It's playoff time -- the time when the survivors wipe their slates clean and everyone has a chance to make a championship run.
But first, a little housekeeping.
I went 3-5 against the spread in Week 17. The Houston Texans didn't do me any favors as they lost their early game Sunday, giving added incentive to the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots to pick up first-round byes. They proceeded to scuttle my plays on the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins.
My overall Tuley's Take record for the regular season was a respectable 72-58-2 (55.4 percent), though it was a letdown after starting the first few weeks hitting better than 70 percent. However, I warned that no one can maintain that level of success over the long run.
Regular readers came to know that I'm mostly a 'dog-or-pass handicapper. Those preferred underdog plays performed better at 61-45-2 (57.5 percent), while the favorites that I went with managed to go only 11-13 and dragged down my overall win percentage -- and reinforce my feeling that I'm allergic to chalk.
We're forging ahead in the playoffs. For the uninitiated, I break down each game by going over the "public perception" on each matchup (aided by the consensus pick numbers from ESPN Insider's PickCenter, which also has a lot of great information to use in your own handicapping). Then I look at what the "wiseguys' view" is on each game to see what the Vegas sharps are looking at and how they might be attacking the bookmakers. Finally, I give my "take" on the game, which has an intended double-meaning.
So let's look at this weekend's four wild-card matchups. Oh, and happy New Year. Good luck this weekend (and every weekend).
Last week: 3-5 ATS | Year to date: 72-58-2 (55.4 percent) ATS
Note: Consensus pick percentages from ESPN PickCenter as of early Thursday.
Spread: Texans minus-4.5
Public consensus pick: 51 percent picked Texans
Public perception: As I've often discussed, the public tends to back the favorites, but I'm seeing some interesting betting patterns for this wild-card weekend, starting with the opener. The action has been pretty much split. Earlier this season, the Texans were turning into a public team as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl, and they appeared in line to wrap up the AFC's No. 1 seed or at least a first-round bye. However, they struggled the final quarter of the season at 1-3 straight up and against the spread and now have to play on wild-card weekend. The public isn't lining up to back them anymore. Meanwhile, the Bengals aren't considered a very sexy team, so it's no surprise the action is pretty much split 50/50.