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Patriots, 49ers Poised For Postseason Upsets?

We made it, soccer followers. The NFL playoffs are lastly right here, and it’s top-of-the-line instances of yr to be a sports activities bettor.

It may not be an particularly worthwhile time. NFL strains already are the sharpest in sports activities, and the hyper-focused nature of the postseason may as properly be a whetstone for the percentages. However that’s not going to cease us from betting into them and making our predictions.

NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle are again to make their weekly against-the-spread picks. The duo is happy for a recent begin after a pedestrian common season, they usually get their first likelihood Saturday afternoon because the NFL kicks off its Tremendous Wild Card Weekend.

Earlier than we get to the picks, although, right here’s how they fared final week within the regular-season finale.

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Now, listed here are their wild-card spherical picks, with strains from DraftKings Sportsbook.

SATURDAY, JAN. 15

Las Vegas Raiders at (-5) Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 p.m. ET
Mike: Raiders.
The one factor Vegas actually does properly is strain the quarterback, and the Raiders don’t must blitz a lot with a purpose to do it. The Bengals allowed Joe Burrow to be pressured on 25% of his dropbacks, leading to Burrow — regardless of his greatness — main the league in QB miscues (mixed interceptions, fumbles, sacks). Whereas a Vegas outright win feels unlikely, the Raiders can do sufficient to maintain it throughout the quantity.
Ricky: Raiders. Nonetheless don’t assume Vegas is that good. The Raiders gained six video games on the ultimate play and had a minus-65 level differential, worst amongst playoff groups. They’re additionally in a tricky spot scheduling-wise, enjoying the early sport Saturday, on the street, after an emotionally draining, pressured-packed Sunday night time showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers, whereas the Bengals are coming off a de facto bye in Week 18. However typically, you simply must let it experience. And Cincinnati, which hasn’t gained a playoff sport since 1990, has issues of its personal. The Bengals confronted a a lot softer schedule, deploy a weak offensive line and will have hassle stopping the Darren Waller-Hunter Renfrow combo.

New England Patriots at (-4) Buffalo Payments, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Patriots.
Josh Allen’s issues within the chilly have grow to be a reasonably standard storyline this week with frigid temperatures within the forecast for Orchard Park. The Patriots had been particularly efficient within the common season towards turnover-prone groups, and solely three QBs had extra turnover-worth performs than Allen (per Professional Soccer Focus). The Patriots ought to simply bulk up and attempt to bully Buffalo on the bottom till the Payments show they will cease it. New England appears very dwell, though it may very well be a area purpose sport both method.
Ricky: Payments. The Patriots hit a wall down the stretch, throughout which a few of their largest flaws had been uncovered. The Payments, in the meantime, are peaking on the proper time, on high of simply typically being the extra proficient, extra well-rounded staff. If New England falls behind early — which has been an issue — and must throw its method again into the sport, this may very well be a protracted night time for Invoice Belichick’s bunch. We additionally ought to remind you, only for kicks, {that a} rookie quarterback hasn’t gained his first playoff begin since Russell Wilson in 2012. Mac Jones has his palms full, each with the Payments and defying history.

SUNDAY, JAN. 16

Philadelphia Eagles at (-9.5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs.
It’s a brutal matchup for the Eagles, who actually need to run the ball to have success. The important thing to beating the Bucs, although, is to reveal that secondary, which Philly appears unlikely to do — particularly if Tampa Bay will get out to an early lead. The Bucs’ offense doesn’t have the identical weapons it did two months in the past, however don’t be stunned if it’s a giant sport for Rob Gronkowski. No staff allowed extra receptions or touchdowns to tight ends than the Eagles.
Ricky: Bucs. Possibly the Eagles strain Tom Brady sufficient to throw him off his sport. And possibly Tampa Bay’s lack of weapons turns into a difficulty. However the extra seemingly state of affairs is the Bucs stuff the Eagles’ floor assault, forcing Jalen Hurts to throw way more often than Philadelphia would love whereas attempting to maintain tempo with one of many NFL’s finest offenses. The Eagles completed simply 9-8 straight-up regardless of dealing with the league’s second-easiest schedule, per Professional Soccer Focus. They didn’t beat a single staff with a successful file and suffered six losses to eventual playoff groups by a median of 13.3 factors per sport.

San Francisco 49ers at (-3.5) Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m.
Mike: 49ers.
This one comes right down to Jimmy Garoppolo. Extra particularly, can he keep away from the pricey turnovers? Just one QB with a minimum of 400 dropbacks had the next fee of turnover-worthy performs. But when he avoids the meltdown, the 49ers ought to win this outright. The Cowboys wrestle to cease the run, and no staff has a extra superior working assault than San Fran. Even when Dallas took away the run, a Garoppolo-led quick passing assault may very well be problematic, too, with the Niners rating first in yards after catch per reception and the Cowboys permitting the fourth-most YAC.
Ricky: 49ers. Management the road of scrimmage and deal with the soccer. That was San Francisco’s recipe for achievement two years in the past when it reached the Tremendous Bowl, and the substances are there to serve that dish once more this postseason. The Niners lastly are wholesome, which is unhealthy information for the remainder of the NFC, and an outright upset actually is in play this Sunday if Dallas’ run protection doesn’t step up. It’s value mentioning the Cowboys went 6-0 SU towards the (weak) NFC East and 6-5 towards everybody else. It’s a proficient staff, positive, however in no way indestructible.

Pittsburgh Steelers at (-12.5) Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs.
Hammer the Patrick Mahomes unders on this one, as KC’s path to a straightforward win ought to come on the bottom. No staff within the NFL allowed extra speeding yards per carry than Pittsburgh, and if the Chiefs make the most of that, there’s not practically sufficient offensive firepower to make the most of alternatives when the Steelers have the ball.
Ricky: Chiefs. Kansas Metropolis beat Pittsburgh 36-10 in Week 16 after leaping out to a 30-0 lead. Has something actually modified since then? The Chiefs cleaned up their early-season turnover issues, and regardless of the optics veering a bit from what we’re accustomed to seeing, Kansas Metropolis nonetheless ranked second in offensive effectivity, fourth in factors per sport (28.2) and fifth in yards per play (5.9). No method the Steelers, with Ben Roethlisberger’s rag arm, can maintain tempo.

MONDAY, JAN. 17

Arizona Cardinals at (-4) Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Rams.
Getting J.J. Watt again theoretically ought to assist an Arizona protection that went from first in factors per drive with him on the sphere to one of many worst groups with out him. But when he’s not 100% and might’t make a huge impact, the Cardinals may get torched within the secondary. A Week 14 loss to the Rams began their tailspin, because the Arizona secondary allowed opposing QBs to put up a 121.9 passer score (worst within the NFL) regardless of the Tenth-best strain fee. Even once they get dwelling, they will’t decelerate the passing sport, which ought to have Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. ecstatic.
Ricky: Rams. The Cardinals have a ton of expertise. However finally, their Tremendous Bowl hopes fall on the shoulders (and legs) of 1 man: Kyler Murray. And whereas Murray is a dynamic QB, he’s additionally streaky and susceptible to placing the ball in hurt’s method. Apparently, Murray had 13 fumbles throughout the common season however didn’t lose any of them. That pattern modifications this week due to a number of the game-wreckers — most notably Aaron Donald — on the Rams’ protection.

Thumbnail photograph through Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports activities Photos

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