It’s the playoffs! After a season that simultaneously feels like it started forever ago and just yesterday, we’ve reached money time. And what a freaking craptastic group of Super Wildcard games we have. An unfortunate combination of league-wid parity/mediocrity and injured QBs has left us six games with combined spreads of almost *40* points. In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas, “That’s insane!”
Hang in there, next week will be some bangers, but we’ll have to suffer through this week. Well, as much as one can consider watching playoff football suffering, anyway.
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Last week: My picks, 7 – 2; Analytics, 5 – 4; Best Bets, 0 – 1
Saving the best for last!
Tennessee at Jacksonville – “As uninspiring as Josh Dobbs was against Dallas last week, now the Jags have tape on him.”
Dobbs played much better than I expected, and Trevor Lawrence came out tight. Combined, that was enough to keep the outcome in doubt and give the Titans a cover.
Kansas City at Las Vegas – “Like Josh Dobbs, now the Chiefs have film on him.”
“Him” was Jarrett Stidham, who indeed suffered from “Backup QB in 2nd Start” syndrome.
Baltimore at Cincinnati – “…gets a home game against a Baltimore team quarterbacked by a compromised Tyler Huntley.”
Tyler couldn’t make it. Anthony Brown was not an upgrade, nor should he have been expected to be.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh – “This is a Mike Tomlin bet, pure and simple.”
There was no way, none, that Mike Tomlin was going to let his team lose a game to a division rival that determined whether they would have a winning or losing season.
New England at Buffalo – “With all the Bills have gone through this week, you cannot make this line high enough…”
Not sure what else there is to say here.
New York Jets at Miami – “ I’d definitely tease this number under 3.”
Didn’t need to tease, thanks to the game-ending lateral nonsense safety. This was a game only a (winning) gambler could love.
New York Giants at Philadelphia – “I’m guessing Philly does just enough to lock up home field…”
Exactly just enough, even against a Giants team that didn’t play its starters.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle – “…they’re not playing well enough to be laying six against anyone.”
…and because of the depressing final game on this list, they get to play in the playoffs—multiple sadness.
Detroit at Green Bay – “…I’ll take the Pack, but I’d want to tease this number down.”
Guess I should have teased them to a 4-point dog. The less said about this game, the better—just an embarrassing way to end the season for my favorite team.
Season: My picks, 43 – 58 – 4; Analytics, 48 – 53 – 3; Best Bets, 18 – 24 – 1
On to the playoff picks!
NFL Wild Card Lines
(Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set.)
Game of the Week
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville – Analytic Line: JAX (-2.5), Vegas Line: JAX (+2.5), PL: JAX (-2.5)
We start with the only game that has a difference of opinion between ELO and Vegas. LA ends up starting the playoffs with a second-straight road game and a cross-country trip for a short week game. Bottom line, this Charger team is cursed until they’re not, and I’m not betting on them in the playoffs until I see that change. Losing Mike Williams in a meaningless Week 18 game doesn’t do anything to assuage me of that opinion.
Pick: Jacksonville (+2.5)
Seattle at San Francisco – Analytic Line: SF (-10), Vegas Line: SF (-9.5), PL: SF (-12.5)
Seattle doesn’t belong in the playoffs. They got whipped twice by the Niners in the regular season and can’t stop the run, which is all the Niners want to do. So outside of the potential weather issues mucking this game up, there’s no reason to like the Hawks to cover.
Pick: San Francisco (-9.5)
Miami at Buffalo – Analytic Line: BUF (-20), Vegas Line: BUF (-13.5), PL: BUF (-14)
Last week I said you couldn’t make the line high enough for me not to take the Bills. So this week, ELO’s giving it a shot. I don’t like laying two touchdowns, ever, but Skylar Thompson on the road in the playoffs is a special case.
Pick: Buffalo (-13.5)
New York at Minnesota – Analytic Line: MIN (-5), Vegas Line: MIN (-3), PL: MIN (-4.5)
I’m going anti-narrative here. Yes, the Vikings over-performed their peripherals. Yes, they’re a vulnerable playoff team. But they’re still better than the Giants, especially at home. This will be the fourth road game in five weeks for the Giants.
Pick: Minnesota (-3)
Baltimore at Cincinnati – Analytic Line: CIN (-12), Vegas Line: CIN (-8.5), PL: CIN (-10.5)
I’d lay 10 on the Bengals if Lamar were playing. I don’t care if it’s Tyler Huntley or Anthony Brown, neither one is going on a Joe Flacco circa 2013 roll with this team, and thus, John Harbaugh (aka the AFC Mike McCarthy) will be denied yet another playoff victory.
Pick: Cincinnati (-8.5)
Dallas at Tampa Bay – Analytic Line: TB (+3), Vegas Line: TB (+2.5), PL: Pick ‘Em
I can’t make a compelling case for either of these teams to win the game; other than they’re playing against a team, I can’t come up with a compelling case to win the game. So, I’ll take the points, especially since the home team is getting them.
Pick: Tampa Bay (+2.5)
While our content slows down in the postseason, keep an eye out for our weekly betting and DFS articles here.