Wild card weekend – NFC games!

What a night for the AFC games! I made it through the whole of the first game, what a rollercoaster that was! The Bills jumped out to a 13 point half time thanks to some trickery and Deshaun Watson insisting on “scrambling” every time there wasn’t a man open within half a second. He took 7 sacks on the night and in my eyes most of them were on him. The Bills went up 16-0 early in the second half before JJ WATT SINGLEHANDEDLY TURNED THE GAME ON IT’S HEAD. Forget everyone else, it was him, it was him who finally started throwing the ball to his team, it was him who carried 3 players into the end zone (or very close to the endzone) and it was him who scored the 2 pt conversion to put them in position for latter antics. IT WAS ALL JJ WATT. Well, if you follow the coverage anyway. – It was all a little over the top, although his sack to hold the Bills to three definitely swung momentum to the Texans.
Josh Allen. My god he’s fun to watch, he’s nowhere near the finished article but I’ve said it since he came into the league, he’s made the Bills fun to watch! They were in the position they were in because of his arm and legs, but he so nearly cost them the game by taking 2 horrible sacks to get them out of field goal range, and then the lateral with a minute and a bit left in the game was crazy. It worked for him, as the clock got stopped, but the decision was ‘strange’
A final minute field goal eventually sent the game to overtime, the Texans got the ball first and did nothing, then the Bills had one of the more perplexing drives I’ve seen. They’ve got a runner who leads RB in yards per carry, who was playing very well last night and didn’t use him once, they converted a couple of 3rd and 10s as they were unable to move the ball through the air. But it was all for nought in the end as the Texans got the ball back, Deshaun Watson somehow evaded two would-be tacklers before getting the ball to Taiwan Jones for his first catch of the game, he broke for 20 yards or so and “the hay was in the barn” as Ka’imi Fairbairn hit a chip shot to win the game.

The Texans go on to Arrowhead to get smashed to fuck by the Chiefs next week. Texans installed as 8.5 point underdogs, total at 49.


I didn’t make it through a lot of the latter game, but safe to say the twitter world enjoyed the moment. I said in previews it was tough to call because logically, in my eyes anyway, the Titans should have been favourites for it, the Pats haven’t played well all year and their offensive inefficiencies seem to have reared their head in this one as they only scored one TD. I did make it until the goal-line stand at the end of the first half. Burkhead stopped at the one, Michel stopped a couple of times, some amazing defense by the Titans.
I missed the whole second half, by the look of the box score (72 yards for Tannehill) the Titans had a set game-plan. Give the ball to the leading rusher in the NFL and let him do it all. Keep the ball away from the Patriots, slow the game down and grind it out. 34 carries for 182 and a TD for Henry. Annoyingly for me from a betting stand point, I got the right play, but the wrong man as Anthony Firkser scored the lone passing TD rather than Jonnu Smith. He was around 10/1 and I did mention that they used him in the redzone quite a lot.

So the Titans become the sacrificial lamb for the Ravens in Baltimore next week. The Patriots have a LOT to think about going forward. Line as of writing Ravens -10, total of 48


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DKPlayoffs


 

Vikings +8 @ Saints: Total – 50

Vikings.

Kirk Cousins? In prime time?!? That will ring alarm bells to most people looking at this game, and his prime-time record does stink, but… BUT…. This is still a 1pm kick off in the states so ole Kirky Boy won’t have to change his routine at all and I think it’s the change of routine which affects him rather than just blaming the big lights etc… But I am for some reason a bit of a Kirk Cousins fan, his figures are always up there in the top 10, it’s not entirely his fault that they don’t win clutch games.

They Vikings are getting back to health after resting everyone last week, Dalvin Cook is one of the best runners in the league when healthy and works very well in this scheme. He finished the season with 13 rush TDs from 14 games only failing to find the endzone in 3 games, though he left one of them halfway through. The shoulder injury is a definite concern, he came back quick last time and hurt the other shoulder but having a couple of weeks off, in a one-off game I’m sure he’ll get painkillers and work through it. They do have a decent enough backup in Alexander Mattison but they don’t trust him as much and he’s actually scored fewer than I realised this season. He had the week off too after struggling with injury but both are fine. The Saints haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher for 42 games.

The passing game is a bit of a mess. It depends a lot on Adam Thielens fitness. He hasn’t looked right since his hamstring injury earlier in the season. He’s a key player in their offense and while Bisi Johnson has done well in his rookie season, they need someone to move the chain regularly through the air. Thielen being good directly affects Stefon Diggs as well, when they’re both playing well Diggs is far better, just the 6 TDs this season for Diggs. Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith have been adequate enough at TE, Rudolph made some brilliant catches with Thielen out but his numbers fall off when he’s about.

The defense used to be one of the better units in the league and Xavier Rhodes used to be one of the best corners, but he’s been giving up a lot this year and the Vikings whole secondary has suffered as a result of it. They can still get pressure on QBs though and will need to do that tonight.

Saints

I think the Saints probably win this one comfortably, they’ve been great over the last month of the season, and despite not being able to rest players last week the other side of that coin is that they’re still in fighting form. They’ve scored 40 points a week for the last month.

Drew Brees continues to set records with largely short-mid range passses to Michael Thomas, and it really shouldn’t be that tough to stop the Saints. They’ve got Michael Thomas and that’s about it in the passing game, yet he still gets free for double-digit catches each week and the Vikings secondary has been poor this season so he’ll probably do the same in this one. Thomas has had double-digit receptions in 9 of the 16 games he played this year, he’s constantly open and very rarely drops the ball catching 80% of his targets this year. He good.

Outside of Thomas they’ve got enough to keep the offense moving. At wide receiver you’ve got the like of Trequan Smith, Ted Ginn who add downfield threats, very hard to catch on a good day but they can score from pretty much anywhere on the field. The tight ends have increasingly become important in the Saints game-plan as well Josh Hill and more importantly Jared Cook have stepped up with TDs and scored 7 in his last 7 games, 9 in his last 10 for the Saints, they’re not always red zone targets either, he’s had a few fairly decent receptions in there as well.

And then of course Taysom Hill. A true swiss army knife who works on special teams, on the ground, the rushing game and throws a few passes as well. He’s scored 7 TDs this season and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him find the endzone again in this one, somehow someway.

The running game has looked better in recent weeks, Latavius Murray carried the load for a while with Kamara injured but it’s reverted back to Kamara being the main man in recent weeks and he’s scored 2 TDs in back to back games now and while he’s not running like he was in previous seasons he looks to have finally found a little bit of form at the right time.

The Saints defense is decent enough, they will be without Eli Apple, but that’s why they signed Janoris Jenkins when he was released by the Giants, arguably it’s an upgrade.

Summary

This is the ultimate revenge spot as the Saints look to finally put to bed the Minneapolis miracle which cost them the championship game a couple of years ago. I’d be surprised if they don’t win fairly comfortably in this one.

I can’t take over a TD on the spread, but won’t be touching the other side of it either. The total has ticked up to 50 points, it had been heading that way all week and it makes sense, both teams can score well.

Bets; Jared Cook anytime – 7/4 (Skybet) Michael Thomas o8.5 receptions – 5/6 (365)

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And… life gets in the way, I’ll get through the other game…. The below is a copy from the Full10yards.com that I do with Tim each week. 

I haven’t got the time to go through this one as fully as usual, but may well edit it later once I’m back from the shops!

Seahawks +1 @ Eagles: 45

Battle of the beaten up.

The Seahawks are down to Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch at RB, it worked fairly well last week in honesty, Homer looked decent and showed he could catch from the backfield, Lynch looked overweight (unsurprisingly given they got him off the couch) but found his way over everyone into the endzone.

The passing game hasn’t been great in recent weeks but Russell Wilson is probably the best QB playing this weekend and can always make something from nothing with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf his main targets. Metcalf led rookies in Redzone targets with 17 of them this season although only scored 7 times. They’ve got a few outsiders, David Moore, Malik Turner et al who can add in on occasion as well.

The Eagles are even more beaten up, and it’s a credit to Carson Wentz how well he’s managed to play this season with a load of practise squad players and guys who aren’t even on the roster any more. He became the first QB in history to throw for over 4,000 yards without a wide receiver going over 500. It’s a bit of cheeky stat because even when he did have WRs it was still his tight ends who do more work.

He’s without his main tight end as well though with Zach Ertz not man enough to play through a lacerated kidney like some kind of inept child. Pffft, you’ve got another one Zach, get over it mate! That means it will be Dallas Goedert as the main man again in all likelihood and Joshua Perkins adding in as well.

The aforementioned WRs will probably be led by Greg Jennings who’s a converted QB but has shown he’s reliable when targeted. They signed Deontay Burnett from the practise squad this week, I doubt he’ll do much but is a downfield threat, so you never know! JJ Arcega-Whiteside was someone they had high hopes for who’s done very little this year although did make a few catches in the final game of the season last week.

Miles Sanders has looked really good in the run game but is nursing a low ankle sprain, he has said he’ll be good to go, but he’ll probably be limited in some fashion so it could be shared work with Boston Scott who scored thrice last week and even Jordan Howard who’s more of a bruising back that the Seahawks don’t do well against.

Another tough one to call to finish off the weekend, everything seems to think the Seahawks are winning this one, I’m just not sure either way. I think the unders are a decent look but the Eagles just seem to find a way so I’m avoiding the spread.

Only note. Carson Wentz is making his first start in the post season.

Bets: DK Metcalf anytime TD – 2.88 (Betfair)

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