The start of the play offs this weekend with the wildcard games,the third and fourth seeds in each conference host the fifth and sixth seeds, the best non division winners in the regular season
All times are UK, all prices from Skybet
8 of this year’s 12 NFL playoff teams missed the postseason last year. That ties 2003 for the most turnover in the current 12-team format (since 1990). This year’s new teams: Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints, Panthers, Jaguars, Titans, Bills.
Saturday 6th January
9.35pm Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City’s season is trending in the right direction, which is bad for the offensively shaky Titans. Chiefs’ began the regular season 5-0 then went 1-6 before ending 4-0 (winning those last four games by an average of 12 points per game). Now only the Titans stand between them and a rematch, with the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots.
For Tennessee to have a good chance in this game, the third season of Marcus Mariota is going to have to improve; he finished the year with 13 touchdown passes and 15 picks. Mariota is Tennessee’s best chance at Arrowhead however it is probably a slim chance.
Tennessee are +7 on the handicap in a game where the points total shows at 44.5,and I expect Kansas City to win and cover -7 at 10/11.
Sunday 7th January
1.15am Atlanta Falcons at LA Rams
On the right day, any team in the NFC playoffs can beat any other team, particularly with the Philadelphia without Wentz. Here, the key will be keeping the Rams defense from stopping an efficient Atlanta run game and Matt Ryan’s passing game. This has been an odd year for Ryan. His accuracy has plummeted 5%, and his +31 touchdown-to-interception differential last year sunk to +8 in 2017. To beat the Rams Ryan’s going to have to play mistake-free, the way he did in 2016. The one interesting X factor here? How a team of playoff newbies in Los Angeles will approach the first home playoff game in L.A. since 1985.
Atlanta finished the regular season 8th in the NFL in total offense and 9th in total defense. On their day they can beat anyone.
The Rams are 5.5 point favourites in a match slated to have 49 points will take Atlanta+5.5at10/11to at least keep it close
6.05pm Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags had a great thing going until eight days ago, when the defense got taken by the 49ers and Garoppolo for 44 points, and then on Sunday when Blake Bortles played poorly again in the 15-10 loss at Tennessee. This is a strange match, because we don’t know what to expect of the up-and-down Jags, and we don’t know if LeSean McCoy (ankle) will be well enough to play for the Bills ho crept into the play offs thanks to an unlikely Bengals win over the Ravens
This is likely to be the lowest scoring of the four wildcard games (Total points on the spread +/- 40) and the Jags have been installed as 7.5 point favourites in the game. I expect the Jags to wi n but can’t taken them minus more than a touchdown. Bills +7.5 10/11 here
9.40pm Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
This game does not set up well for Cam Newton and the Panthers. First: Newton’s on a cold streak, completing only 50% of his throws over the last two weeks, and the Panthers have been held under 260 yards of offense in those two games. The Saints, meanwhile are as threatening as they’ve been on offense in years. The New Orleans versatility has helped them beat the Panthers 34-13 and 31-21 this year. It iss the run game that has catapulted the Saints to success with 149 and 148 rushing yards in the two regular-season games against the Panthers.
In a game with an expected points total of 48.5, the Saints are -6 and notwithstanding the two teams know each other well they should win and cover