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Posts tagged with "Playoff Game"

The Los Angeles Rams (3-1) have to be considered the biggest early-season surprise in the NFL so far considering they lead the NFC West by one game over the Seattle Seahawks (2-2) and Arizona Cardinals (2-2), the preseason favorites to win the division.

This Sunday, the Rams will host the Seahawks as small home betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com and try to make a serious statement with another victory.

Los Angeles has split its first two home games, routing the Indianapolis Colts 46-9 as 3.5-point favorites in the season opener and then dropping a 27-20 decision to the Washington Redskins the following week as 3-point chalk. The Rams are coming off an impressive 35-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday as 5-point road underdogs.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks woke up in the second half last week in the Sunday Night Football matchup to blow out the Indianapolis Colts 46-18 after trailing 15-10 at halftime.

Seattle improved to 2-0 at home but has gone 0-2 on the road both straight up and against the spread. Seattle has won 18 of the past 24 meetings with the Rams but has failed to cover three of the last four, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

A bit later on Sunday, the Cowboys (2-2) will be looking to rebound from their loss to the Rams when they host the Green Bay Packers (3-1) as small home favorites in a rematch of last year’s Divisional Round playoff game. The Packers won the last meeting 34-31 in overtime as 5-point road dogs, and they are hoping to win their third in a row following their lone loss of the season to the Atlanta Falcons back in Week 2.

The Dallas defense was disappointing in the loss to Los Angeles and will need to improve quickly in order to hold Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense in check. Rodgers carved up the Cowboys in their playoff win with 355 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Rodgers threw for a season-low 179 yards but a season-high four touchdowns last Thursday in a 35-14 victory against the Chicago Bears. The Packers have won six of the past seven meetings with the Cowboys SU, going 5-2 ATS at sports betting sites in those games.

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The Detroit Lions have a frustrating postseason history. They have made the playoffs only 11 times since they were last N.F.L. champions, viagra in 1957. In 10 of those appearances, they lost in the first round. Their only playoff win in more than half a century was a divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1991 season, back when Wayne Fontes was still their coach.

But this year, the Lions are 7-4 and lead the N.F.C. North by a game. The New York Times’s Upshot simulator estimates they have a 70 percent chance of making the playoffs. It is an impressive performance for a team that was 7-9 last season and was expected to be among the N.F.L.’s also-rans this year.

So is this the year for playoff glory? Unfortunately, probably not. The Lions’ success has largely been built on sand. Here are eight reasons the Lions will not be winning that elusive playoff game this season, either.

1. They Never Win Big

The Lions, unlike most good teams, never win decisively. Every victory this season has been by 7 or fewer points. A bounce here or there, and their record might well be a lot worse. Take a look at all the successful teams over the years: Although they may win a few nail-biters, they will always have a good smattering of blowout wins, too.

2. They Can’t Put Opponents Away

The Lions have had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in every victory. Some observers are trying to spin this as a good sign, saying the rallies demonstrate the team’s tenacity. But they also show that the Lions cannot put away even bad teams. What was a playoff team doing trailing the Rams by 7 points with seven minutes left? How could the Lions have entered the fourth quarter trailing against the Jaguars?

3. They Haven’t Played A Strong Schedule

These less-than-impressive victories have come as part of the league’s second-easiest schedule so far, according to Pro Football Reference. In addition to their games against members of their own weak division, the Lions have played all four of the teams in the bad A.F.C. South.

4. Their Point Differential Is Among the Poorest

The Lions’ point differential against this soft schedule is an anemic plus-9, a figure more associated with .500 teams than playoff ones. That ranks them tied for 19th in the league, behind three 5-6 teams (the Chargers, the Eagles and the Saints) and the 4-6-1 Cardinals.

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Odell Beckham Jr. paraded down the Giants’ sideline Sunday night after scoring his blistering 61-yard touchdown to beat the Dallas Cowboys and soaked up the raucous atmosphere at MetLife Stadium, urging the delirious fans for even more.

Beckham feels a noticeable Big Blue home-field advantage and hasn’t always been able to say that. The Giants (9-4) are 6-1 at MetLife entering their final home game Sunday against the Detroit Lions (9-4), and if they can win out, a couple Cowboys losses would mean a Giants NFC East title and at least one home-field playoff game.

It’s not impossible.

“I don’t think it’s any disrespect to the fans we have out there, but the past two years, I remember them leaving games,” Beckham said Wednesday of the Giants faithful. “A specific memory I’ve had, stuck with me ever since, was the Cardinals game (in Week 2) my rookie year (of 2014).

“Ted Ginn runs a punt back, they go up 22-14 with nine minutes, 22 seconds left, and I watched people in that stadium just leave like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re outta here. The game’s over. We don’t wanna be caught in traffic,’” Beckham recalled. “And it was kinda shocking to me at the time. But you could tell (Sunday) that they’re very into it, they see what we have going on, and hopefully we give them some hope and something to cheer for.”

The Giants refused to let the Cowboys clinch the NFC East on their home turf, and now they have a loftier goal: to catch the ’Boys in the standings. The Giants own the head-to-head tiebreaker after sweeping the two-game season series, so if the teams finish with the same record, Big Blue will take its first division crown since its 2011 Super Bowl run.

“That’s the goal,” strong safety Landon Collins said. “We’re not talking about it, but that’s our mindset. That’s the goal. We’ve got to hope the Cowboys lose, though, and usually they don’t lose. So we’ve just got to play our ball.”

The Giants right now have only a slight chance of winning the NFC East and securing a first-round bye. Fivethirtyeight.com calls it a 5% chance of winning the division and 4% for a bye; footballoutsiders.com has it at 4.8% and 4.5%, respectively.

However, a win over the NFC North-leading Lions would drastically increase the odds if Dallas (11-2) also loses Sunday night to the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5). In that scenario, the Giants’ odds of winning the division would jump to 21%, the chances for a first-round bye to 18%, per fivethirtyeight.com’s NFL playoff simulator.

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