Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
LET’S GET BUCK WILD
We’ve arrived at the NFL Playoffs, and 14 teams have officially taken their seat at the table in hopes of making a historic Super Bowl run that ends in Arizona next month. It’s quite the hodgepodge of possible contenders, pretenders, and “how did they get there?” teams that are featured in the wild card weekend slate, while the Chiefs and Eagles sit back during their bye week and marvel at the mediocrity of the rest of the field. What this season has produced in its parody has also yielded unpredictability at every corner. The fun is just beginning, and it’s time for your biggest and boldest plays.
Week 18 craziness brought us a breakthrough win and season for the AFC South champion Jaguars of all teams. As much as I’ve dogged on year two of the Trevor Lawrence project, he’s found his way into a home wild-card playoff for the lowly Jaguars. Alternatively, we could have just seen the end of the road for Aaron Rodgers. When you’re outclassed on offense by Jared Goff and the Lions at home, that might be your first red flag that it’s time to re-evaluate.
There are a LOT of fresh faces at QB and all over these playoff rosters heading into the postseason. Let’s get to the wild card weekend madness and make sense of these point spreads:
It’s time: Our NFL Playoff contest is live so get yourself involved in postseason picks! Free pool…$5k in prizes…get on it now!
49ers (-10) vs Seahawks – 4:30 pm ET – FOX
Thanks to those pesky Detroit Lions ending the Packers’ postseason hopes, the Seahawks and Geno Smith sneak into the 7th and final spot in the NFC. They’re a delightful surprise for a franchise in transition at QB, but nowhere near as delightful a surprise as the 49ers have been. As San Fran has worked through Trey Lance to Jimmy G and now rookie Brock Purdy, none of it has mattered. The Niners swept the season series but the most recent meeting was tighter. While I like Brock Purdy to get his first playoff win in his debut, I don’t think it will be a cake walk but a late cover is inevitable.
Alex’s Play: 49ers -9.5 (teased)
Chargers (PK) @ Jaguars – 8:15 pm ET – NBC
The matchup of young and trendy QBs in Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence that’s a wet dream for NFL and TV execs. The primetime matchup should bring a lot of public money in for the lovable Jaguars, but I think there’s a lot of value in the Chargers in this spot. I’m typically wary of the west coast to east coast traveling team but LAC has proven that wrong with three east coast road wins this season. Everyone is zigging toward the Jags so I’m zagging and taking the road team. A nervous payoff letdown from Jacksonville seems imminent.
Alex’s Play: Chargers ML
Bills (-10.5) vs Dolphins – 1:00 pm ET – CBS
In this AFC East matchup’s previous two meetings this season the Fins have been pesky, splitting the series with Buffalo. The issue now is the uncertainty at QB for the Dolphins. They are down to their third-string option in rookie Skylar Thompson, while Tua and Teddy Bridgewater both remain a giant question mark. If you want to take a gamble on one of those two being available this is realistically a one-score game, but in its current state, I don’t see how the Fins hang close in this one. Tough spot to say the least.
Alex’s Play: Bills -10.5
Vikings (-3) vs Giants – 4:30 pm ET – FOX
The Vikings are the head-scratcher of this entire season for me. They’ve dodged bullets, staged frantic comebacks and avoided catastrophe with moments of brilliance on their way to a 13-4 record. I’ve historically NEVER backed Kirk Cousins in spots like this, and I don’t plan to now. There’s too much smoke and mirrors with the Vikes to me, while this Giants team comes in knowing what they are and they are ready to play down in the trenches. The Giants make this one ugly, it likely stays under the point total and the G-MEN are indeed a live dog here.
Alex’s Play: Giants +3
Bengals (-6.5) vs Ravens – 8:15 pm ET – NBC
Just like with the Dolphins, there’s still news regarding who will actually play QB for the Ravens that drastically affects this point spread. If Lamar Jackson is good to go this line moves closer to 4 or 5. If backup Tyler Huntley is the guy it likely hangs around a score, but if no news changes and Anthony Brown is your starter, I like the Bengals to cover the spread. I would grab the 6.5 now: even a rusty Lamar Jackson will have a hard time staying within a score of Joe Burrow and this offense.
Alex’s Play: Bengals -6.5
Cowboys (-3) @ Bucs – 8:15 pm ET – ESPN
Two teams with all the hype that look like garbage meets in Tampa to conclude the wild card weekend. It’s hard to make much of these offenses as of late since they have sputtered, but my brain and wallet won’t disagree with my heart on this one. If you’re still giving Tom Brady AT HOME as an underdog, I’m going to run to the window and take that bet. I’ll take it for eternity until it’s off the board. While the Cowboys are the better-constituted roster of talent overall, the Bucs D can present some mixed coverages to keep them at bay, and TB12 just needs to be within an earshot in the 4th to take this one home.
Alex’s Play: Bucs +3
REGULAR SEASON BETTING RECAP
Week 18 ended our regular season campaign, and boy did I limp to the finish line. I’m admittedly very glad to reset and focus on the playoff matchups, as the last two weeks of underdogs were not barking appropriately. Right at 45% ATS for the NFL overall this regular season, so the quota is a 55% postseason to get us in the black.
Week Eighteen: 1-4 ATS, Season Overall: 41-50-1 ATS
Sad cause the regular season is over? DON’T BE – our NFL Playoff contest is live so there are more chances to win this postseason!
EATS AND DEETS
The best crowd: The tailgate and scenes for a Monday night Cowboys/Bucs playoff in Tampa should be lit. I’m imagining lots of silver and blue in the Florida crowd.
Goofiest line: Brock Purdy being a double-digit favorite in the playoffs is a wild sentence that none of us thought would be uttered this season.
Simultaneous screen count: Until next season, goodbye Scott Hanson.
Tailgate pick of the week: It’s the playoffs, but also the January diet. I’m going with chips and guac and air-fried wings.