Brandon's Best Bets: Wildcard Weekend
We ended the regular season with a 2-1 week, correctly predicting the Lions and Vikings beat downs, but not accounting for the Redskins rolling over in the final week of the season. This weekend provides us with 4 games from teams that are somehow in the playoffs in what has been the least dominant season of football in recent NFL history. All lines from Bovada.
New Orleans (-7) vs Carolina Panthers
I’ve read lots of pieces predicting the Panthers making this a close game and when you look at their overall record they seem like the type of team that should play New Orleans at least close, making a touchdown hard to swallow. There were even rumors that the Panthers had spotted something on film from the last time they played NO and felt confident going into the game. I spent a good portion of the Holidays watching and re-watching Panthers games from the season with my Carolina obsessed friend and I can’t get over just how bad Cam Newton has looked. His accuracy, already poor, has just completely disappeared. His timing with safety valve Greg Olson has similarly evaporated. New Orleans secondary will feast on Cam if he makes the same errant throws in this game that he’s made the last few weeks. I predict at least two interceptions for the Saints and a lopsided victory.
Buffalo Bills (+9) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The way the Jags have played over the last 2 weeks scares me here. Bortles has gone back to being awful and Marqise Lee could be out. On the other side I don’t think Lesean McCoy will miss this game and he frequently plays banged up. He’s waited his whole life to finally get a playoff victory and I think he comes out firing. I believe the Jags will win but 9 points is hard to swallow from a team that just lost to the Titans and Niners.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9) vs Tennessee Titans
This one really scares me. The Chiefs are just nowhere near as good as they should be with the talent they have on the roster. They frequently play down to their competition and maddeningly stop feeding Kareem Hunt the ball. On the other hand I despise Mularkey and feel he might be the worse head coach in the league. The Titans are frequently disorganized, sloppy, and completely unprepared. Mariota has had to create over and over again just to get some sort of offensive production. Demarco Murray won’t suit up but that might end up being a plus for the Titans as Henry always seems to run hard and hit home runs when he’s given the opportunity. Still I can’t possibly bet on a Mike Mularkey team coming out prepared in a big game and I’ll put my money with Kansas City.
Los Angeles Rams (-6) vs Atlanta Falcons
If you’re betting against the Rams still at this point you’re insane. We’ve waited week after week for Goff and the Rams to be exposed. Yes, Mcvay has done a good job and clearly knows his stuff but he can’t have made THIS much of a change can he? Yah he did, though some credit has to be given to just how awful Jeff Fisher was. The Rams are an absolute Juggernaut with play makers on both sides of the ball and once they get leads, Gurley pummels you into submission. For the Falcons the loss of Kyle Shanahan left their offense flavorless, generic, and uninspired. Atlanta will struggle to be consistent enough to keep up with the Rams and a 6 point line isn’t too hard to cover.