The good news from last week is that the odds we got for the Bills beating the Buccaneers in the Championship went from +3500 to +3000 now.
The bad news is, both of their expected opponents for the week changed with Cleveland beating Pittsburgh and the Rams beating the Seahawks. We won the nice parlay two weeks ago, but the +109 parlay last week went down in flames on the final leg, as Cleveland jumped the Steelers. I did mention in last week’s article I was most concerned with the Steelers game, but I’d be a liar if I thought the game script would transpire the way it did.
The silver lining with this was that you had a hedge opportunity with the last game. I tend to hedge about half the time, even if it’s not a big payout. It really depends on what level of risk you’re willing to accept, but it’s worth considering going forward.
This week, we have a nice combination of a looser, three-team parlay (+299) and some enticing Championship matchup futures. I’m not touching that Buccaneers versus Saints game this week.
— NFL (@NFL) January 11, 2021
Packers -265, Ravens +150 (teased to -2.5), Chiefs -480 (three-team parlay: +299)
This is a pretty loose, three-team parlay at +299. For every stage of this parlay, there will be concerns to go with it. Don’t worry, we’ll address both the upsides and downsides to each.
In the Packers game, we love the fact the Rams are stuck with Jared Goff at quarterback. Though we avoided last week’s game, we pointed out in the weekly picks just how bad Jared Goff would look, playing with an injured thumb.
Cooper Kupp will likely play this week, but he’s limited as well. In his last trip to Lambeau, Jared Goff threw four picks and had zero touchdowns. He’s a California kid who struggled in that weather and now he’s not 100%. Even though the Packers’ defense isn’t particularly frightening, they have a good pass rush and Jhaire Alexander on the outside.
For that reason, we have more reason to trust Aaron Rodgers in freezing weather, at home, even though he’s facing the best defense in the NFL. As Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” I think Aaron Rodgers will find a way to do just enough to beat the Rams at Lambeau this week.
The Ravens are the tough pick of the week. We were hoping the Bills would be playing the Steelers, because I’d have put my mortgage on Buffalo wiping the floor with Pittsburgh in an ideal matchup.
Instead, the Steelers lost and now we have to deal with the Bills facing a matchup nightmare at home, in awful weather. The weather factor can’t be understated. In the Bills’ loss to the Chiefs earlier in the year, we saw frigid temperatures, icy precipitation, and decent wind.
Now, you can say Josh Allen should be used to it, playing college in Wyoming, but his receivers are ultimately the ones having to catch the ball, and Buffalo didn’t do so well in their two bad weather games this season. The Ravens and their dynamic rushing attack has the advantage in bad weather, against a weak Buffalo run defense.
The Chiefs are a cautious pick. By that, I mean I expect them to get off to a slow start, but pick things up as the game wears on. Bye teams resting players in Week 17 have failed to cover the spread the last four or five times it’s happened. However, given how bad the Browns are in the secondary overall (with the exception of Denzel Ward), it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs not being able to mount a comeback or extend a narrow lead.
Just think back to last week. The Browns got out to a massive lead, forced four Roethlisberger picks, and the Steelers still almost rallied early in the fourth quarter. Even in a clear negative game script, facing a team with one of the highest passing rates in the league, the Browns nearly blew it. Patrick Mahomes will not have the same turnover issues Ben had just missing open guys last week.
There are some potential problems here. For the Packers, the issue is the Rams defense. The Rams defense matches up exceptionally well with the Packers. I expect this game to go under, and I expect Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey to really frustrate the Rodgers to Adams duo. With that being said, I have so little faith in Jared Goff right now.
For the Ravens, I worry their offense isn’t going to be very effective. Sean McDermott’s Bills were able to stymie the Ravens last soon when the Ravens were red hot. There is some concern the Ravens have some issues getting their offense rolling against a clever opposing coaching staff.
With the Chiefs, the concern is their chemistry and defense. Defensively, the Chiefs are weak against the run and weak against play action. The Browns employ a lot of both. The chemistry of the Chiefs’ offense is my other concern. Teams over the past few years that have had a bye and rest starters in Week 17, have gone on to have extremely sluggish starts in the Divisional round.
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Here’s a couple of nice futures for consideration and value, based on perceived matchups.
NFL Championship “Exact SB Outcome” (Ravens to beat Packers +1800)
If the Ravens get by the Bills, they’ll have a matchup advantage once again over the Chiefs. The Ravens will have a huge advantage on the ground against the Chiefs, and will have an advantage this time around without having to focus much on the Chiefs ground attack.
If all goes to plan, they’ll likely face the Packers, against whom they’ll have another advantage over the Packers on the ground. They’ll also have a decent matchup defensively. This is a value pick, based on future matchups, solely.
NFL Championship “Exact SB Outcome” (Packers to beat Chiefs +750)
This one may seem a little chalky, but the expectation is that Clyde Edwards-Helaire should return by then, but high ankle sprains are tricky, especially with a guy whose game is predicated on his quickness.
The Packers matchup well with the Chiefs and even though they’ll likely be +150 or so for the game, getting in at this point still offers some value. The Packers weakness is their run defense. Without having to worry about that much with the Chiefs, they’ll be able to focus more on slowing Pat Mahomes.
However, the big mismatch is Aaron Rodgers against the Chiefs defense. That’s where I think the Packers will have the biggest advantage and why I like the Packers in this potential matchup.