The Championship games are here and unsurprisingly it's both of the 1 seeds hosting them, the advantage of the bye-week and home-field throughout the playoffs for just one team this year is clearly showing. In the NFC the 5 seed Bucs travel up to Lambeau to take on the Packers while the Chiefs host the 2 seed Bills at Arrowhead.
It looks like we'll be avoiding snow in both games, which is good for a little more predictability at least, even if snow games do look nice on TV. It will be close to zero in both games, but it doesn't seem like snow or wind will affect them too much.
NFC: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 @ Green Bay Packers: 52
The Bucs saw off their divisional rival Saints last week and probably condemned Drew Brees to retirement… he should have retired before the game, he was terrible and gifted the Bucs short-fields all day which they duly took advantage of. Tom Brady despite being a year older than Brees looked much the better QB, did all he needed and threw some good downfield passes, he's used to the weather from his decades at the Pats, so shouldn't be too fussed about the cold in GB tonight.
The run game was split between Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones last week, Lenny a few more carries, but they finished with practically the same yardage, I think the split flips over to RoJo another week off his injury and he'll get more carries, while Lenny brickhands might get some dump off targets. The Packers aren't bad at rushing the passer so short passes could be needed.
I think that Mike Evans probably gets the main coverage of pro-bowler Jaire Alexander, Evans became the first player to top 1,000 yards in his first 7 seasons this year, but was kept to one reception last week, admittedly it was a TD and he doesn't tend to do well vs. the Saints. Antonio Brown has been ruled out so I'd imagine it will mean more work for Chris Godwin who led the WRs in yards last week, he must be the best #2 in the league and should have a good game here, one at a better price, and prop-line is Scotty Miller who had a good start to the season with Brady before they signed AB and should step into that role again here, he's the down-field threat as well, so I fancy him to go over his line. The tight end position seems to have switched with Gronk in a lot as a blocker and Cameron Brate finding himself out there for more passing work recently, he led the team in yards last week and had 130 in the playoffs so far.
Aaron Rodgers is considered by most the best QB on his generation, so it's laughable that they've only won 1 Superbowl in his time, he finished the season as the All-pro 1st team QB leading the league in TD passes and QBR. He seems to have bought into the LeFluer system and it's paying dividends. He rushed in a TD last week.
It helps to have the best WR in the league playing for you, Davante Adams finished the season as the leading TD scorer with 18 from (essentially) 13 games, and he scored last week as well against the best CB in the league… he'll probably get his usual double-digit targets and will likely find the endzone again, outside of him you're looking at Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the 2 and 3. MVS is the usual downfield threat while Lazard generally gets more receptions, but last week Lazard took a 58-yarder to the house. MVS will likely get some deep bombs, catch one and let one through his hands, that's his usual game-script. Robert Tonyan, the tight end finished with 11 TDs, the 2nd most for tight ends, not as trustworthy for yards, but the TDs have been there for him.
Aaron Jones has 5 TDs in 3 post-season games after scoring last week and will get most of the carries at RB with Jamaal Williams second in line, AJ Dillon looks like he's going to play after leaving the game with injury last week, he's a large human. Jones tends to run teams down and break off the odd long run, and is usually used as the goal-line back, he'll have the most carries and probably the most yards. Williams used to be the receiving back but that work seems to have dropped off a little this year, maybe because they've been winning and not needing him for that role too much. They face the best run defense in the league who get Vita Vea back tonight, so it won't be easy for any of them.
Summary – A great game to start the evening off, I've got to take the Packers to win, I'm not so sure about them to cover with the line over the 3. – There should be a lot of points, mainly from Rodgers for the Packers, the Bucs should be able to implement a more balanced attack and are probably the better team defensively.
- Ronald Jones o38.5 rush yards – 5/6 (Skybet)
- Scotty Miller anytime TD – 9/2 (Hills)
Buffalo Bills +3/3.5 @ Kansas City Chiefs: 54.5
Chores done and back to the Bills v Chiefs preview.
Neither team really impressed in their wins last week, the wind may well have affected the Bills game, Allen was inaccurate on deep shots while the Chiefs had a scare with Mahomes and limped to a 5 point win against the Browns.
The rise of Josh Allen this year has been really impressive, he's improved accuracy every year he's been with the team leading to nearly 70% this year and he's retained his rushing abilities as well, which could come in useful with them having practically no running backs again. He'll be required to do a lot and with the progress he's made this year I think he might be up to the task. He's eliminated a lot of the stupid stuff which cost him earlier in his career and seems more aware of his position on the field. He finished the season with franchise records in yards and TD.
The main reason for the improvement seems like it was probably Stefon Diggs who they paid a fair bit for to bring in from the Vikings, but the move has paid dividends straight away, he led the league in receptions and yards and has over 100 yards and a TD in each of their playoff games so far. There's a decent supporting cast as well with Cole Beasley the usual position receiver with shorter yardage gains, John Brown a deep shot guy, pops up quite a lot and had 8 receptions last week, while rookie Gabriel Davis has chipped in well too but has been nursing a knock, was targeted a couple of times in the endzone last week on quick slants, while Isaiah Mckenzie is a quick little fella who they get the ball to on the ground, jet sweeps and the likes.
They do like to get the tight ends involved in the redzone, Dawson Knox is used all over, but Tyler Kroft and Lee Smith both have TDs this season and the Chiefs allowed 9 TDs to the position over the season.
The Chiefs will have Patrick Mahomes available after his scare last week, personally, I don't think it was an actual concussion, but more of a temporary thing caused by pressure on his neck, there didn't seem to be any impact worries on replays, so I think he'll be fine head-wise, of course I'm not exactly and expert on the stuff but have seen the “twitter-docs” suggesting similar. His toe on the other
hand foot, is a concern, he was limping around last week and turf toe is something that lingers, it seemed to cause him some issues throwing left.
The main guys for him are Tyreek Hill and Traivs Kelce who accounted for 17 and 11 TDs respectively in the regular season and not far off half of his yardage. Hill will probably see a lot of Tre'Davious White but he's tough for anyone to stop so I'm not putting too much hope in White being able to slow him I've seen him get done by pace many times. Kelce has a decent matchup in the middle of the field as well so I'm expecting both of them to have a good game. Outside of the big-boys Sammy Watkins is a game-time decision, Mecole Hardman got quite a few touches last week and Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle pop up occasionally.
It looks like Clyde Edwards-Helaire will return for them at RB after missing the end of the season, he ran for 161 yards against the Bills in the week 6 matchup and the Chiefs form has dropped off with him out of the side, Lev Bell looks like he may well miss out, so Darrel Williams who scored in that week 6 game and got the bulk of the carries last week will likely get a few touches near the goal-line as well.
I think the Chiefs win… or do I just want them to win? I think it's going to be a close game either way. There should be a whole load of points in this game but I've said that in the Chiefs game and both Bills games so far and been disappointed by it, it's basically Chiefs and Chiefs-lite here, so I'm hopeful of an entertaining game.
Good luck with your bets tonight, should both be great games, and very much looking forward to them!
I'll have a couple of posts out on the Superbowl, so keep an eye out and check out TDTips.com for 3,700 words on tonight's games.
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