The final two rounds of the NFL Playoffs are sort of like when your favorite TV show’s final season starts: damn, you’re excited because you know it’s about to get really good, but you have uncontrollable sadness that it’s ending. That is where we are at right now as we have just three competitive football games left until the fall: the NFC and AFC Championships on Sunday and the Super Bowl two weeks from then.
I should make an amendment to that, as there will be some FCS conferences attempting to play this spring. Imagine the horror on my wife’s face as she thinks football is done for six months and she gets her husband back, only for me to stay home from brunch with friends because I’m locked in on Furman-Citadel. If you think for one second that I’m choosing eggs Benedict over the triple option run by a bunch of 5’10 185-Lb. quarterbacks, you’re nuts. Anyways, let’s get to the picks.
Packers -6.5 vs Buccaneers
I tried to tell anyone who would listen that Aaron Rodgers is still that dude. He was the 12th or 13th quarterback taken in most fantasy leagues, was called “washed” by virgins on Twitter, and even the damn Packers traded up to draft a project QB in the first round last April. What did he end up doing in 2020? Oh, just 50 passing touchdowns to five picks, adding four more rushing touchdowns to go along with his 4,595 yards on over 70 percent passing. Yeah, as I said, he is still for the foreseeable future that dude.
Meanwhile, on the other sideline, we have Tom Brady playing in his 845th conference title game. You’ll remember his first one, he was just a bright-eye and bushy-tail rookie taking on veteran Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw with the Super Bowl on the line. Now, the chiseled vet looks to win his third road game of the postseason to make it to another shot at a ring.
What worries me about Brady is the weather around kickoff looks to be in the high 20s to low 30s. That could spell danger for an older quarterback like Brady, who has lost some zip on the ball. Here’s an example from the playoffs last year at home against Tennessee.
In order to play in cold weather environments, a strong arm is a must, or you are severely limited on offense. When quarterbacks age, they tend to be the last one who knows their arm has deteriorated. Throws that they used to be able to make, are thrown at the same timing as earlier in their career, but end up in precarious situations like below.
Both teams have pretty good defenses, both in the top 12 in the league. The Packers have the edge in the running game with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams to Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones. Brady will be without his newly-minted favorite target Antonio Brown, while Rodgers and Davante Adams are more aligned than ever.
I may end up eating these words, but I don’t think this is even close. I see Rodgers going off for at least three passing scores, and Brady struggling to find pay dirt. I think this is double-digits and would sell as many points as I could here.
Bills +3 vs Chiefs
Only Miami is better this season against the spread than the Buffalo Bills, who are 12-6 ATS on the season. They are also 4-1 ATS as an underdog and 10-4 ATS after a win. They have been on an absolute tear the last eight games, winning all eight straight-up. Those margins have been: 14 vs Baltimore, three vs Indianapolis, 30 vs Miami, 29 at New England, 29 at Denver, 11 vs Pittsburgh, 10 at San Francisco, and 10 vs the Chargers.
On the other hand, Kansas City’s won 11 of 12, but have hardly been the dominant Chiefs we’ve come to know during that time. Their average margin of victory in their last nine victories is 3.6 points per game. The last time they have defeated someone by more than six points was Nov. 1 at home against the Jets.
Against the spread, the Chiefs are 1-8 in their last nine games, dropping them to 7-10 on the season, good for tied for 26th in the NFL. They are 5-9 ATS after a win, 6-9 as a favorite, and 3-6 at home which is 29th in the NFL.
As Mina Kimes said on ESPN, Kansas City blitzed the hell out of Josh Allen the first time these two played and it rattled him, but since then he has been lights out against the blitz. Like Rodgers with Adams, Allen and Stefon Diggs have been in complete synchronicity as of late.
The Bucs beat the Packers 38-10 earlier this year and the Chiefs beat the Bills 26-17, as well. Just like the latter pick, however, I am going to go with the team that lost to avenge it this weekend. Give me the Bills, and give me Chris Berman.