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Rams Built To Stop Bucs? Finally Bills’ Time?

The NFL wild-card spherical, it seems, was a mandatory evil, essential to making sure the divisional spherical is pretty much as good as it may be.

Soccer followers are entitled to their opinions concerning the expanded playoff discipline. Extra video games equal extra money and alternative, which in all probability advantages everybody (aside from perhaps the gamers, paradoxically) in the long term. However we actually didn’t get the crispest, most entertaining soccer final week.

This week, nevertheless, must be a very totally different story. As a result of nearly every little thing went in keeping with plan within the wild-card spherical. The pretenders — the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders and even the New England Patriots of the world — are gone. And one might argue the remaining groups have been the eight persistently finest golf equipment all season lengthy, making for a terrific divisional spherical.

NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle are trying ahead to the motion and are making ready by making their weekly against-the-spread picks. Earlier than they make their predictions, although, right here’s how they fared on Tremendous Wild Card Weekend.

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Now, listed here are their divisional-round picks, with lines from DraftKings Sportsbook.

SATURDAY, JAN. 22

Cincinnati Bengals at (-3.5) Tennessee Titans, 4:30 p.m. ET
Mike: Titans.
Cincinnati’s damage points, notably on the line of defense, may very well be a serious subject. The Bengals will probably be with out their prime defensive deal with Larry Ogunjobi, and so they additionally may very well be lacking go rusher Trey Hendrickson. The previous is large within the run sport, and the previous’s absence was clearly felt versus Las Vegas. The Titans are a nasty matchup for a shorthanded defensive unit, particularly contemplating they may have Derrick Henry again along with having A.J. Brown and Julio Jones wholesome. The Tennessee go rush additionally may very well be an issue for the Bengals, who let Joe Burrow get crunched all season lengthy.
Ricky: Titans. Tennessee is positioned to run throughout Cincinnati — with or with out Henry. The Bengals’ protection ranked thirtieth in run success fee from Weeks 13 by means of 18 — a stretch by which they went 3-3 straight-up — and the Titans’ offensive line is again intact after coping with varied shifting components earlier within the season. The Titans, second in common time of possession, will dictate the tempo and lengthen drives by changing manageable third downs, as long as Mike Vrabel’s crew takes care of the soccer.

San Francisco 49ers at (-5.5) Inexperienced Bay Packers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Packers.
All issues being equal, it’s not an ideal matchup for the Packers, who wrestle to cease the run, particularly to the deal with and out of doors, which is the place the 49ers excel. However there’s simply an excessive amount of smoke round Jimmy Garoppolo and his ailing shoulder and toe to be assured in taking something lower than a landing with the Niners. If he can’t play, Trey Lance makes his third profession begin and first within the playoffs at a frozen Lambeau Area reverse the possible MVP. If Aaron Rodgers can’t reap the benefits of that — Lance’s dynamic capabilities apart — then he actually is a choking canine.
Ricky: Packers. The 49ers got here away from their wild-card win over the Cowboys worse for put on, with Nick Bosa (concussion) and Fred Warner (ankle) — San Francisco’s two finest defensive gamers — struggling accidents along with Garoppolo. It appears like Warner will play, as might Bosa, however questions stay in regards to the 49ers’ capability to gradual the Packers’ passing sport. San Francisco’s protection, which ranked 23rd in dropback EPA this season, ranked thirty first in go DVOA vs. No. 1 extensive receivers, per Football Outsiders. Not splendid when dealing with Davante Adams, who torched the Niners within the groups’ Week 3 matchup (12 catches on 18 targets for 132 yards with a landing) and in Week 9 of final season (10 catches on 12 targets for 173 yards plus a TD).

SUNDAY, JAN. 23

Los Angeles Rams at (-3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3 p.m.
Mike: Rams.
We have been all around the Bucs final week with a good matchup versus Philly. This week, on paper at the very least, it seems Tampa Bay is on the mistaken facet of the matchup. The Rams haven’t solely the personnel however the willingness to air it out in opposition to a Bucs secondary that’s banged up and struggled at instances this season, particularly when shorthanded. Tampa, like everybody else, had no reply for Cooper Kupp in Week 3 when Matthew Stafford torched them. Talking of Stafford, solely Garoppolo had a better passer ranking in opposition to the blitz, and no crew blitzes greater than the Bucs. Certain, it’s tough to take a measly discipline objective and facet with Stafford versus Tom Brady, however the Aaron Donald-led Rams protection — who led the league in go rush win fee — might have its manner up entrance, particularly if Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs can’t go or are restricted by accidents on the Bucs’ offensive line.
Ricky: Rams. Simply how a lot can one man overcome? It’s been a idiot’s errand over time to wager in opposition to Brady, and the Bucs preserve a decisive quarterback benefit, notably when you think about Stafford’s propensity for back-breaking turnovers. However the accidents alongside Tampa Bay’s offensive line threaten to disrupt the one different fixed in what’s been a wierd 12 months for the Bucs. Even when Jensen and Wirfs — two Professional Bowl linemen — play Sunday, their task of slowing down Donald and Co. is regarding. This appears like a nasty matchup for the Bucs.

Buffalo Payments at (-2) Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, 6:30 p.m.
Mike: Payments.
At this level, choosing the Payments is kind of choosing an outright win, and I do imagine it’s Buffalo’s time. It virtually actually received’t look as straightforward for the Payments because it did final week in opposition to the Patriots, however their ceiling is arguably greater than Kansas Metropolis’s. Sometimes, the Chiefs’ greatest benefit in any sport is Patrick Mahomes, however Josh Allen is the closest factor we’ve seen to Mahomes for just about his whole profession. The kicker is perhaps the Buffalo protection, which helped the Payments outgain KC by 3 yards per play of their Week 5 matchup — which Buffalo received going away, at Arrowhead Stadium. So long as the Payments don’t fall flat, they’ve every little thing it takes to win this and advance.
Ricky: Payments. Offensively, these groups cancel one another out. Which brings us to the protection, the place Buffalo (No. 1 in DVOA) holds a robust edge over Kansas Metropolis (No. 24 in DVOA) regardless of the Chiefs’ enchancment on that facet of the ball because the season progressed. The Payments have developed a good working assault of late, and that may very well be an actual difference-maker in opposition to a Chiefs protection ranked thirty first in rush success fee. It additionally will set up play-action, the place the Chiefs allowed 1,545 passing yards (third-most within the NFL) and an 80.2 QBR (highest within the NFL), per ESPN.

Thumbnail photograph by way of Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports activities Pictures

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