By Brien O’Donal
It’s playoff time and I’m ready to place some bets. There are only four games this weekend and that made this article a lot easier to write. I also expect that I have a better chance of picking all winners. That should be easy, right?
#5 Titans at #4 Chiefs- Saturday 3:35 p.m. CT, ESPN
Chiefs -8 1/2, O/U 44 1/2
I’m not sure how much I like this one. The Titans will be without DeMarco Murray and they still haven’t found a legitimate receiving threat. I believe that Derrick Henry has a future as a number one running back, but I’m not sure he’s ready today. If I’m taking the odds for this game on Friday afternoon (which I am) then I will put money the Chiefs at -8 1/2. I will take the under 44 1/2.
#6 Falcons at #3 Rams- Saturday 7:15 p.m. CT; NBC
Rams -5 1/2, O/U 48
This is one of those playoff games that could be a total coin flip. The Falcons have the ability to show up on any given Saturday and put forth an effort, but it has not been a sure thing this year. The Rams are a more complete team than the Falcons and I expect it to be fun but not that close. My money is on the Rams at -5 1/2. But if I was to count on a total, I am betting on the under 48.
#6 Bills at #3 Jaguars- Sunday 12:05 p.m. CT; CBS
Jaguars -9, O/U 39
Whoa! -9 for the Jaguars? I’m not sure how I feel about that but if you’re like me and have doubted Jacksonville all season you’re hesitant to hit them at this number, especially in a playoff game. The post season has more to do with the quarterback position than at any other point in the regular season. If you’re telling me I have to choose between Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor then I will pick Taylor. But neither of these teams are relying on their quarterback to win them the game. These guys are counting on their running backs to get them a win. Sadly, LeSean McCoy for the Bills is coming off an injury that could have kept him out. The Jaguars have Leonard Fournette who has had some injury concerns, but is ready to play no matter what. I believe the Jaguars will win this game but I won’t take them at this number. I will take the Bills at +9. As for a point total, I’m going to bet on the over 39 in this one.
#5 Panthers at #4 Saints- Sunday 3:40 p.m. CT; Fox
Saints -6 1/2, O/U 47 1/2
Well, this could be a tough call. Do I think the Saints will pull away against a divisional team they’ve already beaten twice this year? Do I think their running game will be the difference? I think the answer to those questions is yes. I also think their defense will shut Cam Newton down just enough to help them move on to the next round. However, I am hesitant to give them a touchdown. Having a good running game doesn’t always mean your team will put up big numbers. The Panthers have done a good job of preventing teams from doing just that. I think Drew Brees and Michael Thomas will have a good day, but I don’t know if when the dust settles it will be a big win on the scoreboard. I’ll go with the Saint to win, the Panthers at +6 1/2 and the under 47 1/2.