of WR Percy Harvin should give the air attack a boost, as his versatility creates huge mismatches. Wilson did not have Harvin for his huge Monday night game against New Orleans though, as he completed 4+ passes each to TE Zach Miller and WRs Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate.

While these players are all capable receivers, this Seattle team leans most heavily on its ground game (137 rushing YPG, 4th in NFL), which Wilson contributes greatly to with 539 rushing yards on 5.6 YPC. RB Marshawn Lynch has done the most damage with 1,257 rushing yards on 4.2 YPC and 12 touchdowns. Although Lynch found little running room against the Saints in Week 13, finishing with just 45 yards on 16 carries (2.8 YPC), he had a monster game when the teams last met in the playoffs in January 2011. That day he rushed for 131 yards on just 19 carries (6.9 YPC) including an unbelievable 67-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.

Seattle's defense has been relentless this year, as the unit leads the NFL in total defense (274 total YPG, 4.4 yards per play), scoring defense (14.4 PPG), passing defense (172 YPG, 5.8 YPA) and red-zone defense (36% TD rate). In addition to all the gaudy yardage numbers, the Seahawks do a tremendous job of creating turnovers. They have racked up multiple takeaways in 12 of 16 games this season, forcing 39 turnovers overall (21 at home). This has been accomplished because of a lock-down secondary (CB Richard Sherman leads the league with 8 INT) and a pass rush generating 44 sacks (T-8th in NFL).

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Lucky meets Brady again

Indianapolis (12-5 SU, 10-6-1 ATS) at New England (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS) Opening Line & Total: New England -7 & 53 Line & Total: Patriots -7 & 52

After erasing a 28-point, second-half deficit to open the playoffs, the Colts hit the road on Saturday night to face the Patriots for the 11th straight season, including the fourth playoff meeting during this stretch.

Indy is riding high after its improbable 45-44 comeback win over the Chiefs last week, marking its fourth straight victory (SU and ATS). But it hasn’t won in Foxboro since 2006, allowing 40.3 PPG during three straight losses there, including a 59-24 thrashing last season. Colts QB Andrew Luck threw for 334 yards and 2 TD that game, but also tossed three interceptions. Patriots QB Tom Brady threw for 331 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT that day, improving to 10-4 (2-1 in playoffs) with 247 passing YPG, 27 TD and 12 INT in his career in this series.

This year, Indy is a strong 5-3 SU (4-3-1 ATS) on the road, but New England is a perfect 8-0 SU (6-2 ATS) at home. Last week's comeback bodes well for the Colts on Saturday, as NFL road underdogs after trailing in their previous game by 21+ points at half, against an opponent after scoring 25+ points in two straight contests, are 34-13 ATS (72%) since 1983.

However, since becoming the head coach of the Patriots, Bill Belichick is 24-6 ATS (80%) after gaining 150 or less passing yards in the previous game, and 25-14 ATS (64%) as a home favorite of 3.5 to 7 points.

The Indianapolis injury report is pretty bare, with only DE Fila Moala (knee) questionable, but New England has been ravaged by injuries all season, and may not have the services of four starters who are all considered questionable -- WR Aaron Dobson (foot), G Logan Mankins (ankle) and CBs Devin McCourty (concussion) and Alfonzo Dennard (knee).

Indianapolis entered last week with just 14 turnovers committed all season, but coughed up the football four times in its victory last week. But the offense still managed to score 45 points with 536 total yards, including 488 from Luck (443 passing, 45 rushing) who threw 4 TD and recovered a fumble for a fifth touchdown. Luck really struggled on the road in his rookie season (70.1 passer rating, 11 TD, 13 INT), but this season, he has a strong 86.7 passer rating on the road with 11 TD and just 3 INT. That has helped his team score 24.0 PPG with 339 total YPG away from home. Since losing star WR Reggie Wayne to a season-ending knee injury, Luck has relied heavily on second-year pros WR T.Y. Hilton and TE Coby Fleener. He targeted the duo 25 times last week, resulting in 18 catches for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Hilton also had a huge day last season in Foxboro, finishing with six catches for 100 yards and two scores.

Although the Colts were forced to abandon the running game to erase their large deficit last week, they still managed to rush for 100 yards on just 19 carries (5.3 YPC). During their four straight wins, the team has gained 117 YPG on 4.0 YPC. After rushing for 5.3 YPC during the regular season (3rd-best in NFL), RB Donald Brown gained 55 yards on 11 attempts last week.

Defensively, the Colts were atrocious last Saturday, surrendering 44 points and 513 total yards. That is the fifth time the team has given up at least 33 points in a game this year, but they have also held five opponents to 10 points or less. Indy's defense has struggled both in defending the run (127 YPG on 4.5 YPC) and the pass (240 YPG on 7.0 YPA and 61% completions), but has helped itself out with 11 takeaways over the past six weeks. But the Patriots rarely turn the football over on their home field.

New England has committed just 10 giveaways at Gillette Field this season, but QB Tom Brady has thrown 13 interceptions over his past nine playoff games where he carries a 4-5 record. Overall in his playoff career though, Brady is a robust 14-7 with 5,377 passing yards (6.8 YPA), 41 TD and 21 INT. But in his three postseason meetings with Indy, he has posted pedestrian numbers of 204 passing YPG on 6.3 YPA, 3 TD and 2 INT. But despite the multitude of long-term injuries to the Patriots' offense this season, Brady has been able to lead his club to 27.7 PPG and 385 total YPG, including 30.4 PPG and 392 total YPG at home. He has completed multiple passes to 14 players, but his most reliable (and durable) target has been WR Julian Edelman who caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and 6 TD this season.

RB Shane Vereen has also been a valuable weapon with 635 total yards (79 per game) and 4 TD this season. New England is not just a pass-happy attack, as it has also run the football effectively this season with 129 rushing YPG on 4.4 YPC. RBs Stevan Ridley (773 rush yards, 4.3 YPC, 7 TD) and LeGarrette Blount (772 rush yards, 5.1 YPC, 7 TD) have both been effective, with Blount capping off his season with a herculean performance against the Bills in Week 17 when he rushed for 189 yards on 24 carries (7.9 YPC) and 2 TD, while adding another 145 yards on two kick returns.

While the offense is in good shape, the defense has major questions. The Patriots only give up 21.1 PPG, but they allow 373 total YPG including 385 total YPG at home. Opponents have not only thrown for 239 YPG on 6.5 YPA, but they have run for 134 YPG on 4.5 YPC, numbers that spike to 147 rushing YPG on 4.9 YPC at Gillette Stadium. The defense has done a poor job on third downs (42%, 26th in NFL) and is average in red-zone defense (56%, 16th in league). However, the unit has been opportunistic this year by forcing multiple turnovers eight different times this season, including five times at home.

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Re: NFL Betting News and Notes Saturday, January 11

Conference Semifinals

Saints (12-5) @ Seahawks (13-3) —
NFL-wide, four of last five #6 seeds to advance to this game also won this game, all as underdogs. New Orleans got first-ever road playoff win in Philly last week, only third time in nine road games this year they scored more than 20 points (averaged 30+ ppg at home). Seattle (-6) blasted the Saints 34-7 in a Week 13 Monday night game, outgaining NO 429-188, forcing six 3/outs on ten drives. Seattle is 5-3 as home favorite this year, with only SU loss to Arizona in Week 16. Saints are 2-3 as an underdog this year; they’re 3-5 SU on road, three losses by 6 or less points. Over last seven years, #1 seed in NFC is 1-6 vs spread in this game, losing SU four of last six years. Saints lost 41-36 here in playoffs three years ago; they’re 6-7 overall vs Seattle, losing four of last five visits here, with three of four losses by 10+ points. Fourth road game in five weeks for Saints; Seattle had bye last week and is playing third straight home game- they did score 17 or less points in four of last six games.

Colts (12-5) @ Patriots (12-4) — Indy was down 38-10 at home last week early in third quarter, rallied for unlikely 45-44 win, advances to visit New England squad that crushed them 59-24 here LY, third straight series win (by 3-7-35) in series where home team won last five meetings. Colts lost last three visits here, with last win in 2006. Colts are 5-3 on road this year, giving up 7 or less points in three of five wins- they’ve beaten 49ers-Seattle-Denver this year, so they’re capable, especially since Brady isn’t exactly surrounded with great talent at skill positions. Colts are 4-2 vs spread as an underdog this year, but their last four losses were all by 10+ points, with three of those happening on road. NFL-wide, #2 seeds are 6-0 SU in this round last three years, 5-1 vs spread, with non-cover by half-point. #2 seed in AFC won this game four of last five years, is 5-5 vs spread in last ten. Patriots have bye into this round for 7th time in last decade; with the bye, they’re 6-1 SU, 3-3-1 vs spread in this round.

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