And then there were 4. After an exciting divisional weekend we’re left with just three games of the 2020 NFL season, with the 1 seeds hosting in both conferences, the bye week proving vital it seems. I’ve managed to book the Thursday to Monday off on Superbowl weekend so expect a few more posts, the Stupid punts post, a request a bet roundup, the full game preview. The usual stuff.
The Packers beat the battered up Rams in the first game of last weekend, Aaron Donald proved ineffective, so Rodgers had all the time he needed while Davante Adams showed why he’s the best WR in the league this year by putting up yards against Ramsey. The Rams didn’t have a whole lot and the Packers weren’t ever really under threat 296 and 2 for Rodgers, 99 and 1 for Jones as part of their 188 on the ground.
The Bucs beat the Saints as Drew Brees probably bowed out of the league, it’s not confirmed yet, but his retirement seems likely and they probably wish it came before last week, he did not have a good game. 134 and 2 INTs seems a horrible way to go, but it is what it is. The Bucs didn’t have to do a whole lot on offense with the INTs they got short yard situations and Brady took advantage. 127 on the ground and 199 through the air, it was all they needed to do.
The Bills beat the Ravens in a wind affected game in Buffalo. They slowed the Ravens run game and Lamar couldn’t get it going through the air, no surprise there. The game turned on his endzone interception which led to a 102 yard pick 6. Pretty much the next play they got was a snap over his head which ended in him getting concussed, and Huntley coming in to try and win the game. He couldn’t do it.
Concussion was the big story in the Chiefs game too. The Chiefs started well and led 19-3 going into the half, it could have gone a different way had Higgins not fumbled through the endzone, but he did, and that was it for them really. Mahomes left the game in the third after a worrying hit and Chad Henne saw out the game with a ballsy 4th down call at the end. The Browns did well, fair play to them.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 @ Green Bay Packers: 52
The NFC game kicks off the weekend starting at 2005 GMT with the 5 seeds Buccs travelling to the frozen wasteland of Green Bay to take on the one seed Packers.
- Expected weather (as of 1900 Thursday); 29f, Mostly Cloudy, 10mph wind, snow in the morning – So, not a lot expected that should slow anyone down.
These two met in the regular season with the Bucs finishing as 38-10 winners. It was a weird game as the Packers got out to a 10-0 first quarter league before things fell apart. It was the first game Adams had back from injury and I agree with the Packers when they say it has little meaning when it comes to this game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I was a little sceptical of Brady (6/1) being able to do it in Tampa this year, his final year in New England wasn’t pretty, but it looks like that was due to the god-awful talent they were left with at Foxborough. He made his choice, as a lot of old folks do, to move down to Florida where he landed in the perfect spot in terms of talent and ability to make the Superbowl with Tampa. He finished 3rd in passing yards, 2nd in TDs thrown and 9th in QBR and the contrast between him and the younger Brees last week was stark. He had a poor start to the year which was probably to be expected with no training camp, but settled well, fell off a bit towards the middle of the season, but came back strong after the bye week to finish the regular season with 349+ in their final 4 games.
He threw for 381 in the wildcard round against a solid Washington defense, was sacked 3 times which equalled the highest in a game this year against Chase Young and co. and last week was a strange game, the yardage didn’t really matter as they were gifted short-fields with alacrity by Brees. He’s thrown for 4 TDs and 0 picks in the post-season so far. The efficacy of the offense with him under center has been brilliant. Brady has played 35 games in temperatures under 30f, he’s covered the spread 63% of the time – 20-12, obviously most of those with the Pats, they did fail to cover vs Washington in their cold game this year.
It definitely helps Brady that the passing offense is stacked, even with Antonio Brown missing this game with injury. He had Mike Evans (7/5 PP) back last week and as he did earlier in the season, he proved a goal-line threat and not a whole lot more, there’s a decent chance he was still carrying a knock, and frankly his record vs. the Saints hasn’t been good through his career, he finished the year with over 1,000 yards to become the first player in NFL history to achieve that feat. With no AB playing it seems to me like Chris Godwin (33/20 Unibet) will get even more of the ball, he’s caught 9 of 19 targets through the playoffs for 113 yards and a TD, I think he’ll probably get slightly easier coverage than Evans so should have a decent game. Scotty Miller (9/2 Hills) will likely line-up as the WR3 and he formed a good connection with Brady earlier in the season having a 100 yard game before Brown was signed, he’s been the deep threat for a lot of the year. Jayden Mickens (22/1 Unibet) and Tyler Johnson (7/1 GentingBet, 6/1 Uni) will likely get a few targets as well.
The end of the season saw more blocking for Rob Gronkowski (5/2 Sky, PP) who had a very good season after returning to play football with his bestest buddy in the whole wide world. He showed himself still very capable of being a threat in the passing game and obviously will be if they chose to use him there, but it’s been a lot more Cameron Brate in recent weeks. He’s caught 8 of 11 targets for 130 in the playoffs, only scored two in the regular season, so 4/1 (Hills) looks a little short, but with no AB you never know.
Playoff Lenny (7/4 Unibet) is apparently a thing, people have been going crazy over him for some reason. He’s had 17 and 19 carries and put up 156 yards on the ground as well as 83 from 9 receptions through the air in the playoffs and a TD in each facet in the playoffs. I personally think that with Ronald Jones (5/2 PP) back healthy last week that he’ll get the majority of the carries as the more efficient and frankly better back for most of the season. They put up pretty much the same yards on the ground last week, RoJo from 4 fewer carries. Fournette does tend to get a few dump offs despite having concrete hands. One of McCoy (22/1 Uni) or Vaughn (16/1) will be active as the RB3, not a whole lot of interest in either though.
They are welcoming back Vita Vea from injury to further strengthen their very good run defense. It’s expected that he’ll play probably 50% of snaps as he’s not trained, but he’s a beast. They allowed a touch over 100 yards on the ground last week, and turned over Drew Brees three times as well as forcing a fumble on Jared Cook. Devin White returned at LB with one of those interceptions and the DBs didn’t allow a catch to Michael Thomas all game. It’s a far far tougher challenge against Rodgers and Adams though, I don’t think they’ve got anyone who can hang with Adams, although they did give Rodgers 2 of his 5 INTs (and a 12.3 QBR) this year in the regular season game.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is considered by a lot of people to be the most talented QB in the time he’s been in the league, he had arm talent second-to-none, accuracy and composure, so the fact this is the first time he’ll have hosted a championship game is frankly ridiculous. He seems to have bought into the scheme this year and it’s paid dividends as he finished as the first team all-pro QB, led the league in TD passes with 48, threw the least INTs, had the highest QBR, and his passer rating was second in history, behind… Aaron Rodgers in 2011. He had a good season.
Obviously they’ve only played 1 post-season game this year and it was against a beaten up Aaron Donald which helped, but he finished with 2 thrown TDs, a rushed TD and nearly 300 yards in that game. It was his 15th of 17 games with a passer rating north of 100.
Davante Adams (8/13 Skybet), pretty much the only person I really need to talk about in the passing game for them. He led the league in TD receptions with 18, was second in receptions with 115 and was 5th in yards despite missing 2 full games and most of a third due to his injury. I’ve been screaming all year for teams to triple team him and leave them with the other receivers only, but he even gets free in the middle of three opposing players to make catches. He led the league in the regular season with red-zone targets with 32, catching 25 and scoring 14 TDs from them, and scored last week in the red-zone as well. Outside of the main man you’re generally looking at Marquez Valdes-Scantling (7/2 Hills) as the usual downfield threat, or Allen Lazard (23/10 PP) as the WR2. The roles were reversed last week though as Lazard broke free for a 58 yard TD while MVS had more short stuff, both of them had 8 targets. Equnimeous St. Brown (9/1) will probably get a target, but hasn’t done much, and doesn’t even have the best name in his family.
Bobby Tonyan (6/4 PP) scored 11 TDs in the regular season tied with Kelce for most by a tight end this year, he caught all 4 of his targets for 60 yards last week. Then you’ve got the likes of Jace Sternberger (22 Unibet), Marcedes Lewis (17/2 Skybet) and Dominque Dafney (20 Sky/Hills) as the other few TEs, I think Jace was inactive last week. All of whom have scored this year, but are unlikely to do so again.
Aaron Jones (1/1 Unibet) is the main man on the ground at RB, he led the team in rushing yards this year with 1,104 yards despite missing 3 games, and is prone to breaking off a big run with 5 (of 14) games this year having a rush of 50 yards or more including a 60 yarder last week. As long as he’s not injured he’ll get most of the carries, he’s scored 28 TDs in 28 career home games and has 5 in 3 playoff games in his career. Jamaal Williams (7/2 Unibet) is the RB2 and will get carries. He used to be the receiving back but that role seems to have gone down this year, carries were 14-12 last week in favour of Jones. AJ Dillon (6/1 Unibet) had been getting carries as well and has been cleared to play after going out of the game last week, he had 6 for 27 yards and is a large gent.
The defense ranks mid-way according to DVOA, but has two pro-bowlers in it, Jaire Alexander has been brilliant at corner this year, while Za’darius Smith ranked 4th with 12.5 sacks through the regular season. I can’t say I’ve watched enough of them to judge anyone else this year to be honest.
Should be a cracker. Personally I like the Packers to win and the total to go over.
The Packers had the best offense in the league this season, particularly in the first half where they won 12 of 16 games, and went on to win 11 of those. They scored 209 2nd quarter points in the regular season, the Bucs 157.
The Bucs won 11 2nd halfs in the regular season.
I like Ronald Jones over rush yards – over 33.5 on 365. Scotty Miller anytime as a longer shot – 9/2 (Hills)
Buffalo Bills +3.5/3 @ Kansas City Chiefs: 54.5
- Expected weather (as of Sat. night); 32f, Overcast, 10mph wind, very little chance of precipitation – So, not a lot that should slow anyone down.
These two teams met in the regular season as well with the Chiefs running out fairly comfortable winners in week 6 as well. Weird. I say comfortable, 26-17, comfortable enough. Kelce scored a couple while Clyde ran for 161 yards, so they’ll probably be hoping for him back tomorrow. The Bills were restricted to a touch over 200 yards, total.
The AFC contest boasts one of the younger QB battles in recent playoff history with 24 year old Josh Allen (6/4 Spreadex) at the helm for the Bills and 25 year old Mahomes for the Chiefs, two of the best players in the league, and part of the new crop who are going to be making the AFC fun for years to come. Allen has had a brilliant year, he set career bests in pretty much every measurable stat. His 4,544 yards and 37 passing TDs were both franchise records and his accuracy was up at 69% this season.
Despite not really impressing in the playoffs so far, he’s been safe and hasn’t given the ball away. You can blame the wind for a less than great game last week, and 324 yards in the wildcard vs. the Colts kept them in that game.
It seems the main reason for the improvement of Allen is Stefon Diggs (11/10 Hills) who led the league in receptions and yards in the regular season and has carried that into the playoffs with over 100 yards and a TD in each of their post season games so far, it’s safe to say that trade paid off for them despite it being a high price over the summer, having watched more of their games the last couple of weeks than during the regular season he’s really rather good, his route running is amazing, he can get free within a yard and last week vs. the Ravens Jimmy Smith was nowhere near him half the time. They’ve got a decent supporting cast as well, Cole Beasley (11/4 Hills) finished the year with 967 yards, he gets a lot of targets in the shorter game, unlikely to score, but always good for a receptions bet, John Brown (5/2 Hills) and Diggs both caught 8 of 11 targets last week, Brown finishing with 62 yards which could have been better had it not been for the wind, he looked healthy after a goose egg the week before, and should get the softer coverage in this one, he’s a favourite target of Allen, so he should put up yards. Gabriel Davis (15/4 Unibet) had been putting in decent performances with or without Brown in the side, he’s been carrying a knock but was targeted on quick slants from 10 yards out or so last week, he’s officially questionable for the weekend having not trained until Friday. Isaiah McKenzie (15/2 Betfred) has scored a few this year and will probably get a few touches as well.
They use the tight ends a fair bit and this is a decent matchup for the position with the Chiefs giving up 9 TDs to them in the regular season. Dawson Knox (7/2 PP) only has a couple of receptions in each of the playoff games, but finished 4th in RZ targets on the team in just 11 games. They like to use the tight ends in the redzone, so there’s always a chance Tyler Kroft (22/1 Unibet) or Lee Smith (12/1 Betfred) get a random TD.
They’re low on running backs, Zack Moss went out injured against the Colts, so realistically it’s just Devin Singletary (19/10 Unibet) in the position for them, he’s all right, but 10 carries for 46 yards in the playoffs, and not one rushing attempt in the first quarter last week shows what they think of their running game. I mean TJ Yeldon (7/1 Sky/Hills) is officially the RB2 and might get a few touches, but it’s not exactly something you want to go into a championship game with. Devonta Freeman was brought in a couple of weeks back, it doesn’t look like he’ll be activated from the practise squad for this game though. Basically it will probably be a whole lot of passing again, although Josh Allen will probably rush a fair bit.
Defensively they’re 12 overall according to DVOA, better against the pass than the run, Tre’davious White one of the main reasons for that I’d imagine, I believe he can be hurt by pace and he’s going up against the quickest man in the league this week. Tremaine Edmunds was the other pro-bowl player on defense for them this year, he led the team in tackles.
Kansas City Chiefs
It’s safe to say the Chiefs suffered a bit of a scare when Patrick Mahomes
(7/2 Skybet 6/1 Ladbrokes) went all bambi-legged after a tackle last week and was ruled out for most of the second half of the game, fortunately he’s through any protocol and has been ruled active for the game already. More worrying for them might be the toe injury he suffered which had him limping through last week. He did show that it didn’t matter too much and he’d keep rushing, but he did seem to have issues throwing to the left because of it but they’ve got maybe two games left this season, he wasn’t going to be out. Despite a comparatively quiet year he finished second in yards, 4th in TDs, 2nd in QBR behind Rodgers. The hit last week might lead him to being more cautious this week, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
The passing game is two main weapons, Tyreek Hill (10/11 Spreadex) and Travis Kelce (10/11 Spreadex). Hill finished the year with 17 TDs, good for second in the league and 1,276 yards. He followed that up with 8 for 110 last week against the Browns, Romo delighting in telling us that the quick slants across the field were their bread and butter and with Hills’ speed practically unguardable. Kelce isn’t bad over the middle either, he finished second in yards for the whole league and had the highest rec. yards for a TE in NFL history as well as 11 TDs in the regular season including a couple against the Bills in that week 6 matchup, he showed last week what he can do turning his man inside out on his TD catch and run, guys that big can’t usually move like that it’s why he’s the best TE in the AFC. (maybe the league, but I do love Kittle)
Outside of the big boys you’re hoping, I guess, that Sammy Watkins (13/4 Unibet) plays against his former team (officially questionable), he does seem to step up in the playoffs, Demarcus Robinson (9/2 Skybet/Fred) caught 1 for 13 last week, Mecole Hardman (3/1 Hills) was given touches early on and finished with 4 for 58 yards he can blew the top off a team on occasion, but 4 TDs on the year doesn’t make me want to take him at his price, and Byron Pringle (8/1 Hills) usually pops up with a catch or two.
They will be hoping that Clyde Edwards-Helaire (11/8) is good to go after a month or two off, he’s officially listed as questionable but I’m sure I remember them saying last week he’s expected to play in this one. The numbers without him are stark and he ran all over the Bills in the earlier meeting between the teams, he’s good out of the backfield as well, and the Chiefs use him well. Lev Bell (5/1 Unibet) hasn’t practised all week either, they seemed to have him as the RB2 last week which killed me a little with some bets, and Darrel Williams (2/1 Sky/365/Hills) as the main runner against the Browns, he looked good with 13 for 78 yards, and he robbed a TD in that week 6 meeting.
Defensively they’re fine, DVOA has them far worse vs. the run than the pass, which is fine, there’s probably not much of a run game to defend against and they’ve got playmakers in the passing game, Chris Jones usually gets some pressure and fellow pro-bowler Tyrann Mathieu is one of the better safeties in the league, he had a pick on Baker last week. They could be without Beshaud Breeland at corner though and that leaves them rather short there.
For the millionth time in this playoff cycle, I’ve got to say yeah, there should be a TON of points. These two teams are mirror images of eachother. They like to throw the ball a lot, the run games aren’t great, and they have each have elite pass-catchers who can take advantage.
Mahomes is better than Allen, Diggs and Hill are comparable, arguably the Bills have a better supporting cast at WR, Kelce is the better TE (obviously), Chiefs with a healthy CEH have the better run game, the Bills are probably better on defense.
Obviously the Bills have covered the spread in most of the second half of the season and the Chiefs didn’t. It can’t be judged whether they’d have covered last week, but I’d assume it would have stayed close still even with Mahomes back there, and the line plummeted from 10 to 7.5 before kick off last week.
I’ve got to say over the total despite it being up at 54. Both teams are much stronger offensively than defensively and it wouldn’t shock me to see a Titans v Chiefs type game. If that does happen obviously you’re leaning over on most player props as well.
I think the Chiefs win. I want the Chiefs to win, so that might be clouding my judgement a little, but they’re the best team in the league for me and I want them in the Superbowl.
Cole Beasley o4.5 receptions – 5/4 (Skybet/365) – I don’t mind Mahomes anytime at 6/1 just because it’s a stand-out price, he likes a rushing TD, and isn’t listed on the injury report at all with his toe.
Good Luck if you’re betting tonight, should be some great games, and a long tired Monday.
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