They don’t call it “wild” for nothing. Wild Card Weekend was nothing short of entertaining, as we saw the Browns and Ravens get the better of their rivals. In fact, the previous playoff games for the Browns and Ravens were losses to the Steelers and Titans, respectively. Revenge is a funny thing.
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Last week’s picks: 2-3-1
Last week’s futures: Titans and Seahawks eliminated, Bills to win AFCC +325 dropped to +300, Buccaneers to win NFCC +400 dropped to +375, value still there if you didn’t grab them last week
Los Angeles Rams @ Green Bay Packers
Like I said last week, the Rams were probably the biggest challenge for the Seahawks, and look where we are now. I don’t expect the same fate for a Green Bay team with the frontrunner for MVP. Despite another game with two great defenses, especially the Rams’, I like the over a lot here. Last week we saw Russel Wilson struggle but that was something that was happening since the second half of the regular season. They still managed 20 points. The money seems to be trending towards the under and Rams spread but may settle quickly. I expect a dominant performance via the best QB and WR in the NFC, along with a powerful rushing attack. Green Bay can stop Cam Akers much better than Seattle.
Packers -6.5 & Over 45.5
Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills
Are there any better dual-threat QBs left in the playoffs? This is going to be my pick for the most exciting playoff game and I fully expect a close game. Don’t let the final score fool you, the Titans were so close to winning it but kept shooting themselves in the foot. The Bills don’t run the ball all that well with Devin Singletary or Zack Moss (Out), which may be to their advantage. Josh Allen was still picking apart a stout Colts secondary but couldn’t stop Jonathon Taylor. Despite a draw against the best rushing team in the league, I think getting a lead and keeping it can force Lamar Jackson into making bad throws. It’s up to the Ravens to remain calm but I just don’t think they have the firepower in the passing game to beat the Bills. My confidence in the spread is dwindling but I think 2.5 is just about how much I can comfortably trust the Bills.
Bills -2.5 & Over 50
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
The storyline here will be one for the ages, but that’s not what matters. The Bucs are 0-2 against the Saints this season, including a 38-3 loss at home in November. I don’t care about revenge narratives or past results as much as I care about recent play and current rosters. The Saints have been great since Drew Brees returned from injury but were a dropped TD pass away from possibly losing to the Bears. Despite what the final results show, I’m not incredibly confident. They dominated the Falcons (first game), Broncos, 49ers, and Panthers, lost to the Chiefs and Eagles, and were close to losing to the Falcons (second game) and Vikings. They didn’t always look that great and often relied on the run game. In their two losses they had 96 and 60 rushing yards, respectively, versus an average of over 189 rushing yards per game in their wins. While Tampa has allowed some good rushing games, they have still remained dominant in that aspect and I could see them limit Kamara enough to make this close or even sneak out a win. As always, never count out Tom Brady. That’s a rule to live by.
Bucs +3 & Over 51.5
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs
Maybe Chase Claypool is secretly a wizard and knows that the Chiefs will “clap the Browns”, but something tells me I shouldn’t base my picks off of only that. 10 seems like a high number despite a matchup against the AFC Super Bowl favorites led by Patrick Mahomes, and overall I think I would only tease this game with someone like Baltimore. History shows the Divisional Round features significantly higher scoring games than the wildcard round, but if it were that simple we would all be millionaires. My advice is to enjoy this game rather than drop a whole lot on it, as it seems wildly unpredictable.
Tease Chiefs -10 & Half-Unit on Over 56.5
Bills-Packers Superbowl Matchup +750
After drawing the Ravens when I expected a Pittsburgh win, the Bills now find themselves in a difficult situation. It’s never easy to stop Lamar Jackson and now they get him rather than an uninspiring Pittsburgh Steelers team. Bad coaching and the stubbornness to feed Derrick Henry led to the downfall of the Titans. The Bills are a fun and aggressive team that can pull out a close win. They have plenty of value even if they likely draw the Chiefs next, and the Packers are still easy favorites on the NFC side. A Chiefs-Packers matchup is getting around +200 to +300, which is still fine value if you want something a bit safer.