This week is all about the unique in every way, Super Wild Card weekend. There is no “best of seven” like the NBA, MLB, and NHL playoffs; this is the best of one. The lone and ultimate survivor. This is do-or-die for the remaining teams in the playoffs, and there is no tomorrow! This is akin to a line of dialogue from “Rocky III” when Apollo tells Rocky, ”There is no tomorrow! THERE IS NO TOMORROW!” Will there be one for Tom Brady?
This week’s playoffs include some interesting Tom Brady trends: 1. Tom Brady has never, in his career, lost to the Dallas Cowboys, and 2. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game on the road since 1992, when they won the Super Bowl. Who will prevail?
The Cincinnati Bengals have the best record Against-The-Spread (ATS) at 20-4, while the Ravens are 3-5 ATS away from home. The Buffalo Bills have won 10 out of the last 11 meetings at home against the Miami Dolphins. Attention! Fun fact alert! Trevor Lawrence has never lost a playoff game on a Saturday.
Let’s see if these trends endure, and let’s get to the Super Wild Card picks:
All betting lines are courtesy of Circa Sports. (Reserve a seat at the Circa Sportsbook or Stadium Swim.)
Seahawks vs Niners(-9.5) Over/Under 42:
We think the Niners will win this week. However, beating the spread seems unlikely as this is way too aggressive of one for a home favorite against a formidable divisional opponent. The Santa Clara weather will be a factor, as this will be a very windy and rainy game. This will be a very good game to capitalize on and for the Seahawks to rely on Kenneth Walker for his running game. The Seahawks are 6-1 when Walker gets 15+ carries a game. The Niners, Brock Purdy has been outstanding late and exceeded all expectations. But, this is the biggest game of his young career, and we expect him to be a little tight and press more than he usually does. We think he will have a few turnovers, and consequently, we think the Seahawks will keep it close..closer than the spread.
Our Pick: Seahawks +9.5
Chargers (-2.5) vs Jaguars Over/Under 47.5
Yes, it’s true. Mike Williams is out, which is a significant loss for the Chargers. However, we are still confident they can get this done and prevail without one of their key weapons. The Chargers are still loaded on both sides of the ball. They have strength in Austin Ekeler, who was top five in both rushing and receiving yards, and Justin Herbert, who we expect to show up and show out on a big stage. The Chargers defense is peaking at just the right time with Nick Bosa back and Derwin James and Khalil Mack playing at Pro Bowl levels. We expect the Chargers’ defense to stalk Trevor Lawrence and rattle him with their elite pass rush at this critical juncture. In the meantime, Herbert can make plenty of big plays with his leg and arm strength and lead his team past a talented, young, upstart Jaguars team with the potential for greatness, yet is very inexperienced.
Our Pick: Chargers-2.5
Dolphins vs Bills (-13.5) Over/Under 43.5:
Though we at The Sporting Tribune strive for wins, we admit defeat when falling prey to picking heavy favorites to cover. We will not make the same mistake again because “THERE IS NO TOMORROW!” We are rolling with the Bills to win with an uber-sized margin. As previously stated, Buffalo has beaten Miami in ten of the last 11 home meetings and won eight of the previous nine meetings in general. Josh Allen has been an absolute Tour De Force with the best post-season record in history in total yards per game. The positive spirit of Damar Hamlin is still with the Bills (and the entire football nation), and we expect the emotions to continue to uplift the team. Additionally, they are playing against a banged-up Dolphins team that is without their starting QB Tua Tagovailoa and no Teddy Bridgewater either. Since the NFL adapted to the “seven teams per conference” in the playoffs, seven seeds are 0-4 since the rule change. We expect this trend to continue in a big way, and we are rolling with the favorite. This is our lock of the week.
Our Pick: Bills-13.5
Giants vs Vikings (-3) Over/Under 48.5:
We don’t love either team here. We find both teams overrated for their respective records, but since we have to pick, we are going with the home favorite Vikings in this matchup. The Giants are a trendy pick right now because they have been one of the surprise teams this year, but we are not taking the bait. After starting the year 6-1, the Giants finished year 3-7-1, with their only wins coming against Houston, Washington, and Indianapolis. Daniel Jones has had a solid year, but this is a big-stage game in a hostile environment. Unfortunately, we expect him to revert back to those old habits of turning the ball over against a veteran team. The Vikings have been slightly overrated this year, with only two of their wins being by two possessions or more, but they have only lost at home once all year. The last time these two teams played was back in week #16, with the Vikings beating the Giants on a 61-yard field goal from Greg Joseph. Kirk Cousins threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns, and superstar receiver Justin Jefferson caught 12 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown. The Giants have had only one road win since week seven and could struggle to keep up with a loaded Vikings offense, which is the eighth-ranked scoring offense in the league.
Our Pick: Vikings-3
Ravens vs Bengals (-9.5) Over/Under 40.5:
We may as well copy and paste similarly to what we wrote last week into this week. We had the same two teams in last week’s article, and we had the Bengals covering against Ravens. Well, lightning will definitely strike twice in the jungle! We are rolling with Who Dey Nation to cover against Ravens Flock yet again! The Bengals have been one of the hottest teams in the league and are currently on an eight-game winning streak. Cincinnati has covered the spread in 12 of the last 14 games. The Bengals are top 10 in both scoring and points allowed and have held opposing QBs to the lowest completion percentage in the NFL at just under 60%. The Bengals’ offense has been rolling, and Joe Burrow finished the regular season with 35 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns. He threw only 12 interceptions for the season. Burrow ranked fifth in yards, second in touchdowns, and second in completion percentage. The Ravens will again be without Lamar Jackson, whose absence will be felt in an offense designed solely for him.
Our Pick: Bengals-9.5
Cowboys (-2.5) vs Bucs 45.5:
This is by far the most intriguing matchup of the Wild Card slate, and unfortunately, we will have to wait until Monday night to watch this unfold. The Bucs have struggled this season, finishing 8-9 despite winning the lowly NFC South. That being said, at home, in a do-or-die game, there is one person in sports we aren’t going to bet against, and that is Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. The Bucs still have a winning record at home this season, and the last time these two teams faced each other was back in week one, and the Bucs routed the Cowboys 19-3. The Bucs showed a glimpse of who they were when the division was on the line, and they beat the Panthers. Brady connected with Mike Evens three times in the end zone in that game. The Bucs are getting healthier on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys are the team every year in the playoffs you cannot trust, as they have had only three playoff wins in the last 30 years. Dak Prescott is second in the league in turnovers, which does not bode well against the Bucs’ defense, which can generate turnovers. The Cowboys have not won a road playoff game since 1992, and we expect this trend to continue because Tom Brady wants a tomorrow!
Our Pick: Bucs +2.5