The post-season is here and I'll take a look over the 4 remaining playoff games of this “SUPER” Wildcard weekend.
There's already been two games in the AFC side of things and they would have concluded in the early game tonight but the Bills and Steelers game has been moved to Monday at 2130 GMT due to 1-3 feet of snow and travel proving treacherous. The weather doesn't improve too much for Monday but the pitch and surrounding areas should at least be passable for fans.
The Texans and Chiefs took care of business without many issues last night as the 4 and 3 seeds beat the 5 and 6 seeds in their respective games. CJ Stroud produced a near-perfect passer rating and two pick-6s beat Joe Flacco's Browns in Houston to set up a likely trip to Baltimore next weekend while at Arrowhead the Chiefs eased past a Dolphins team which can't deal with cold weather in -20c temperatures to probably travel to Buffalo next weekend.
It's all eyes on the NFC tonight and a cheeky double-header on Monday evening now with the Eagles and Bucs closing out the weekend.
I didn't get a post out yesterday but I would have gone for the Browns (dodged a bullet there) and the overs in that game and the Chiefs and Unders in the late game, so would have been a decent enough night for me.
Packers +7 @ Cowboys: 50.5
The Mike McCarthy bowl takes the first spot tonight as his former team, the Green Bay Packers come down to the fortress AT&T in what should be a high-scoring affair. The Cowboys have won 16 games straight at home, scoring over 30 points a game on average this season.
The Packers have been better than I expected with a very young roster which will grow together as the seasons go on, Jordan Love had a very good second half of the season at QB for them spreading the ball around well to a bevy of young WRs led by rookie Jayden Reed in recent weeks. They should welcome back Christian Watson for his one which makes them the healthiest they've been all year at the position and rookie TE Luke Musgrave came off IR to return last week as well so they're looking prime in the passing game.
It looks like AJ Dillon will miss out as he's officially doubtful for the game so Aaron Jones will get all the work again, he had over 100 yards on the ground last weekend and has shown over the years he's a talented back.
The Cowboys are led by MVP top-5 Dak Prescott playing the best football of his career and CeeDee Lamb who has been outstanding in the second half of the season, falling just 50 yards short of the league lead in receiving yards and scoring in 9 of his last 12 games, he's rightly odds-on to find the endzone here. Outside him TE Jake Ferguson will likely be second most targeted with Brandin Cooks providing the deep threat with his pace.
Their run game is fine, but I don't think it can be the main aspect of the team, Tony Pollard is explosive while Rico Dowdle is getting some decent work as the bludgeoner on the ground for them.
They are strong on defense with Da'ron Bland leading the league in INTs and Micah Parsons a constant nuisance up front for them.
Rams +3 @ Lions: 52
Another high-scoring game in prospect here as Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff return to the teams who traded them. Amazingly they have incredibly similar stats in that time with equal wins, completion % and passer ratings, Goff has a slight edge on TDs 78-75, so it's safe to say it worked out for both sides, although Stafford has a ring to show for it.
The Rams have been transformed since the return of Kyren Williams to the run game 7 matches ago. He works perfectly in this offense and has allowed Matthew Stafford to produce his best games of the year. They only lost one of those final 7 games and that needed an OT kick return to give them the L, they're the form team of the conference.
Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp are a fearsome duo in the passing game, slow one and the other will fill the need for them, Nacua set rookie records for receptions and yards in his first year in the league this season while Kupp should have a longer career now he doesn't have to do everything himself. Tutu Atwell adds in a deep threat and Demarcus Robinson has proved useful when needed as well.
The Lions won the NFC North for the first time ever and host their first playoff game since 1993 as the reward for that. Jared Goff was second in the league in passing yards and 4th in TDs thrown this year, mainly to Amon-Ra St. Brown who finished over 1,500 yards and Sam LaPorta who is officially questionable for this one, I didn't think there was any chance of him playing after a knee injury last week but they seem confident he gets out there. Alongside the stars here you've got Jameson Williams adding a deep threat and Josh Reynolds adding in when needed. If LaPorta doesn't go then look for odds on Brock Wright at TE.
The run game is the key for the Lions though with David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs running behind one of the best offensive lines in football. Montgomery finished the year with 13 TDs and Gibbs got more of the work as the season went on as the more explosive back.
This should be another great game for the neutral and I'm leaning over on the total although it's probably not a bet for me. I do like the Rams getting 3 points but I do worry that seemingly every bettor is on that side of the game! Prop-wise? I was after a Tutu Atwell longest reception but that's not available so I'll have to be boring and go for Williams and Montgomery both to score at 9/4 (SkyBet)
Steelers +10 @ Bills: 37.5
The under has been bet on this game ALL week but bettors are now hit as the game moved to the Monday, it looks like the number has bumped up a little but the weather is still going to be poor so it's relatively low.
The Steelers scraped into the playoffs with a win over the Ravens backups in the final week of the season and they look refreshed with Mason Rudolph at QB providing more spark than Pickett did. Najee Harris will be the key to this one on the ground though and he's been running very well in recent weeks, he and Warren will get a lot of work.
The passing game will probably be more Johnson and Friermuth in the shorter game than deep shots to George Pickens if the weather is as windy as it's believed to be. I haven't mentioned defense so far but it's a key for the Steelers. They will be without TJ Watt but welcome back Minkah Fitzpatrick at Safety, so it's not all bad news for them.
The Bills are one of the healthier teams in the playoffs but they do seem to struggle when it gets to this time of the season. Josh Allen will be able to throw through the wind of take off on the ground if needed, he set records this year for total TDs with 15 rushing TDs as part of his 524 yards in that area.
The offense has been more run-heavy since a change of HC and that has lowered their EPA but allowed them better control and reduced Allens' INTs although he's still managing to throw them on passing downs. It's been a quiet year for Stefon Diggs on the whole and the guys behind him have been unreliable, Gabe Davis left last week with a knock and won't play here, so I'm on to Khalil Shakir who's stepped up well and the TE's will likely get a little more if they throw it.
James Cook has done well on the ground but they have a few guys back there in Leonard Fournette, Latavius Murray and Ty Johnson who all get touches.
This won't be quite as high-scoring as the Sunday games, and I'll be keeping an eye on the weather reports with the intention of going under the total. If it's very bad then I like the Steelers to keep it within 1o as the weather negates talent, if it's not too bad then go Bills. Khalil Shakir o2.5 receptions looks good regardless of weather.
Eagles -3 @ Buccs: 43
It's been a horrible ending to the season for the Eagles and they come into this one without AJ Brown and with a beaten up Devonta Smith who missed last weekend through injury. Jalen Hurts was injured in that game as well although will play after having his finger popped back in after dislocating it against the Giants. It's not a good place for the road team to be.
With Brown out of the game and Smith injured I'll be looking for Dallas Goedert props and it may be a spot for Julio Jones to step up and show his immense talent hasn't regressed too much with age. Brian Covey was a random name who popped up last weekend, maybe a quick look his way on props if they're very low.
They will have D'Andre Swift back in at RB after he missed last week with illness, so it will be he and Gainwell doing most of the work on the ground, I do like Gainwell to go over 9.5 rec. yards for them out of the backfield though.
Someone had to win the NFC South and it was The Bucs in a storming 9-0 win against the worst team in football who got there in the end. Baker Mayfield has been fine at QB but was limping off the field last week so he won't be fully fit in this game either, but he has won playoff games before and could do it again here.
He's spread the ball around a bit more recently with Chirs Godwin and Trey Palmer getting a bit more although it has been mainly Mike Evans for most of the season as he finished with yet another 1,000 yards and lead the league in receiving TDs with 13. Cade Otton adds some depth at TE and Rachaad White catching dump offs has been very useful over the last month or so.
White gets most of the ball on the ground as well, finishing the season with 990 yards and 9 TDs.
The injuries and utter lack of form for the Eagles do worry me for them covering so I'll be leaning to the home-team getting the job done before getting utterly killed next weekend whomever they play. A lean to the under as well but honestly I don't a great grasp of this game. I'll be looking for pass-catching backs – Kenneth Gainwell o9.5 rec yards, 25+ yards at 5/2 isn't bad either, and Rachaad White o3.5 receptions.
Enjoy the remainder of the weekend and I'll be back covering all 4 games next week. Adam (@TouchdownTips on X, TouchdownTips.com)