First of all I want to say thank you to anyone and everyone who has read the NFL content I've put out this year, I've not been tracking profit/loss but I'm fairly confident that despite some poor weeks (and there were some really poor weeks which I'll hold my hands up to) I think we probably ended up in profit. It's not an easy job to give out tips each week and the NFL is famously all over the place especially when I'm looking for things other than just a simple spread/total at 5/6 or 10/11 each week.
Ironically I probably should have just gone for spreads as I finished 6th out of 120-odd in the Redzone Super contest and trebled my money on the season and that was picking 5 games against the spread each week.
But that's no fun. On to the props! I feel I should be able to put out one winning prop from each game, I mean that's the least we should all expect really.
There's a strong trend against Quarterbacks making their first playoff starts and there's a few of them involved in the games this weekend.
The Wild card weekend has been split down the middle this year, Saturday sees the AFC games and Sunday the NFC. The first game we get on Saturday is the Buffalo Bills travelling to take on the Houston Texans. Both teams finished the year 10-6, enough for the Texan to win the AFC South while the Bills finished second behind the Patriots in the East.
Bills +2.5 @ Texans: Total – 43.5
The Texans will be without Will Fuller which is a big loss for them but they should have Deshaun Watson, Nuk Hopkins, Laremy Tunsil and even JJ Watt back for this one. Watt will likely be limited as he's come back very quickly from a torn pectoral which probably isn't a great idea, the others should be fine despite not being 100%. Carlos Hyde topped 1,000 yards on the ground for the Texans this year, they'll need the likes of Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee to step up as Hopkins will likely be shadowed by White who's one of the best in the league.
The Bills rested most of their main men last week in the finalé and Josh Allen only played the first quarter. John Brown, Cole Beasley, Devin Singletary and Tre'Davius White all took the week to rest up and will return fully fit in this one. Brown has topped 1,000 yards and gives a deep threat, Beasley the mid-range passing threat and Singletary took over as the main RB from Frank Gore and the team looked instantly better.
This is going to be a close game so if you're on the spread I'd be leaning to the Bills getting points although it's Allens first time in the playoffs and that's not normally something to bet on, I think it's an under game as both teams run the ball a lot and Texans coach Bill O'Brien seems to play not to lose too much rather than going for it. I like Josh Allen to rush one in, he's scored 9 rushing TDs this year, but my prop for this one will be Devin Singletary o66.5 rush yards – 1.83 (Skybet)
Titans +4.5 @ Patriots: Total – 45
This is a case of form vs history. The Titans are in far better form and are much more entertaining to watch but the Patriots always seems to find a way of getting the win. Admittedly they've usually had a week to rest up as this is the first time in a decade they've missed the bye week but it takes a brave man to back against the Pats and I'm not sure that's me regardless of how much I want to.
The Titans made it into the playoffs by beating the Texans reserves comfortably last week. They've been great to watch since Tannehill took over at QB and he's been one of the best in the league completing 70% of his passes, 22 TDs, 6 interceptions on the season and rushing in for 4 TDs himself as well. His connection with AJ Brown has been the key, he's a beast who's scored 6 in his last 6 games and topped 100 yards in 4 of them. I would imagine that the Patriots will double team Brown rather than leaving Gilmore on him, but that remains to be seen obviously. Outside of him the pass catching probably goes through the tight end Jonnu Smith who's a physical freak as well. Corey Davis and Tajae Sharpe have both mixed in at points though. I should probably mention the leagues leading rusher in the giant form of Derrick Henry. He's scored 16 rush TDs this year, a couple through the air and topped 1,500 yards rushing. He'll be the main man in this one as the Pats pass D is far better than their rush defense.
The Patriots have been a stinking mess on offense frankly. Brady has a QBR of less than 50 in 6 of their last 7 games. That basically means he's been in the below average in each of those games. He's only got one player he trusts in the passing game in Julian Edelman and he's been banged up recently. They have tried to get Sanu and rookie N'Keal Harry going but it's not been great. The run game hasn't worked all year, Sony Michel has been poor but still getting the carries. In winning situations he still gets near 20 carries a game, if they trail he's useless. It's the playoffs and that's where James White comes alive so I wouldn't be shocked to see him get a lot of the ball tonight. Even Rex Burkhead has looked pretty good in recent weeks. It's always tough to figure what the Pats are going to do week on week.
I can't back against the Pats in Foxborough in January, but I want the Titans to win and think they've got a decent chance. I'm nowhere on the total. I'd lean under as I just don't think the Pats are going to be able to put up points, but they find a way. Prop for this one? James White o50.5 rush and receiving yards – 5/6 (Skybet/Bet365)
Vikings +8 @ Saints: Total – 49.5
The highest line of the weekend and the highest total of the weekend, a total which is rising and will likely hit 50 by game time tomorrow. A lot of the talk in the build up will likely be on Kirk Cousins and his record in prime-time. It's really not good, but I think the Vikings catch a break here as it's still a 1pm kick off in the states so it won't affect Captain Kirks routine so I don't think he'll be too bad. He does need the rest of his players to step up though, Adam Thielen hasn't done anything since returning from injury, but with a further week of rest for him I'm hoping he'll come out on fire. He and Diggs are a great partnership when they're doing well. Dalvin Cook had the week off last week to nurse a shoulder injury. He's one of the best RBs in the league when he's healthy and they use him a lot, this should be a good matchup for him too… so I'm hopeful he's good to go.
The Saints have been on fire since losing to the Falcons, they've averaged around 40 points a week over the last month. The offense runs mainly through Michael Thomas who set the league record for receptions this season. There's not a whole lot of deep passes to him but it's highly effective and he always manages to get himself open despite it being blatantly obvious that he's the target. Outside of him the passing game hasn't a whole lot, Jared Cook has stepped up with TDs recently, Ted Ginn and Trequan Smith are both capable but bit part players on the whole. Fortunately for the Saints Alvin Kamara has finally found some form scoring twice in consecutive games to close the season and they'll need more of that.
This is the ultimate revenge spot for the Saints as they look to finally get over the Minnesapolis miracle from a couple of years back. They're a big favourite but have the best form in the NFC coming into this one and definitely won't be letting up on the Vikings. The line hasn't moved all week, it's a bit big for me really. I still like the over despite it rising all week. Prop for this one? Jared Cook anytime TD – 2.75 (Skybet) – tough to find on oddschecker due to the Cook on the other team, but 7/4 is a good price for him regardless.
Seahawks -1.5 @ Eagles: Total – 45
Battle of the beaten up as the Seahawks travel to Phillie. The Seahawks like to run the ball but lost their starting two RBs in consecutive weeks which has to hurt them. You could argue the refs cost them the #1 seed in the NFC by not reviewing a play last week but the performance itself was pretty impressive and has given the pros reason to back the Seahawks all week.
I'm not entirely sure who to back in this one, Russell Wilson is the better QB in this game, his mobility and ability on the run will be key as the Eagles have a good pass rush and the Seahawks offensive line isn't great. Lockett is his main target in the passing game, and he's highly efficient with him but DK Metcalf led rookies in red zone targets this year and scored 7 times so I think he's probably more likely to score. David Moore, Malik Turner are WR3/4 for the Seahawks, and Jacob Hollister is used quite a lot at tight end especially in the red zone.
Carson Wentz deserves a lot of credit for doing what he's done with the players he's done it with this year. He became the first QB to hit 4,000 yards without a wide receiver making it to 500 yards. Admittedly he likes the tight ends but he'll likely be without Zach Ertz for this one so Dallas Goedert is probably going to be his main target with Josh Perkins and converted QB Greg Ward the next two, then the likes of JJ Arcega-Whiteside and newly signed Deontay Burnett offering a tiny bit as well. They found a star in Miles Sanders who's been brilliant at RB recently but he sprained an ankle last week so while he says he's good to go he could be limited. Boston Scott filled in with a hat-trick last week so not a bad backup and I always support the little guys. Jordan Howard could be in line for more work as well though which is the worry here.
All the money has been on the Seahawks. I'm not backing either in this one, it should be a close game though so Tribet (any other result) probably isn't a stupid bet. In fact I've not even got a prop on this one due to the injuries I'm just not sure who will do what.
Lean to the Eagles winning and under on the total.
Good luck with whatever you're on and enjoy the second best weekend in football! (Next weekend is the best)