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The 49ers are making players do ladder drills up an insane man-made hill

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Running sucks. Running hills suck more. But running ladder drills up a 35-foot man-made hill sounds like torture.

Correction: It is torture, the 49ers are making their players do it, and we can confirm:

“The Hill,” which is 60 feet long and has a 30-degree incline, was installed by strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright and looks every bit as painful as it sounds. Earlier this week, the 49ers made players who did not participate in team drills run the ladder on the ramp.

This hill is significantly larger than the hill that existed on the practice field in 2009 during Mike Singletary’s tenure as head coach, which looks like a small mound of grass compared to the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the right:

There’s no doubt the reviews for Shanahan Hill won’t be positive, but nevertheless, owner Jed York took a turn up the monster. And if the boss is doing it, you better not complain.

NFL Divisional Round Odds: Falcons, Steelers highlight favorites

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The Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles have made some NFL betting line history on a weekend where the recent trends have seen favorites win and away teams get the cover. Of course, the Falcons match both descriptions.

Favored teams are 16-3 straight-up in the last 19 NFL divisional round games, while away teams are 9-5-2 against the spread in the last 16 games held on the second weekend of the postseason.

For the first time in playoff history, a No. 1 seed is an underdog. The Falcons are listed as three-point road favorites against the Carson Wentz-less Philadelphia Eagles with a 41-point total in a Saturday matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Atlanta is only 1-7 SU and 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight road games against the Eagles.

Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Falcons offense will need to be sharp against defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and the Eagles’ No. 4-ranked defense. The Eagles, who are 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games, probably need to build a lead through running back Jay Ajayi and their ground game, rather than rely on backup quarterback Nick Foles.

Like with any game in the Northeast in January, weather, especially the wind, will be a factor. The total has gone under in nine of the Falcons’ last 12 games against the Eagles.

Meanwhile, the New England Patriots are 13.5-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 47.5 total in the late Saturday matchup. Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota and his offense could have issues keeping pace with Tom Brady and the Patriots’ No. 1-ranked attack.

The Titans, who are just 7-20-1 ATS in their last 28 games after a win, will need a stronger pass rush than they usually get in order to stymie Brady, who has helped New England fashion a 9-1 ATS record in its last 10 games. New England is also 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in its last three games as a double-digit favorite in the playoffs.

The total has gone over in six of the Titans’ last seven games on the road against the Patriots. The total has also gone over in seven of the Patriots’ last 10 home games.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are listed as 7.5-point favorites against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 41 total in Sunday’s early matchup. The Jaguars, who boast strong head-to-head trends – try 4-1 SU and ATS in their last five games on the road against the Steelers – must hope that running back Leonard Fournette can gash Pittsburgh’s 10th-ranked run defense. Relying on quarterback Blake Bortles to perform miracles is a likely non-starter.

It’s not yet confirmed that all-everything wide-out Antonio Brown will play, but he is practicing for the Steelers, who are 10-2 SU in their last 12 home games. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have had a soap opera-like season, but they are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games at this stage of the playoffs.

The total has gone over in 18 of the Steelers’ last 25 playoff games.

And the Minnesota Vikings, second only to the Patriots on the Super Bowl 52 odds, are five-point favorites against the New Orleans Saints with a 46.5 total in the late Sunday matchup. New Orleans is only 2-7 ATS in its last nine games against Minnesota, but Drew Brees leads a No. 4-ranked offense that is complemented by a much more dynamic rushing attack than the one he had during a loss to the Vikings in Week 1 of this season.

The Vikings have changed their look since then, too, with quarterback Case Keenum taking over, but two constants are their No. 1-ranked defense and 9-2 ATS record over their last 11 games. The Vikings are also 6-2 SU in their last eight home games against teams with winning records.

The total has gone over in five of the Saints’ last seven games as an underdog. The total has also gone over in seven of the Saints’ last nine games against the Vikings.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Eagles face big test as road favorites at Seattle on Sunday night

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This might be a week to expect regression from the Philadelphia Eagles, who are in rarefied territory in betting trends and in hostile territory on the field with a primetime road game against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz are listed as 5.5-point road favorites against the Russell Wilson-led Seahawks with a 47-point total for the NFL’s Week 13 Sunday Night Football  matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Philadelphia, which is on an 8-0 streak against the spread, is threatening to become just the fourth team in the last 10 seasons to notch nine covers in a row.

The favored team is 7-2 both straight-up and ATS in the last nine editions of this matchup, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, but Seattle has some strong personal trends. The Seahawks, who are home underdogs for the first time since 2012, are 23-9-2 in their last 34 games as the underdog, as well as 21-5 ATS in their last 26 games in December.

The Eagles, who are an NFL-best 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS, can likely look forward to the Seahawks trying to force Wentz and his receivers to beat them with the pass. Philadelphia running backs such as LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi might see fewer opportunities than usual to get into the open field against a front seven strengthened by defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Sheldon Richardson, along with middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Seattle will likely have free safety Earl Thomas back, but the secondary has still been prone to lapses in pass defense, so look for tight end Zach Ertz and the Eagles receiving corps to exploit some busted coverages.

The likelihood of the Seahawks, who are 7-4 SU and 4-6-1 ATS, coming through with a cover – or outright win – will be pegged on whether Russell Wilson’s ability to scramble can frustrate the Eagles’ sixth-ranked defense. Seattle is 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS in December home games since 2012, when Wilson took over as starting quarterback.

While Seattle finally does have left tackle Duane Brown and left guard Luke Joeckel side by side, Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and defensive end Brandon Graham usually play on the other end of the line and will have the chance to blow up a few plays. Seattle’s running game, which is just 23rd in the NFL in yards per rush, will likely struggle against an Eagles defense that is allowing the fourth-lowest yards per rush.

However, the Eagles haven’t seen a quarterback as resourceful as Wilson, so Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson are likely to get some big opportunities.

The total has gone under in three of the Eagles’ last four games against the Seahawks, while the total has gone under in 13 of the Seahawks’ last 18 games in December.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.