Examining trends for each team can help you make better-informed gambling and fantasy decisions. It’s never wise to bet a game based on a single trend and it’s also never wise to back off a wager based on a single trend, either. With that said, trends can point you in the right direction by corroborating stats and information you’ve gathered or they can make you reconsider making a bad wager based on flimsy data. I’ve gone game-by-game and compiled the most relevant trends for each team heading into this week’s contests. I’ve included any bets or leans I have for each game at the end of each writeup. Good luck with your wagers!
Wild Card Sunday
Baltimore Ravens (11-5, 10-6 ATS) at Tennessee Titans (11-5, 7-9), 1:05 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Ravens 28.75, Titans 25.75
Spread/Total Movements: 4 to 3, 54 to 54.5
Weather: 42 degrees, clear, 5 mph
Ravens Injuries to Watch: WR Willie Snead (ankle), RT D.J. Fluker (knee), CB Marlon Humphrey (shoulder)
Titans Injuries to Watch: LG Rodger Saffold (ankle), OT Dennis Kelly (knee)
The Ravens are storming into the playoffs with five consecutive outright victories and six straight ATS covers since dropping consecutive games outright to the Patriots and the Titans in Weeks 10-11.
The Ravens have won four of their last five games by 14+ points and they have the league’s best point differential (+165) despite six teams owning better records than them.
Lamar Jackson has returned to his running ways with 80+ rushing yards in four of his last five games after reaching that mark just twice in his first 10 games. He’s posted 22+ FP while accounting for multiple scores in each of those games. The Titans limited Deshaun Watson to just 12 rushing yards last week, but they’ve given up seven combined passing TDs to Watson and Aaron Rodgers in the last two weeks. Tennessee has given 3+ TDs six times this season and they’re allowing 2.3 passing TDs per game to QBs (2nd-most) this season. Lamar posted 186/1 passing with 51 rushing yards against the Titans in Week 11.
Marquise Brown is hitting his stride entering the postseason with 12+ FP in six straight games with six touchdowns in that span. He managed just a three-yard touchdown on two targets against the Titans in Week 11. Tennessee is giving up 1.4 touchdowns per game to WRs (3rd-most) this season.
Mark Andrews posted a season-high 96 receiving yards in this matchup in Week 11 on his way to 5/96/1 receiving on seven targets for 20.6 FP. He had a five-game run with 12+ FP and 60+ receiving yards snapped last week against the Bengals.
J.K. Dobbins is rolling as the top option in this backfield with touchdowns in six straight games to end the regular season. He’s seen between 11-15 carries in each of those games and he’s averaging 6.4 YPC, but he has just 3/32 receiving in that span. Dobbins started his current hot streak against the Titans in Week 11 with 15/70/1 rushing, and the Titans have given up 21+ FP to backs in three straight games (David Johnson/Dillon/Swift).
Gus Edwards is averaging 10.0/67.4/.4 rushing per game (6.7 YPC) and 1.2/17.4 receiving per game in his last five games with Mark Ingram taking a backseat to Dobbins and Edwards. The Titans are giving up 4.6 YPC and A.J. Dillon posted 21/124/2 rushing in this matchup two weeks ago.
The Titans have dropped consecutive games against the spread and they’ve given up 78 combined points to the Texans and the Packers.
The Titans stunned the top-seeded Ravens 28-12 as 10-point road underdogs in the Divisional Round last season to end Lamar Jackson’s MVP season.
Derrick Henry then rumbled for 133 rushing yards and the game-winning overtime touchdown in Tennessee’s 30-24 victory over the Ravens as six-point road underdogs in Week 11. Henry became the eighth player to run for 2000 yards in a season as Henry became the first player to reach 2K rushing yards since Adrian Peterson did it in 2012. Henry has seen 23+ carries in six of his last seven games with 98+ rushing yards in each of those games.
Ryan Tannehill has accounted for multiple TDs in seven straight games and in 14-of-16 games this season. He’s been on the move more lately too with 13/124/5 rushing in his last three games. Tannehill posted 259/2 passing and 4/35 rushing against the Ravens in Week 11. Baker Mayfield is the only QB to reach 20+ FP since they played Tannehill.
A.J. Brown is coming off a monster game against the Texans in which he posted 10/151/1 receiving for a season-high 31.1 FP. He’s scored in 10 of his 14 games and he’s managed 4+ catches 13 times this season. Brown recorded 4/62/1 receiving on seven targets in this matchup back in Week 11.
Corey Davis has fallen below 9 FP in three of his last four games after a drop-filled game against the Texans last week — he finished with 5/39 receiving on 11 targets. One of his five 100-yard receiving games came against the Ravens in Week 11 when he hung 5/113 receiving on seven targets.
Jonnu Smith has topped 35+ receiving yards just once in his last 10 games after doing it in each of his first four games. He posted 4/20/1 receiving on six targets against the Titans in Week 11.
Baltimore Ravens -3 (Best Bet)
J.K. Dobbins (Bal) over 61.5 rushing yards (Best Bet)
Marquise Brown (Bal) over 46.5 receiving yards (Best Bet)
Chicago Bears (8-8, 8-8 ATS) at New Orleans Saints (12-4, 9-7), 4:40 p.m.
- Implied Team Totals: Bears 18.75, Saints 28.75
- Spread/Total Movements: 8.5 to 10, 48 to 47.5
- Weather: Dome
- Bears Injuries to Watch: LB Roquan Smith (elbow), WR Darnell Mooney (ankle), CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), CB Buster Skrine (concussion)
- Saints Injuries to Watch: RB Alvin Kamara (COVID-19), WR Michael Thomas (ankle), RG Nick Easton (concussion), QB Taysom Hill (concussion)
- The Bears muscled around some inferior opponents in Weeks 14-16 by out-scoring the Jaguars, the Vikings, and the Texans 110-54. The Packers put the Bears back in their place with a convincing 35-16 victory in the season finale as Chicago managed just 4.8 yards per play.
- Mitchell Trubisky failed to throw for a touchdown last week for the first time in nine starts. He also averaged 6.0 YPA, which was his per-game average since taking back over as the starter in Week 12. Trubisky didn’t attempt a pass when these teams met back in Week 8. The Saints have held quarterbacks one or fewer TD passes in seven of their last nine games since they played the Bears in Week 8.
- Allen Robinson posted a season-worst 2/37 receiving on five targets going against Jaire Alexander and company last week. A-Rob had posted 74+ receiving yards while averaging 10.2 targets per game since Trubisky took back over in Weeks 12-16. With Nick Foles at QB, Robinson posted 6/87/1 receiving in this matchup in Week 8.
- Darnell Mooney broke out with 11/93 receiving on 13 targets last week but he, unfortunately, came down with an ankle injury late in that contest. Mooney has posted 4+ catches and 39+ receiving yards in four of his last five games. The rookie posted 5/69/1 receiving in this matchup in Week 8 with Foles at the helm. Anthony Miller and Javon Wims would see their opportunities rise if Mooney is unable to play after missing practice early in the week.
- Cole Kmet has run significantly more routes (159 to 88) than Jimmy Graham since the Bears emerged from their Week 11 bye, but Graham still holds the advantage in fantasy production in the last six weeks. Graham has posted 15/154/3 receiving for 8.1 FPG in that span while Kmet has 21/157/1 receiving for 6.9 FPG. Graham posted 2/13 receiving on seven targets against the Saints in Week 8 but Foles did overthrow him on an easy TD pass in that game.
- David Montgomery has posted 110+ scrimmage yards and 20+ FP in six straight games since Trubisky took back over at quarterback. He’s also posted a healthy 22+ carries in three straight games heading into the playoffs. Montgomery posted 21/89 rushing and 2/16 receiving on five targets against the Saints in Week 8 before his second-half breakout.
- The Bears hung tight with the Saints in an overtime loss at Soldier Field in Week 8 with Nick Foles at quarterback. That game came before the Saints flipped the switch for the rest of the season the following week in their 38-3 victory over the Buccaneers.
- The Saints have covered in seven of their last nine games since they last played the Bears.
- Drew Brees has thrown for three touchdowns in two of his three games since returning to the lineup with Alvin Kamara hogging all the touchdowns in their Week 16 victory over the Vikings. He’s averaging 8.1 YPA with an uncharacteristic three INTs in that span so he’s had mixed results since he returned to the lineup. Brees completed 31/41 passes for 280 yards (7.8 YPA) and two touchdowns against the Bears in Week 8.
- Taysom Hill has scored rushing touchdowns in three straight games with Brees back in the lineup. He posted 5/35 rushing next to Brees in Week 8 against the Bears.
- Michael Thomas is expected to return to the lineup after they rest him in the final weeks to let his high-ankle injury heal. Thomas has played just two full games with Brees this season with just 8/68 receiving on 11 targets in games in Weeks 1 and 9. He had 8+ catches and 80+ yards in three of his last four games with Hill before resting for the final three weeks of the season. The Bears limited Davante Adams to 6/46/1 receiving last week.
- Emmanuel Sanders has posted 11+ FP in four straight games, with the last three contests coming with Brees in the lineup and Thomas on the sidelines. Sanders has posted 11+ FP and 4+ catches in each of his last seven games in which Brees has played the entire game. Sanders didn’t play against the Bears earlier this season as he was on the COVID-19 list.
- Jared Cook has posted 11+ FP in four of his final five games with three touchdowns in that span, but he’s averaging just 4.6 targets per game since Week 13. Cook had his best game of the season in this matchup in Week 8 with 5/51/1 receiving on seven targets.
- Alvin Kamara is expected to play against the Bears, but he will be quarantined through Saturday so he won’t get any practice time this week. Kamara tied an NFL record with six rushing TDs against the Vikings in Week 16. He had the sixth-best fantasy performance for a running back since 1950 as he finished with 22/155/6 rushing and 3/17 receiving. Kamara posted 14/83 rushing and 8/65 receiving against the Bears in Week 8.
- Latavius Murray could be a little more involved than usual since Kamara missed practice all week and since we don’t know how Kamara’s body will respond to the virus. Latavius managed 8/17 rushing and 3/14 receiving in this matchup in Week 8.
New Orleans Saints -8.5 (Best Bet)
Drew Brees (NO) over .5 interception +210 (Best Bet)
Jared Cook (NO) over 29.5 receiving yards (Best Bet)
Allen Robinson (Chi) over 5.5 receptions (Best Bet)
Cleveland Browns (11-5, 6-10 ATS) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4, 10-6), 8:15 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Browns 20.75, Steelers 26.75
Spread/Total Movements: 4 to 6, 46.5 to 47.5
Weather: 28 degrees, clear, light winds
Browns Injuries to Watch: DE Olivier Vernon (Achilles, IR), LG Joel Bitonio (COVID-19, out), WR KhaDarel Hodge (COVID-19, out), CB Denzel Ward (COVID-19), S Ronnie Harrison (COVID-19, out), TE Harrison Bryant (COVID-19), LB Malcolm Smith (COVID-19), OL Nick Harris (COVID-19), RT Jack Conklin (knee), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (concussioN)
Steelers Injuries to Watch: CB Joe Haden (COVID-19, out), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), LB Vince Williams (quad)
Cleveland will be without Kevin Stefanski on Sunday after he tested positive for COVID-19. OC Alex Van Pelt will call plays this week while Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the head coach.
The Browns own an 11-5 record but they’re the only team in the playoffs with a negative point differential (-11).
Cleveland is just the ninth team in the Super Bowl era to reach 10+ victories with a negative point differential. They joined the 2012 Colts as the only 11-win team to have a negative point differential.
The Browns backed into the playoffs by barely squeaking past the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers in Week 17, which came a week after they lost to the Jets in Week 16 without their entire WR corps.
Nick Chubb has posted 100+ scrimmage yards in six of his eight games since returning to the lineup in Week 10. He posted 14/108/1 rushing against a Steelers defense that was missing a few key pieces last week. Chubb had 16+ receiving yards in five straight games before last week, and the Browns were clearly looking to limit Chubb’s work heading into the playoffs as he saw a five-week low 44% snap share. The Steelers have given up 16+ FP to three RBs in three straight games (Chubb/Taylor/Bernard).
Kareem Hunt has failed to his double-digit FP in five of his eight games since Chubb returned to the lineup. He managed just 10/37 rushing and 1/4 receiving last week against an undermanned Steelers defense even with the Browns limiting Chubb’s workload last week.
Baker Mayfield has struggled against Pittsburgh’s pass rush throughout his career as he’s yet to throw for 200+ passing yards against them with seven TDs and four INTs in five career games. Mayfield had thrown for 285+ yards in four straight games before posting 196/1 against an undermanned Steelers defense last week.
Jarvis Landry has 5+ catches and 50+ receiving yards in five straight games after posting 5/51 receiving on six targets against the Steelers last week. He mustered just 3/40 receiving on five targets against them back in Week 6 after recording a combined 10/119/1 receiving in two games last season.
Rashard Higgins was cited for drag racing this week, but he’ll play this week after posting 2/55 receiving on three targets against the Steelers last week. Higgins had a three-game run with 4+ catches and 68+ receiving yards in three straight games in Weeks 13-15 before missing Week 16 as a high-risk close contact. He scored Cleveland’s only touchdown against the Steelers in Week 6.
Austin Hooper has posted between 13-15 FP in three straight games with 4+ catches in each of those contests. He recorded 4/37/1 receiving on five targets against the undermanned Steelers last week, and he also posted 5/52 receiving against them in Week 6.
David Njoku has seen 4+ targets in three of his last four games with 2.5 catches and 26.5 receiving yards per game in that span. He managed just 2/13 receiving last week against the Steelers with Harrison Bryant on the COVID-19 list.
The Steelers ran the Browns off the field in a 38-7 victory back in Week 6 when Nick Chubb was injured and when the Steelers were humming both offensively and defensively.
The Steelers have covered four of their five matchups against Baker Mayfield in his first three seasons.
Ben Roethlisberger received some much-needed rest last week against the Browns. Roethlisberger had averaged fewer than 6.0 YPA in five straight games in Weeks 11-15 before finally throwing downfield with success in the second half against the Colts in Week 16 — he completed 23/29 passes for 243 yards (8.4 YPA) and three TDs. Big Ben posted only 14/22 passing for 162 yards and a TD when the Steelers blew out the Browns in Week 6.
Diontae Johnson has posted 12+ FP in eight of his last nine games and 6+ catches in seven of those contests. He turned in 3/96 receiving on four targets playing with Mason Rudolph last week. The Browns are giving up 39.7 FPG to WRs (8th-most) this season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster turned in 6/65/1 receiving on eight targets against the Browns last week with Big Ben resting, which gives him 6+ catches and a touchdown in three of his last four games. He posted just 2/6 receiving on four targets in Week 6 with Roethlisberger attempting just 22 passes.
Chase Claypool has seen his role grow over the last six quarters with 17 targets for 9/155/1 receiving, including 5/101/1 receiving on 11 targets against the Browns last week with Rudolph at quarterback. He caught all four of his targets for 74 yards and he added a rushing touchdown in their matchup back in Week 6. The Browns are giving up 13.1 YPR and 1.3 TDs per game to WRs.
Eric Ebron missed last week’s game against the Browns as a high-risk close contact but he’s been activated off the COVID-19 list this week. He posted 5/47/1 receiving in his last action against the Colts in Week 16 after leaving early the previous week after taking a big hit to his back. He had his quietest full game against the Browns in Week 6 (2/9 receiving), but Cleveland is giving up 15.4 FPG to the position (4th-most) this season.
James Conner has played more than 60% of the snaps in consecutive games since returning to the lineup in Week 16. He’s been solid but not spectacular with 14/58 rushing (4.1 YPC) and 10/70 receiving on 13 targets. Conner posted 20/101/1 rushing in this matchup in Week 6 when Pittsburgh’s O-line was performing better.
**Cleveland Browns +4.5 (Best Bet)
Nick Chubb (Cle) over 65.5 rushing yards (Best Bet)
Ben Roethlisberger (Pit) under 289.5 passing yards (Best Bet)
**I bet this game before the Browns experienced a COVID-19 outbreak on Tuesday morning. I would still lean toward the Browns side but I wouldn’t bet them without Kevin Stefanski unless +7s start to pop up over the weekend.**