Jan 20, 2022
Total Talk - Divisional Round
And there were eight, and after this weekend, we'll be down to the National Football League's version of the Final Four.
The super wild-card weekend for the NFL wasn't, well, that super. Four of the six games were decided by 16 or more points, with the UNDER going 4-2 in the six playoff games. Perhaps squeezing a seventh team into the playoff picture wasn't a great thing after all, as there were a handful of teams which didn't look playoff-worthy, and only two of the games were decided by one score and must-see television.
You could look at things another way, though. The four teams which won in dominating fashion, the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are the cream of the crop. And this weekend's games are going to be bangers, as we are left with eight really impressive teams. Let's hope that's the case, as the first weekend provided plenty of wagering opportunities, which is great, but a lot of lulls in the sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat action.
We didn't have a lot of injuries in the opening round, which is obviously a good thing. However, San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a sprained right shoulder, although head coach Kyle Shanahan said the second-quarter injury was just "slight". He obviously finished the game, and the 49ers won, but remember, Jimmy G also entered the game with a thumb injury and bone fragment situation. Rookie QB Trey Lance could factor in with at least some gadget plays in Green Bay if Garoppolo struggles with his accuracy or just needs a breather.
49ers LB Fred Warner (ankle) and EDGE Nick Bosa (concussion) also left the game in Dallas with injuries. Shanahan confirmed Warner didn't suffer a high-ankle sprain, so he is expected to be ready. And while Shanahan said this week he is optimistic Bosa will clear concussion protocol in time, I mean, what else is he going to say ahead of a game, let alone a win-or-go-home playoff matchup? You can take that with a grain of salt, and consider Bosa's status a little more tenuous.
On the other side, Green Bay Packers WR Randall Cobb (core muscle) had core muscle surgery back in November, but head coach Matt LaFleur believes the veteran wideout will play Saturday, giving QB Aaron Rodgers another dependable target and weapon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still without RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring), although there is a chance he is ready for the Rams. Fournette was able to participate in a walkthrough, as he slowly makes his way back from a Week 15 hamstring injury. The Bucs run game has struggled in his absence with RBs Le'Veon Bell and Ke'Shawn Vaughn trying to hold down the fort.
Last, but certainly not least, the Tennessee Titans designated RB Derrick Henry (foot) for return prior to the Week 17 game. He didn't play then, and had another full week to rest with the bye. He has been practicing, but he isn't ready to declare himself ready for game action just yet. From all indications, it sounds like he'll be a game-time decision, which bettors just love. Sarcasm totally intended.
SATURDAY'S DIVISIONAL GAMES
Cincinnati at Tennessee (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS): The Bengals pushed past the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19 in one of the better games of wild-card weekend, allowing Bengals fans to finally text their friends about a playoff victory. The technology didn't really exist last time Cincinnati won in the postseason, or maybe it was one of those annoying flip phones where you had to press 1-1-1, 2-2-2, 3-3-3, 4-4...aww, (insert cuss word). And start over again.
The Bengals ended up going UNDER in the game against the Raiders, it's second straight UNDER result. However, the Week 18 game can be thrown out, as QB Brandon Allen started, with starter QB Joe Burrow resting his knee. However, in the past two road outings with Burrow starting, the UNDER did connect.
Against playoff teams, including last week's game, the UNDER is 5-2 in seven games for the Bengals.
For the Titans, the UNDER is 4-0 in the past four appearances at Nissan Stadium. The defense has allowed 3, 17, 0 and 22 in those four games, although just one of the outings was against a current playoff team. In nine home games overall, the UNDER was 7-2 for Tennessee this season.
These teams did not meet during the regular season. The last time the teams met was Nov. 1, 2020 in Cincinnati, with the Bengals coming away with a 31-20 win as 7.5-point underdogs as the OVER cashed. The home team has won three straight in this series, although Burrow and QB Ryan Tannehill were each under center only for the very last meeting. In the prior meeting on Nov. 12, 2017, it was Andy Dalton vs. Marcus Mariota, so the head-to-head trends don't mean a ton.
Here are some more trends, although again, remember Burrow and most of the impact players weren't around for most of the games. It still is worth mentioning, however. The UNDER is 9-1 in the past 10 games in the month of January, while going 5-0 in the past five playoff games. The UNDER is also 16-5-2 in the past 23 games as a road underdog, which is a little more important since a majority of those games involved Burrow. The UNDER is also 6-2 in the past eight as a 'dog overall.
For the Titans, the UNDER is 5-1 in the past six as a home favorite, while going 8-2 in the past 10 playoff games. However, the OVER is 12-5-1 in the past 18 against teams with a winning overall record.
San Francisco at Green Bay (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET, FOX): The injury to Jimmy G, and the two key injuries to Bosa and Warner will make a huge difference. We saw the UNDER connect last week in Dallas, as San Francisco held on for the win. The 49ers blanked the Cowboys in two of the four quarters last week, only allowing a late flurry in the fourth.
These teams met in Week 3 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, with the Packers coming away with a 30-28 win as the OVER (50.5) connected. The Packers have picked up wins in each of the past two meetings in California. Oddly enough, the past four meetings in this series have each been at Levi's, with the most recent battle at Lambeau Field coming Oct. 15, 2018, a 33-30 win by the Pack. On that day, it was Rodgers outdueling QB Bobby Beathard. Last season's game featured Rodgers vs. QB Nick Mullens. In three head-to-head matchups between Jimmy G and Rodgers, the OVER is 3-0.
For the Niners, the UNDER is 4-1 in the past five games on the road, including 3-1 in four games against playoff teams. For the Packers, the OVER is 3-1 in the past four games at Lambeau Field, although just one of those games (Week 12 vs. LAR) was against a playoff team.
If you're wondering about the weather, the forecast is calling for a temperature of 4 degrees, with a feels-like temperature of minus-5 degrees at kickoff with a slight breeze. There isn't any frozen precipitation in the forecast, but it will be bone chilling for sure.
SUNDAY'S DIVISIONAL GAMES
L.A. Rams at Tampa Bay (Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET, NBC): We get another Week 3 rematch in the other NFC playoff matchup. The Rams topped the Buccaneers at SoFi Stadium as a one-point underdog as the OVER connected on Sept. 26.
The Rams hit the UNDER in Monday's wild-card winner over the rival Arizona Cardinals allowing just 11 points. While there is a lot of talk about the Los Angeles offense, it's the defense which has picked up the pace lately. L.A. has yielded 11, 27, 19, 23, 10, 23 and 8 across the past seven games, an average of just 15.9 PPG, which six points less than its seasonal average. The UNDER is still just 4-3 during that seven-game span, as the L.A. offense has managed 34, 24, 20, 30, 20, 30, 37 and 28 across the past eight outings.
Like the Rams, the Buccaneers hit the UNDER in a 31-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card game at the Ray Jay Sunday. Tampa Bay opened a 31-0 lead through three quarters before letting up a bit in the final stanza. The UNDER (47.5) held on, but there were some tense moments in the fourth.
The Tampa Bay offense has been hot, going for 31, 41, 38 and 32 across the past four outings since a shutout against New Orleans in Week 15, but the OVER/UNDER is just 2-2 with the defense allowing an average of just 14.2 PPG across the previous five outings.
The OVER is 7-3-1 in the past 11 on the road for the Rams, while going 7-3 in the past 10 against winning teams. The OVER is also 10-1 in L.A.'s past 10 as an underdog, 8-1 in the past nine as a road 'dog, while going 6-0 in the past six Divisional Playoff games.
For the Bucs, the OVER is 4-1 in the past five against winning teams, while going 13-6 in the past 19 as a home favorite. The UNDER is 5-2 in the past seven playoff games, however, while going 4-0 in the past four playoff showings at home.
Buffalo at Kansas City (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS): The Bills and Chiefs face each other at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 5, with the Bills coming away with a 38-20 victory as the OVER (57.5) just came through. A Buffalo touchdown with 5:51 remaining in regulation made it a successfull night for OVER bettors.
The Bills offense was on fire in the wild-card game against New England, rolling up a 47-17 win as the OVER easily connected. In fact, the Bills offense made NFL history with a touchdown on all seven of its possessions beside a kneel-down in Victory Formation to end the contest. AS such, they were the first team in NFL history to go through a full playoff game without a punt, field or turnover.
The Chiefs offense also went for a 40-burger, doubling up the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21 in the wild-card round as the OVER (46.5) cashed. That's six straight OVER results for the Chiefs, as the offense has posted 28 or more points in each of those six games. The defense, meanwhile, has allowed 21 or more points in four of the past five contests, so there are plenty of points to be had all around.
The Bills have cashed the OVER in four of the past six games, going for 47, 27, 29, 33, 31 and 27 during the span. Buffalo has hit the OVER in eight straight as an underdog, while going 6-0 in the past six as a road 'dog. The OVER is also 4-1 in the past five against teams with a winning overall mark.
For the Chiefs, the OVER is 6-0 in the past six as a favorite, while going 5-2 in the past seven home playoff outings.
Last week's predictions were downright ugly, going 0-4 (-430) in Wild-Card Weekend. It was the second consecutive weekend of uneven results. It happens, and we're still in the black with a season total 24-23-1 (51.1%) and (+185). Let's get back to building that bankroll for lettuce to spend on the Super Bowl.
- Best Over: Over 54.5 Buffalo at Kansas City
- Best Under: Under 47.5 San Francisco at Green Bay
- Best First-Half Total: Under 23.5 San Francisco at Green Bay
Three-Team Total Teaser (+7, +135)
- Under 54.5 San Francisco at Green Bay
- Over 41.5 L.A.Rams at Tampa Bay
- Over 47.5 Buffalo at Kansas City