The N.F.L. playoffs are right here and with them comes the added theater of the first Monday evening wild-card sport and two matchups of groups assembly for the third time this season that may anchor the postseason’s opening weekend.
Saturday evening’s Patriots-Bills III and Monday’s third contest between the N.F.C. West-rival Cardinals and Rams sandwich a weekend the place parity — and familiarity — must be on show. A rematch between the Raiders and Bengals, and a contest between the Cowboys and the 49ers, two of the N.F.L.’s most-storied franchises, also needs to ramp up the drama after Las Vegas and San Francisco each wanted additional time to say their playoff spots.
This weekend, although, the N.F.L.’s sudden-death additional time guidelines will apply: The size of the additional interval stretches to 15 minutes from 10, and there gained’t be any query of whether or not to kneel since the video games will proceed till somebody scores.
Here’s a have a look at the wild-card spherical of the N.F.L. playoffs, with all picks made towards the unfold.
Last week’s document: 6-10
Regular-season document: 129-143
All instances are Eastern.
2021 N.F.L. Season News and Analysis
- The Reason Every Playoff Team Will Lose: All however one remaining staff have a fatal flaw.
- N.F.L. Coach Firings: Brian Flores (Dolphins), Matt Nagy (Bears), Mike Zimmer (Vikings) and Vic Fangio (Broncos) had been all dismissed earlier than the Giants fired Joe Judge and introduced the retirement of G.M. Dave Gettleman.
- Week 18 Takeaways: What we learned from the remaining video games of the common season.
- Searching for Joy in East Rutherford, N.J.: An illustrated look at the chilly, moist Giants loss to the Washington Football Team.
Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 p.m., NBC
Line: Bengals -5.5 | Total: 49.5
There are few tales this postseason extra attention-grabbing than the Raiders (10-7), a staff as soon as thought of out of playoff rivalry till it closed the common season by profitable 4 consecutive one-score video games to earn a wild-card spot. They face a Bengals (10-7) offense that has thrived beneath Joe Burrow, who enters the sport on a tear, having thrown for over 300 yards in three of his final 4 begins.
Burrow may exploit the Raiders’ secondary, the most-vulnerable unit of Las Vegas’s protection, which has allowed over 300 passing yards 4 instances this season. The Pro Bowl defensive finish Maxx Crosby and different lineman can generate strain towards a Bengals entrance that’s given up 55 sacks. But the Bengals have a Plan B in Joe Mixon, who completed third in the league in speeding yards (1,205), and will thrive as a receiver on check-down routes towards the Raiders’ zone-based protection. Cincinnati beat Las Vegas comfortably in Week 11, and there’s little cause to assume it won’t occur once more. Pick: Bengals -5.5
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m., CBS
Line: Bills -4 | Total: 42.5
Round 3, anybody?
Every good battle wants a 3rd installment, and this assembly between the Bills (11-6) and Patriots (10-7) could possibly be just like the first, in Week 13, when New England let Mac Jones try solely three passes in its win over Buffalo. Forecasts in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Saturday name for temperatures that hover round zero levels and a 30 % probability of snow, an outlook that once more favors a heavy reliance on the operating sport.
The Bills’ protection allowed league lows in yards and factors in the common season, nevertheless it has been vulnerable to the run. In the groups’ late-December assembly, a Buffalo win, the Bills compelled Jones right into a 14 of 32 passing efficiency with no landing throws and two interceptions. Assuming extra of the offensive load in current weeks, Jones has seemed like the rookie he’s, and trusting a first-year passer to beat the unfold, on the highway, in the chilly, towards an ascending staff isn’t actually a secure wager. Pick: Bills -4
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Buccaneers -8.5 | Total: 49
Tom Brady must endure mentions of Super Bowl LII and the Philly Special as he prepares for the Eagles (9-8), who pivoted their season by specializing in the run to such an extent that Philadelphia completed with the league’s highest speeding common (159.7 yards per sport). The Eagles’ salvation performs proper into a significant energy of Tampa Bay’s, since they provide up solely 92.5 operating yards per sport, third-fewest in the league.
And the Buccaneers’ (13-4) injured starters are trickling again into the lineup. Coach Bruce Arians mentioned Monday that he anticipated operating again Leonard Fournette (hamstring), linebacker Shaquil Barrett (knee) and edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) to play Sunday. That bodes nicely as they try and defend their Super Bowl championship, not revisit Brady’s nightmares. Pick: Buccaneers -8.5
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m., CBS
Line: Cowboys -3 | Total: 50.5
This the closest unfold of wild-card weekend, and for good cause: The 49ers (10-7) can counter every little thing Dallas does nicely defensively. The quick drop backs and speeding assaults which are staples of Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense negate linebacker Micah Parsons’s means to generate strain and sacks (he has 13 this season). San Francisco doesn’t depend on deep throws, which may neutralize Trevon Diggs, the Dallas cornerback who led the league in interceptions (11).
Despite the thrashing Dallas (12-5) gave to Philadelphia’s backups final week, the Cowboys’ offense has extra usually suffered from miscommunications between Dak Prescott and his receivers and an inconsistent run sport. Behind the versatile receiver Deebo Samuel and a protection that allowed a median of solely 260 yards over its remaining 4 common season video games, the 49ers may look to safe an upset, or no less than maintain the rating uncomfortably shut. Pick: 49ers +3
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City, 8:15 p.m., NBC
Line: Kansas City -12.5 | Total: 46
One may argue that the Steelers (9-7-1) are the luckiest staff in the postseason, as they benefited from the Colts’ inexplicable Week 18 breakdown towards the Jaguars to sneak into the playoffs. That magic — and Ben Roethlisberger’s N.F.L. profession — ought to finish towards Kansas City (12-5), which blew out Pittsburgh by 26 factors in Week 16.
Kansas City Coach Andy Reid anticipates Tyreek Hill (heel), and operating backs Darrel Williams (toe) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) to all play. Sure, Kansas City underwhelmed in its season-ending win towards the Broncos, however nothing in Pittsburgh’s current performances factors to the Steelers being greater than a bump in the highway. Pick: Kansas City -12.5
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: Rams -4 | Total: 49.5
The greatest staff in the N.F.L. by means of October, the Cardinals (11-6) have misplaced 4 of their final 5 video games and relinquished home-field benefit, they usually now should journey to face the division-rival Rams (12-5). Arizona might get some much-needed assist if J.J. Watt, who returned to observe this week after a three-month absence, is accessible, although his standing remains to be unsure. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has a knee damage and hasn’t performed since Week 14, won’t be obtainable.
Matthew Stafford completed the season tied for first in the league in interceptions (17), and his decision-making can be examined with microscopic scrutiny as the playoffs progress, given the draft capital General Manager Les Snead gave as much as Detroit to commerce for him. But no less than for the first spherical, he can depend on the Cardinals’ errors to be extra damaging: Arizona has been flagged for no less than six penalties in every sport throughout a five-game stretch, and has fumbled an egregious 17 center-quarterback snaps this season. Pick: Rams -4
How Betting Lines Work
A fast primer for individuals who should not acquainted with betting traces: Favorites are listed subsequent to a unfavourable quantity that represents what number of factors they need to win by to cowl the unfold. Raiders -5.5, for instance, signifies that Las Vegas should beat Chicago by no less than 6 factors for its backers to win their wager. Gamblers can even wager on the whole rating, or whether or not the groups’ mixed rating in the sport is over or beneath a preselected variety of factors.