Written by: Avery and Wronsko
Now that we got the cannon fodder out of the way (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Arizona, New England - we’re looking at you) it’s time for some good football games.
Wronsko and Avery are back to break down the Divisional Round. It wasn’t exactly a superb performance from the boys last week, but hard times make strong men, or something to that effect.
Wild Card record: Wronsko (6-6-1); Avery (3-5)
Before we delve in here, it’s worth noting that three of the remaining head coaches and the biggest savant in the league were all on the same coaching staff in the early 2010s.
Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Matt Lafleur and rising offensive mastermind Mike McDaniel (SF OC) were all on the Washington Football Team, then Redskins, coaching staff at the same time.
Now, we don’t like to speculate here at Couch Rats Sports and Entertainment; but it would be hard to envision a scenario where these four weren’t holed up in the doldrums of FedEx field next to a burst sewage pipe, buzzing out of their minds, not blinking and talking about zone-run schemes.
Just cool to see four maniacs at the top of their game all searching for that ever elusive super-bowl ring. But hey, I guess Jay Gruden was a good choice too, Washington.
Bengals +3.5 @ Titans O/U 47.5
Avery’s picks: Joe Burrow over 277.5 passing yards (-110), Ja’Marr Chase over 76.5 rec yards (-120), Derrick Henry o79.5 (-105)
Coming off of two brutal loses in the Bengals / Raiders game last week I am looking to bounce back (Cincy TT o27.5 and Burrow o260.5 yards). Cincinnati had 23 points four minutes into the third quarter and finished the game with 26, while Burrow fell 17 yards short of his prop.
One word – pain.
Either way, losers are losers and I’m not here to make excuses (I got robbed).
Starting with Henry, Josh Jacobs rushed for 83 yards on 13 carries last week against the Bengals. Trey Hendrickson may not be 100% so 79.5 seems more than doable for the king. Rumors are he may be splitting the workload, but this is the playoffs and I don’t buy it.
I’m going back to the well with Joe Burrow’s passing prop this weekend. Simply put, Tennessee is a trenches team. They gave up the eighth most passing yards in the NFL over the regular season, while boasting the second best rush D in the league.
Cincinnati’s inexperienced o-line has definitely made strides throughout the season, but could struggle holding back the Titans front, in turn forcing Burrow to do his thing.
As for Ja’Marr Chase, he has eclipsed 76.5 in four of his past five games (excluding the match against Cleveland when Burrow was rested).
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’m riding with the LSU boys.
Wronsko’s Picks: Bengals +3.5, A.J. Brown anytime TD (+150)
I’m having a hard time figuring out the Titans.
So many questions. Is their 4-3 SU record in their last seven cause for concern? Has their offence come alive once again with the return of A.J. Brown? How involved will Derrick Henry be in this week’s game plan?
We’ve all seen the stat about the rostered players of the 2021 Titans, they weren’t in a good spot on the injury front. Henry, Brown and Julio Jones combined to miss 19 games in 2021, and all three players missed the blowout loss to the Patriots at home. But at this moment, Tennessee is finally relatively healthy, especially their big-name offensive weapons.
The Titans are hard to predict. But the Bengals aren’t.
What we know about the Bengals is that their offence can score quickly. Sitting at seventh in total scoring, the Bengals are also 16th in the league in average TOP per offensive drive, and even more shockingly 29th in average plays run per drive, which means they don’t stay on the field for very long.
The Bengals can score points without needing a prolonged drive, which is good, because Tennessee wants to get you off the field in a hurry, and they’re good at doing it.
I’m going with the team I know, and that team has Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase.
Brown anytime touchdown has hit twice in three games since his return to the lineup, and I think he can do it once again.
*Although not an official pick, I’d like to flag Chase anytime at +162.
49ers (+5.5) @ Packers
Avery’s pick: Packers -5.5
I don’t care if it’s chalky as hell, I think the Packers get it done in Lambeau and route the 49ers.
Rodgers has been performing at arguably the highest level we have seen yet. Lafleur is rolling (probably literally), and the defence isn’t a total disaster, most likely because Kevin King barely sees the field anymore.
The return of Za’Darius Smith, Whitney Mercilus, David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander and Randal Cobb just adds more depth to what has already been a scary good team.
This may be within the Shanahan Territory, as Wronsko says, but Jimmy Garoppolo now has an injured shoulder and thumb on his throwing arm, and the cold climate won’t make that any easier on him.
The 49ers will likely be forced to lean on their run game as always, spearheaded by mastermind OC Mike McDaniel. Deebo and Elijah Mitchell could pose issues for Packers D that gives up 4.7 YPC, but that was without Smith and Mercilus in the fold.
Don’t overthink it - Rodgers is hungry for another ring and they will roll San Fran.*
*I have the Packers at 8-1 to win the Super Bowl and should probably hedge the spread, but I’m not going to give out another loser on this website.
Wronsko’s pick: Packers -5.5
I know what you’re thinking: “But Wronsko, isn’t Wisconsin in ‘Shanahan Territory???’”
Yes. Yes it is.
Although Shanahan Territory was enough to carry the day in indoor, comfortable AT&T Stadium, that will not be the case in frigid, possibly snowy Lambeau.
Also, this is Aaron Rodgers we are talking about. The baaad man went 13-2 in games he started and completed. Only lost two games, one of which was a Week 1 sandbag performance playing the Saints in Jacksonville. He could be the back-to-back MVP, he went 37-4 in TD-INT ratio, his team is healthy, at home and off a bye, so I’ll roll with him against the 49ers.
BUT, I still have problems with this Packers team. They are an odd dominant team, more like the 2019 iteration of the Packers than the 2020 version. Their offensive and defensive point totals are misleading, because, contrary to their total splits, their offence seems to be much more efficient than their defence. By a pretty wide margin, too.
The Packers offence is the best in the league at chewing up clock, which protects their defence that allows 2.12 points per drive (ranked 20th in the league). If the offence can’t stay on the field, like against Tampa last year, it may be a long day for the Packers defence against Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell.
Plus, you have all that playoff defensive meltdown history:
2011 Divisional vs. the Giants
2012 Divisional at the 49ers
2013 Wild Card vs the 49ers
2016 Champ Game at the Falcons
2019 Champ Game at the 49ers
2020 Champ Game vs the Buccaneers
They are always a threat to lay an egg.
Rams (+2.5) @ Buccaneers O/U 48.0
Avery’s picks: Rams +2.5, Rams ML (+130)
It’s time to exorcise some demons. The mere memory of Superbowl LIII haunts Sean McVay. Holding Tom Brady to 13 points and losing by two scores, god that has to hurt. He won’t let that happen again – my guess is he hasn’t slept all week.
McVay’s revitalized offence just shelled absolutely shelled an inferior Cardinals squad. Sure, the fact that Kyler Murray played like garbage helped, but the Rams were dynamic on their side of the ball.
OBJ looks like he did before Baker tried to ruin his career, Cam Akers is a MAC truck with no conscience, and Cooper Kupp is still Cooper Kupp. Add in competent O-line play with stout performances from Sony Michel, Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee, and this is a well-oiled machine.
This game will come down to Matt Stafford. If he can perform without turning the ball over, I believe the Rams will win. Can he do it? That is yet to be seen – but I’m buying stock on Stafford and the Rams.
Defensively, the Rams are also coming into form. A depleted Buccaneers offence should struggle against the likes of Jalen Ramsay, Von Miller and Aaron Donald.
If the Bucs win this, then Brady truly has a deal with the devil.
Wronsko’s Picks: Bucs ML (-145), Cooper Kupp anytime TD (-105)
On paper, the Rams look like the play. They have three solid pass rushers in Leonard Floyd, Von Miller and Aaron Donald, an explosive passing offence that ranked fifth in the league in total yards, and a 7-2 record on the road. They’ve beaten the Bucs in their last two meetings, and they just seem to be a mismatch for Tampa.
But can they stop the reign?
No. They cannot stop the reign.
It may go against rhyme or reason, but as I told you last week, it’s Bucs manual parlay ALL playoffs long. The defence has been great in four of the last five games, playoff Lenny is trending upwards, and Tom Brady will probably do twisted Tom Brady things.
I’m guessing this is going to be an eventful one, could be a shootout, could be low scoring, but no matter how it plays out, it’s going to end in a Tom Brady win – It always does.
Hitting in six of the last seven games, Cooker Kupp anytime TD has become more of a formality than a wager. Sitting at -105, why not take it?
Bills (+2.0) @ Chiefs O/U 54.0
Avery’s picks: Bills +2.0, Bills TT o26.5
In a weekend full of good games, this should be the best. My heart wants me to believe it’s the Mafia’s time to shine, but I’m torn on this game. It’s hard to judge what kind of form these teams are in. Kansas City looked like the globetrotters against Pittsburgh last week and Josh Allen went nuclear against the Pats.
Both these teams are beyond capable of putting up points.
However, the Bills have the best scoring defence in the NFL, giving up only 17 ppg. Conversely, the Chiefs have struggled at times, recently against the Bengals and Chargers (even the Broncos to an extent).
I’m buying what Josh Allen is selling – folding tables, Labatt Blue and POINTS.
Bills Mafia it is.
Wronsko’s Picks: Bills ML (+130), Devin Singletary anytime TD (+120)
Simply put, this Chiefs defence isn’t very good.
Sure, they have been solid at home in the second half of the season, but none of the offences they played during that stretch stack up to the Bills. Steelers? Broncos? Raiders? Comparing those offences to the Bills would be an insult.
We all saw what happened last week. The once vaunted Patriots defence looked like a mere amusement in the face of a calm, grinning Josh Allen. That was a true clinic, and the Bills are going into Arrowhead having not scored fewer than 27 points since Steve Belichick conjured swirling winds in Buffalo.
Thankfully for Buffalo, Steve is back in New England… probably getting racing stripes.
This matchup is also a test of the highest scoring (per drive) offence and the lowest scoring defence in the league. As great as the Chiefs are and have been, this Bills defence is not to be trifled with. I’m going with the defensive unit, I always do.
The Bills are the wagon, they’re going to keep on rolling.
** BONUS PICK ** Said Nurmagomedov (-185) over Cody Stamann