In addition to my picks and research which you can hear on the Hot Read Hits Podcast, here are some divisional weekend notes on why I'm targeting these games, courtesy of BetPrep: By Tommy “The Hitman” Just one pick this week, as the lines are predictably sharp, generally. 49ers (+6) at Packers | Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET This is a bad matchup for the Packers. They faced a top-five rush offense this year and allowed the Browns 219 yards. They ranked 30th in run defense EPA, 30th in run defense success rate, and 28th in DVOA (which adjusts for opponent quality). The 49ers are actually the stronger team in DVOA, the Football Outsiders overall power metric, three spots ahead of Green Bay. Under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are 17-9 against the spread as a road underdog while going 9-4 straight-up the past three seasons as a road ‘dog, second in the league. The 49ers are the No. 1 team in the NFL in yards per pass play gained minus allowed – 1.80 more yards per pass play for than against. The Packers are sixth at 1.09. Since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger, the team that wins yards per pass play in a game by any margin wins the game 74% of the time. Davante Adams dominated the 49ers in the Week 3 meeting between the teams. And that’s been part of a pattern. Since 2018, he’s gone 10-for-132, 7-for-43, 9-for-138, 10-for-173 and 12-for-132 vs. the SF defense. Ultimately, however, this line makes little sense. Green Bay was laying 6.5 to Minnesota with Cousins and seven to Cleveland in December. San Francisco is at least three points better than those teams but is getting six? I made this line four. Yes, I am concerned about the Jimmy Garoppolo injury. But matchup-wise, San Francisco should be fairly dominant in the trenches against this Green Bay team. OTHER GAME NOTES Bengals at Titans | Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET The Bengals run defense is possibly down two starters and ranked 16th in opposing rush success rate and 25th in run-stop rate vs. one of the easiest schedules of opposing rush offenses. Cincy has allowed 5.5 yards per carry to backs over their final five games this season, 6.4 to Josh Jacobs in the wildcard round. The Bengals are throwing more. Cincy’s three highest situation neutral pass rate games of the year were the last three games their starters played. Joe Mixon has struggled since contracting COVID. He’s rushed 101 times for 329 yards (3.3 YPC) over the past six weeks with game-highs of 65 yards and 3.8 YPC over that span. Ryan Tannehill has had just 10.9% of his dropbacks with Derrick Henry, Julio Jones, and A.J. Brown on the field. On those, he’s averaged 9.4 YPA. Without all three, 5.2. Joe Burrow is elite against blitz. Like the Raiders, the Titans don’t do it: Tennessee is another team that will drop back and play coverage against Burrow. The Titans blitz on 19.9% of dropbacks, which is 28th in the league and the second-lowest rate of the remaining playoff teams. Julio Jones is not done yet. He received nine targets last week. This season, he has a 75 PFF grade, 14 YPR which is 26th in NFL; he’s 31st in NFL in yards per route run. Rams at Buccaneers | Sunday, 3 p.m. ET Matthew Stafford has a 0.52 EPA per play against blitz, elite, but just 0.1 when not blitzed. Tampa blitzes more than any team in the NFL. When blitzed, Stafford leads the NFL with a 74.8% completion rate while ranking third in yards per attempt (9.4 Y/A) and third in touchdown passes (14). Just one of Stafford’s league-high 17 interceptions came against the blitz. The Rams have also been a team that has traveled well for a West Coast team. Under Sean McVay, the Rams have a 12-3 (.800) record in the Eastern Time Zone, the best road record in the time zone for a non-ET team over that span. Bills at Chiefs | Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET The Chiefs' defense has been helped by their schedule. KC has allowed only 16.2 PPG over their last 11 games. But they allowed 28 and 34 to Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. Other QB’s they faced were Jordan Love, Daniel Jones, Derek Carr twice, Dak Prescott without Lamb/Cooper, Teddy Bridgewater, Ben Roethlisberger twice, and Drew Lock. This game features the top team in points per drive in Kansas City (2.71) and the fourth-ranked team in Buffalo (2.56). The Chiefs are first in EPA per play (0.140) while the Bills are fourth (.091). Kansas City is first in success rate per play (51.1%) while the Bills are fourth (47.4%). The Chiefs have punted on 25.5% of their drives (first) while the Bills have done so just 29.7% (third). Josh Allen rushing: Allen also added another 66 yards rushing, giving him 407 yards rushing over his past six games (with 60-plus in five of those six) after rushing for 422 yards over his opening 12 games. So twice as much rushing from Allen of late.
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