The postseason has arrived, with the first-ever Monday Night Football matchup. Of course, those who followed the column during the campaign had a good time, but receiving content would be stupid. We’d like to extend our 10-game over/under winning streak, which we started the year with.
Overall Record*: 38-29-1, +11.87 units
*Every over/under the graded item is worth two units; everything else is worth one unit. The playoffs have come to a close.
Best Over/Under Bet
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
There are occasions when the weather can determine a winning wager entirely on its own. This is unquestionably one of those occasions.
Temperatures are expected to be around 5 degrees, with a strong wind chill making it feel significantly colder. Buffalo is known for having one of the coldest temperatures in the league this time of year, but this is on another level.
Both of these AFC East opponents should be used to playing each other in inclement weather. Their first meeting this season occurred on Monday Night Football last month, and it was notable for the visually abnormal wind gusts. The final score was a tame 14-10.
The conditions for tonight’s Wild Card match will not be quite as windy, but they could be more difficult. At the very least, they had a friendlier temperature of roughly 30 degrees in that aforementioned MNF encounter.
Nonetheless, the oddsmakers are essentially claiming that the chilly conditions expected Thursday evening will be four points easier to negotiate than the first encounter, which ended with an over/under of 40 seconds before kickoff.
«Eh-eh!» says Stone Cold Steve Austin. We’ll take advantage in either case.
It’s evident that playing in such a frigid climate is challenging. That’s why, despite his University of Wyoming upbringing, Josh Allen, who is ordinarily electrifying, has struggled under these settings.
According to ESPN Bills reporter Alaina Getzenberg, the fourth-year veteran has made five career starts in sub-zero temps and has a 6-7 TD/INT ratio while completing just 50.3 percent of his passes in those appearances.
To put that in perspective, Getzenberg points out that only Tim Tebow (!) has a lower completion % among the 41 quarterbacks who have started at least five games with this sort of cold in the last 15 years (42 percent)
Not exactly a favourable recommendation for Allen, especially against such a strong defence. True, he did lead his Bills to a vital victory over the Patriots three weeks ago, but that was in much more favourable weather.
Plus, you can bet Bill Belichick will come up with a way to prevent another outburst. Nobody ever clowns Bill Belichick twice.
Meanwhile, Mac Jones can offer some solace to underdogs in this situation. Jones, a Florida native who had a successful undergraduate career at Alabama, will not be able to put up large numbers. Jones’ passer rating was 77.6 in the three games he played this season as a rookie in temperatures of 40 degrees or colder.
You know the Patriots’ coaching staff is aware of this, as well as the fact that Jones struggled against the Bills in both of their 2021 encounters (though to be fair, he only attempted three passes in the Wind Game). The Bills had the best pass defence in the NFL this season, allowing the fewest yards per game (163) and the lowest quarterback rating (65.3).
With this approach, it’s reasonable to expect New England to play a run-heavy game plan — after all, it was this tactic that earned them their lone victory over Buffalo, when they rushed the ball 46 times!
Anything that comes close to that would be greatly appreciated. With Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris in the backfield, the Patriots have one of the better 1-2 punches in the league, but as long as the Bills can limit the big runs, under bettors will be in great shape as the clock ticks down.
Because we’re so near to 45, the most crucial number in football totals, I propose purchasing a point to give yourself a leg up. CHOOSE: UNDER 45 (-130)
Best Spread Bet
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys
Spread: 49ers +3/Cowboys -3
It’s interesting to see this one from Dallas get such a small spread; in fact, it’s the smallest of Wild Card weekend.
I’m at a loss for words as to what the lines makers were thinking. Throughout the season, the Cowboys were a true juggernaut, covering the spread in each of their first eight games en way to a comfortable division title. San Francisco, on the other hand, nearly qualified for the playoffs after winning in overtime in Week 18. It should be obvious who is the superior team — and it should be by more than a three-point margin at home.
As a result, we’ll keep things simple and expect the Cowboys to win by at least a field goal. As evidenced by the 236 points they’ve hung on the scoreboard in the last seven weeks, that sideline has shown no signs of wear and tear. That works out to 33.7 points per game!
Of course, the 49ers have a considerably greater defence than most of the opponents Dallas has faced during their current offensive hot streak. Their strength, though, is getting to the quarterback, as evidenced by their 48 sacks, which tied for fifth in the league, but that could be mitigated by a strong offensive line.
Turnovers are an area where the Cowboys can gain an advantage. San Francisco is one of three playoff teams with a negative turnover differential (-4), and given that «them Boys» matched for the highest such mark among all 32 teams (+14), this has to be a point of interest for those wagering on the home team.
Whatever the case may be, I have faith in a terrific Dallas offence to keep it going — especially at Jerry’s World, where they’ve been most lethal. Dak and company averaged more than 36 points in their eight games in front of Cowboys fans this season, exceeding 30 in all but two of them. That’s consistency, and they should be able to ride it past a 49ers team that is merely fortunate to be in this position. COWBOYS -3 is my pick (-110)
Best Teaser Bet (3-game, 10 points)
Buccaneers -10 —> PK
Chiefs -12.5 —> -2.5
ARI-LAR O49.5 —> O39.5
Given all of the major upsets pulled off by double-digit underdogs this year, teasers have been difficult to come by.
Let’s hope there’s a greater sense of urgency among should-be winners in the playoffs now, starting with the defending world champions as they begin their championship defence in the following level.
That shouldn’t be too much to ask. Even after losing Chris Godwin (ACL) for the season, and Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and Lavonte David (foot) missing recent weeks, the Bucs have looked powerful. Fortunately, it appears that the latter two will return. Tom Brady, who is back to full strength, appears to be on track to add to his legendary 34-11 postseason record on Sunday afternoon.
In the nightcap, the Chiefs face the Steelers in what could be Big Ben’s farewell game. Remove the word «maybe» and you can safely declare Ben Roethlisberger’s career is over. Pittsburgh isn’t going into Kansas City and knocking out the AFC’s No. 2 seed, despite having a clearly poorer team than some of the contenders who didn’t progress (such as the Chargers). Remember, the Chiefs have won nine of their first ten games and are as hot as anyone.
If we make it past Sunday, all that’s left is the first-ever Monday night postseason game. The Cardinals and Rams did meet on a Monday Night Football broadcast just a month ago (becoming the first rivalry to share two MNF games in the same year), and that game, like their first, was packed with activity. In fact, the two NFC West residents combined for 110 points in their two meetings. The only thing we’re looking for is a total of 40 or more.
Best Player Prop Bet
Odell Beckham Jr. Over/Under 3.5 Receptions
It’s hard to think Beckham last played in a playoff game while with the New York Giants five years ago.
Since then, he’s had his ups and downs on and off the field, but it appears like it’s finally safe to ride Beckham as he returns to playoff football. The former first-round pick is in an excellent position to succeed.
One, since being released by the Browns in the middle of the season, Beckham has been on a mission to prove that he’s still the same elite receiver that so many people fell in love with — or at least close to it.
Beckham took a little time to adjust, but he’s finally getting back into the game on a regular basis, which is why he’s averaged 6.5 targets in the last seven weeks. I believe he’ll get more.
As we mentioned in our teaser wager, this Cardinals-Rams showdown, like the first two, could feature lots of offensive.
With that in mind, anticipate Beckham to play a significant role. If he receives at least seven tosses, as I anticipate, he should easily be able to make four grabs.
Pick: OVER 3.5 Receptions (-120)