The debut of Super Wild Card Weekend was well received, with the six games delivering thrills, spills, and their fair share of surprises as well. Many casual fans had no idea who Taylor Heinicke was, but the young passer showed toughness and may have, as one analyst boldly predicted, secured a job in this league for 10 years as a backup. A limited Jared Goff and the Rams defense stunned the Seahawks, while the Bills needed a near-flawless Josh Allen performance to squeak past the Colts.
Just an average Wild Card Weekend, then.
My personal record was 3-3, as some of my hunches paid off on the underdogs, while the Bears couldn’t quite get there with the generous points spread (Javon Wims, catch that ball). The fascinating thing about the Divisional Round is how it differs from previous seasons; normally we see more than one double-digit favorite, but this year only the Chiefs can boast of that distinction.
Instead, we have two short home favorites in Buffalo and New Orleans, which speaks to the wide-open nature of the field. There are few better spectacles than the games of the Divisional Weekend each year, so let’s dive in.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
LA RAMS at GREEN BAY (-7 to -6.5) (Over/Under 46.5)
(Saturday, 4.35 pm ET, FOX)
The Packers are the Vegas odds-on favorites to be NFC champions at +135, but they will be taking nothing for granted as a fiery and physical Rams team comes to Lambeau. This marks the third postseason meeting between the teams, and it will be up to Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams to find ways around the touch-tight coverage of Jalen Ramsey. Rodgers is 10-8 in the playoffs since 2009, which includes a 3-3 ATS mark at Lambeau. Under head coach Matt LaFleur, however, the Packers have gone 11-6 ATS as home favorites, a 64.7% cover rate. Green Bay, thumbing its nose at Ramsey in the process, may choose to simply get physical on what is expected to be a frigid afternoon. If the Rams can go toe to toe with the Packers up front, however, suddenly the case for yet another L.A. upset is alive and well.
The quarterback situation for the Rams, of course, is the major talking point from their perspective. Sean McVay refused to declare a starter when speaking to the media on Sunday, but reading between the lines would suggest John Wolford will get the nod if healthy after his stinger. The contribution of Cam Akers last week in Seattle perfectly complemented the suffocating defense, and a similar effort will be required from the combination of Akers and Malcolm Brown. Another intriguing subplot here is the relationship between the head coaches, with McVay having helped LaFleur along a few years ago to eventually secure the Packers head coaching gig. Both teams have similar offensive DNA, something that could aid the Rams in their preparation. It would take a stumble from Green Bay to give L.A. encouragement, but defense travels and the Rams look like they will have Aaron Donald back after an injury scare.
Pick: Los Angeles
BALTIMORE at BUFFALO (-2.5) (Over/Under 50)
(Saturday, 8.15 pm ET, CBS)
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