THREE playoff matches for us to enjoy today

FredZone

Yesterday we saw Cincinnati and Buffalo book their spots in the Divisional round next week. The Bills in particular made a real statement of intent, thrashing the Patriots.

Three absolute crackers await today, with the remaining match a Monday Night Football event in the US, kicking off in the early hours of Tuesday UK-time.

We’ll have a look at the MNF fixture tomorrow, so for now, let’s concentrate on this Super Sunday.

 

6pm UK

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The reigning Super Bowl champions entertain Philadelphia at Raymond James.

I think it’s fair to say that Tampa have not entirely recaptured the form that propelled them to that great triumph last year. They will also have to manage tonight without star running back Leonard Fournette, who has a hamstring strain.

What they have got though is one Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. 44 years young, playing some of the best football of a stellar career, and proud possessor of SEVEN Super Bowl rings. Mickey Mouse surely wears a Tom Brady watch.

His game management will be crucial. Opposing Brady is Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts, making his postseason debut. He feels they can indeed hurt the Bucs on the ground especially, with their top-rated rushing offense primed for action.

The Bucs are unsurprisingly skinny, at around 2/7 on the money line. Then it’s Bucs -7.5 on the spread, and the total is pitched circa 46.5.

If this was the Bucs of this time last year I’d have no hesitation in suggesting we danced all over those figures and filled our boots accordingly. However, injuries and that inconsistent form I hinted at tempt a note of caution.

A Tampa win is still readily the most likely outcome but I’m going to fence-sit slightly on that and play the total. Tensions might prevail.

It’s an absolutely fascinating prospect. Can the Bucs take a step towards defending their Lombardi trophy, such a difficult thing to do historically in the NFL?

Total points Under 46.5 @ 20/23

 

9.30pm UK

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys

Quite possibly my favourite matchup of the weekend.

The cavernous AT&T stadium hosts what should be a corker, between two franchises who are just NFC and Super Bowl royalty.

My love of the NFL was forged watching SF’s Joe Montana and company making this competition their own back in the day. ‘America’s team’ meanwhile had the likes of Troy Aikman soon after, to propel their own fantasies. Those two gentlemen have seven Super Bowls between them – but what of the current vintage?

No Super Bowl for Dallas since Aikman’s time in the mid-90’s, while it’s a similar tale for the ‘niners. What either wouldn’t give for another right now.

Dallas are a 3.5 point spread fav, doubtless given that they’re at home in Arlington. At 4/7 on the money line I wouldn’t be a player, but of course they have a bright chance of progressing.

So too do San Francisco, hugely impressive in my eyes at least when overcoming the Rams last week to secure this playoff berth.

This will be an arm wrestle and then some, with a sprinkling of magic dust from the many attacking threats around the field. I’m seeing this as a very close-run affair and hope that both sides bring their proverbial shooting boots, for our entertainment.

Total points Over 50.5 @ 20/23

 

Tonight/early hours Mon, 01.15am

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Steelers have at all to do in my view at Arrowhead. Not many postseason matches feature 11.5 point spread favs, but in this case, with KC, it looks justified.

Much as with Tampa Bay, the Chiefs have not really looked like their best selves for chunks of this season, but still secured the AFC West with a 12-and-5 record. Their offense is sublime – Mahomes, Kelce, Hill – and if they fancy it tonight then Pittsburgh could be in big trouble.

Can the Steelers hurt the Chiefs? Big Ben Roethlisberger has another potential swansong, and sure, he’s got weapons of his own in the likes of Chase Claypool. But it’s asking a great deal.

I’m playing that large spread, and as I feel points might be hard to come by for Pittsburgh if not KC, I’ll have a couple of bob on the under, too.

Kansas City Chiefs -11.5 @ 10/11

Total points Under 46.5 @ 10/11

Have a cracking evening of NFL entertainment. Remaining match-up, Cardinals/Rams, we’ll preview tomorrow.

Take care, stay safe.

Alan Firkins