SUNDAY SUPER WILDCARD PICKS
Sunday of Super Wildcard week sees the first appearance of the Browns in the postseason for almost 20 years, and two rematches of regular season games that both went to overtime. Steve Moore breaks down the betting angles for the three Sunday games.
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RAVENS @ TITANS (6:05pm GMT)
The one thing we know about both the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans is that neither defense is at anywhere near the level of their 2019 counterparts.
As a result, this game should be a straight-up shootout to kick-off the Sunday action. Because of this, the over 54.5 (10/11 with various) seems in trouble.
However, based on the fact that the previous meeting between these two finished 30-24 to the Titans after overtime makes me a little fearful of that.
What that game does show us though is that, in this season, this is a coinflip game. The Titans (31/20 with William Hill) are the underdogs but if asked who I expect to win the game, I would probably say the Ravens… JUST.
Therefore, I am much happier taking the Titans +3.5 (5/6 with various) and getting that field-goal margin. Betting that it goes to overtime again (10/1 with various) is not a bad play as a single either.
BEARS @ SAINTS (9:40pm GMT)
Drew Brees has got all his running backs back from the COVID-19 list and Sean Payton will be wanting to make a statement in wildcard weekend. Getting Michael Thomas back will also be big for the Saints.
As a result, there is no surprise this is considered the biggest mismatch of the weekend. However, the regular season game between these two in the Superdome was the David Montgomery coming out party as a primary weapon for Matt Nagy, and it took overtime for the (admittedly Thomas-less) Saints to win.
Obviously Thomas’ return improves the Saints, but Nick Foles got sacked five times in that game and I expect Trubisky to elude pressure better.
Despite this, I expect Trubisky to do something to cost the Bears the game late but Bears +9.5 (Evs with bet365 and SkyBet) seems a bigger line than it should be for two teams that needed OT two months ago.
BROWNS @ STEELERS (1:15 am GMT [Monday]
Nothing is more symptomatic of both the Cleveland Browns and this season that, after finally getting back to the post-season, in what should be the game of the weekend, the Browns have to play with several players and most of the coaching staff on the COVID list.
Denzel Ward is the most key COVID player absence, whilst the Browns’ entire pass-rush is basically just Olivier Vernon – who has ruptured his achillies – and Myles Garrett, who has openly said he has struggled breathing since his return from COVID.
Those defensive issues may make backing the Steelers to score over 32.5 points (15/8 with SkyBet) attractive. However, I can’t trust the Steelers to put that many points up.
Cleveland’s coaching issues are a huge unknown though, we simply have no idea what effect missing half a coaching staff will do to a NFL team. We really have just one game to go on and that’s the Lions game against Tampa a fortnight ago.
Now the Lions may well have been bullied by the Bucs anyway but 34-0 down by half-time and giving two more TD’s up to Blaine Gabbert suggests that it does make a major difference. As a result, I expect a very easy day for Pittsburgh and Steelers -6.5 (Evs with 888.com) seems very tasty.
Treble: Titans +3.5, Bears +9.5, Steelers -6.5
Other Single: Overtime in Ravens @ Titans (10/1 with various)
A Welshman exiled in Luton, Steve Moore has been a Buccaneers fan ever since he thought a stadium with a pirate ship was cool (he was only 9 at the time!).
Steve has also hosted podcasts on both the NFL and British Universities football and was the statistician for 2008 College Bowl finalists, Staffordshire Stallions