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Sunday, Jan 8

   by Larry Ness - 01/08/2006

Two wild card games down, two to go. In Saturday's first game, the Redskins and Bucs met for the second time this year but it was hardly a replay of the their Week 10 meeting. There were 71 points scored (TB won 36-35) and the two teams combined for 729 yards in that regular season meeting. However, in yesterday's wild card contest, the teams combined for 27 points (Wash won 17-10) and just 363 yards! In Saturday's nightcap, the Pats rolled over the Jags 28-3. It was their 10th consecutive playoff win.

Since 1990, when the league adopted its 12-team playoff format, home teams have dominated this wild card round, going 43-17 SU. Pointspread-wise it has broken down like this. Home favorites are 28-23-3 ATS with home 'dogs' going 5-1. Only once, in 2000, have all four home teams won and only last year, have THREE of the four road teams been able to break through with wins (Indy's 49-24 win over Denver was the lone win by a home team).

My free play for Sunday's college basketball is Southern Illinois over Bradley at 3:00 ET. I won my 20* Wild Card GOY very easily on Saturday with New England and in Sunday's NFL playoff action, feature one of my exclusive LEGEND Plays. Regular visitors know that my LEGEND Plays in FB '05 are a remarkable 13-2 or 86.7% ATS! DON'T miss out!

Washington beat Tampa Bay despite gaining a total of just 120 total yards, the lowest yardage total-ever, for a winning playoff team. AMAZINGLY, Washington's 25 net passing yards was not the lowest total by a winning team in the playoffs! In fact, according to post-game reports, TWO teams have won playoff games with fewer net passing yards than the Redskins. I don't know about you, but I'll be interested in finding out just who those teams were!

Joe Gibbs got his 17th career playoff win (has five losses), 13 years after his last one. He now trails only Don Shula (19) and Tom Landry (20), all-time. While the Redskins have now won and covered SIX consecutive games, Gibbs just may have some trouble getting playoff win No. 18, as the Redskins will play at Seattle next Saturday. The early line is Seattle by 8 1/2 with a total of 41.

Tom Brady upped his career playoff record to 10-0 as the Pats easily handled the Jags, 28-3. With the win, Bill Belichick moved to 11-1 all-time in the playoffs, giving him the best winning percentage of any NFL head coach in playoff history at .917. New England's 10th straight postseason win is also a new record, breaking a tie with the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay won NINE straight playoff games over FIVE playoff seasons (1961, 1962 and 1965-67). How times have changed!

Sunday's games are Carolina at the New York Giants and Pittsburgh at Cincinnati. With a 1-1 record by the two home teams yesterday, home teams are now 44-18 since 1990. However, both of Sunday's home teams will be starting QBs who are making their playoff debuts. Eli Manning for the Giants and Carson Palmer for the Benglas. Playoff 'virgins' didn't fare well yesterday, with Tampa Bay (Chris Simms) and Jacksonville (Leftwich) both losing, while scoring a combined total of just 13 points!

The Giants are a three-point favorite over the Panthers with a total of 43 1/2, while the Steelers are three-point road favorites at the Bengals (total is 46 1/2).

College hoops

Seven schools began this week still undefeated but three have lost, two yesterday. U Conn suffered its first loss of the year back on Tuesday at Marquette (94-79), while Illinois and Ohio State lost their first games this year, yesterday. The Illini got creamed at Iowa 63-48, while the Buckeyes lost at Indiana, 81-79.

Florida, now 14-0, won at Georgia on Saturday, 90-72. No. 1 Duke (13-0) is at Wake Forest on Sunday and the Blue Devils are listed as an eight point favorite. No. 3 Villanova (10-0) hosts West Va and opened as a 12 1/2-point choice. No. 22 Pittsburgh (12-0), the nation's fourth remaining undefeated team, does not play until next Thursday, when the Panthers host DePaul.

While Illinois lost for the first time this year (after a 15-0 start), the Illini are still tied with Gonzaga, for the nation's longest current home winning streak (both schools have won 30 straight home games). I bring this up because Southern Illinois will be trying to join those two schools on Sunday. The Salukis put their 29-game home winning streak on the line versus Bradley, a game they are favored in by 3 1/2 points.


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