The long awaited NFL Playoffs are finally here! The Wildcard Round gets underway this Sunday, the 7th of January and we take a look at all four games on the slate, with all teams needing to win to advance to the next round!
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday 6.45am AEDT)
The Titans were able to sneak into the playoffs with a Week 17 win over the Jaguars, and will now travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the Wildcard Round on Sunday. Both teams had a very inconsistent season, particularly the Chiefs, who started the season by winning their first five games and went on to lose six of their next seven.
The Chiefs enter this game as favourites with the home field advantage, and after winning their last four games of the season, form would suggest that they deserve to be favoured here. If there is one reason why the Titans can win though it will be their run defence. Tennessee allowed just five rushing TD’s throughout the regular season which was the benchmark of the league.
Kansas City have struggled throughout recent years in finding the end-zone through the air, and while they have improved this season, they still rely heavily on the run, especially through rookie Kareem Hunt. Really tough game to call here, we think that the Titans definitely deserve more respect than the 8 points they are currently getting at the moment but we like the under on total points here as 44.5 seems high for what should be a tightly contested playoff game.
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday 12.15pm AEDT)
The Falcons will be looking to avenge their loss in the Super Bowl last season as they get their 2017-18 playoff campaign underway against the Rams in Los Angeles on Sunday. A Week 17 win over Carolina saw them clinch the sixth seed in the NFC, while the Rams have been impressive all season and finished in the third seed with an 11-5 record.
The key to the game here will be whether Matt Ryan and his group of star receivers led by Julio Jones can find form at the right time of the season as they did last year. Jones caught for 1,444 yard in the 2017-18 season, and while it is well down on his output of last year, we saw in the Super Bowl that he is capable of turning a game completely with just a few catches.
We think the Rams definitely would have rather played the Saints or the Panthers here as Atlanta have an extremely dangerous offence capable of putting up big points. The Rams have had 57 points scored on them in the last two games and while it’s again tough to pick a winner, we think this could be a high scoring affair.
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (Monday 5.05am AEDT)
The first of the Monday morning double header features the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Buffalo Bills in the three vs six seed AFC matchup. The Bills were extremely lucky to make the playoffs, after Cincinnati did them a massive favour by beating Baltimore as the Bills won their Week 17 game against the Dolphins to clinch the sixth seed. The Jags on the other hand, have been impressive all season, and boast the best defence statistically in nearly every category.
The Jags start as 8.5 favourites here and we think rightfully so. While it’s a great story that the Bills made their first playoffs since 1999, they haven’t shown themselves to be a playoff calibre team this season, and their offence will struggle to put up points against a dynamic Jags defence.
The Jags might cover, or they might not, but we do think they will control the tempo of this game and play it their way. Can see it being a 20-10 score line or something along those lines in favour of the Jags so we like Jacksonville at the margin here.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (Monday 8.30am AEDT)
The game of the round in our opinion, especially for casual fans who love a bit of star power. Cam Newton will make his return to the playoffs after a disappointing 2016-17 campaign, and he’ll go head to head with one of the more impressive QB’s of the season, Drew Brees. Brees will lead the Saints to their seventh playoffs campaign under his reign, hoping to repeat the efforts of 2009, when he led his team to a Super Bowl victory.
As is usually the case with a Brees led offence, the Saints have been one of the best passing offences in the league all season long, putting up 261 passing yards per fame, which is good for fifth in the league. The Panthers tend to get most of their offence along the ground. Their 131 rushing yards per game is the fourth highest mark in the league, and the scrambling threat of Cam Newton combined with Jonathan Stewart, who looks to be returning from injury for the playoff matchup, makes for a dynamic 1-2 punch.
As playoffs games so often are, especially ones between two massive division rivals, this is a really tough game to pick. We think Carolina boast the better defence, but New Orleans have proved almost impossible to stop this season. To tough for us to call here.
TIP: No bet
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