- The Bills, Saints, Ravens, Buccaneers, Browns and Rams all won on Wild Card weekend
- Eight teams remain in the Super Bowl hunt; the Chiefs and Packers are coming off of byes
- See the updated Super Bowl Odds and the best bet heading into the Divisional round
Wild Card weekend certainly lived up to the hype.
The Cleveland Browns were the main story, dismantling the Pittsburgh Steelers. But four of the other five games were decided by 10 points or less. And then there’s the Chiefs and Packers.
Those two remain the favorites to win Super Bowl 55, but there was significant improvement across the board when it comes to the field.
Super Bowl 55 Odds
|Kansas City Chiefs||+200|
|Green Bay Packers||+400|
|New Orleans Saints||+600|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+750|
|Los Angeles Rams||+1600|
Odds as of Jan 10th from FanDuel
The Ravens and Buccaneers also enjoyed modest moves up the table.
Saints vs Buccaneers: Round 3
Either Drew Brees or Tom Brady will be appearing in the NFC Championship game as the two face off for a third time this year.
New Orleans won Week 1 34-23, and then followed it up with a 38-3 smackdown in Week 9. Brady threw for a combined 448 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions. He was also sacked six times.
Playoff teams vs playoff teams:
Chiefs (4-0 W-L)
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) January 4, 2021
The popular thought in the NFL is it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season. But going back to 1970, a team has gone 3-0 against an opponent 14 times in 21 attempts. Brees’ Saints were the last to do it in 2017-18 against the Panthers.
Neither team turned in a flawless performance on Wild Card weekend, but fans or not, homefield gives the Saints the edge.
Good News for Banged-up Rams
While the Rams escaped Seattle with a victory, there were a lot of potentially big injuries.
The good news, is that both Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald both avoided serious injury.
Donald and Kupp expected to play against the Packers. Follow Jourdan for all your Rams stuff before Saturday's game.
Also it appears McVay is gonna play hardball with his starting QB lol https://t.co/uM0L4E9cPG
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) January 11, 2021
Then you’ve got the emergence of Cam Akers. But the questions at quarterback will hold the Rams back.
Remember when Cam Akers didn’t get touches?!
Weeks 2-12 = 5.6 carries & 0.3 targets per game
Last 4 gms = 21.5 carries & 2.8 targets
Today = 15 carries & 2 targets (through nearly a half)
— Matt McEwan (@SBD_Matt) January 9, 2021
LA’s bringing the top-ranked defense to town to take on the top-ranked offense. But even with Akers potentially feasting on PFF’s 15th-ranked run defense, it’s tough to back a team where the quarterback is recovering from either a broken thumb or a stinger.
Jackson vs Allen Brings Intrigue
The Ravens and Bills may be the two most interesting teams on the board, and it has everything to do with their quarterbacks.
I hope after this weekend we can appreciate QBs with different styles. Josh Allen & Lamar Jackson were heavily critiqued & scrutinized during the pre-draft process and beyond but they’ve been the best QBs of the 2018 class. Lesson: Recognize talent and imagine the possibilities
— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 10, 2021
Lamar Jackson earned his first postseason win on Sunday. His legs are his biggest weapon, and he racked up 136 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Ravens running backs accounted for 19 carries.
On the other side, Josh Allen did a little bit of everything in Buffalo’s win over the Colts, and the Bills’ offense faced a stiffer challenge in Indy’s defense.
Josh Allen vs. Lamar Jackson on Primetime should be fun.
— Bradley Gelber (@BradleyGelber) January 11, 2021
Their Divisional round tilt should be wildly entertaining, and the ability of both QBs makes the AFC bracket much more entertaining.
Backing Browns Becomes Tough Against Mahomes
The Cleveland Browns became the feel-good story of the NFL playoffs six minutes into their first playoff game since 2002.
Now they get the Chiefs.
The last time the Browns won a playoff game (1/1/95), Vinny Testaverde was the starting QB.
Baker Mayfield would be born 14 weeks later… pic.twitter.com/Pf6h766zZP
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 11, 2021
Full credit to Cleveland: they forced Ben Roethlisberger into three interceptions in the first half and recovered a fumble for a TD. They would likely need a similar series of events against KC however. That’s a pretty big ask.
No Need to Go Against Packers
A week ago the smart play was to back the Chiefs and Packers. Both have winnable games in the Divisional round and home field advantage in the championship games.
But given the choice, the Packers are the better value.
At this point it’s tough to see either the Saints or Buccaneers winning at Lambeau. In the AFC, a Jackson-Mahomes or Allen-Mahomes AFC Championship would be fun, but carries a little bit of risk.
So ahead of the Divisional round, that leaves the Packers with the clearest path to the Lombardi Trophy.
The Pick: Green Bay Packers (+400)