It’s Super Wild Card Weekend – who do you like?
Six matches will take place, while the Conference top seeds Green Bay and Tennessee look on with their feet up. There are two today – Saturday – so let’s start right there. We’ll be back tomorrow to discuss the remaining clashes.
9.30pm UK, Saturday
A typically difficult match to evaluate in this fantastic season of thrills and spills.
The Bengals have the advantage of playing at home in the Paul Brown Stadium, and that will be part of the reason we see them as 4/9 favs on the money line, and -5.5 on the spread.
Both finished regular season with 10-and-7 records, but the Raiders are hot, having won their last four. Both QBs are postseason virgins – Derek Carr for Las Vegas, and Joe Burrow for Cincinnati. Both are highly capable, and though we’ve seen far less of Burrow, he’s a former Heisman winner.
His rookie year was blighted by serious injury, but this season he’s led the Bengals to the promised land for the first time since 2015. He’s a serious talent.
Carr is vastly more experienced, and recorded some of the best stats of his career in 2021. The Raiders won an overtime thriller last week against the Chargers, and are a battle-hardened unit with great spirit. Few huge names, but bags of grit and substance.
This is a fitting dish to commence the Wild Card proceedings, and I’m frankly unsure as to who will make it to the Divisional round next week. My little tickle however will be on the total points – as I see two evenly-matched sides and I understand it might just a be a tad on the nippy side this afternoon in the Ohio area, which might slightly compromise some of the game’s playmakers.
01.15am UK, very early hours Sunday
Tonight’s late game is one that’s as keenly-anticipated as any all weekend.
One and two in the AFC East fight it out in Orchard Park’s Highmark Stadium, Buffalo. The Pats are supposed to win the East – it’s kind of an unwritten law. Not this season, however, as QB Josh Allen and his faithful cohorts Singletary, Diggs and company pipped them at the last after looking for a good part of the season as if they’d stroll it.
That’s in part due to New England rallying well after an inauspicious start, and to further muddy the waters both have a win against the other in Divisional conflict this term.
It wasn’t until Week 7, when the Patriots were 2-4, that their season started turning around. They went on a seven-game win streak that vaulted them into first place in the AFC East. pic.twitter.com/G6YmhZQorc
— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2022
Clip courtey of NFL Twitter
Here’s another match that might be affected by the weather – as a January late evening in the state of New York is often no place to be found without your thermals.
The Pats of course have the legend that is Bill Belichick as head coach, with Super Bowl rings to spare. No Tom Brady though anymore – he’ll be doing his thing in that unique, majestic manner of his in Florida on Sunday evening.
Rookie Mac Jones now directs the offense where Brady use to stand. A star turn in Alabama, and third in his Heisman year, he’s full of promise. Whether that’s enough to upset the Bills, I’m not sure.
The aforementioned Bills’ QB Allen is a bit of a beast, really. 6ft 5ins, 200-and-odd pounds, mobile, and possessed of a rocket arm. He’ll relish the occasion, will scamper, cajole, and put everything on the line to pursue this Super Bowl dream. In an open year they’ve got as bright a chance as any, and a better one than some.
Bills are in as a 4.5 point spread fav, and the total is pitched around 43.5. This should be extremely tight, and there are those possible weather ramifications to factor in, too. Given all this, I’m going to play the total again, but if pressed I’d take the Bills to narrowly edge the match.
See you tomorrow for the remaining playoff previews. In the meantime, have a fabulous Saturday night of NFL action, and here’s all the latest Super Bowl odds and Super Wild Card Weekend prices.
Clip courtesy of NFL Twitter