2020 NFL WILDCARD WEEKEND
2020 NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND (ATS)
All times Eastern Standard Time
ALL SPREADS ARE COURTESY OF CAESARS HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS @ THE TIME OF ANALYSIS
Saturday January 9th, 2021 1:05pm
(7) Indianapolis Colts @ (2) Buffalo Bills INDY+6 ½
LW, BUFF needed a win @HOME vs MIA to secure the #2 seed. They beat MIA 56-26. I liked this game as my pick of the week because MIA was without QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the bullpen if things got away from MIA QB Tua Tagovailoa. Plus, MIA needed the game to get into the playoffs. But BUFF wanted it more and they controlled the game from the outset. LW, INDY @HOME needed to beat the JAGS to get into the playoffs. They needed MIA to lose and they got that as well. At the beginning of INDY’s game it looked like a blowout when INDY was up 20-0 but, the JAGS showed some life with 2tds to make the score 20-14. INDY added a td and a 2pt conversion to make the final score 28-14. INDY let their guard down and let JAGS think they had a shot in this game for the upset. INDY was a FAV @-14 and the 2pt conversion made it a push. But, the INDY DEF can be attacked and exploited. Look at the game @PITT just a week earlier. INDY had a big lead and with no rushing game to speak of, PITT’s Big Ben threw pass after pass and came back and beat INDY. At one time this season, INDY had the #1 TOT DEF. They have slipped. INDY #8 TOT DEF w/ #19 PASS DEF & #2 RUSH DEF. The reason why BUFF is a stronger candidate to go further in the playoffs in 2020 than in 2019 is, WR Stefon Diggs. He had his best season as a Pro with 127 catches for 1535 yds and 8tds. Diggs added a dimension to the BUFF receiver corps that they didn’t have before, a legitimate #1 receiver. Also, with Diggs it takes a lot of focus away from the other receivers and opens up the OFF. With WR John Brown coming back and Cole Beasley available, BUFF will have a full arsenal of receivers for QB Josh Allen to target. However, Diggs is bothered by an oblique injury and Beasley is bothered by a leg injury and both are questionable right now for this game. But I expect them both to suit up for this game @HOME vs INDY. If the BUFF DEF can put pressure on INDY QB Philip Rivers BUFF will have this game won easily. Rivers is prone to mistakes when pressure is applied. BUFF will be allowing a certain amount of fans in the stands for this game and I expect them to be loud. BUFF will be pumped for this game and I expect them to win and cover. Josh Allen has improved from 2019 and should be able to take BUFF on a deep run. One psychological aspect about this game, INDY QB Philip Rivers has hinted that this may be his last season. When you say it, you already think it and he is probably already there. Don’t be surprised if he has a bad game. Lay the points here.
THE PICK: BUFF-6 ½ 5 STARS
Saturday January 9th, 2021 4:40pm
(6) LA Rams @ (3) Seattle Seahawks LAR+3 ½
LW, LAR were @HOME vs ARZ. ARZ needed the game to get into the playoffs and LAR were without QB Jared Goff because of his thumb. QB Jon Wolford played for he RAMS and he did a pretty good job considering he never played in an NFL game before. Well LAR won 18-7. The turning point was when ARZ QB Kyler Murray had been knocked out of the game and their backup QB Chris Streveler who hadn’t thrown a pass in the NFL but, won a Grey Cup in the CFL. threw an INT that was returned for a td. This put ARZ in a hole that they never recovered from. LAR have been up and down for most of the season and hard to figure out. LAR lost both games to SF during the season and @BUFF, @MIA, vs NYJ & then @SEA in wk 16. The loss to the NYJ was extremely disturbing as LAR was a FAV-17 in this game. LAR looked pitiful from the beginning in this one and they deserved to lose as NYJ came out strong with LAR not responding whether it was OFF or DEF. SEA on the other hand split with LAR during the season, lost @ARZ, @BUFF and then took it on the chin @HOME in wk 13 vs NYG. The NYG game was a complete surprise but a wakeup call as SEA was a heavy FAV in that one, -10. The fact that SEA S Jamal Adams will be on the field for this game gives LAR QB Jared Goff headaches. Goff is terrible at reading blitzes and Adams will fake Goff into thinking he’s blitzing and forcing Goff into mistakes. Goff was terrible in wk 16 @SEA when he injured his thumb and couldn’t run for a 1st down that would have extended a LAR drive. Goff also couldn’t get into the endzone from the one foot line that would have tied the game early on. Hence LAR lost that game 20-9. The rest of the SEA DEF has gotten better as the season has progressed. SEA was #32 TOT DEF for a while, now they are #22 TOT DEF. That is a big improvement for SEA. The secondary is nowhere near the “Legion of Boom” but, they cannot be taken for granted anymore. SEA will be pumped up for this one and they will certainly want to make a statement. SEA has always been one of those dangerous teams that no one wants to play in the playoffs and LAR get them in the 1st round. I can’t see SEA losing in the own building in the playoffs to LAR. Yes LAR has a DEF that is good but they have a tendency to be lacksidasacal at times. If this game was @LAR, I would say LAR would have the advantage but even without fans, SEA is a tough place to play come DEC & JAN. HC Carroll has been unbeatable in playoff games played @SEA and that has been the trend. Lay the points here as Carroll & CO roll on.
THE PICK: SEA-3 ½ 5 STARS
Saturday January 9th, 2021 8:15pm
(5) TB Buccaneers @ (4) Washington Football Team WASH+8
LW, WASH barely got by @PHILLY, 20-14. WASH looked pathetic on OFF against a PHILLY DEF that had been picked on all season. Congratulations to WASH QB Alex Smith who has made it all the way back from his leg injury in 2018. WASH was on a roll late in the season after being 2-7. They did beat CINNCY, @DAL, @PITT & @SF. But three of those four wins were against sub .500 teams. The only impressive win was @PITT. WASH then struggled vs SEA & vs CAR before winning 20-14 @PHILLY in wk 17. WASH got a little help from PHILLY in this one as PHILLY took ut starting QB Jalen Hurts and put in Nate Sudfeld who hadn’t been in a game since 2018. Needless to say, Sudfeld didn’t do so well. Even so, the WASH OFF looked lethargic in the 2nd half. WASH finished 7-9 to win the NFC EAST. WASH RB JD McKissic had a breakout season with showing that he was a reliable pass catcher as well as a running back. McKissic caught 80 passes. Also, WASH WR Terry McLaurin established himself as the #1 receiver and Logan Thomas established himself as the go to guy at TE. On DEF, rookie DE Chase Young & DE Montz Sweat have led the way with beefing up the DEF that looked horrible at the beginning of the season. WASH #2 TOT DEF w/#2 PASS DEF & #12 RUN DEF. TB had a nice season in its first season with Tom Brady as the QB. He delivered them to the playoffs and everyone is on board for a deep run. The TB DEF was also tough. TB #6 TOT DEF w/ #1 RUSH & #20 PASS DEF. The pass DEF was lacking at times but the OFF for TB kept scoring. The TB DEF produced 48 sacks and had 15 INTS. TB DE Jason Pierre-Paul led the way with 9.5 sacks. Brady had a nice season with 40tds & 12INTs. He bounced back nicely from a supposed down year, last year @NE. TB RB Ronald Jones established himself as the #1RB with a breakout season of his own with 978 yds rushing. He certainly would have had over a 100yds had it not been for being out 2gms with injuries. Brady has a whole bunch of reliable receivers that can’t wait to get the ball which causes problems for the WASH DEF. Tom Brady didn’t come to the BUCS to lose in the 1st round of the playoffs. TB WR Mike Evans didn’t suffer any damage to his knee in the finale vs ATL and should be ready to go. Yes, on paper this game looks like a blowout but the first half will be tighter than expected. At halftime TB HC Bruce Arians and Brady will make adjustments and then come out strong in the 2nd half to win by 10pts. WASH still has some areas to improve in and if they play in 2021 like they did down the stretch in 2020, WASH will be a team to contend with. WASH has not been to the playoffs and there are a lot of guys on this team that are just happy to be there. Brady and others know what it’s like and know how to prepare. By the way, bad move by WASH DE Chase Young calling out Tom Brady. You give the guy more ammunition to beat and embarrass you. He’ll learn. But here TB takes care of business and advances. Lay the points here.
THE PICK: TB-8 5 STARS
Sunday January 10th, 2021 1:05pm
(5) Baltimore Ravens @ (4) Tennessee Titans TENN+3
Football is a very psychological sport. If you don’t think so, then you don’t know football. Last season BALT was the #1 seed and was @HOME vs TENN in the Divisional Round. BALT QB Lamar Jackson did not have a good game and TENN steamrolled BALT 28-12. Then these two teams met in wk 11 of this season @BALT, with TENN winning in OT, 30-24. In that game, BALT was up 21-10 in the 3rd qtr and blew it. If you don’t think BALT HC John Harbaugh has been hammering that home all week, then like I said, you don’t know football. Yes, TENN RB Derrick Henry finished the season with a monster game vs HOU but, HOU had a #31 RUSH DEF that a Pop Warner team could run through. After allowing Henry to rush for 250 yds and Tannehill for 38 yds, HOU dropped to #32 RUSH DEF. BALT #8 RUSH DEF. Big difference here. TENN QB Ryan Tannehill has definitely improved as a QB since his days @MIA which has made TENN a better tam and a force to be reckoned with. TENN HC Mike Vrabel has learned a lot from Bill Belichick to become a fine HC. But he must get to the SuperBowl. In the middle of the season it didn’t look like BALT would even make the playoffs but, they turned it around and got their act together. It didn’t hurt that BALT played DAL, @CLEVE, JAGS, NYG & @CINNCY. Lamar Jackson knows that he needs to go further in the playoffs to be considered in that upper echelon. If Lamar does another 1 and done, they will look at his leadership skills. TENN #17 RUSH DEF vs BALT #1 RUSH OFF. On OFF, look for BALT to use the run and eat up a lot of clock to keep TENN RB Derrick Henry off the field. BALT also has receivers who can catch and will help open up the OFF. On DEF, BALT has a lot of guys that step up and make tackles and they have to make their presence known early in this game. The TENN DEF is vulnerable because they have shown they can give up yardage and points. They gave up 38pts vs HOU last week. This game will come down to a fg with both teams battling it out but BALT will come out on top as long as BALT QB Lamar Jackson plays smart and does not turn the ball over. Lay the points here.
THE PICK: BALT-3 3 STARS
Sunday January 10th, 2021 4:40pm
(7) Chicago Bears @ (2) NO Saints CHI+9 ½
Everyone probably already knows that this is probably the last run for NO QB Drew Brees. The coaching staff and his teammates will do everything they can to get him and the team to the SuperBowl. LW, @CAR, when NO RB Alvin Kamara was not available, no problem, RB/WR Ty Montgomery rushed 18x for 105 yards. NO has turned on the juice in the last two games, scoring 52 pts @HOME vs MINN on Christmas day and last week 33 pts @CAR. Both were blowout wins. NO is getting hot at the right time. The last three seasons have been BIG failures in the playoffs for NO and they cannot beat themselves again. Yes, they beat themselves. CHI backed in to the playoffs after their loss @HOME to GB, 35-16. Say what you want but CHI Matt Nagy had to read the players the riot act after losing six straight games after starting out 5-1. Only then did they win three games in a row. But, look who they beat. The beat HOU, 36-7, @MINN 33-27 & @JAGS 41-17. All three have DEFs that are terrible and had terrible records. Trubisky looked like Tom Brady in these games. When CHI played in the last game @HOME vs GB, CHI couldn’t hold a candle to GB and GB QB Aaron Rodgers picked them apart. Out of all of CHI’s eight wins, only one win was vs a team that was >.500. That was coincidently on TNF @HOME vs TB in wk 5 and CHI won that game 20-19. No one believed that CHI was a playoff caliber team except their HC Matt Nagy. Hey, he gets paid to believe but, this team needs a QB for the long term. Trubisky is not the answer and Foles is so hot and cold that he is not the answer either. The DEF for CHI is inconsistent as well. DC Chuck Pagano has not been as good as when Vic Fangio was the DC in 2018. This is the matchup that I like. NO #4 RUSH DEF vs CHI RB David Montgomery. Montgomery has had some strong games recently but they have been vs terrible teams. The NO DEF will stop the run cold and put it all on the shoulders of QB Mitch Trubisky. These two teams met in wk 8 @NO with NO winning in OT 26-23. Trubisky did not play in that game. It was Nick Foles who was the starter and he has been hot and cold in his tenure with CHI in 2020. I like NO to steamroll CHI. The NO DEF will stop the run and put it all on Trubisky’s shoulders. He will fail and fail big. CHI will then bring in Foles but it will be too little too late and NO will coast to victory. Lay the points here as NO advances to the next round.
THE PICK: NO-9 ½ 5 STARS
Sunday January 10th, 2021 8:15pm
(6) Cleveland Browns @ (3) Pittsburgh Steelers CLEVE+6
LW, CLEVE @HOME barely beat a backup filled PITT team that had nothing to gain, 24-22. The fact that CLEVE was playing to get in or go home and only won by 2pts, says something. CLEVE had their 1st stringers out there while PITT was using a lot of backups and Mason Rudolph as the QB. Joshua Dobbs was also in there as QB vs CLEVE and CLEVE only won by a missed 2pt conversion. CLEVE is still celebrating that they are in the playoffs but PITT HC Mike Tomlin, who by the way, doesn’t get enough credit, has been here before. He knows how to plan as well as Big Ben who may be coming to an end in PITT. These two teams know each other and don’t like each other. Due to COVID, CLEVE will be without their HC Kevin Stefanski calling the plays which is big for CLEVE. Offensive play calling will be handed to OC Alex Van Pelt. CLEVE RBs Kareem Hunt & Nick Chubb will see a lot of action in this game so the PITT DEF needs to be ready. CLEVE is going to be facing the 1st string PITT team not the 2nd or 3rd string PITT team. They will see things that haven’t seen during the season from PITT that get saved for just this occasion. CLEVE is a young team but their win total is a little deceiving. Yes, they did win eleven games but only two wins were vs >.500 teams in vs INDY, @TENN & 2nd string PITT. All the other wins were vs CINNCY, WASH, @DAL, @CINNCY, HOU, PHILLY, @JAGS, @NYG, all <.500. PITT starting off very nicely going 11-0 then went on a three game losing streak, with losses vs WASH, @BUFF & @CINNCY. They had a nice comeback win vs INDY but PITT knows that they can’t get in a whole early here. I don’t see CLEVE giving PITT the game that some are expecting. Big Ben has owned CLEVE throughout his career and especially in the state of PA. Yes, CLEVE is excited and talented but, this is their first playoff appearance and for most of the CLEVE team they are accustomed to losing. This is unchartered waters for them and they may be a little overexcited about this game. CLEVE QB Baker Mayfield may have the jitters and try to force passes in where they shouldn’t. PITT is an experienced veteran team and most of them have been to the playoffs many times. PITT HC Mike Tomlin is very good at his job and will prepare a very well orchestrated game plan for Big Ben & CO. The DEF will not let things slip by and are probably looking at film just as a refresher of Mayfield’s tendencies. With everything considered, I like PITT to win by a td as PITT will advance. CLEVE will learn from this and Baker will make a statement that this was a learning experience and that he will be back. Lay the points here as PITT advances.
THE PICK: PITT-6 5 STARS