2020 NFL DIVISIONAL WEEKEND
2020 NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS (ATS)
All times Eastern Standard Time
ALL SPREADS ARE COURTESY OF CAESARS HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS @ THE TIME OF ANALYSIS
Saturday January 16th, 2021 4:35pm
(6) LA Rams @ (1) GB Packers LAR+6 ½
LW, LAR surprised SEA @SEA, 30-20. LAR had the lead throughout this game and SEA was playing catchup. LAR DEF was able to sack SEA QB Russell Wilson 5x. The SEA OFF was never able to get in a rhythm and LAR seemed to have its way in this game. LAR QB John Wolford started the game but suffered a neck injury early in the 1st qtr on a QB run. He left the game and Jared Goff came in and played the rest of the game. Goff didn’t throw the ball much because LAR RB Cam Akers rushed 28x for 131yds and 1TD. Overall, LAR rushed for 164yds and the SEA DEF couldn’t make stops. SEA rushed for 136 yds but it seemed that most of that yardage was gained when SEA was deep in their own territory. LAR DT Aaron Donald had two sacks of Wilson but on the 2nd sack injured his ribs and left the game. He has stated that he will be playing this week @GB. GB is coming off a bye and GB QB Aaron Rodgers is coming off one of his greatest seasons ever as the GB QB. He had a 70.7 % completion percentage with 48tds & only 5INTs. With RB Aaron Jones having another 1000yd season this opens up a lot of field for Rodgers. RB Jamaal Williams had a nice backup season with 505yds which gave Jones a needed rest between snaps. WR Davantae Adams had 18tds which led the league for receivers. This is where these two teams differ dramatically. LAR #1 TOT DEF w/#1 PASS DEF & #3 RUSH DEF. This DEF has been known to shut down opponents completely although they did lose 2x to SF, NYJ, @SEA, @BUFF & @MIA. GB has been known to give up yardage to teams but has been stingy in the redzone. GB #9 TOT DEF w/ #7 PASS DEF & #13 RUSH DEF. GB lost @TB, vs MINN & @INDY. But GB finished strong with a six game winning streak. These two teams didn’t play this season but did play in 2018 @LAR where LAR won the game 29-27. That was a close game to the end. I expect this to be a close game to the end with it may coming down to a fg. I see GB winning this game in a last drive by Rodgers that ends in a fg but not by a td. However, it should be a good game. If Goff plays for LAR he better not have any of those moments that he doesn’t look like he can do it because LAR has seen the future with Wolford if he is available. Take the LAR and the points here.
THE PICK: LAR+6 ½ 3 STARS
Saturday January 16th, 2021 8:15pm
(5) Baltimore Ravens @ (2) Buffalo Bills BALT+2 ½
LW, BALT played ball control @TENN. They limited TENN RB Derrick Henry to 40 yds rushing on 18 carries in the win by BALT, 20-13. The BALT DEF put it all on the shoulders of TENN QB Ryan Tannehill who has transformed himself since coming over from MIA a couple of seasons ago. Tannehill didn’t turn the ball over until very late in the game but he did a good job taking what the BALT DEF was giving him. However, the BALT DEF forced TENN to punt 5x and stopped them from running away with the game when TENN was leading early, 10-0. This was a battle of a game but there was pressure on BALT QB Lamar Jackson who had lost his first two playoff games in his first two seasons to win this one. Jackson rushed for 136yds & 1td on 16 carries and passed the ball 17/24 for 179 yds with 0TDs & 1INT. The INT by Jackson did turn into 3pts by TENN. BALT did have a missed fg which would have given BALT a little bit of a cushion down the stretch. But overall, it was the BALT DEF that did the job controlling this game. LW, BUFF was up @HOME, 24-10 vs INDY and BUFF let INDY back in this game to make it close but no cigar as BUFF won 27-24. Had INDY not missed a fg in the 3rd qtr, this game may have gone to OT. BUFF QB Josh Allen did play a fine game and he was the leading rusher for BUFF with 54yds & 1TD on 11 carries. But with the BALT DEF loading the box it will take the arm of Allen to try to pull out a win this week. BUFF WR Stefon Diggs had a nice game vs INDY with six catches for 128 yds and 1td. But, the BALT DEF will certainly be setting its sights on shutting him down. Allen has shown a propensity for spreading the ball around and has gotten better in 2020 but he surely will be tested against BALT if his first passing option is shut down. BALT will load the box vs BUFF like they did vs TENN and will make BUFF QB Josh Allen beat them with his arm. BALT #8 RUSH DEF. The BALT DEF has come on strong late in the season and stopped teams from getting into a groove on OFF. I see this as a tight game with low scoring. A fg will decide this game unless BALT gets their running game going so good that BUFF cannot stop it at all. BUFF #16 RUSH DEF. BUFF will have fans in the stands but BALT HC John Harbaugh has been here before and knows how to play in the playoffs. Any turnovers will be costly in this game but I see it going down to the end. I like BALT and the points but I wish they were getting the full 3pts instead of 2 ½ . Anyway, this should be a good game but, BALT should prevail.
THE PICK: BALT+2 ½ 3 STARS
Sunday January 17th, 2021 3:05pm
(6) Cleveland Browns @ (1) KC Chiefs CLEVE+10
LW, CLEVE was the recipient of 5 PITT turnovers in their thrashing of PITT in the wild card game @PITT. The game started off with a bad snap by C Maurkice Pouncey that resulted in a CLEVE td and then it was all downhill from there for PITT. PITT was down 35-10 at the half. However, with the score CLEVE 35-23 in the 3rd qtr, PITT had a 4th and 1 with momentum going in their direction but, PITT HC Mike Tomlin did not make the right call and ended up punting back to CLEVE who then scored a td to make the score 42-23. You could turn your sets off there. In this game, CLEVE scored 24pts off four of PITT’s turnovers. Extra gifts for the other team like that and you can’t win. CLEVE played a very good game in their own right. CLEVE QB Baker Mayfield was 21/34 for 263yds, 3tds, 0INTS, 0fumbles. He wasn’t even sacked 1x so, he had plenty of time to find receivers. CLEVE also rushed for 127yds & 2tds behind the combo of RB Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt. Mayfield was able to find seven different receivers for passes as the PITT DEF was on the field for a very long time. This could be the last game for PITT QB Ben Roethlisberger as he threw 47/68 for 501yds with 4tds, 4INTs. He’s 38yds old and doesn’t have anything to prove. KC had the best record in the AFC and is the #1 seed. They had a bye last week and KC QB Pat Mahomes rested in wk 17. In 2020, KC went 7-1 SU in their last eight games but they were 0-7-1 ATS. This says that KC was not as steady as in 2019 when they went 9-0 SU & 9-0 ATS in their last six regular season games and the playoffs. KC DEF in 2020 is #16 TOT DEF w/#14 PASS DEF & #21 RUSH DEF. In 2019 KC was #17 TOT DEF w/#8 PASS DEF & 26 RUSH DEF. CLEVE has a nice 1-2 RB punch that may teams cannot handle. If they get going, CLEVE has given teams trouble and may give KC trouble. CLEVE #3 RUSH OFF. KC has two explosive weapons on OFF with TE Travis Kelce & WR Tyreek Hill. Hill sat out wk 17 with a hamstring injury but will probably be ready for this game. Kelce had his best season as a pro and will certainly be on CLEVE’s radar. CLEVE has a tough task in front of them. CLEVE and KC haven’t played each other since 2018 when in wk 9 @CLEVE, KC won 37-21. This game was never in doubt for KC as CLEVE was playing cathcup the whole game. However, this is a totally different CLEVE team and the HC is better equipped and has handled things better than previous coaches. But the key for CLEVE is ball control. They have to keep Mahomes off the field as much as possible. CLEVE needs scoring drives that take up eight minutes or more to limit Mahomes from getting into a rhythm. If CLEVE can force a couple of turnovers and play error free football themselves, they actually have a shot at an upset. I doubt KC will have five turnovers like PITT did last week but, I can see a couple. I like that CLEVE is playing loose and that they have a chance to keep it close. By the way, CLEVE RB Kareem Hunt playing against his former team, does he have motivation? I guess we’ll find out. KC will win but only by a fg. Take CLEVE and the points here.
THE PICK: CLEVE+10 5 STARS
Sunday January 17th, 2021 6:40pm
(5) TB Buccaneers @ (2) NO Saints TB+3
LW, NO @HOME was toying with CHI. NO used ball control to eat up a lot of clock and keep the ball out of the hands of CHI. NO ran the ball 35x for 123 yds and 1td. CHI QB Mitch Trubisky had a manageable game going 19/29, 199yds, 1td, 0INTs but, it wasn’t a great game and he probably will not be wearing a CHI uniform next season. The DEF for NO made stops when they needed to and didn’t let CHI get into the endzone until the last second of the game. But, by that time it was too late and the final score was NO 21-9. NO QB Drew Brees spread the ball around to ten different receivers which had the CHI DEF guessing all game. Also, NO RB Alvin Kamara rushed 23x for 99yds and 1td. However, a missed fg and a fumble by NO made the halftime score a close one at NO 7-3. CHI was in striking range but NO made adjustments in the 2nd half and didn’t allow CHI to get anything going while scoring 2tds themselves. LW, TB went on the road and beat WASH 31-23. The spread was TB-8 and an extra point missed early in the game by TB would be the difference in a win and a PUSH. TB had the lead in the game from the get go and WASH was playing catchup all game. WASH QB Taylor Heinicke played a very good game for a guy with little experience in the NFL but he couldn’t do it alone. He was the leading rusher for WASH with 46yds on 6 carries & 1TD. TB ran the ball successfully 29x for 142yds and 1TD including RB Leonard Fournette who rushed 19x for 93yds and 1td. The WASH DEF was able to sack TB QB Tom Brady 3x but he was able to throw 2tds, 0INTS vs the WASH DEF. The WASH secondary gave up a lot of yardage when they needed to make a stop. TB and NO have met 2x in 2020 and NO has won both times. In wk 1 @NO, NO won 34-23 and in wk 9 @TB on SNF, NO crushed TB, 38-3. Can a team beat another team 3x in a season? It has been done. One of those times is in 1999 when the JAGS, yes the JAGS coached by Tom Coughlin were 14-2 and went to the AFC Championship game that year. JAGS @HOME, played TENN but lost 33-14. Their other two losses were, wk 3 vs TENN, 20-19 & wk 16 @TENN 41-14. It can be done. So, TENN beat the JAGS 3x on their way to SB 34 where they lost to the STL RAMS 23-16. The DEF for NO has gotten better and tighter as the season has wore on. NO has had INTS by ten different defenders. NO #4 TOT DEF, w/#5 PASS DEF & #4 RUSH DEF. This is definitely NO QB Drew Brees last season and NO would at least like to make a nice run and Brees could go out with a bang. What NO should do in this game because TB is susceptible to the pass TB #21 PASS DEF is when QB Taysom Hill comes in for NO, they should make it look totally like a run and have him pass the ball, it will catch TB completely off guard. TB & Brady have had a nice run but this is where it ends. TB will try to get their run game going but NO is not WASH and will be looking for it up front. NO goes for the Trifecta and they get it. Lay the points here.
THE PICK: NO-3 5 STARS