We’ll be heavy on the Denver Broncos head coaching search coverage this week, but there are some actual NFL games happening this weekend. I figure we should get a preview in on those games here now that we’re well into that Broncos’ head coach search.
Wild Card weekend will be a three day event this year as the new expanded playoff format will squeeze in an extra playoff team. It all begins on Saturday. Below I preview of each playoff game and all betting odds come from our partners at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 at 2:30 p.m. Mile High time
Location: Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
Where to Watch: NBC, Peacock, Universo
Betting Spread: Cincinnati -5
Moneyline Odds: Las Vegas +185 / Cincinnati -225
The biggest surprise team of 2021 has to be the Raiders, who have had one of the more tumultuous seasons. Their head coach Jon Gruden resigned in disgrace over an email scandal and their star wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was charged with a fatal DUI accident. They were 5-2 at one point when all those events converged.
Under an interim head coach figuring things out, they lost five of their next six games, but then rallied to win out the season to make the playoffs. I believe that magic ends this week, however, as they face a Bengals team that has been rolling under Joe Burrow. Burrow has thrown for 971 yards in his last two starts and this same team whipped the Raiders on the road 32-13 back in Week 11.
These Bengals are my dark horse Wild Card team in the AFC, so I’m obviously predicting a win for them here on Saturday.
Prediction: Bengals 34, Raiders 24
Date/Time: Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 6:15 P.M. Mile High time
Location: Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, New York
Where to Watch: CBS, Paramount+
Betting Spread: Buffalo -4.5
Moneyline Odds: New England +170 / Buffalo -200
The Patriots limped into the playoffs losing three of their last four games under rookie Mac Jones after tearing through a seven game win streak to over come a 2-4 start to the season. They are also one of the few teams to have dropped multiple 50-burgers on teams this year. They even beat these Bills on the road in a game where Jones threw for a whooping 19 yards.
However, it is how they finished that has be concerned about them heading into Wild Card weekend. They caught the Bills during a rough patch that saw them lose four out of six games, but they finished with a four game win streak that gave them the AFC East title. They averaged 30 points per game in those final four and are coming into the playoffs one of the hotter teams in the league.
I think they handle the rookie Mac Jones and win rather comfortably.
Prediction: Bills 31, Patriots 20
Date/Time: Sunday, January 16, 2022 at 11:00 A.M. Mile High time
Location: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
Where to Watch: FOX, FOX Deportes
Betting Spread: Tampa Bay -8.5
Moneyline Odds: Philadelphia +290 / Tampa Bay -380
Do not sleep on the Philadelphia Eagles. After a 3-6 start with many questioning Jalen Hurts as an NFL quarterback, the team rallied to win six of seven games to secure a playoff spot and a chance to take down the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.
As for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, they finished with one of the best records in the NFL and the only true kryptonite Brady was hit with was the New Orleans Saints defense. A defense he won’t have to worry about in the playoffs.
The Bucs also beat the Eagles 28-22 earlier this season, but that was during the struggling part of the early season that Hurts was going through. I don’t know, but this one is hard to predict. I’m going with the favorite here, but this game has an upset-like feel to it. We’ll just have to see.
Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Eagles 16
Date/Time: Sunday, January 16, 2022 at 2:30 P.M. Mile High time
Location: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Where to Watch: CBS, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime Video
Betting Spread: Dallas -3
Moneyline Odds: San Francisco +145 / Dallas -165
My game of the weekend is going to be a classic rematch of the great NFC teams of the early to mid 1990s. Back in my Week 11 power rankings, I tried to identify a struggling team from each conference that would turn things around to make the playoffs. The two teams I was considering were these 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. I settled on Seattle over quarterback, since I am not at all a believer in Jimmy Garoppolo as a franchise quarterback.
The thing with Jimmy G that I didn’t consider was coaching and it was coaching and playcalling that carried the 49ers into the playoffs and it was the same that derailed the Seahawks season.
With all that said, I just don’t think they can overcome the amount of talent on display in Dallas this season. It should be a nail biter, though.
Prediction: Cowboys 24, 49ers 21
Date/Time: Sunday, January 16, 2022 at 6:15 P.M. Mile High time
Location: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
Where to Watch: NBC, Peacock, Telemundo
Betting Spread: Kansas City -12.5
Moneyline Odds: Pittsburgh +450 / Kansas City -630
The worst playoff team of 2021 is taking on, probably, the best team in the AFC. The betting line would suggest that as well. Unless Ben Roethlisberger channels a version of himself from 5 years ago, this game has the chance to become an outright bloodbath.
The Chiefs have won 9 of their last 10 games and that included a 36-10 dismantlement of the Steelers in Week 16. I don’t know what else to say about this one. It shouldn’t be pretty.
Prediction: Chiefs 44, Steelers 16
Date/Time: Monday, January 17, 2022 at 6:15 P.M. Mile High time
Location: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
Where to Watch: ESPN/ABC, ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes
Betting Spread: Los Angeles -3.5
Moneyline Odds: Arizona +160 / Los Angeles -190
I’ve been a big believer in the Cardinals since preseason and took a lot of flak early for putting them at the top of my power rankings over these same Rams. And this is when I don’t back down from that early impression despite the Cardinals losing four of their last five games to blow a chance to win the NFC West division crown. And also despite the Rams winning five of their last six to take it.
We’re going to see Kyler Murray go HAM and we’re going to see Matt Stafford do Matt Stafford things. The Cardinals will advance and the Rams will be left with the same problem they had last season: wondering about their quarterback.
Prediction: Cardinals 33, Rams 20