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Last week was not a banner week for yours truly. I turned in a 1-3-1 effort with the win coming on my multiunit whammy pick of the Chiefs and my tie came on the over/under in the Eagles-Bucs contest. What I didn’t account for was the Bills having the most-efficient offensive performance in NFL playoff history, Kyler Murray having Cabo plans or the Cowboys not understanding how time works. On the bright side, if you went with Doc’s slate in the bonus picks section at the bottom, you went 5-0. So if you want to heed my advice, fade me or double-down on Doc, be my guest.
Rams +3 vs. Bucs
Sunday at 3 p.m. on NBC
The Rams are 2-0 against the Buccaneers in the Tom Brady era, including a 34-24 win back in September. One critical storyline from this game is how Tampa suffered injuries to offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen against Philadelphia. That would be problematic on its own, but made even more dire by the fact Aaron Donald and Von Miller are coming to town.
On the other side of the ball, Tampa has a pair of talented, young safeties and they’re going to have their hands full keeping Cooper Kupp and a resurgent Odell Beckham, Jr. from taking the top off. The Bucs are really good against the spread at home, but the Rams are a bad matchup for Brady and Co.
Bengals +3.5 vs. Titans
Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on CBS
The Bengals may be the next up-and-coming title contender from the AFC and it could come as early as this year. Including last week’s 26-19 win over Las Vegas, the Bengals are 5-2 this year straight-up against teams who made the playoffs, with both losses coming in overtime. They’re also 6-2 ATS on the road this season as they travel just down the road to Nashville for a clash with the Titans.
Tennessee is dangerous and this game will be an ultimate test of rest vs. rust. They figure to have their full compliment of stars with Derrick Henry back, joining AJ Brown and Julio Jones. Who will take the next step? Are the Titans for real or is Joe Burrow moving into the upper echelon of quarterbacks? I love this one to be close and I love the kicker. Give me Cincy.
49ers +6 vs. Packers
Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on FOX
Green Bay fans could not have watched last weekend’s action hoping for a 49er upset. The Packers have very few weak points but one glaring one has been their run defense, where they rank 21st in the NFL this season. Guess who is No. 1 in the league in rushing offense? You got it, the boys from the Bay Area. San Fran amassed 2,166 yards on the ground on 4.3 yards per carry and 22 touchdowns, while the Packer defense has allowed 1,855 yards on 4.7 ypc and 13 scores.
Expect Kyle Shanahan to try to play keep away from Aaron Rodgers with a steady dose of exotic run plays. Rodgers is going to have to be on-point to win this one, as well, seeing as how the 49ers are also the best team in the NFL at stopping the run. This could get hairy on the Frozen Tundra, but no matter who comes out on top, I like the 49ers to keep it close.
Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on CBS
As previously mentioned, Buffalo had the most-efficient offensive output in NFL playoff history last week against New England. Whatever they did, be it running with Devin Singletary, going deep to Stefon Diggs, letting Josh Allen improvise or chucking it up to Dawson Knox, it worked. The Kansas City defense, once much-maligned, did improve later in the year, but they have a very tall task coming to town in Buffalo.
On the flip side, Patrick Mahomes is still that dude. He still has Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and a host of complimentary targets stepping up in recent weeks. They went down early to Pittsburgh but quickly turned it on and made that game a route. When they choose to, they are still one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. Both teams were in the top five for touchdowns scored this season, and I suspect we’ll see more early and often.
WHAMMY: Bills +2 vs. Chiefs
Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on CBS
I just mentioned everything you need to know about the offenses on both sides. The Bills also happen to have the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL. I don’t think they’ll be able to stop the Chiefs, but if I had to bet which defense makes a play at the end to separate things, give me Buffalo. It always seems a team has to cut their teeth and earn their stripes before they ascent to Super Bowl territory. Buffalo has done just that, and if Vegas is saying this will be Bills -1 on a neutral field, I’ll take the better team to not only cover, but win outright.
Doc’s Bonus Picks:
Whammy: Chiefs -2