We missed the mark last week in some very close games.
Two went to overtime and the other two were very, very close. We ended up going 3-5 on the week but it’s playoffs and that’s a whole different monster, given the nerves, stakes at hand, and the fact the traditional thought associated with how we determine who will advance has now completely gone out the window.
We saw a Patriots team fall to a team most people wrote off after Week 6, at home and in a game where the opposing quarterback threw for just 72 yards. We saw a Saints team — many people thought may actually be the best in the NFC — fall at home to a team featuring a quarterback who’s been the butt of jokes for his entire career. We also saw an aggressive Bills team get out to a 16-0 lead in the second half before going into a shell for the rest of the game and ultimately blowing it. It was an odd week and it’s typically the week the NFL turns on its head each postseason. This week, things should get back on track as the home teams are favored by an average of 7.5 points. Good luck!
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2019 Regular Season Record: 256-223 (53.44%)
January 11th (Saturday)
Vikings @ 49ers -7 O/U: 44
Just throw out anything you thought you knew about the Minnesota Vikings. The team we saw two weeks ago without one of their key offensive lineman and both their running backs is clearly a much better team than we thought they were. How much better are they? To be honest, nobody really knows.
Their playcalling varies in the passing game, depending on personnel and heavily dependent on game script. They lean heavily on the run and feature two talented backs, but whenever they struggle on the ground, it seems to have a disastrous effect on their play-action. The problem in this game is, the 49ers are 9.5 favorites despite their defense being awful down the stretch (21.75 points allowed per game over their last four games).
Adam Thielen is questionable with an ankle injury that may or may not involve stitches or staples. Though I don’t have much faith in the Vikings offense without the threat of their top wideout, it’s going to be hard to imagine this offense doing much without Thielen on the field, given they have averaged just 22.37 points per game with Thielen out, versus 28.87 with him on the field.
Knowing this, I feel the 49ers are going to focus their efforts on stopping the run and taking their chances with Stefon Diggs on the outside. I think the 49ers will control this game from start to finish and the Vikings will ultimately fall short.
49ers 24 Vikings 19
Titans @ Ravens -9.5 O/U: 47
The Ravens haven’t played with their starters in full since Week 16. With two weeks off since their last game with their starters, I’m expecting the Ravens will be good and ready for the Titans this week.
The Titans success is predicated on their play-action and I just don’t see them staying close enough to stay comfortable on offense throughout this game. The Ravens have a very efficient offense. In addition to their efficiency, they should have a healthy Marquise Brown, who hasn’t been fully healthy for quite some time. They should also have a very healthy Mark Andrews, who’s been struggling through a nagging ankle injury for most of the season.
The Titans secondary has been suspect for most of the season and frankly, the Patriots just didn’t have the weapons to beat the Titans where the Titans were most vulnerable. The Ravens have an array of weapons at their disposal and should be able to spread out the Titans defense and burn them deep when the opportunity presents itself.
Ravens 31 Titans 17
January 12th (Sunday)
Texans @ Chiefs -9.5 O/U: 51
The Texans beat the Chiefs in Kansas City way back in Week 6. Though it was early in the season, the game played out like I fear this rematch could. The Chiefs jumped out to a 17-3 first-quarter lead and a runaway victory seemed inevitable, but after some key drops by the Chiefs receivers and issues on defense, the Texans grabbed a 23-17 lead by halftime.
This Texans team is a sleeping giant in some ways. At times this season, we’ve seen them fall asleep at the wheel in games and then suddenly turn it on and make a feverish push down the stretch to pull out the victory. Since their last meeting, the Texans defense has become more inconsistent and the Chiefs defense has become legitimate. I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Reid’s playoff resume, but I believe Bill O’Brien may actually be worse, so I’m not convinced the narrative of Andy Reid choking should hold any water in this game.
I think the Chiefs will be firing on all cylinders on offense and the Texans will be forced to play catch-up through most of the game and this time around, I think the Chiefs will be able to hold their lofty lead and preserve it. Though the Texans certainly received a boost after the return of JJ Watt last week, the Bills handed the game to the Texans in four or five different ways last week.
Chiefs 30 Texans 20
Seahawks @ Packers -4.5 O/U: 47
The Seahawks came through, as anticipated. Despite the victory last week, it was hard to give the Seahawks full credit, as the early loss of Carson Wentz had to have some sort of effect on the Eagles’ offense. I’m not sold on the Packers to this point, given they beat a weakened Vikings team a few weeks back and closed out the season in a come-from-behind victory over the lifeless Lions.
Though I’m not sold on the Packers as legit contenders in the NFC, I like them in this matchup. Russell Wilson has just three touchdowns and six interceptions at Lambeau field and he’s gone 0-3 in those games. The Seahawks are without both their rushing leaders on the season in Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.
The Seahawks also have been terribly inconsistent on defense, struggling against a number of bad teams down the stretch, including the Cardinals late in the season. I’m less sold on the idea the Seahawks are a good team than I am the Packers and I think Za’Darius Smith will make his debut on the world’s radar this week with a prime time breakout performance on defense.
I like the Packers in this game, but I think the game itself will be especially close.
Packers 23 Seahawks 17