Last week was probably the best weekend of playoff NFL Football of all time. As bad as most of the first halves were last week, the fourth quarters of every game were all tremendous. All four games gave us drama, suspense, and some outstanding offense in crunch time. As amazing as the Chiefs game was, it was just another heartbreaking footnote for the Bills franchise.
With all the wild finishes last week, we will surely be in for a big letdown this week. We shouldn’t be surprised. Last week was full of great matchup pairings, but this week features rematches from earlier in the season. Something has got to give in both these games this week, and we expect both will be slow to start.
The Playoffs are Winding Down
As the postseason wraps-up, we have just three games to go. Last week turned into a 2-2 week, courtesy of the Bills not protecting a lead with 13 seconds left. Both #1 seeds are out, and Josh Allen, who tossed 9 TDs and whose offense had zero turnovers, is out after two games. As we look out at the four teams remaining, we can smile, thanks to a season of memorable moments, clutch performances, and possibly the end of the Tom Brady era in the NFL. Let’s end the playoffs with some fun picks and some winners.
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Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Bengals at Chiefs -7
The Bengals once again skated-by in a critical, low scoring playoff game. What’s odd about this playoff run is how good the Bengals defense has been. It wasn’t like this during the season, as the offense hasn’t exactly been blowing the doors off opposing teams during this little run. From many angles, you can say the Bengals got lucky last week. They allowed 9 sacks, mainly because the routes they were running were too long.
The scary part about the Bengals is that they made no adjustments to the pressure applied by the Titans last week. They got one tipped ball intercepted and another intercepted on a potential game-winning drive, which subsequently ended the game. This whole combination of a turnover-dependent/lucky defense and bad offensive playcalling can’t continue to just magically work out for them.
As much as 90% of America wants to see the Chiefs lose, the unfortunate part of all of this is that all good things must come to an end. The journey the Bengals embarked on when they drafted Joe Burrow last season has been fruitful and exciting for the fan base. With a shot at revenge and an offense that can’t be stopped right now, the Chiefs are poised to make their third consecutive Super Bowl.
As far as the matchup is concerned, the Chiefs have advantages all over the place. The Bengals defense has been playing well, but this Chiefs offense has been an absolute buzz saw over the last two weeks. In their first meeting, the Chiefs got out to a massive lead, only to blow it through a combination of fortunate blown coverages and unlucky plays on offense. This time around, the Chiefs aren’t likely to get burned by Jamar Chase like last time.
Expect the Chiefs to put a lot more emphasis on both blitzing and forcing Burrow to look away from Jamar Chase. On the other side, the Chiefs will continue to look towards Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in the short and intermediate routes and taking what the defense gives them. We have one offense that should see a lot of internal defensive pressure (Bengals) and another which likely won’t (Chiefs). It’s all setup too well for Mahomes.
Chiefs 38 Bengals 17
49ers +3.5 at Rams
It’s time for the 49ers fans to bust out the old gold jackets and don their Montana and Rice Jerseys, hopeful to summon the dormant passing ability of Jimmy G in this NFC West showdown for Super Bowl Sunday. Last week, the 49ers used an aggressive short pass and run strategy to hang close with the Packers and eventually pull out the win. It took a little luck, but the 49ers got there.
Though things didn’t look good following the early Packers TD, the 49ers defense settled and the offense was able to piece together a couple good drives to tie and ultimately win the game. The key was actually the special teams. Just before half, Jimmy tossed one of his typical inexplicable interceptions, leading to a routine FG for the Packers. Fortunately, the 49ers blocked it and were able to later block a punt and return it for a touchdown, as Special teams saved the day.
For the Rams, it was another well executed game plan…until it wasn’t. After getting out to a 27-3 lead, the Rams nearly fumbled the game away. The offense was suddenly jumpy, and the defense made some critical errors. Later, the defense appeared to wear down and succumb to another signature Tom Brady comeback.
Then, like watching a movie we’ve seen a hundred times, we see the director’s cut version with an alternate ending. Matt Stafford hits Cooper Kupp over the top and completely rewrites everything. 22 years of Brady invincibility and 13 years of Stafford pain were erased on one perfectly lofted ball.
This week, the narrative is McVay vs Shanahan. Sean McVay is just 1-7 vs Kyle Shanahan in his career. Aside from the late breakdown against the Buccaneers, the Rams have played well this playoffs. The weapons are potent, the defense is geared well, but the issue this week is philosophy and schemes. The 49ers attack the middle of the field and stretch your defensive weapons across the line through screens and creative runs. I expect the 49ers to get things going a lot quicker than they did against the Rams in Week 18.
49ers 23 Rams 20
Props & Alternate Spreads
We love props, but we typically don’t have time to go through them each week, but with only two games on the schedule, we have you covered this week.
Chiefs -9.5 (+105)
The Chiefs are our for revenge with an unstoppable offense. In their meeting with the Bengals late in the season, everything seemed to go just right for the Bengals. However, the combination of a lack of playcalling adjustments on offense and some incredibly fortunate YAC plays from Jamar Chase put this one just out of reach for the Chiefs. Don’t expect it to happen again.
49ers -1.5 (+165)
We explained this in the game breakdown. I expect this game to be close throughout. There’s little reason, since we’re going with the niners, to simply take the 49ers moneyline. Always try to get at least some juice on your side when you can. For that, I like the safe play here, just in case there’s a two-point conversion situation to account for.
Elijah Mitchell over 68.5 rushing yards
Sometimes, things just don’t add-up. In this case, there’s Elijah Mitchell’s rushing props. For one, his yardage line doesn’t exactly align with his carries line. He’s currently projected 17.5 carries with 68.5 yards. That’s roughly 3.9 YPC and less than his season average of 4.65. The expectation here is that the 49ers will use Mitchell heavily, so we should lean on him too. I don’t see this one getting out of hand nor the game script flipping.