It’s here! The best weekend of the football of the season, the chaff has been separated from the wheat and the best 8 teams in the league (bar the Lions, of course) face each other this week for a spot in the Championship round next week and just a game away from the Super Bowl.
I had a good week with Elijah Mitchell, Gerald Everett, Dawson Knox, Jones over rushing and the Tri-bet landing in the Giants and Vikings game and the Bengals 1st quarter handicap all winning.
A sensible option in this weekend’s games, pick your poison on which QB here, but the RUSHING YARDS on QBs in the playoffs – These are can’t lose games, so QBs tend to up their rushing to gain those important yards, I’ll go in order here – Lawrence – 15.5, Mahomes – 23.5, Jones – 47.5, Hurts – 52.5, Burrow – 11.5, Allen – 46.5, Prescott – 15.5, Purdy – 7.5.
We kick off this week with the 1 seeds on Saturday against the 4 and 6 seed and the two better games on Sunday with my Bengals in the prime 8pm UK kick-off, I might actually be awake for them this time and the 49ers and Cowboys close out the night with what will probably be the highest viewed game of the season.
Usual contest is on the go – https://www.draftkings.co.uk/draft/contest/140447987
Jaguars +9.5 @ Chiefs: 53
The Jaguars pulled off the third largest comeback in playoff history as they won from 27-0 in their game last week, 2nd-year QB Trevor Lawrence threw 4 interceptions in the first half and 4 TDs after that as they won 31-30. Doug Pederson knows how to win playoff games, and take teams to the Super Bowl as he did as the head coach of the Eagles a few years back. These teams faced each other early in the season with the Chiefs running out 27-17 winners.
The Jags have now won 7 of their last 8 games and are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10, so it’s safe to say they’ve hit form at the right time, much like the Bengals did last year, will they be able to repeat the Bengals success against the Chiefs? – Lawrence has come on leaps and bounds with an actual NFL coach in charge, Travis Etienne has taken the reins at RB and done well with it and the big money pass-catcher signings which were widely derided in Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and TE Evan Engram have performed well, all three scoring last week alongside Marvin Jones.
Their offensive line has been much improved over the last month or two as well as Lawrence averages just 1.2 sacks in the last 5 games, that and the defense stepping up with Travon Walker and Josh Allen applying pressure has been the key to their playoff run.
The Chiefs are coming off another bye week at full strength and having that extra week to plan for a game has fared HC Andy Reid very well in his career 29-4 straight up when having extra rest. Patrick Mahomes is the best in the league, he’ll win the MVP after throwing for 5,000 yards without any real stud in the WR corps. Tight end Travis Kelce had over 1,300 yards once more and hit 12 TDs, good for 2nd in the league. Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have long names and have done well in replacing Tyreek Hill. They’ve got sparks from Kadarius Toney who I think will have a big role in this one, and Jerrick McKinnon who’s been a star in the passing game, scoring in his last 6 games for them, and rookie Isiah Pacheco has done well have the main rushing spot.
Defensively Chris Jones has had his best year getting sacks frequently including 1.5 against the Jags in the regular season.
Result? – I think the Chiefs win, I’d lean to the OVER on the total, but I like the Jaguars to cover with this big a spread. Look in-play to take the team who trail first on the handicap, both have shown the ability to chase games.
Best Bet(s) – Neither team can stop the tight end, so looking at Kelce and/or Evan Engram to go over their yardage lines seems sensible, 44.5 and 81.5 respectively, but my pick for this game will be Kadarius Toney anytime TD scorer at 21/10 (PaddyPower)
Giants +8 @ Eagles: 48
These two teams know each other very well and the adage goes that it’s tough to beat the same time three times in a season, and that may be the case here, although the Giants rested pretty much everyone in Week 18 so that doesn’t really count. The first game between these two teams the Eagles won 48-22 in a walk-over.
The Giants are a very different team since that game though, the defense has come on considerably and while I’m not over-reacting to them beating up a TERRIBLE Vikings defense last week, Daniel Jones showing his worth both on the ground and throwing TDs as he became the first QB to throw 300+ and 2 TDs and rush for 75 yards in a playoff game (Yes, it’s incredibly niche, but true).
Saquon Barkley looked back to full health after a rest and the plan will probably be long drives with him and Jones doing a lot of the work on the ground. The pass-catching group seems rough, but has done well, Isaiah Hodgins doesn’t drop balls, scored last week, Richie James has been good in the slot and Darius Slayton offers a deep threat with the TE Bellinger looking good back from injury too.
Oh, Kenny Golladay is there too.
The defense has been great getting pressure up front and have Adoree Jackson back at CB which helps a lot. They will do well to affect the Eagles outstanding OL though.
The Eagles started the season on fire but fell off a little at the back end of the season, due in part to injuries. They have Lane Johnson back on the offensive line which is huge, and Jalen Hurts sounds like he’ll be near full health at QB as well, they need his rushing and passing ability here.
He’s the fulcrum of the best running attack in the league, one which destroyed this opposition in particular early in the season. Miles Sanders is the one there, but it’s split between him, Kenneth Gainwell and “THE GIANT KILLER” Boston Scott who has 10 TDs in 8 games against this opponent.
AJ Brown has been a fantastic signing at WR, he and Devonta Smith are one of the best duos in the league and TE Dallas Goedert should do well here too.
The Eagles have dominated on both offensive and defensive line during the season, Hassan Reddick had a brilliant year as the Eagles nearly broke the regular season sack record. They’ll cause issues.
Result? – The Eagles win, but as it’s over 7 I have to lean to the Giants on the spread, if it hits 7 or under I’d take the Eagles though. Go over the total here too.
Best Bet (s) – It’s hard not to take Boston Scott at the odds, 10/3 at William Hill the best for him. I like Eagles -4.5 first half on the spread too, they’ve jumped out to leads all year and with a week off I’d expect them to come out quickly.
Bengals +6 @ Bills: 49
These two were due to play each other just 3 weeks ago but the game lasted under 10 minutes as Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, amazingly he’s recovered incredibly well and he’s expected to lead out the Bills which will create a wild atmosphere for the team of destiny in this game. The Bills were 2.5 faves in Cincinnati, so this line makes a little sense.
The Bengals have won 10 games in a row now to reach this point and looked great in the limited time we got in that Bills matchup with Joe Burrow looking locked in. The worry for them in this game though is the offensive line which lost another player this week to leave them down to just 2 starters.
Burrow will look to get the ball out quicker, but the Bengals have adapted well to pressure this year and are capable of matriculating down the field with shorter passes if needed. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins both topped 1,000 yards in the regular season and Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst have done the job in the middle of the field when called upon. Former child actor Trenton Irwin has wonderful hair and can step up if required too.
The run game hasn’t been great with Joe Mixon backed up by Samaje Perine, but Mixon has had more receptions recently and the rec. line of both players is of interest if the Bills manage to generate pressure.
The Bengals have the best defense left in the AFC which hasn’t allowed a 1st quarter TD for 10 games, and they’ll look to shut down Josh Allen deep shots and rushing.
The Bills may have been looking ahead to this game after a tough win against the Dolphins where Interceptions and fumbles kept their opponent in the game. Allen has thrown 5 INTs in 3 games and has shown he’s prone to a rick. However he’s also capable of launching a ball 50 yards with a flick of the wrist, so it comes with the territory.
Stefon Diggs is a stud, finished the season 2nd in yards and scored last week against the ‘fins, he’s the main man and started strong in the game between these two, Gabe Davis is a deep threat who’s hard to predict by the week and rookie Khalil Shakir caught some bombs last week as they got chunk plays, but it could be Cole Beasley and John Brown who returned to the team who make the difference as lesser protected targets.
The run game has got going with James Cook getting more of the ball on the ground and Devin Singletary is a perfectly adequate option as well with Nyheim Hines as third choice a good playmaker.
Defensively they’re highly rated but I don’t think they’re right up there, they haven’t been getting the pressure they were early in the year and while the LBs are good, I think they’re vulnerable at corner.
Result? – I will always tell people that I’m a Bengals fan, but I’m usually a pessimist… I think the Bengals win, cover the spread and the total… that’s tough, I’d lean under, but it could fly over.
Best Bet(s) – I am a little surprised to see Tee Higgins at 15/8 (Betfair) so I’ll take him at those odds. I like Joe Burrow and Josh Allen OVER their rush yards, and I’d have taken Allen to throw an INT but the odds aren’t worth it at 4/6. Mixon o3.5 receptions is tempting as well.
Cowboys +4 @ 49ers: 46.5
Closing out the weekend is a playoff matchup that a lot of us grew up with in the 90s as America’s team take on the Red and Gold of the 49ers. Dak Prescott had his best game of the season when smashing the Buccs last week while the 49ers continued their dominance covering the spread for the 8th time in 10 games against the Seahawks.
The Cowboys looked great beating up an old man on a team which scraped into the playoffs because of their shambolic division. Dak was given time to do what he wanted and that was fine by him as he threw 4 TDs and kept the ball safe.
CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz all found the end, as they took advantage of their position and the likes of Noah Brown and TY Hilton have added some variation to the passing game late in the season. Lamb could be a top 5 WR in the game with some consistency, so there’s a lot of talent on this team.
They may well lose if they keep giving the ball to Zeke Elliott who looks like he may have reached his shelf life at running back, but Tony Pollard is one of the most efficient in the league at that position and should get more carries in a game which they can’t lose.
They were right up there defensively in the regular season with Micah Parsons leading the line, but he has played a lot of snaps recently and looks little run down, he and DeMarcus Lawrence will try to get pressure up front.
The 49ers have been outstanding since trading for Christian McCaffrey with the longest win streak in the league despite being down to their third string QB in rookie Brock Purdy. Purdy hasn’t lost as QB and has covered the majority of their games, BUT, he’s yet to face any real quality opponent so this will be a real test for him. I was very impressed with his mobility and poise last week, although he does throw turnover worthy plays at least a couple of times a game.
It helps having Christian McCaffrey the running back who’s a WR and Deebo Samuel, the WR who’s a running back in their offense though, both topped 100 yards and a TD last week and their versatility is key to this team. Brandon Aiyuk has had a very good year at WR and Jauan Jennings looks like he’s the deep threat for them after last week.
George Kittle had scored 7 TDs in 4 games before Deebo returned last week, so I’m off him for TDs, but he’s a big game player so I wouldn’t be too shocked, and Elijah Mitchell returned at running back last week and also found the endzone.
They are stacked on both OL and DL with Nick Bosa probably taking the DPOY award ahead of Micah Parsons, but they can be got at through the air.
Result? – I LOVE the 49ers to win and cover here. It’s hard to look at anything but the over on the total as well, the 49ers always put up 30pts (6 of their last 7 games) so they’ll score, and Dallas are capable as well.
Best Bet(s) – Dak Prescott to go over his rushing yards, he looked more confident on the ground last week after a long recovery from a serious injury. Dalton Schultz is very well priced at 11/4 on BoyleSport and 5/2 on PaddyPower, Jennings might be worth a shot at a best price of 9/1 as well, but it’s a long shot on him.
WHODEY and Peace out. Adam.