NFL Wildcard Weekend Preview
2u Chiefs win + under 44.5 @ $2.40 (Sportsbet)
2u Saints -6.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)
2u Blake Bortles over 189.5 passing yards @ $1.87 (Sportsbet)
1u Falcons +5.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
1u Falcons win @ $3.10 (Bet365)
1u Marcus Mariota over 18.5 rushing yards @ $1.84 (Bet365)
Titans @ Chiefs
Chiefs win + under 44.5 @ $2.40 (Sportsbet)
Marcus Mariota over 18.5 rushing yards @ $1.84 (Bet365)
The Reason: If I had to do a power rankings for the playoffs teams in the NFL, I would have the Titans as stone dead last. In fact, I am willing to call them one of, if not the worst overall playoff team I have seen in my time watching NFL, at least the worst offence anyway. This offence averages 14.7 points on the road this season and they have shown nothing in the last few weeks of improving on that. I don’t see how the Titans are going to score enough points to win this game, and under is 15-5 in the last 20 Kansas City games at home.
I’m also making a small play on Marcus Mariota to run for over 18.5 yards. It was leaked into the media during the week that prior to last week’s win against the Jaguars, a couple of Titans players pulled Mariota aside and told him to not be scared to scramble if the offence doesn’t open up – it resulted in 60 rushing yards for the quarterback. In what was pretty much the playoff-clinching play, Mariota duked defensive lineman Calais Campbell, and then stiff-armed safety Barry Church, showing that the former Heisman Trophy winner is not worried to put his body on the line when the season rides on his shoulders. I expect a similar result against the Chiefs.
Falcons @ Rams
Falcons +5.5 @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Falcons win @ $3.10 (Bet365)
The Reason: The public consensus is that the Falcons have been somewhat underwhelming this season, but they have managed to find themselves in the playoffs with a win against the Panthers on the last Sunday of the NFL season. Their so called underwhelming performances could partly be put down to a change of offensive coordinator in the off-season, and due to the fact that they lost the Super Bowl in the most devastating fashion last season. Now that the Falcons have made the playoffs, I can only imagine that they would be using last season’s Super Bowl loss as extra motivation now that it is within touching distance again. The Rams have the best offence in the league and are undoubtedly the team to exceed pre-season expectations the most, but that is actually one of the reasons as to why I am fading the Rams here. The Rams have never been here before; they do not know what to expect. Even though Sean McVay would emphasise to his players not to rest on their laurels and that there is a lot more to be achieved this season, it is only human nature to be more upbeat than desperate. Desperate is not an opponent you would want to be up against in the playoffs, and do you know who will be desperate in this game? The Falcons.
Bills @ Jaguars
The Pick: Blake Bortles over 189.5 passing yards @ $1.87 (Sportsbet)
The Reason: Blake Bortles at home is a completely different Blake Bortles on the road. At home, Blake Bortles has 15 touchdowns against 5 interceptions and averages 268 passing yards, whereas he is 6/8/193 on the road. Bortles has thrown for 223 or more in all 8 of his home games this year. The difference in stats would have a lot to do to the crowd noise and comfortability at home, and although the playoffs do not replicate how things have gone in the regular season, this stat is too hard to ignore.
Panthers @ Saints
The Pick: Saints -6.5 @ $1.95 (Bet365)
The Reason: One of my favourite stats in the league is that the Saints are 20-0 SU, 16-3-1 ATS in their last 20 home games when they have a winning record. This stat shows just how loud the Saints home fans are when their Football team are good, that advantage can only increase in the playoffs. Obviously the Panthers are a good football team as they went 11-5 – the same as the Saints – but my eyes tell me that the Saints have been one of the best teams in the league, whilst the Panthers have not. The Saints are a better football team, with a huge home field advantage; this line should be over a touchdown.