Week 2 of the NFL saw a number of star players from across the league go down to injuries, including season ending ones for Saquon Barkley and Courtland Sutton.
With so many fantasy relevant players going down in both the short and long term, FindBet hopes to give you some ideas on replacing your battered and bruised. Last week we rounded up the highlights and fantasy tips from Week 1. This week we're splitting the Week 2 slate into two pieces, but let's get started with the Thursday Night Football game in the Battle of Ohio.
Cincinnati Bengals - 30 vs. Cleveland Browns - 35
The Thursday night game featured Joe Burrow and Baker Mayfield, both Heisman Award winners and first overall selections in their respective NFL Drafts. Neither disappointed; however, it was the two-headed monster in Cleveland's backfield of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt that stole the show.
Chubb ran for 124 yards and 2 scores on 22 carries, while Hunt contributed 86 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, and also caught a touchdown from Mayfield. Mayfield finished with 219 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a pick. Odell Beckham also bounced back from a poor Week 1 performance and posted 74 yards and a touchdown on 4 catches. Beckham led the team in targets for a second consecutive week. Chubb and Hunt, though, are proving that fantasy owners of either back should feel confident starting them on a weekly basis, as Kevin Stefanski looks determined to get them both involved in any game script.
On the other side, Joe Burrow had 316 passing yards and threw 3 touchdowns while looking very poised as he attempted to bring his Bengals back from a big deficit late in the game, which he nearly accomplished. As Joe Mixon was largely kept in check by the Browns defense, he finished with 46 yards on the ground and 40 receiving yards on 4 catches, it was up to Burrow and the passing game to make the comeback. AJ Green was targeted 13 times but only managed to haul in 3 catches for 29 yards. Tyler Boyd led the team with 72 yards and a receiving TD. Tight end CJ Uzomah went out with an achilles injury and is out for the season. Drew Sample replaced him and played well catching 7 balls for 45 yards.
New York Giants - 13 vs. Chicago Bears - 17
The Bears have somehow started the season 2-0, despite Mitch Trubisky's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performances in the first two weeks of the season. Last week against the Lions, Trubisky overcame a rough first half to lead Chicago to a comeback victory with a game winning throw to Anthony Miller. Week 2 saw the Bears build up a 17 - 0 lead at halftime with Trubisky tossing 2 scores, one to David Montgomery and the other to Darnell Mooney.
In the second half, however, the offense stalled, and the Bears didn't manage a single point, almost allowing the Giants to make a comeback. Nobody on Chicago stood out from a fantasy perspective outside of Montgomery, who finished with 82 rushing yards and added 45 yards through the air with the aforementioned receiving TD. Even their lead wide receiver, Allen Robinson, struggled to get anything going as Trubisky struggled; he saw 9 targets but only produced 33 yards on 3 catches. Anthony Miller, last week's hero, had zero catches on three targets.
Saquon Barkley tore his ACL and is out for the season, the Giants confirmed. https://t.co/MFXukEyjZG— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1600704426.0
Daniel Jones nearly brought his team all the way back to erase that 17 point halftime deficit, but he came up just short as the offense scrambled to find its identity after the injury to Saquon Barkley early in the game. New York's only touchdown came from Dion Lewis, who replaced Barkley but wasn't efficient as a runner averaging only 2 yards per carry. Evan Engram led the Giants in targets (8), receptions (6), and yards (65). Barkley led the team in rushing yards with 28.
The real story here is the injury to Barkley, and it's been reported that he will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL. There have been rumors about the Giants and Devonta Freeman being in contact and would be a decent landing spot for him considering the opportunities that are left.
San Francisco 49'ers - 31 vs. New York Jets - 13
The game started off with Raheem Mostert breaking an 80 yard touchdown run for the 49'ers and the points continued to add up; but unfortunately for San Fran, so did the number of players on their injury list. The 49'ers saw star defensive lineman Nick Bosa carted off, starting running back Raheem Mostert left with a knee injury in the first half, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was forced out with an apparent high ankle sprain. This adds to existing injuries to Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle.
Luckily for them, they faced the Jets, who were without their star running back Le'Veon Bell, and who we saw struggle against Buffalo in Week 1. Garoppolo was very effective when he did play, completing 14 of 16 attempts for 131 yards and 2 touchdown throws. Mostert also did well in his limited action and led the team in rushing with 92 yards over 8 attempts, but Jerick McKinnon filled in nicely as a home run hitter for the Niners going for a 55 yard scamper and ended his day with 77 yards and a rushing touchdown.
McKinnon looked far better than Tevin Coleman, who was given opportunities (14 carries) but was only able to muster 12 yards on the ground and 28 receiving yards on 2 catches. Speaking of catches, Jordan Reed has resurrected himself in the Bay and caught 7 balls for 50 yards and 2 scores. Depending on the health of George Kittle, Reed has shown he is a solid fit in this offense, and provides some depth at the position for the team.
Me celebrating the 49ers win after all of the injuries https://t.co/Kt4zaeRvh5— Tessa (@Tessa) 1600632040.0
The Jets have looked underwhelming for the second consecutive week, but the most concerning thing about the Jets' performances has been Sam Darnold not looking like a starting quarterback in this league. Outside of hitting Braxton Berrios for a 30 yard touchdown with only 1:33 left in the game, long after the game had already been decided, Darnold would have finished with 149 passing yards and zero touchdowns. Considering the number of starters that were missing from the opposition's defense, combined with the Jets needing to pass more in the second half to catch up, Darnold needed to be better and he was unable to rise to the occasion.
Tight end Chris Herndon was getting rave reviews and compliments during the offseason camps, but he has been nearly invisible on the stat sheet, finishing this game with only 1 catch for 5 yards. The Jets should look to get him more involved off of play action to take some pressure off of Frank Gore and their running game until Bell is able to come back. Until further notice, fade everyone on the Jets offense.
Detroit Lions - 21 vs. Green Bay Packers - 42
Most rushing yards in Week 2: 🔹 Aaron Jones - 168 🔹 Nick Chubb - 124 🔹 Aaron Jones AFTER CONTACT - 116 🔹 James Con… https://t.co/Oq5wLVwT0P— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF Fantasy Football) 1600696923.0
The Packers have scored over 40 points in both of their games so far in the 2020 season, and they've shown the ability to do it in a number of different ways. While Coach Matt LaFleur and the Packers front office made some questionable decisions during the draft and ignored bringing in more ancillary talent around Aaron Rodgers, the talent that they already had in Rodgers, running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Davante Adams seems good enough to carry the rest of the team.
Rodgers was the star from Week 1 throwing 4 touchdowns; but not to be outdone, the NFL TD leader from 2019 Aaron Jones, showed up in Week 2 on a mission to put up a signature game early in the year. Jones finished with 168 yards on the ground and added 68 receiving yards to go along with 3 combined touchdowns on the day. As Davante Adams struggled to get looks (3 receptions for 36 yards), Jones also paced the team in targets and looked like the second best receiving option on the team next to Adams.
Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have been given the chance to step into the number two role in the Green Bay offense, but both have been too inconsistent and unable to capitalize on their opportunities. If Aaron Jones is able to stay healthy, it looks as though he will have a repeat of last year's success and doesn't appear to have much competition from any of his teammates outside of Adams for scooping up fantasy points the rest of the season.
In Week 1, Detroit had the chance to win late into the game and took a lead into the closing moments of the fourth quarter, only to see Mitch Trubisky hit Anthony Miller for the game winner. Week 2, however, never saw Detroit in it after half time, and by the end of the third quarter the Packers lead grew from 3 points to 20. Matthew Stafford has been pretty good, considering he's been missing his primary receiver Kenny Golladay all season. He finished the day with 244 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and a pick.
But it was the running game that worked so well in Week 1 that never got going against the Packers defense. Matt Patricia's backfield split carries pretty evenly amongst Adrian Peterson, who exploded last week only got 7 carries for 41 yards, Kerryon Johnson rushed for 32 yards on 8 carries and scored a touchdown, while rookie D'Andre Swift carried 5 times for just 12 yards however added 5 receptions for 60 yards receiving. The Lions will hope to get Golladay back for Week 3, and early reports are that is the expectation. That might be enough to get them back on track against the Arizona Cardinals.
Denver Broncos - 21 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers - 26
Since returning under center, Ben Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to a 2-0 record and looks to be picking back up where he left off when he was knocked out due to injury early in 2019 as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The complement of receivers at his disposal have proven to mesh well with the veteran QB, as we've seen solid performances now out of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool who now all have touchdown catches after Week 2.
Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 113 yards in Week 1 and Coach Mike Tomlin had insisted that both Snell and James Conner would get equal work heading into the match up with Denver; however, Snell only received 3 carries and 1 passing target for a cumulative 1 yard on Sunday. Conner had a rushing touchdown and rumbled for 106 yards, marking the second week in a row the Steelers offensive line has produced a 100 yard rusher, but Conner made up most of that late in the fourth quarter on a 59 yard breaker to seal the game for Pittsburgh. Conner still seems to be the running back to own in this backfield, but they may decide to go with the hot hand depending on how games play out. Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool should all be owned and a case can also be made for James Washington.
The Broncos lost starting quarterback, Drew Lock, to injury in the first quarter and was replaced by Jeff Driskel. Driskel went on to throw for 256 yards and 2 scores on a stout Pittsburgh defense, and Melvin Gordon pitched in with 70 rushing yards and 2 catches with a receiving TD. Denver also saw Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton endure injuries in Week 2. Sutton is expected to miss the remainder of the season and Jeudy, if healthy, will slide into the primary role with Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton and rookie K.J. Hamler fighting for reps now that Sutton will be out.
Noah Fant has also positioned himself as an important piece to the Broncos offense; he snagged 4 balls for 57 yards and touchdown on Sunday. Lock is expected to miss 2-6 weeks, Driskel is expected to fill in as starter, and running back Phillip Lindsay is also expected to be out for a few weeks. This Denver team is in serious danger of being one of the first teams eliminated from playoff contention if they cannot figure out a way to get more out of their replacement players.
Source: #Broncos WR Courtland Sutton tore his ACL.— Ian Rapoport (@Ian Rapoport) 1600707334.0
Jacksonville Jaguars - 30 vs. Tennessee Titans - 33
The Titans have found themselves on the winning end of two close games to start the season, and Ryan Tannehill has been great early on. Sunday he finished with 4 touchdown passes and helped carry his team to a walk off victory on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Derrick Henry impressed with 84 yards rushing, and Jonnu Smith erupted for 84 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on the day. Tannehill has been spreading the ball around with 4 different receivers receiving 4 or more targets, including Adam Humphries who also caught a touchdown.
In Week 3, the Titans will match up with the Minnesota Vikings, who have started 0-2 and will be looking to come out firing to get their first win of the season. Tennessee will need to continue their late game heroics to keep their winning streak going. Look for King Henry to have a big game against a run defense that just gave up 151 rushing yards to the Colts including 101 of them to rookie Jonathan Taylor.
Some glorious Gardner Minshew for your timeline... you're welcome 😎 https://t.co/ScW3oalioO— FOX Sports: NFL (@FOX Sports: NFL) 1600620383.0
Jacksonville may have to trade quarterback Gardner Minshew in order to successfully complete their tank job this year. Apparently Minshew didn't get the memo, as he has been spectacular thus far. With very little around him, Minshew has been able to keep the Jaguars competitive in their first two games and was just a couple plays away from coming out of this week 2-0. Minshew had 339 passing yards to go with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. James Robinson has also been better than projected, impressing with 102 rushing yards and a touchdown. Minshew's ability to extend plays and throw with accuracy downfield will keep DJ Chark fantasy relevant all year, and guys like Keelan Cole or Laviska Shenault could be viable options later in the season if they prove to be able to put up consistent performances. Pick up James Robinson if he's still available, but with the expectation that he may have just had his best game of the season in Week 2.
Kansas City Chiefs - 23 vs. Los Angeles Chargers - 20
This was a wild ride, and we nearly saw Patrick Mahomes outdueled by a rookie quarterback making a spot start, but we'll get to that later. When the dust settled, the Chiefs took care of business and disposed of the Chargers with an overtime field goal, but it took a few quarters of football for the reigning Super Bowl Champs to wake up and start playing. You wouldn't be able to tell by looking at the box score, however, as Mahomes finished with 302 yards and 2 touchdowns and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce both ended their days with 90+ yards and a touchdown each.
Rookie back Clyde Edwards-Helaire came back down to earth this week and only managed 70 yards from scrimmage with no scores after an outstanding debut in Week 1. Although they struggled early, Andy Reid's group got it together in the second half and took care of business. Continue to expect these guys to roll offensively throughout the season.
Before the game even started, Tyrod Taylor injured himself during warmups, and rookie QB Justin Herbert was forced to make a spot start in the second week of his NFL career. Widely considered a "project quarterback" that would need time to develop before being ready to play, he was thrown into the frying pan against the World Champs. Herbert responded with an impressive performance. Herbert finished with 311 passing yards and a touchdown to go with a rushing touchdown was impressive; but more impressively, he looked calm under pressure and ready to handle the task at hand much like Joe Burrow in Cincinnati.
We saw a heavy dose of Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley in this game with 261 combined yards from scrimmage. We don't know for sure how long Taylor is expected to miss, but Chargers' Coach Anthony Lynn has already stated that if healthy, Taylor is still the team's starting quarterback. After getting a look at how well Herbert responded in an emergency start, however, one has to wonder how long Lynn can hold off putting his rookie QB back in.
New England Patriots - 30 vs. Seattle Seahawks - 35
Prior to their game with the Seattle Seahawks, Bill Belichick spoke about Russell Wilson and had positive things to say about his competition on Sunday night, "Honestly, I think he's in a way underrated by the media or the fans, I don't know. But I don't really see anybody better than this player," the coach continued, "This guy is a tremendous player." Russell justified the compliments from Coach Belichick during the game, throwing for 5(!) TDs, proving to be too much for the Patriots to handle.
Chris Carson led the team with 17 carries and had 3 receptions one leading to a touchdowns–which marks the second week in a row he had a touchdown in the pass game. It seems safe to assume Carson will continue to be the bell cow for this dynamic offense with Carlos Hyde serving as primary backup. When Wilson is playing this well he makes the entire offense fantasy relevant but D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Carson are must-starts every week.
Cam Newton had the Patriots fighting for the win all the way down to the last second in prime time. Newton on a designed quarterback run was stuffed on the goal line to end the game, and Seattle's defense provided an exclamation point on a back and forth classic. Cam has been the focal point of this offense this season; expect that trend to continue as long as he's healthy. His production is proof of it accounting for 5 touchdowns to 1 turnover in the first two weeks.
Julian Edelman had a huge game with 179 yards on 8 catches. Both N'Keal Harry and Damiere Byrd had 72 yards receiving. Newton has helped elevate this offense with his ability to run the ball, and that seems to have unlocked the potential in his young receivers.
If you have needs at wide receiver following a savage week of injuries across the league, take a chance on Harry or Byrd. As of Monday N'Keal Harry was only rostered in 27% of Yahoo leagues, Damiere Byrd in 0% of Yahoo leagues. I know it's a stretch, but by now we should know that 2020 is not a normal year. Let's get weird.
Cam Newton was willing to target N'Keal Harry and Damiere Byrd in big moments Sunday, which is a positive developme… https://t.co/pdJvyw1sYw— Doug Kyed (@Doug Kyed) 1600776060.0
Welcome to this week’s Wednesday night NBA betting guide.
Last week, I turned $30 into about $1600 with three parlays. You can bet as much or as little as you are comfortable with. I happened to find some great value last week, and I'm here to help you do the same tonight.
Tonight’s biggest favorite is the Atlanta Hawks hosting the Sacramento Kings. Keep an eye on those odds though, as the spread could change depending on the availability of De’Aaron Fox. Now let’s take a look at the best multi-leg parlay of the night, as well as a same-game parlay that could net you a boatload of cash!
Please note that all odds and lines are current as of 2:30 PM EST from FanDuel Sportsbook on Wednesday, January 26.
Top Multi-Leg NBA Parlay Of The Day
Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers (+2)
Although Charlotte has lost a few games as of late, they are one of the most explosive teams in the Eastern Conference. Just a week ago, the Hornets annihilated the Knicks and the Celtics in back-to-back road games. However, the Hornets lost at home against the Hawks on Sunday, and they were bullied by Toronto on the road last night. The Pacers are pretty banged up heading into tonight’s contest. Malcom Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis have all been ruled out for tonight’s contest. Indiana will be without their three most talented players. Meanwhile, T.J. McConnel remains sidelined by his wrist injury. Although Chris Duarte and Lance Stephenson have stepped up in big ways for Indiana in 2022, the Pacers will be forced to rely on back-up guards Keifer Sykes and Duane Washington Jr. tonight.
In contrast, Gordon Hayward is the only big-name player that is currently listed as a GTD ahead of tonight’s contest for Charlotte. Miles Bridges, Lamelo Ball, and Terry Rozier will be in the Hornets’ starting lineup, shedding light on how much stronger their rotation is than Indiana’s. The Hornets are a more inspired and promising team than the Pacers. Charlotte will prevent a three-game skid from happening tonight in Indiana.
For slightly better odds, you can lay the two points that the Hornets are favored by and get a larger potential payout, though the Pacers often play close games, so it's a bit more risky. The Hornets have covered in 60.4% of their contests this season, good for the fourth-best mark in the NBA. They also beat the spread by 1.3 points per game while Indiana’s +/- per game against the spread is -0.1. All the peripheral stats, not to mention the missing talent from the Pacers’ starting lineup, point to a fairly easy victory for Charlotte tonight on the road.
Pick: Charlotte Hornets ML (-130) or Charlotte Hornets -2 (-110)
Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic (-1)
The Clippers are on the road tonight taking on the Orlando Magic. Orlando ranks dead-last in the NBA with a 9-39 record while the Clippers are in the middle of the pack with a 24-25 record. Getting Los Angeles with these favorable odds (+102 on the moneyline) against an inferior opponent is excellent value. Not to mention, Orlando’s average margin of victory or defeat is -8.5 points. For Orlando to win their 10th game of the season, their best chance to do so would be at home, but certainly not against the Clippers. Although Los Angeles is without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, their rotation is definitely more appealing than Orlando's. Ivica Zubac has stepped up in a big way recently for the Clippers, and I think he will create problems for Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. Franz Wagner, who plays like a point forward, will also have difficulties against Zubac in the post. Although Marcus Morris is DTD, the rest of the Clippers (other than PG13 and Kawhi) are healthy. The Magic also have a healthy roster (Fultz remains sidelined) but they have a very slim chance against the sharp-shooting Clippers. Since Orlando has the worst record in the NBA while the Clippers remain in playoff contention in the Western Conference, the Clippers should defeat the Magic, even on the road.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers ML (+102)
Same-Game Parlay Of The Night
Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers (+4)
Leg 1: Bobby Portis Over 1.5 Three’s (-136)
Bobby Portis is having an excellent season. Much of his offensive production is coming from beyond the arc. He’s scoring 15.0 PPG while converting 47.3% of his attempts from the field and is nailing an impressive 41.4% of his shots from three-point range. He’s hit 75 of his 181 threes this season. Additionally, the Cavs are allowing the ninth-best three-point percentage to opposing centers this season. Portis is converting a career-high 1.9 threes per game this season and is attempting more shots from beyond the arc than ever before, evidenced by the fact that 36.9% of his shot attempts are from three-point range. He’s clearly gaining confidence from deep range. Last season, only 26.3% of his shots were from downtown. Portis has drained a three in 11 of 12 games in January and has converted multiple threes in six of those outings. Given all the attention that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton garner, Portis should see plenty of open looks tonight in Cleveland.
Leg 2: Darius Garland Over 22.5 Points (-102)
The always healthy and offensively brilliant Darius Garland should be Cleveland’s biggest scorer tonight. Although he is coming off a 13-point (6-19 FG) dud against the Knicks, he scored at least 20 points in five consecutive contests before stalling out against New York. Though he’s averaging 19.7 PPG this season, he’s averaging more than 20 PPG in January. If Cleveland has any chance tonight, they’ll need massive scoring production from their best playmaker..
Leg 3: Jrue Holiday Over 3.5 Rebounds (-154)
When point guards play more than 30 MPG, they typically grab a handful of rebounds. Although Holiday has been limited to 36 games this season, he is logging 32.6 minutes per game and averaging 4.6 rebounds per contest. This is not because he is a particularly gifted rebounder, but rather that he gets a ton of opportunities given the number of minutes he plays. Like Stephen Curry (who is averaging 5.4 rebounds per game), Jrue Holiday is averaging close to five boards per game for the same reasons. Especially if Cleveland shoots poorly from the field tonight, Holiday should haul in at least four boards.
If Darius Garland hits 23 points or more tonight, this parlay should cash. It makes too much sense for Bobby Portis to drain 2+ threes and for Jrue Holiday to record at least four rebounds. For a +460 3-leg parlay, it doesn’t get safer than this tonight. View the actual bet that I placed on FanDuel below.
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After a plethora of blowouts during Super Wild Card Weekend, the Divisional Round was much more entertaining. All four games were determined by one score and came down to the wire.
Fortunately for the readers of this column, I nailed all four of my predictions for the Divisional Round. I have now correctly identified the winner of all but one game and am 8-2 against the spread in the postseason! We have netted over a grand in the past two weeks. Let’s keep this hot streak going as we gear up for the Conference Championship
After only one underdog was victorious in the Wild Card Round, three of the four road teams moved onto the Conference Championship this past weekend.
Divisional Round Recap
Despite Derrick Henry’s return to the top-seeded Titans, things couldn’t have started any worse for Tennessee. Ryan Tannehill threw the first of three interceptions on the first play from scrimmage and the Bengals were immediately in scoring position. Tennessee’s defense played well and held the Bengals to a field goal. After taking a 6-0 lead, the Titans tied it up behind a goal-line touchdown from King Henry. However, they failed to convert the two-point conversion. Rookie kicker Evan McPherson nailed a 54-yard kick to give the Bengals a 9-6 lead at the half. To begin the second half, Joe Burrow led Cincinnati down the field before Joe Mixon capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown scamper. However, Tennessee scored 10 unanswered points, including a 33-yard touchdown to A.J. Brown. But despite sacking Burrow nine times, the Bengals won the turnover battle. After picking Tannehill off with just 28 seconds to go in the game, Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase on an absolute dart to the sideline, which set up McPherson’s game-winning 52-yard field goal. The rookie kicker was the player of the game despite strong performances from Mixon, Chase, and Tee Higgins.
After upsetting the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay Packers. After Rodgers led Green Bay down the field on the opening drive, rookie running back A.J. Dillon found the end zone on a six-yard scamper. From then on out, it was a defensive and special teams battle. To end the first half, San Francisco blocked Mason Crosby’s 39-yard field-goal attempt. That wouldn’t be the only critical special teams play of the game. After swapping field goals in the second half, San Francisco blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game at 10-10. Although the Niners did next to nothing on offense all day, Jimmy G found a way to get Robbie Gould into field-goal range for a game-winner. He nailed a 45-yard attempt as time expired, upsetting the NFC’s top seed. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones had solid games, but San Francisco’s defense and special teams were tremendous.
Sunday’s games kicked off with what looked to be a blowout. The Rams were in complete control mid-way through the third quarter with a 27-3 lead. However, you can never count out Tom Brady. Brady led three touchdowns drives in the final minutes to tie the game up at 27 with just 46 seconds remaining. However, the Bucs simply could not cover Cooper Kupp. After catching a 70-yard touchdown pass in the first half, Kupp hauled in two massive receptions (20 and 44 yards) to set up a game-winning field goal by Matt Gay. For the third straight game of the weekend, the road underdog was victorious.
Last but not least, we witnessed a game for the ages between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Both quarterbacks were flawless. Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns while adding 69 rushing yards and an additional score. Josh Allen totaled 329 yards through the air, four touchdowns (all to Gabriel Davis), and 68 rushing yards. Down by five points and facing a 4th and 13, Allen threw a dart to a wide-open Davis in the end zone. The Bills then converted a two-point conversion to take a three-point lead. But there was way too much time left on the clock. Mahomes tossed a 64-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill to take a 33-29 lead with just over a minute remaining. Allen then drove his team 75 yards in 75 seconds to take a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds left. Somehow, Mahomes got Harrison Butker into field-goal range on two intermediate passes to Hill and Travis Kelce. The game went into overtime. How fitting? Unfortunately for Bills fans and bettors, the Chiefs won the coin toss and marched down the field fairly easily. On the eighth play of overtime, Mahomes hit Kelce in the right corner of the end zone, ending Buffalo’s postseason hopes. Sean McDermott’s Bills will be back with a vengeance next season and there is officially a rivalry between Buffalo and Kansas City after this epic contest.
So now that we reviewed this past weekend’s contests, let’s take a look at the upcoming matchups in the Conference Championship, as the Chiefs host the Bengals and the Rams host the 49ers. The spreads have changed slightly, so let’s take a look at the opening lines as well as the current lines.
AFC Conference Championship
After each team won their respective games in thrilling fashions in the Divisional Round, bettors will be treated to a Week 17 rematch when the Bengals found a way to defeat the Chiefs, 34-31, on the road. However, Kansas City led 28-17 at the half of that game and it looked like the Chiefs would end up routing Cincinnati before a lackluster second half. Ja’Marr Chase erupted for the most receiving yards in franchise history, the refs made a few horrible calls, and the Chiefs’ offense completely stalled out. I don’t foresee that happening in a playoff atmosphere when everything is on the line.
The Chiefs are the more talented and well-rounded team with more offensive firepower and they arguably have the best quarterback in the NFL. With Patrick Mahomes under center, the Chiefs are 8-2 in the postseason contests. Those two losses occurred against Tom Brady. Although Joe Burrow is becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, he is not the GOAT. Burrow and his weapons at the wide receiver position will create tons of mismatches against Kansas City’s depleted secondary (especially if Tyrann Mathieu doesn’t play), but the Bengals’ offense can be slowed down by a solid pass rush and zone coverage.
The Chiefs have scored 42 points in back-to-back outings and should have no trouble against a middle-of-the-pack defense after dominating Buffalo’s top-rated defensive unit last week. Kansas City has all of their playmakers back at full strength on the offensive side of the ball and even their running game looked solid against the Bills. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon both should have pivotal roles in the Conference Championship, but the Chiefs are still going to rely on the passing game.
Although the total is a very high number (54.5 points), this is going to be a shootout, so I would suggest taking the over. A whopping 97% of the money thus far on Over / Under bets is on the Over. I’m following the smart money on this one. And despite a full touchdown spread, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs blew the Bengals out this week. Chiefs win and cover.
- Pick: Chiefs (-7)
- Prediction: 37-26
- Bonus: Over 54.5 Points
NFC Conference Championship
The Niners snuck into the postseason after overcoming a 17-point deficit to the Rams in Week 18 and eventually winning in overtime. Kyle Shanahan has beaten Sean McBay six times in a row and San Francisco seems to be the more physical team at the line of scrimmage, though Aaron Donald does make that difficult for San Francisco’s offensive line. Trent Williams’ return to the offensive line will certainly help the Niners’ pass protection and run blocking. Expect Eli Mitchell to get a ton of touches in order to keep the ball out of Stafford’s hands.
Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp have been phenomenal all season long, but the Niners realized that they were even better when facing the blitz. Stafford was the fourth-highest graded quarterback this season when facing blitzes. That’s why he was so effective against the Bucs last week, as Tampa blitzed Stafford a season-high 17 times, including on the game-winning pass to Cooper Kupp that set up Matt Gay’s field goal. Meanwhile, San Francisco managed to get pressure by just rushing four players. They blitzed Stafford a combined 14% in both games this season. Since the Niners are a little weak in the secondary, they have forced Stafford to make tough decisions by dropping linebackers into coverage. That’s the only way to defeat this Rams team and Shanahan knows it.
On offense, Jimmy Garoppolo has been very effective in throwing the ball down the middle of the field against Los Angeles. In their two meetings this season, Jimmy G completed 29-of-36 attempts for 319 yards and three touchdowns over the middle of the field. Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle will play pivotal roles in San Francisco’s upset bid.
All that said, the Rams are still the more complete team and their quarterback is far superior to Garoppolo. After losing Robert Woods to a season-ending ACL injury, they signed Odell Beckham Jr., who now has scored six touchdowns since joining the team after failing to find the end zone with Cleveland over the first half of the season. Beckham’s chemistry with Stafford has improved every week and Cooper Kupp remains unstoppable. Nobody in the 49ers’ secondary is going to be able to cover Kupp one-on-one so expect a ton of zone coverage. Still, Kupp should be able to find open space, and when he is double-teamed, Stafford will look for OBJ, Van Jefferson, or Tyler Higbee.
And don’t forget that the Rams did not have Cam Akers in the lineup for the previous two meetings between these two franchises. Akers provides much-needed explosion out of the backfield for the Rams. Although I expect the Niners to cover the spread and make this game a nail-biter, Los Angeles should come out on top if they can avoid costly turnovers.
- Pick: 49ers (+3)
- Prediction: 24-23 Rams
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Super Wild Card Weekend featured some great games that came down to some riveting finishes.
We also saw our fair share of blowouts. It was a wild beginning to the NFL postseason, specifically the way the Dallas Cowboys were unable to snap the ball before time expired against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners were the only road team to win in the first week of the playoffs. We went 4-2 with our Best Bets of the week but correctly identified all six winners in their respective matchups.
Super Wild Card Weekend Recap
In the first playoff game of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals snapped their 31-year playoff game drought, as they dispatched the Las Vegas Raiders, 26-19. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase were absolutely fantastic in their first playoff appearance, connecting nine times for 116 yards. Still, Derek Carr managed to march the Raiders down the field for a final attempt to force overtime. Unfortunately for Raiders' bettors and fans, Carr was picked off by Germaine Pratt with 17 seconds remaining, officially clinching the Bengals’ first playoff victory in 31 years.
The second game this weekend was not nearly as exciting. In what was expected to be a tight game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, Josh Allen dominated from start to finish. The game was over before the second half began, as Buffalo led 27-3 at halftime. Allen had a perfect passing rating after completing 25 of 31 passes for 308 yards and five touchdowns. He additionally turned six carries into 66 rushing yards. And miraculously, he hit nine different receivers in this game. Mac Jones threw two late touchdowns to Kendrick Bourne in garbage time, but the Bills defeated the Patriots, 47-17.
Sunday kicked off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers smoking the Philadelphia Eagles. Jalen Hurts looked uncomfortable all day as the Bucs’ defense was finally at full strength. Tom Brady tossed two touchdowns, and despite missing Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, the Buccaneers’ running game was actually pretty solid. Both Ke’Shawn Vaugh and Gio Bernard scored touchdowns. At the end of three quarters, the Bucs led 31-0. Hurts led the Eagles to two late touchdown drives, but it was too little too late. The Bucs moved on easily after defeating Philly, 31-15.
In the most exciting game of the weekend, the San Francisco 49ers pulled off the upset in Dallas. San Francisco dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Eli Mitchell and Deebo Samuel both had excellent days on the ground, and San Francisco sacked Dak Prescott five times and forced an interception. However, the Cowboys marched back from a 16-point deficit and had an opportunity to win the game on the final drive of the game. With 14 seconds remaining, Prescott took off from midfield and slid at the 33-yard line. Before the Cowboys could get set and spike the ball for a final throw to the end zone, time expired. The Niners won, 23-17.
After a slow start on offense and a defensive touchdown by T.J. Watt that gave Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead, the Kansas City Chiefs got it going in the second quarter. Mahomes tallied over 400 yards and five touchdowns. Even Travis Kelce threw a touchdown of his own. The Chiefs won this game with ease, 49-21. Ben Roethlisberger has likely played his last game in the NFL.
The final game of the Wild Card Round was expected to be a close divisional matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams. Instead, the Rams went up 21-0 by the end of the first half and never looked back. Odell Beckham Jr. had a great game and Matthew Stafford did an excellent job protecting the football. It was also great to see Cam Akers playing with some serious burst and speed considering it’s been just six months since he tore his ACL. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray was atrocious in the first playoff game of his career. He threw two interceptions (including one head-scratching desperate heave from his own end zone that resulted in a pick-six). The Cardinals have a talented roster, but without DeAndre Hopkins, they simply imploded late in the season. They will be back with a vengeance next season and for many years to come.
So now that we reviewed this weekend’s contest, let’s take a look at the upcoming matchups in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. The spreads have changed in certain games, so let’s take a look at the opening lines as well as the current lines.
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Saturday Divisional Round Picks
The Bengals and Titans could not be more different when it comes to their respective offensive identities. The Bengals are a pass-heavy team with a stud quarterback in Joe Burrow and one of the best receiver tandems in the league featuring Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. Don’t get me wrong, they can absolutely run the ball well too with superstar Joe Mixon, but Zac Taylor will look to exploit Tennessee’s secondary. The Titans allowed 245.2 passing yards per game, the eighth-worst in the NFL. It will be difficult to find any running room for Mixon, as Tennessee permitted just 84.6 rushing yards per game, the second-fewest in the league.
On the other side of the ball, the Titans will attempt to run the ball down Cincinnati’s throats, especially with the triumphant return of Derrick Henry. Henry may not be at full strength, but he is an upgrade over D’Onta Foreman, though Foreman should still get some carries in this matchup. That said, Cincinnati allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game this season. Ryan Tannehill is going to have to air it out so that the offense doesn’t become so predictable. A.J. Brown is a matchup nightmare for the Bengals’ secondary and Julio Jones could serve as a solid red-zone threat after scoring his first touchdown of the season in Week 18.
Last week, I only picked one upset, but this week’s matchups seem much more even. The Titans are a good football team and are incredibly well-coached, however, the Bengals have a much more explosive offense. If Burrow and Chase can perform as they did against the Raiders, I expect Cincinnati to pull off the upset and knock out the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
- Pick: Bengals (+3.5)
- Prediction: 27-23 Bengals
After getting some much-needed rest, the Green Bay Packers will host the red-hot San Francisco 49ers. Although the Niners are in good spirits, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a minor shoulder injury, and defensive stud Nick Bosa suffered a concussion in San Francisco’s thrilling victory over the Cowboys. Without Bosa, I’m not sure the Niners have much of a chance at defending Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams. If Bosa is active, an upset isn’t out of the question. The 49ers’ secondary is the weakest unit on their roster. Without Bosa to put pressure on Rodgers, the reigning MVP will have way too much time in the pocket to find his talented receivers.
Kyle Shannahan will continue to do what the Niners do best and that is run the ball. Eli Mitchell and Deebo Samuel should combine for 30 touches in this game. San Francisco will attempt to move the chains and kill some clock to limit the number of possessions that Rodgers gets. Fortunately for San Francisco, the Packers allowed the third-most rushing yards per game this season.
Both offenses should thrive in this game, as each team’s offensive has several matchups to exploit. Davante Adams is going to have a massive game. Don’t be surprised if he catches 10 passes for 150 yards and multiple touchdowns. However, the 49ers are a very physical team, and if they can dominate the line of scrimmage as they did against the Cowboys, they have a shot at upsetting Green Bay at Lambeau Field. With the weather forecast calling for snow, that benefits San Francisco’s style of play, though the Packers are used to playing in cold weather. It may be a bit harder for Rodgers to get the passing game going in these conditions, but he’s a veteran with years of experience in these types of games. While I expect the 49ers to cover the spread, Green Bay will sneak into the Conference Championship by converting a last-second field goal.
- Pick: 49ers (+5.5)
- Prediction: 26-24 Packers
- Bonus: Over 47.5 Points
Sunday Divisional Round Picks
The Rams played mistake-free football Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals and now must head to Raymond James Stadium to take on Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl champions. Although the Bucs handled the Philadelphia Eagles quite easily, the Rams are a completely different type of foe with one of the best head coaches in the NFL. Los Angeles has defeated Tampa Bay twice over the past two seasons and will look to make it three straight. We all know that the only way to make Tom Brady uncomfortable in the pocket is to pressure him up the middle. Fortunately for the Rams, they have a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald. Plus, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller will make life difficult for TB12.
Without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, Brady performed well against the Eagles. He hit Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski each for a touchdown. Cameron Brate made a few decent plays, but Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman, and Scotty Miller are no match for the Rams’ secondary. Jalen Ramsey will likely shadow Evans, which will force the Bucs to run the ball or throw to their least trustworthy pass catchers. Even if running back Leonard Fournette returns to action, the Rams allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game this season. Something tells me Brady is going to have to play one of his best games to move on in the postseason.
All that said, Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ offense need to show up. We can’t get the inconsistent Rams that we saw towards the end of the regular season. Los Angeles needs to remain balanced on offense, mixing in Cam Akers and Sony Michel, while utilizing Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Higbee, and Van Jefferson.
Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles RamsGetty Images
Stafford needs to protect the football. Whoever wins the turnover battle in this contest will move on to the NFC Conference Championship.
Although only 50% of the bets on the spread right now are backing the Rams, a whopping 91% of the money has been wagered on Los Angeles covering the three-point handicap. I’m following the smart money and taking the Rams, though I’ll go a bit further and say that Los Angeles upsets Tampa Bay on the road, ending Tom Brady’s hopes of back-to-back Super Bowl titles with the Bucs.
- Pick: Rams (+3)
- Prediction: 30-23 Rams
This is the matchup that we have all been waiting for. Many pundits expect the winner of this game to win the Super Bowl, myself included. Both Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes were excellent during the Wild Card Round. In fact, Allen actually had a perfect passer rating. Mahomes was close, but he did throw an interception in the first quarter. Each quarterback threw for five touchdowns apiece. They also have some of the best weapons in the league in their respective arsenals. Will Buffalo’s league-best defense be able to limit Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce? That’s the big question.
Last year in the Divisional Round, the Chiefs defeated the Bills in a fairly comfortable fashion. This year’s Buffalo squad is much better than it was last year with the improvement of Devin Singletary, Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox, and Isaiah McKenzie, plus the addition of Emmanuel Sanders. And don’t forget Stefon Diggs. This offense has some serious firepower and the defense has shut down opponents all year long.
If Buffalo’s defensive line can out-work Kansas City’s offensive line, Mahomes could be scrambling for his life, much as he did in last year’s Super Bowl. That’s clearly the recipe to success against this high-powered Chiefs offense. If this game were being played in Buffalo, I am convinced that Josh Allen would lead the Bills to victory. However, playing at Arrowhead is no easy task. Kansas City’s fans will make things difficult for Buffalo’s offensive line. And although the Chiefs have improved through the year on defense, Buffalo has too many skill players to cover on any given down. This is going to be an absolute shoot-out. Buffalo is more well-rounded, but if their defense doesn’t get to Mahomes, the Chiefs will light up the scoreboard just as they did against the Steelers last week.
Overall, this is a bit of a coin flip. I don’t love betting on this game as both teams deserve to move onto the Conference Championship, but if I had a gun to my head, I have to go with Mahomes and the Chiefs.
- Pick: Chiefs (-2)
- Prediction: 34-31
- Bonus: Over 55 Points