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NFL

NFL Wildcard Week: Part 1

Week 18 turned out to be our sixth consecutive winning week (eighth win in nine weeks) of the season. We went 10-6 on the week. It turned our record to 57-35 over the last five weeks, using the cash model in this season’s new betting experiment. On the year as a whole, we were able to overcome our early to mid-season slump by finishing at 50.3% for the season.

By The Numbers

Some interesting numbers on this season we tracked were pick percentage by division. Our three top divisions were the AFC East (60%), the NFC South (57%) and the AFC South (56%). Our three lowest were the AFC West (44%), the AFC North (44%), and the NFC East (46%).

Our highest percentage team for picking on the season was the Jets (71%), while there was a three-way tie for the lowest at 35% (Raiders, Steelers, Cardinals).

Remember to check the article after 11:00 am EST every Sunday. By then, we will have the final picks, factoring-in the cash numbers from PFF in our decision. Reminder: We are following the cash model, which means we follow the picks leading in cash percentage, unless there is significant late cash movement the other way.

The Playoffs are Underway

The Playoffs are finally upon us. With the season now complete, 12 teams will fight it out this week for the chance to grab their seats in the Conference semifinals (Divisional round). From Saturday through Monday, we hope you enjoy the action and hit it big in the process.

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Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

 

Raiders +5.5 at Bengals

The Raiders really went through ringer last week to get to this point. In a “win and get in” scenario, the Raiders pushed their lead to 29-14, only for the Chargers to force OT and nearly cap-off an epic comeback. Regardless, the Raiders are here, and no one thought they’d be in the playoffs after slipping to a 6-7 Record.

Despite the apparent luck through the first few games of their streak, the Raiders finished the season with victories over the Colts, Broncos and Chargers. No matter how you slice it, it was solid. As much as we’ve joked the Raiders are the Eagles of the AFC, they stand a decent chance against any AFC team remaining, with the exception of the Chiefs.

The Bengals coasted down the stretch, while the rest of their division folded. Not long ago, many expected the Bengals to finish 3rd or 4th in the division. However, the Bengals regrouped after the loss to the Chargers and managed to do just enough to secure the division title. After losing Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins following the win over the Chiefs, the Bengals appear rested and eager to break the Bo Jackson curse.

The Pick

The rub here is the Raiders’ pass rush. Darius Philon will miss the game, but Yannick Ngakuoue and Maxx Crosby should be a big problem for Joe Burrow on Saturday. As strong as the Bengals have looked in many of their games, they have struggled in some games against potent pass rush units.

I expect the Bengals will try to establish the run to relieve pressure on Burrow. The problem for the Bengals is, the Raiders corners aren’t abysmal in single coverage like the Chiefs corners. Offense will not come as easily as the Bengals may expect. I like the Raiders to keep it close.

Despite some late money rolling-in on the Bengals, the cash remains heavy for the Raiders at 89%.

Bengals 24 Raiders 23

 

Patriots at Bills -4.5

The Patriots can’t be too happy with the way things turned-out last Sunday. After the Bengals proceeded to coast in the final game, the Patriots had a shot to matchup against the Bengals by simply beating the Dolphins. Poor offense in the first half and a slow start on defense put them in a hole they couldn’t climb out of. Now, the Patriots have to go back to Buffalo and hope the weather helps them against Josh Allen, again.

In their first meeting, the Bills were severely handcuffed by the weather. Everyone loves to talk about that game as if it were due to the cold, but it had significantly more to do with the wind. Strong steady winds and sharp gusts made the Bills passing attack look much closer to the Jaguars.

Had the Bills simply used Josh Allen more in the passing game and keyed-in more on stopping the obvious Pats run schemes, the Bills would’ve won easily (much more like they did weeks later in New England). This time around, the Bills have already made adjustments and improvements both running the ball and stopping the run.

The Pick

With the cash largely split on this game, opinions in the public are split as well. Heavy money rolled-in on Buffalo mid-week, pushing the line from 4 to 5. However, it seems late money now is rolling-in on the Patriots, pushing the line from 5 back down to 4.5. After seeing these two battle it out in New England and seeing the Bills firmly control the game, I expect we should see a performance close to that one once again.

Bills 26 Patriots 17

 

Eagles +8 at Buccaneers

The Eagles seem to leave a bad taste in a lot of NFL fans mouths. They win some games you expect them to and then turn around and get stomped by some teams you think may only be marginally better. The Eagles have made big improvements as the season has progressed. The run defense and the pass defense both improved, while Jalen Hurts made big improvements along the way.

The Buccaneers aren’t the same team we saw win the Super Bowl last season. Both offensively and defensively, this team has regressed. Mike Evans is the only real WR threat remaining, but the Bucs should get Lamonte David back. David is a key linebacker who completely changes things for the Bucs on defense. Even with David back, the Bucs are going to have to find ways on offense to produce sustained drives (hint: using Gronk more).

The Pick

We’ve seen enough of these two teams to know the Bucs have the higher ceiling. However, a dual threat like Jalen Hurts can widen the variance for outcomes. I like the Eagles to control the ball and limit the Bucs’ time on the ball. Expect the game to stay relatively close throughout. I don’t see the Bucs pulling away in this one.

The Eagles (at +8.5) were heavy cash favorites Saturday at 78%.

Buccaneers 27 Eagles 20

 

Check Back Early Sunday for the final three Wildcard games!

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