NFL Super Wild Card Weekend has come and gone, and boy oh boy was it ever super.
All weekend we were treated to big plays, big upsets, questionable play calling and a lot of Must-See moments.
I, for one, am glad we had all week to recover from the action as this weekend is sure to be just as wild, even if it won’t be as “super.”
Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers -6.5, O/U 45.5
YOUR FAMILY, YOUR RELIGION, AND THE GREEN BAY PACKERS
If you don’t understand the headline for this team, then you need to watch more of Jim Valvano’s old speeches. Trust me.
On to the game.
The Green Bay Packers have been lights-out in recent weeks.
Since their overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11, Green Bay has gone 6-0, outscoring their opponents 201-111.
In those six games, they have turned the ball over just twice, while forcing nine on defence.
Any way you look at it, this team has outplayed their opponents down the stretch.
A big reason for that was the production of wideout Devante Adams.
Adams, who played in just 14 games this season, led the league with his 18 touchdowns, and finished tied for second with his 115 receptions.
With cold weather expected, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has shown time-after-time that he is up for the challenge of playing in cold-weather games throughout his career.
In 34 cold-weather games (when the temperature dips below freezing), Rogers is 28-6 with a 2.2 / 0.4 TD-INT ratio.
We saw just a few weeks ago how dominant this offence can be in cold weather when Green Bay had 448 yards, with Adams catching 11 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-14 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Speaking of cold weather…
LAMBEAU … BLEEP
Is it just me, or is Sean McVay trying to tell us that he doesn’t trust his supposed franchise quarterback.
After getting an emergency start in Week 17, John Wolford got the nod for the Rams against the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round, with Jared Goff backing him up.
When Wolford went down with an injury, Goff entered the game and… looked like Jared Goff.
Maybe that’s the issue, that Jared Goff is who he is.
The fact that one week – and a playoff win – later and McVay waited until Wolford was officially ruled out to name Goff his starter says a lot.
Or maybe it just tells us that he knows his California quarterback has a checkered past with cold-weather games.
Since entering the league, Goff has played just two games in sub-30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-1 Celsius) weather, and the results have not been, well, I’ll let you decide.
Two games, two losses, zero touchdowns, five interceptions, and just 190.5 passing yards per game.
With the weather expected to be in the mid-to-low 30s, I don’t see Goff having a big afternoon, and their ground game could struggle against this Packers defence that hasn’t seen a player rush for 100 yards since Week 12.
On the other side of the ball, this Rams defence has been very good lately.
In their last five games, the team has given up just 14.6 points-per-game and has forced four turnovers during that time.
Jalen Ramsey has been a big reason why.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ramsey has completely shut down a number of top wideouts in recent weeks.
Since Week 10, the Rams cornerback has faced DK Metcalf three times, DeAndre Hopkins twice, and Mike Evans once.
Those three players combined for just 13 catches for 132 yards in those six games when guarded by Ramsey, and none of them went for 100-plus receiving yards in those games.
Ramsey vs. Adams will be quite the matchup this week, and if he can shut him down the Rams might have a chance at pulling off the upset.
As for a pick, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t love this game.
I think this Rams defence might keep them in the game, but I simply don’t trust Goff to take the Rams +6.5, and while the under also feels like a good play, I can see turnovers leading to short fields and points.
However, What I can’t envision is this Los Angeles offence travelling to Lambeau in January and putting up a lot of points, so we’re going to fade that and take the under on the Rams team total.
Pick: Rams under 18.5 points
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills -2.5, O/U 49.5
A LONG TIME COMING
After 25 long years, the Bills have finally won a playoff game.
It didn’t come easy though, as the Bills escaped Wild Card Weekend with a narrow 27-24 win over the Colts in a game that saw them get outgained in both passing and rushing.
Aside from being outgained, the Bills were the benefactor of some major Colts mistakes.
It began with the Colts choosing to go for a touchdown late in the first half instead of taking a 13-7 lead with a field goal.
When Indy failed to score a touchdown on fourth down, the Bills got the ball with 95 yards to go and not a lot of time to do it.
When Buffalo’s drive stalled out at the 23-yard line, the offence stayed on the field for a fourth-and-two, looking to draw the Colts defence offside, and they did just that.
The offside extend the drive leading to a Bills touchdown and putting the cap on a massive 10-point swing in a playoff game that was decided by three points.
On top of that, Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed from 33 yards in the third quarter.
Everything that could go wrong for Indy, did, and Buffalo now faces a Ravens team that I don’t expect to make as many massive errors.
On top of that, the Bills struggled to stop the Colts on the ground, giving up 5.66 yards per carry to running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.
They’ll need to get that sorted out.
On the plus side for Buffalo, Josh Allen was stellar in this contest, throwing for 324 yards and two touchdowns while adding 54 yards on the ground and another score.
The team will need second-year running back Devin Singletary to step up in this game as they will be without Zack Moss after he was hurt last week.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
While the Baltimore Ravens didn’t have to wait 25 years in-between playoff wins, it must’ve felt like that for Lamar Jackson.
Life moves fast in the NFL, and for Jackson his 2019 MVP award meant nothing with that 0-2 playoff record of his.
Things didn’t look good for the 24-year-old early in the game against the Titans as the Ravens started with a three-and-out and followed that up with Jackson throwing a bad interception on their second drive.
Tennessee raced out to a 10-0 lead and it appeared the Ravens were once again destined for a short playoff appearance.
But a Justin Tucker field goal got Baltimore on the board in the second quarter, and then greatness happened.
Lamar broke contain on third-and-nine late in the second quarter and scampered 48 yards for a touchdown in one of the better runs we have ever seen.
From that point on, it was all Baltimore and their defence was a major reason factor.
Following that touchdown, the Titans possessed the ball five more times, accumulating just 99 yards on 27 plays, scoring only three points.
Baltimore’s defence held Derrick Henry to a season-worst 40 yards on 18 carries, but one thing the Ravens will need to sort out for Saturday night is how to shut down Stefon Diggs.
Diggs posted elite numbers every week this season, and last week was no exception as he led the team with 128 yards and scored a touchdown.
But the Ravens did a great job of limiting the Titans big playmaking wideout last week when they kept A.J. Brown to just six catches for 83 yards.
Brown did most of his damage early in the first quarter when he had three catches, 52 yards and a touchdown, but was held in check when it mattered most.
With the playoff win under their belt, the defence looking solid and the ability to run the ball on this Bills defence, I like this Ravens team to pull off the upset against the Bills.
Pick: Ravens +2.5