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PIGSKIN PERFECTION: The glorious ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview of NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend

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NFL fans have been blessed with four potentially high-scoring matchups this weekend -- Rams-Packers, Ravens-Bills, Browns-Chiefs and Bucs-Saints.

Five years ago, we began honoring radio legend Steve Czaban — who was surprisingly booted from the SB Nation Radio morning lineup in 2016, despite having perhaps the most engaging program in the radio marketplace — with a “You Are Looking Live!” preview of each NFL weekend.

The bit was so well-received, so roundly praised by media pundits (including a few SB Nation writers) and Czabe’s legion of fans alike, that we decided to make You Are Looking Live! a permanent Friday staple of the BATSBY Sports Network programming.

So, without further ado, here’s a print doppelganger to the best 60 minutes in sports radio — Hour #3 of Czabe’s NFL-heavy Friday show (heard daily from 7-10 a.m. EST in Milwaukee).

As such, it makes perfect sense to include Brent Musburger and Joey Porter into the presentation, via YouTube:

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF ROUND

SATURDAY

#6 L.A. RAMS @ #1 GREEN BAY (NFC)

TIME: 4:35 p.m. EST
LINE: Packers (-6 1/2) … Over/Under: 45.5
REFEREE: Ron Torbert

WEATHER FORECAST: Overcast skies, 33 degrees, chance of snow
TV: Kevin Burkhardt, Darryl Johnston, Pam Oliver, Kristina Pink (FOX)

FUN FACT: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers holds elite-level averages of 307 yards passing and three touchdowns in his last three postseason outings at Lambeau Field. For that stretch, Green Bay enjoyed a 3-0 record and sterling averages of 30.2 points.

FUN FACT II: The red-hot Packers (8-2 since Week 9) have allowed 16 or fewer points four times in their last five games.

TAKE THE PACKERS AND THE POINTS, PART I: Twelve of Green Bay’s 13 regular-season victories involved a minimum spread of seven points.

TAKE THE PACKERS AND THE POINTS, PART II: The Rams have averaged only 19.9 points in their last five road outings played outdoors.

TAKE THE PACKERS AND THE POINTS, PART III: Packers tailback Aaron Jones owns robust averages of 115 total yards and 0.6 touchdowns in his last five outings.

Not bad, considering how receiver Davante Adams accounted for seven TDs during this same stretch.

#5 BALTIMORE @ #2 BUFFALO (AFC)

TIME: 8:15 p.m. EST
LINE: Bills (-2 1/2) … Over/Under: 49.5
REFEREE: Carl Cheffers

WEATHER FORECAST: Overcast skies, 33 degrees
TV ANALYSTS: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michelle Tafoya (NBC)

CHECK THIS OUT: Neither Lamar Jackson nor Josh Allen eclipsed 200 yards of total offense in their inaugural meeting last season.

As such, Baltimore and Buffalo barely cracked 40 total points in a decent-weather day in western New York.

Fast forward to the present …

BETTOR’S HUNCH: The Ravens and Bills are riding separate streaks of six and seven games, respectively; and for these stretches, Baltimore (34.3 points) and Buffalo (36.8 points) have averaged well above 30 points.

So, what gives with the easily attainable over/under tally of 49.5 points?

****By all accounts, weather won’t be a major deterrent on Saturday night.

****Ravens rookie J.K. Dobbins has scored at least one touchdown in seven straight outings (eight TDs during this span); and the Bills allowed the 10th most rushing touchdowns to opposing backs during the regular season.

****Bills wideout Stefon Diggs (127 catches, 1,535 yards, 8 TDs) has accumulated nine or more targets in 11 consecutive games.

****Buffalo’s last five home outings have yielded combined averages of 59.2 points.

SPORTS WEEKEND PREP WORK

GOOD BEATS: The weekend’s best betting picks for College Hoops, NFL
PIGSKIN BLISS: ‘You Are Looking Live!’ preview of Div-Playoff round
NFL COUNTDOWN: 20 most iconic games of Divisional Playoff Weekend

SUNDAY

#6 CLEVELAND @ #1 KANSAS CITY (AFC)

TIME: 3:05 p.m. EST
LINE: Chiefs (-10) … Over/Under: 57
REFEREE: Clay Martin

WEATHER FORECAST: Partly sunny skies, 39 degrees
TV: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Evan Washburn (CBS)

BETTOR’S HUNCH: It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Chiefs erupt for 40 points on Sunday, given the time-tested brilliance of QB Patrick Mahomes (4,740 yards passing, 40 total TDs).

However, here’s something to chew on: Each of Kansas City’s last seven victories involved final spreads of six points or less; and of that grouping, only the Saints and Buccaneers are empirically better than the surging Browns (7-2 in their last nine outings, including last week’s playoff rout of the Steelers).

At the very least, bettors should be able to find some common ground with over-under tally of 57 points.

****The Browns have scored 32 or more points eight different times since Week 2.

****The Chiefs averaged 39 points in their three postseason clashes last season; and during that championship-driven period, the aforementioned Mahomes accounted for 12 total touchdowns.

#5 TAMPA BAY @ #2 NEW ORLEANS (NFC)

TIME: 6:40 p.m. EST
LINE: Saints (-3) … Over/Under: 52
REFEREE: Shawn Hochuli

WEATHER FORECAST: Not relevant … it’s a dome!
TV CREW: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Tom Rinaldi (FOX)

BETTOR’S HUNCH, PART I: The good people at OddsShark.com have thrown us a curveball with this spread, identifying the Saints as only 3-point favorites … which essentially represents the standard three-point advantage given to home teams — and nothing more.

Is that crazy? Keep in mind, for its two-game sweep during the regular season, New Orleans enjoyed a combined-scoring edge of 72-26 over Tampa Bay; and the Saints have surrendered nine or fewer points in three of their last five home outings.

On the flip side, here’s why the Vegas experts might be on to something:

a) QB Tom Brady has averaged 343 yards passing and 2.8 touchdowns during the Bucs’ five-game winning streak, coinciding with the club averaging 36 points per outing.

b) The Saints’ wins over the Bucs occurred prior to Drew Brees breaking multiple ribs and injuring a lung, forcing the future Hall of Famer to miss a handful of November/December games.

c) Antonio Brown (five touchdowns in his last four outings) and tailback Leonard Fournette (four-game average: 73 total yards, 1 TD) are finally hitting their respective strides in the Tampa Bay offense.

d) You’ve heard this time-tested aphorism before: One of the hardest things in sports … involves beating the same team three times during a particular season.

BETTOR’S HUNCH, PART II: The over/under tally of 52 points seems more palatable to the weekend-warrior bettor, from the OVER perspective.

Here’s why:

a) Forget about the anemic Bears scoring nine points last week. The Bucs are more in the class of the Chiefs and Vikings, who averaged 32.5 points against the Saints back in December; and the combined averages for both matchups shook out to 73 points.

b) In the above stanzas, we referenced Tampa Bay’s prolific average of 36 points during the team’s five-game winning streak.

Simply put, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning three times this weekend … than Brady (presuming full health) has of repeating his 209-yard, zero-touchdown, three-interception clunker against the Saints from Week 9.

c) It’s true that Alvin Kamara averaged only 58 total yards in the two previous matchups with the Bucs, the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense.

However, the Saints superstar also racked up three touchdowns in the series sweep.

What’s more, you might have heard about Kamara’s otherworldly hot streak in recent weeks, accounting for 15 TDs in his last nine outings.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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