The final week of the NFL season arrives and we finally have some confirmation of the post-season after the horrible events on Monday Night Football which saw Damar Hamlin collapse on the field, have his heart restarted and taken to hospital, there was no way the teams could have carried on after witnessing CPR on the field and the league rightly, eventually called off the game and have no declared it a “no contest” meaning that the Bills and Bengals will play a game less than the other teams this year. That decision wins the AFC North for the Bengals, and probably secures the 2 seed for the Bills unless the Chiefs slip up tonight.
It does mean that the Bengals can not possibly get the #1 seed now, something they could have done with a win over the Bills on Monday and a loss by the Chiefs tonight, and there’s possible neutral site games should should the Chiefs take the #1 seed. There was no “right solution” and the Bengals did it all on the road last year, so why not just do the same this year.
There are of course a TON of permutations on the games this weekend and the key to betting on them is looking for motivation and for personal incentives for players. Below is a link to a twitter account trying to explain the NFC and AFC playoffs, although the AFC one doesn’t include the #7 spots as they’re needlessly complicated…
BASICALLY – NFC – IF Seattle win then the Lions are out, and the Packers need to beat them in the final game to secure their spot. IF Seattle lose than the Lions and Packers game becomes Win and In (Let’s go Lions)
The AFC is a little more varied. The 7th spot is still up for grabs. IF The Pats beat the Bills they get the 7 seed. If they lose the Dolphins are up next, they need to beat the Jets, then the Steelers who need to beat the Browns and hope for the other two above them to lose. There’s also a chance of the Jags getting the 7 seed. If they lose to the Titans the Titans win the South and the Jags would need the Pats, Dolphins and Steelers to lose to sneak in that way. Capiche?!
There can be a little movement in the AFC seedings as well, as a Bengals fan I would love to play the Ravens again next week instead of the Chargers, and if the Bengals beat them then the Chargers remain at 5 and the Ravens will be 6th seed. Chargers have said they’ll rest players if the Ravens lose the early game so keep an eye on things there.
One final bit, obviously I mentioned motivation for players on incentives and any potential records – Sal Vetri is a fantastic follow when it comes to this so have a look on his feed and you should find what you need, I’ll mention a few through the previews tomorrow of course https://twitter.com/SalVetriDFS
Ok, I think I’ve covered everything there, on to tonight’s games and we’ll have another post ready to go tomorrow morning.
Obviously, we’ve got the Sunday slate available – https://www.draftkings.co.uk/draft/contest/139698057 if you join the league you’ll get notifications of any other contests which go up, I may do a double-header on tonights games…
Chiefs -9 @ Raiders: 52.5
So, easy for the Chiefs, a win gets them the #1 seed. Which does earn them the bye week but not necessarily the home-field advantage which the would usually award.
Patrick Mahomes is heavy odds-on for the MVP award after hitting 5,000 yards without Tyreek Hill, in fact his leading wide receiver this year is Juju with 898 yards (although I am fudging that a little as Kelce has 1,300) – He’s spread the ball around well and it’s worked for them as he finds the open man more often than not. I don’t need to bang on about Mahomes, everyone knows how good he is, I believe I said a few years ago that he’ll go on to be the best we’ve ever seen… Could well do, although the dominance in terms of titles isn’t quite there yet and the Bengals, Bills and (possibly) Chargers will have something to say about that over the next 5 years or so.
The running game has offered enough support for the passing, Isiah Pacheco has done a fine job and Jerrick McKinnon has helped immensely in recent weeks in the short passing game, becoming the first RB ever to have 5 consecutive games with a receiving TD, that’ll help boost a QB’s numbers. Mahomes himself is actually second in rushing yards for the team this season.
The WRs available for this game are slightly limited… rookie Skyy Moore hasn’t had a big role this year but he misses the final game of the season with a poorly hand and Mecole Hardman will be on a pitch count should he make the game-day roster – that means Juju Smith-Schuster and Marques Valdes-Scantling will be the top 2 and the explosive Kadarius Toney looking to increase his role, there has been talk of them really trying to get him into the rotation with the playoffs coming up and he is very fun to watch. Of course Kelce will lead the targets and the 2nd and 3rd TE’s get looks as well, Noah Gray and now, Blake Bell with Jody Fortson on IR.
Defensively they tend to do enough but rank around 20 against the pass and run, so can be got at.
It’s been a crazy year for the Raiders who could easily have 10 wins coming into this one, they’ve thrown away countless double-digit leads as they fuck up on a weekly basis.
It looks like time is up for Derek Carr at the Raiders after leading them to yet another year of mediocrity even with Davante Adams playing at an OPOY level. Last week they gave the start to Jarrett Stidham who most of us thought would be laughable, but it seems like just chucking it in the vicinity of Adams is a wise move. Studham finished with 365 and 3 TDs with a QBR up at 77. He moved the ball around well as they put up 34 points on arguably the best defense in the league last week. Will he have two good games in a row? I’m not entirely convinced on that…
Josh Jacobs has had a fantastic contract year, as players tend to do, he currently leads the league in rushing yards with 1,608 – 160 ahead of Nick Chubb at 1468 and 179 ahead of Derrick Henry in third, and he has 12 rushing TDs on the year. He is officially questionable coming into this one and with this game meaning essentially nothing to them he may not take the field. There’s not much behind him though, Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah the experienced backups and Zamir White the rookie.
Davante Adams is a complete stud, I will admit I thought he’d fall off this year in a new team but he’s proved me wrong sitting third in yards behind Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill, and he leads the league in receiving TDs with 14, a couple ahead of Kelce on the other side of the field today. Expect him to have 10+ targets, and lean to the over on his rec. yards. They are back to relative full strength with Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller both back to add to the passing attack. I don’t mind a look at Foster Moreau the second TE at a better price to score here, 17/2 at Unibet, and 6/1 at PP seem reasonable enough for him, he’s scored twice this year and had 55 yards last week with Stidham at QB.
The Raiders defense isn’t good, but has an absolute stud in Maxxxxx Crosby up front, possibly the best pass rusher in the league. It hasn’t helped them a whole lot as they rank 32nd against the pass and not much better against the run this year.
Obviously have to think the Chiefs win this one, but I’d lean to the Raiders covering the big spread available, the Chiefs haven’t done well against the spread this year and the Raiders may well lead at some point in this one meaning the end result probably won’t be a big difference.
Props? Mahomes needs 430 to set a record, unlikely, but his line is 325, that’s pretty damn high! – Juju is going to make an extra $1.5m by getting 2 yards. TD Scorers? I like the price on Kad Toney, 7/2 on Skybet, and as mentioned above, Foster Moreau even the 6/1 on PP.
Titans +6.5 @ Jaguars: 40
The AFC South comes down to this, the winner of this game takes the division and the 4th seed and a probable game against the Chargers early next Saturday. Realistically this should have been the final game of the weekend, but they didn’t want to put this terrible Titans team in prime-time on Sunday, so they dumped it as the late Saturday game to at least give them a stand-alone game.
Knowing that this game was so important the Titans rested most of their starters against the Cowboys last Thursday Night meaning that they’re coming into this one healthier than they have been for a lot fo the year. Derrick Henry is, of course, the key to their offense and he always does well against AFC South opponents, including the Jags where he had over 100 yards and a TD in the first half in the first game between these two, they did shut him down completely in the second half but now back at full health he should do well. Hassan Haskins looked all right running behind their bit-part offensive line so they might have found a backup as well.
Malik Willis was terrible, Ryan Tannehill is on IR, so they’re down to Joshua Dobbs starting for them this week,. he played that game against the Cowboys, and actually looked OK for a lot of it. 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and he made some nice looking throws. They still don’t have a whole lot for him to throw to, with no player hitting 500 yards receiving this year. Robert Woods and Treylon Burks officially the top of the roster at WR, but it’s Chiggy Okonkwo at TE who’s been the most interesting player for them this year, he was targeted early last week and is one I’ll be looking for in the betting. Burks is probably missing out, so Nick Westbrook-Ikhene? It’s not pretty.
That’s about it for the offense of the Titans, it’s not good. They are healthier than they have been in a while on defense as well, and are one of the best in the league against the run (2nd in DVOA), but pretty poop against the pass (28th).
Trevor Lawrence is finally showing his #1 pick pedigree as he’s settled into a well-coached professional offense, of course there’s still the odd inaccuracy but with Zay and Marvin Jones, and Christian Kirk he’s running the offense very nicely in recent weeks with TE Evan Engram involved a lot more over recent weeks as well. He’s been stealing TDs from Travis Etienne all year so always worth a look as a TD scorer, and after being able to take the end of last week off he should come in fairly healthy.
Travis Etienne has shown up in his first healthy season but TDs have been a little hard to come by with Lawrence taking a lot of goal-line work. He’s got a tough test against a Titans team who have only allowed 60 yards to a rusher twice this year and Etienne had 32 yards from 17 attempts in the first game between these two (thanks to @NewmanBets for this info) He is adept through the air as well but that area seems like it’s been under-utlilised recently a max of 3 receptions in any game this year. Jamycal Hasty gets more work than I’d like too…
It’s tough to pick which pass-catcher will have the big game, Zay had a hat-trick a few games back, Marvin Jones is meant to be the deep threat and Christian Kirk in the slot hasn’t hit the heights he did early in the season, Engram as well is tough to pick, a couple of huge games, his breakout coming against this team but duds for a lot of the rest of the year.
They’re fine on defense, 12th against the run, 26th vs the pass, so they match up well with the Titans who can’t throw the ball.
Of course the Jags are the rightful favourites here, the Titans starting a third-string QB isn’t great. But could I take the Jags to cover 7 with everything on the line? Ugh, probably not. Have to lean to the Titans covering, and over on the total.
Props-wise…Etienne under seems the logical pick as Rhys has suggested, but I don’t want to take that, he also mentioned Foye Oluokun over on his tackles as he takes on Derrick Henry, but the value has gone on that, although he should hit the o9.5 still.
Lawrence anytime – 9/2 (Skybet) – I’ll have the double with Kad. Toney
Lawrence and Henry at 10/1 on Skybet is tasty too, I like Henry 100 yards and 2 TDs at 10/1ish on PP
Enjoy the extra games tonight, full preview of tomorrows games will be out by Midday tomorrow, and then on to the playoffs.
I will have a £25 entry Playoff Picks contest running on RunYourPool, so keep an eye on twitter over the week and get involved if you want some extra fun over the playoffs.