Divisional Week turned out to be pretty good (5-3). We had the under in every game and it paid off as we went 3-1 on total points. As for the spreads, we whiffed on Buffalo and Tampa, but nailed the Chiefs and Packers. We got a nice double from the Chiefs game to give us a solid week.
This Sunday: Weather and Game Scripts
As the playoffs draw near a close, we are heating up with our picks. This week, we are focusing on how the weather and game scripts will impact both games (Green Bay specifically).
This weekend reminds me of the 1993-1994 Conference Championship weekend. The narratives are eerily similar. In that year, the Bills were a perennial power in the conference, loaded with talent on both sides, but more specifically, a HOF quarterback, running back, and receiver (like Green Bay now).
The Chiefs back in 1993 were a team of aging greats, led by the GOAT (at the time) attempting to find a title just one more time, but with another team (like the Bucs now). The Cowboys were the consensus “best team” that season (like the Chiefs now). Finally, the 49ers were a talented contender who finished second in the conference, led by a dynamic, talented quarterback (like the Bills now).
The parallels between that final four from the 1993 season and the four this season are close. If it plays out like those playoffs did, we’ll have the Chiefs beating the Packers for the title. Alas, for those of you who want to dig a little deeper, we’re going to dive deep into these matchups.
2020 Regular Season Record: 258-237 (52.12%)
A breakdown of NFC Conference Championship Week NFL picks
Here we take a look at all the main Divisional Round Week betting lines from the BetRivers Online Sportsbook.
Buccaneers @ Packers -3.5 O/U: 51.5
This is a rematch from a Week 6 meeting in Tampa, in which the Buccaneers ran away with the victory in impressive fashion. In that game, the Buccaneers trailed 10-0, before getting a pick-six early in the second quarter. The play completely flipped momentum and carried Tampa to a landslide victory. The Bucs were able to get pressure on Rodgers with just the front four on most occasions.
The Buccaneers registered 13 hits on Rodgers and four sacks. Rodgers went just 16-35 for 160 yards and two interceptions. It was easily his worst game of the year, while Brady was barely touched (4 hits) on the other side. Though both teams rushed for 4.5 per carry, the Bucs ran the ball 35 times in the game, while the Packers managed just 21, while their YPC was exaggerated by runs of 20 and 25 from AJ Dillon and Jamaal Williams.
Tampa held Aaron Jones to just 15 yards on ten carries, limiting the Packers’ weapon to 41 yards total on 13 touches. Lavonte David and Devin White alternated blitzing off the edge and spying Aaron Jones out of the backfield. The pair was absolutely crucial to the Buccaneers’ success. Despite the early hole, the Buccaneers were able to control every phase of the game and cruise to victory.
This time around, the expectations are a little different. Despite the thrashing they sustained in the first meeting, the Packers are favored the second time around. If you watch that first game now, you’ll see where the Packers went wrong. They failed to protect Rodgers, went too ambitious on offense, failed to stop the run, and didn’t generate pressure on Brady. The oddsmakers are banking on the Packers making the proper adjustments this time around.
Taking the playoffs into consideration thus far, the Packers just look like more of the sure bet here. The Buccaneers made Taylor Heinecke look decent, and despite a plus four turnover advantage in the Saints game, the Bucs still managed to only win by ten. Meanwhile, Goff was shockingly good and the Packers still covered.
I expect the Packers will be a little more patient this time around. In the last meeting, Adams still wasn’t quite 100% and the Packers started playing a little too aggressively after they fell behind. Because of that, it allowed the Buccaneers to focus on specific strategy per the long down and distances.
I think the Packers will focus more on stopping the run and forcing the 43-year old opposing quarterback to beat them through the air, in harsh weather. The Buccaneers have the formula for beating the Packers but getting there is going to be hard for them, as the conditions will be difficult. I anticipate the Packers will have the better offense for this weather and for that, I like the Packers to punch their ticket Sunday.
Packers 26 Buccaneers 20
Bills @ Chiefs -3.5 O/U: 54.5
The Bills are coming off a game where they had to rely on their defense to win it. It was odd but encouraging to Bills fans. The Chiefs are fresh off a game that got way too close for their comfort last week. With just minutes to go, the Browns had the ball, down six.
These two teams met already during Week 6. That week, the Bills struggled to both stop the run and move the ball through the air, as wind, rain, and the cold really neutralized their passing attack. The Chiefs were obligated to run, given Buffalo’s defensive strategy to prevent long passing plays.
Late in the game, the Chiefs had third and long, only up six. Had the Chiefs not converted, the Bills had a shot to win that game. That’s a little of what I think about with this game, this time around. What if Buffalo has just one long touchdown and commit to letting the Chiefs try to beat them on the ground? It sounds like the right strategy, but will the Bills be able to get it done in the questionable weather?
This week, we have a lot of questions in a game involving two powerful air attacks. Over the course of history, pass-heavy teams have been volatile (from a scoring output perspective). Though the line is very close here, there isn’t much of a case to be made that this game will snowball in either direction (as teams built like this are historically susceptible to).
They both have high-efficiency passers and mediocre, at best, rushing attacks. Any deficit in this game shouldn’t bury the opposing team, so I expect this game to play out like a shootout and come down to the wire. Because of that, and the spread, I feel like the Bills could cover.
Buffalo may just do what they did in the first meeting and be fine with it. I expect the Chiefs will play along, as long as their rushing attack has the same success it did last time around. If the Bills can make two or three big plays on offense, they just might pull this off.
Chiefs 27 Bills 24