As the NFL postseason got underway last week, it became clear we need to make some halftime adjustments with our picks this week.
The Ravens were an easy cover for us, especially once Lamer found his groove and the grooves in Tennessee's D. Throw in a few head scratching punts by Mike Vrabel and that does the trick.
Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs came up two catches short for us with three targets left on the table. It was always going to be tough to get that many grabs, but it was worth a few bucks just to see what would happen.
Please, please, please remind me never to bet unders. I haven't hit one all year and yet the siren's song calls me to shore. I maintain this is the best one I bet all year. The pick 6 and DK Metcalf bomb in the second quarter killed after the best start imaginable. After 15 minutes, we had a combined score of 3, 15 minutes of game time later? 30. Bananas.
Then I don't really know what else to say about Pittsburgh losing to Baker Mayfield and co. that hasn't already been said. I just have to edit my list of completely impossible things to put, "Snowing in the Sahara desert," and "Taylor Swift ever getting back together with Jake Gyllenhaal" above "The Browns beating the Steelers in the playoffs."
After an up and down 2020 regular season, it turns out we saved one of our best weeks for last.
The Packers and Bills well exceeded expectations, completely dismantling their possible playoff opponents in the final week. Tough break for the Dolphins, they didn't have the luxury of backing in the way Chicago did.
Surprisingly, the biggest blowout came from Derrick Henry, who managed to double his over/under number against a busted Texans' D, win back-to-back rushing titles, and become the eight man in NFL history to crack 2,000 yards.
All that being said, you'd think the Titans ran away with this one, but their own malfunctioning defense kept Deshaun Watson in the game to the very last second. It took a ricochet off an upright to seal the deal in regulation, signaling a shorter playoff stay for this year's Titans.
Pittsburgh Steelers -6 over Cleveland Browns
This one doesn't even seem fair. The Steelers bring the most pressure in the NFL, and have two of the most effective pass rushers in the league between T.J. Watt and Stephen Tuitt, who're beating their man at 29% and 13% of the time, respectively. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield has always folded under pressure, and it's only gotten worse this year. The man might be able to act his way through any commercial thrown his way, but standing in behind his offensive line has proven more difficult than being in front of the camera. The Steelers offense seems to have righted the ship in the final weeks, Ben just needing to get the ball out to his playmakers to look halfway decent. This all goes without saying, the Browns are currently being ravaged by COVID, preventing practices all week, and knocking out a chunk of the coaching staff, which includes Kevin Stefanski. He's the man who took this team from lost on offense to the playoffs in one season by actually maximizing the team's strengths. Without him at the helm, I wouldn't trust Baker and co. to handle this one on their own.
Ravens -3 over Titans
In what seems to be a budding rivalry, the Titans and Ravens will square off in a rematch of last year's divisional round game that concluded with Baltimore looking positively pedestrian. That loss robbed us of the Chiefs/Ravens and Mahomes/Jackson showdown in the championship game that everyone wanted, especially in Lamar's breakout MVP season. This year, the tables have turned and the Ravens will be visiting the division-winning Titans, but it feels like even more of a lock that Baltimore will prevail. Tennessee's defense has left plenty to be desired (see: Texans, Houston) and their offensive line isn't the same group of hogmollies who bulldozed their way through the 2019 playoffs. If you have a hard time containing Deshaun Watson, I'd hate to be in the film room prepping for this opponent. Since his fourth quarter resurrection against the aptly-named Browns, Lamar has looked like his transcendent self. One of the Titans biggest weaknesses, their red zone defense, which allowed 69% of drives that get within the 20 to end in a touchdown, plays to Lamar's biggest strengths. He's responsible for a whopping 46 TDs in the red zone and not a single interception. That alone should be enough to allow them to skate into the next round.
LaMAr jAcKSoN cAn’T ThrOW https://t.co/Xh3bx3nefB— Sarah Ellison (@Sarah Ellison)1609698594.0
Stefon Diggs over 7.5 Receptions
When the Bills traded for Diggs this offseason, you have to imagine they would've settled for two thirds of the production the vet receiver has given them. The idea of him leading the league in both catches and yards must have been so beyond their wildest dreams, it wouldn't even have made the vision board. But that's exactly what he did, unlocking Josh Allen and the Bills offense in the process. Now 7.5 feels high, but it's a number he's hit in six of the final eight games of the season, and the last week of the season he got to seven before being pulled from the blowout. The Bills have managed to smoke teams with their offense, refusing to take their foot off the pedal, which they might have to do against a Colts team that can hang offensively with Phil Rivers and shut down the run game with Deforest Buckner. It's safe to say that Diggs is going to be a busy man, if the Bills want to win. Most importantly, the man cares about his dental health.
LMAOOOOO https://t.co/okooFHd4Q7— Warren Sharp (@Warren Sharp)1609700166.0
Seahawks/Rams under 42.5
Best case scenario for the Ram? Jared Goff, fresh from the operating table, will return as their wildly up-and-down starting quarterback. Worst case scenario? John Wolford, he of AAF success and one career start, will be leading the charge against a blossoming Seattle D. They've managed to improve at historic levels, allowing 47% less points per game in the back half of the season. Jamal Adams has invigorated the defense, and I'd bet on him eating the lunch of whatever starter McVay has to throw out there. On the flip side, the Los Angeles Rams have the number one ranked defense in the NFL, powered by the fiercest player and most innovative coordinator in the league. They are equally prepared to shutdown the pass and run game, not giving up 100 yards to a running back or 300 yards to a QB, excepting Josh Allen, all season long. In previous matchups against Seattle, the Rams allowed 16 points in a victory and 20 points in a loss, allowing a combined 625 yards and 35 first downs.
The Browns losing to the Jets, even without all of their starting wide receivers, seems like something from an alternate reality.
Sure, if I'd heard that before writing this column, I wouldn't have taken them -9.5, but laying that big of an egg with the team's first playoff berth in 17 years is mind boggling.
Back in this dimension, the Washington Football Team was relying on Dwayne Haskins, which in turn, means we were relying on Dwayne Haskins. If you haven't heard, he isn't on the team anymore, so that pretty much sums up the betting-on-Dwayne-Haskins experience.
Lastly, the Colts looked like the easiest money anyone could've made on Sunday. In the early morning hours, before kickoff, they had moved to +1 underdogs. For nearly three quarters of football, they made everyone look ridiculous for believing that Pittsburgh could pull out of their recent tailspin. Suddenly, the Indianapolis offense sputtered, producing nothing of value, while the Steelers soared behind the arm of Big Ben, clinching the AFC North title. It was a little like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
As for our win, Jalen Hurts easily surpassed his 232.5 passing yards against the weak Dallas D. Thank the man for keeping us from winless.
We were robbed of a 3-1 week by another backdoor push by a NFC South team against the Chiefs, who had long since taken their foot off the gas.
Week 15 Vibe Check (2-1-1) - Neither the Saints nor the Bucs were ever in those games, but they did exactly enough in garbage time to send us to gambling purgatory.
Meanwhile, the Vikings effectively drove a knife through their season and all my parlays by letting the Bears run roughshod over them. Who knew the depths that they could fall to against the Saints? Can't imagine that it was a happy flight back home for the holidays.
As for our wins, let's praise the Dolphins for handling their business against division rivals/former tormentors. The Patriots have a way of hanging around in games that they have no business hanging around in and Miami might as well have nailed up a "No Loitering" sign. Out in the Arizona desert, we got a shootout worthy of Tombstone to secure the over. The emergence of Jalen Hurts was a Hail Mary that might save Doug Pederson's future in Philly and my fantasy team from finishing in the bottom half of the league.