The NFL Playoffs begin this weekend with the Wild Card round and, in fitting fashion after a bizarre 2020 season, the slate features six (!) games instead of four. Obviously, football fans won’t be complaining about the extra action to consume, though, and it does provide a bit of additional opportunity for handicapping. Week 17 was also kind, at least in this space, with a 4-1 record that quite honestly should’ve been 5-0. Alas, the Seahawks and Rams put together an unbelievable, 34-point fourth quarter to zoom over the total, leaving us without the elusive perfect week.
Still, the end of the season was quite positive, giving us some confidence as the postseason arrives. Before getting into the five-pack of selections for this week, let’s check in on the full-season progress.
- Week 17: 4-1
- 2020 Season: 43-40-2
Come get these winners.
Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills UNDER 51.5 points
It’s a little bit scary to root for punts and field goals with this Bills offense right now. They’ve been a juggernaut for a while, and that explains why this total is where it is. With that out of the way, this number opened at 52.5 in most places and has fallen despite most of the action being on the Over. We like that indicator but, more than that, the Colts should be deploying a conservative, run-based attack that will keep the clock churning, and Indianapolis has the defense to at least slow Buffalo down a little bit. I wouldn’t love this any lower than where it is now, but it’s a good number.
Los Angeles Rams (+3.5) over Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks closed -1/-1.5 against the Rams two weeks ago at home… and now it’s 3.5? Los Angeles might be without Jared Goff but, as we said last week (in a winning spot for us), the gap between Goff and his backup does not project to be as large as you may think. The Rams have the better defense and a solid enough running game. Anything more than a field goal is juicy in this spot.
Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks UNDER 42.5 points
For the first time this season, we’re firing twice on the same game. This is hideous given how low the total is, but it’s also the right side. The Seahawks went Under in seven straight games before last week and, as noted above, that was a hideous beat on an Under that was quite clearly the right side. For whatever reason, Seattle has chosen to travel back in time, relying on a ball control offense and churning clock in the process. The Seahawks are also playing (much) better on defense and, well, the Rams are awesome defensively. A number this small is going to scare some people off, but not us.
Chicago Bears (+10.5) over New Orleans Saints
Look, I get it. No one wants to have Mitch Trubisky on the road. I don’t either. This isn’t your older brother’s Saints offense, though, and New Orleans laying more than ten points against a decent team is tough. This is admittedly my least favorite play of the five, but we must stand on principle.
Cleveland Browns (+6) over Pittsburgh Steelers
Prior to the news about Kevin Stefanski, I thought this number should’ve been +3. I understand a little bit of a move with the Browns playing without him, but this moving all the way to +6 is a bridge too far. The Browns should be able to keep things interesting using their running game and, if nothing else, Pittsburgh’s offense can’t be described as dynamic. Taking anything away from last week’s game would be a fool’s errand, but I would’ve liked the Browns +6 in Pittsburgh last week as much as I do now.