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Best fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 16

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Best fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 16

Every year, random RBs and WRs are starting for teams in fantasy football championship games, and this year, it looks like Tony Pollard and Salvon Ahmed will be among those players, as both headline our top Week 16 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds. Pollard and Ahmed weren’t the only “handcuff” RBs to break out last week, as Sony Michel also played well in relief of Damien Harris and Le’Veon Bell scored even before Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a potential serious leg injury. Russell Gage, Lynn Bowden, Keke Coutee, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, and Darnell Mooney are also seeing frequent targets and could find themselves in WR3 spots next week. 

Our full free agent list features a host of streamers at QB, WR, TE, and D/ST for Week 16, including Jalen Hurts, Rashard Higgins, Tyler Eifert, and the Chargers D/ST, among many others. Matchups are more important than ever with your season on the line, so don’t be afraid to explore all possibilities. The streaming options can be found at the end of this list. 

WEEK 16 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Obviously, there’s no reason to hold back your waiver claims now, so go all-in for whoever you might need or whoever you want to keep your opponent from getting. And don’t be attached to anyone you’re not going to play this week. You’re better off having viable starting options and emergency handcuffs (at multiple positions) on your bench than a middling player in a bad matchup who’s been on your team most of the year. 

WEEK 16 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

There’s no need to overthink things when it comes to who you actually choose to start, but make sure you give yourself the best options and play proper defense against your opponent. — Matt Lutovsky

Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues considered.

  • Ezekiel Elliott (calf) was a surprise scratch in Week 15, and Pollard took advantage, totaling 132 yards and two touchdownon 18touches. Pollard did most of his damage through the air (6-63)until a late 40-yard TD run,but it’s clear the Cowboys have no problem leaning on him as long as Zeke is out. It’s also worth mentioning that Pollard had just one fewer carry than Elliott when both were active in Week 14. It seems likely that Pollard will continue to see enough touches to merit flex consideration next week against Philadelphia whether Elliott plays or not, and if Elliott is out again, Pollard will be a solid RB2. —Matt Lutovsky

  • Bell’s ownership is down to 52 percent in Yahoo leagues, but with ClydeEdwards-Helairesuffering a serious-looking leg injury in Week 15, Bell figures to be highly owned ahead of Week 16’s game against the Falcons. Bell played well against the Saintseven beforeCEHexitedlatein the fourth quarter, finishingwith 63 yards and a TD on 16 carries. He also added 14 receiving yards on his lone target. It’s reasonable to expect Bell to get close to 15 touches next week, and even though Atlanta has a decent run defense, Bell will be a prime candidate for a touchdown, as Kansas City should move the ball at will through the air. —ML

  • In his first game since Week 11because of a shoulder injury, Ahmed picked up right where he left off, running 23 times for 122 yards and a TD against the Patriots in Week 15. In his three starts this year, Ahmed has averaged 21 touches, but it’s important to note that all three games came with Myles Gaskin (COVID) inactive. Gaskin is expected back next week against Las Vegas, so it’s unclear who will see more touches. Both backs have played well enough this year that it’s fair to expect somewhat of a split, and against the Raiders’ porous defense, that puts them both in flex territory. —ML

  • Michel was the primary back for the Patriots on Sunday with Damien Harris (ankle) out of action. Michel found a lot of success against the Dolphins, as he totaled 74 yards on 10 carries and added an eight-yard catch. With the Patriots officially eliminated from the playoffs, they could take it easy with Harris down the stretch, so Michel should be picked up ahead of a solid matchup with the Bills. Buffalo has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs this season and just saw Melvin Gordon score twice on them. Michel could find the end zone if Bill Belichick continues to trust him. —JC

  • Hurts was impressive again in his second career start,throwing for 338 yards and three TDs while adding another 63 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. A matchup next week against Dallas, who entered Week 15 having allowed a league-high 28 passing TDs, should help him continue his late-season surge. Most fantasy owners playing in their fantasy championship game likely don’t need to stream a QB, but Hurts has a high floor because of his rushing ability and high ceiling because of the matchup, so he’s well worth starting if you don’t trust your normal QB. —ML

  • Gage continues to take advantage of Julio Jones’s hamstring injury, catching five-of-10 targets for 68 yards and a TD in Week 15. Gage has seen 42 targets over his past five games, and he’s now scored in three straight contests. Atlanta will likely have to throw a lot to keep up with the Chiefs next week, so even if Jones is back, Gage is in play as a WR3. —ML

  • Coutee continues to establish himself as the No. 2 target for Deshaun Watson in the wake of the Texans’ problems at receiver. Coutee saw seven targets in Week 15, tied for second most on the team, and caught five for 53 yards and a TD. He nearly had a second score, but the ball was ripped out of his hands near the goal line. Coutee can be counted on as a solid WR3 in a favorable Week 16 matchup against the Bengals, and he may work his way into WR2 territory in PPR leagues. —JC

  • Mooney tied for the team-lead in targets (5) against the Vikings and caught a TD for the second time in as many weeks. It seems that Mitchell Trubisky is finding ways to get Mooney the ball, so he can be trusted as a solid flex play with high boom potential in a favorable matchup against the Jaguars next week. Jacksonville ranks bottom 10 in both yardage allowed and TDs allowed to WRs this year, so Mooney should take advantage of that. —JC

  • With most of their top receiving options (DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Jakeem Grant) out against the Patriots, the Dolphins relied on Bowden as their go-to pass-catcher. Bowden saw a team-high seven targets and caught six passes for 37 yards while adding a nine-yard run. Bowden didn’t post huge numbers, but he is a great PPR flex option, and if the Dolphins are still missing some of their receivers against the Raiders, Bowden can be trusted in standard formats, as well. —JC

  • In the two games prior to Week 15 Higgins averaged 9.5 targets, six receptions, 81.5 yards, and a TD. He then went out and caught four-of-five targets for a team-high 76 yards against the Giants on Sunday night. With the Browns taking on the Jets in Week 16, Higgins could be a huge waiver-wire sleeper and should be able to post at least WR3 numbers. —JC

  • Reagor has quickly turned into Jalen Hurts’ favorite target. Reagor saw eight targets against the Cardinals and caught five of them for 49 yards. Next week, the Eagles have a favorable matchup against the Cowboys. Dallas has allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs this year, so Reagor could have a solid game. Last time he played the Cowboys, Reagor caught the only TD of his NFL career, and he should have a shot at another. —JC

  • Ward didn’t see a lot of targets against the Cardinals (5), but each of his first two catches went for TDs. Hurts evidently likes looking the way of the college-QB-turned-slot-man in the red zone, so he can be added as a TD threat ahead of a good matchup. The Cowboys have allowed a league-high 24 TDs to WRs this year, so Ward can certainly take advantage of that. —JC

  • Watkins was fourth on the Chiefs in targets (6) in Week 15, but he ended up second on the team in total receiving yards against the Saints with four catches and 60 receiving yards. Watkins and the Chiefs are taking on the Falcons and their weak secondary in Week 16, so if you need a flex play, Watkins should have a pretty high ceiling in that matchup. —JC

  • In his final two games before going on IR, Brown was targeted 19 times and averaged seven catches for 85.5 yards per game. He should be ready to return to action for the Bills and should go back to being their downfield threat. Brown has a matchup against the Patriots in Week 16, so that won’t be easy, but with Stephon Gilmore (knee) banged up, all of Buffalo’s receivers will see improved matchups. —JC

  • Hardman was more involved in the Chiefs offense against the Saints than he has been all season. Hardman logged a season-high nine targets and totaled three catches, 22 yards, and a TD in the game. With the Chiefs taking on the Falcons in Week 16 and the Falcons having allowed the third-most fantasy points to WRs this year, Hardman is a solid pickup and could emerge as a boom-or-bust flex option. —JC

  • With Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (back) banged up, Johnson stepped up for the Chargers and was very effective against the Raiders. Jalen Guyton (4-91) outproduced him thanks to a long catch in overtime, but Johnson was able to catch three passes for 61 yards and found the end zone early for Justin Herbert. Johnson looks like the No. 3 receiver for the Chargers and should continue to be productive in a Week 16 game against the Broncos, who have struggled against WRs in recent weeks since A.J. Bouye’s suspension. —JC

  • Patrick had a two-game TD streak snapped against the Bills, but he still saw four targets and will continue to be one of the top targets for Drew Lock in the red zone. In Week 16, the Broncos are taking on a Chargers team that has struggled against WRs in recent weeks and is slightly below average against the position as a whole. —JC

  • Hansen was only targeted three times against the Colts, but he was able to catch two passes for 55 yards and a TD. Since the suspension of Will Fuller, Hansen has been targeted 17 times and has posted at least 55 yards in every game. He’ll have high upside as a flex play against the Bengals, which had allowed the seventh-most TDs to WRs (15) entering Week 15. —JC

  • Gore is not the sexiest pickup, but he is getting too many touches to be ignored. Against the Rams, Gore carried the ball 23 times and generated 59 yards and a TD. Those numbers may not look great, but it’s important to remember that Gore was playing against the NFL’s best run defense in this contest. If he gets another 20-plus touches next week against the Browns, he will certainly have a chance to be a flex play because of his TD upside. —JC

  • With Mark Ingram a healthy scratch in Week 15, it looks like Edwards has become the clear-cut No. 2 option for the Ravens. Edwards got 11 touches against the Jaguars in Week 15 and turned them into 78 yards. The Ravens are playing the Giants and their solid defense in Week 16, but if you need some extra depth at the RB spot, Edwards is the best player to target as a potential TD-dependent flex play. —JC

  • Smith led the Falcons backfield in touches against the Bucs. That resulted in just 24 yards on six carries and nine yards through the air, but with Todd Gurley being phased almost completely out of the Falcons rotation, Smith has some upside. He can be added on the chance he gets 10-plus touches in a favorable matchup against the Chiefs in Week 16. The Falcons may have to throw a lot to compete in that game, but Smith could catch some checkdowns and be a solid flex in PPR and standard formats. —JC

  • No team has allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Jets, who Hooper will see in Week 16. With Hooper’s ownership falling below 50 percent, he’s a must-add if you need a TE streaming option. Hooper broke out out a 5-41-1 line on six targets in Week 15, so hopefully he can carry that momentum over to Week 16. —JC

  • In three of his past four games, Eifert has logged either 45 receiving yards or a TD, including a three-catch, 51-yard outing against the Ravens in Week 15. In Week 16, the Jaguars are facing the Bears, who have given up the third-most fantasy points to TEs this year. They have also allowed seven TDs to TEs in their past seven games. Eifert could be the next in line to have a big day. —JC

  • Some may be scared off by Akins because he has dropped three potential TDs since Thanksgiving. That said, he has been getting targets and just racked up five catches for 50 yards against the stingy Colts defense. Akins is going up against a Bengals defense that has allowed 867 receiving yards to TEs. That was good for the most in the NFL entering Week 15, so Akins should have a chance to continue to rack up yards and be a potential top-15 TE in Week 16. —JC

  • Kmet saw just two targets in the Bears’ win over the Vikings, catching both for 12 yards. That said, Kmet still was on the field for most of the game, and he has been targeted 16 times in the past three games.He should see more opportunities in a more favorable matchup against the Jaguars in Week 16. Jacksonville has allowed 11 TDs to TEs this year, so Kmet could have a chance at a TD and more catches. —JC

  • Graham has lost playing time to Kmet in recent weeks, but he out-produced him against the Vikings. Graham logged two catches for 25 yards and saw three targets. Like Kmet, he’ll benefit from a favorable matchup with the Jaguars, so you can feel free to trust Graham since he’ll see some red-zone opportunities in that contest. —JC

  • Reed ranked third on the 49ers in targets (5) against the Cowboys and caught two passes for 18 yards and a TD. The 49ers are playing the Cardinals in Week 16 and while the Cardinals have been good against TEs this year, Reed will continue to be a top red-zone threat for the 49ers as long as George Kittle (foot) is out, so he can be a TD-dependent streamer if you’re desperate at TE. —JC

  • Schultz posted a line nearly identical to that of Reed — two catches, 12 yards, and a TD. Schultz has seen consistent targets this year and is playing a weak Eagles defense in Week 16. Schultz is averaging about 5.6 targets per game this year, so he can be trusted given his volume in this matchup. —JC

  • As good as the Jets looked against the Rams in Week 15, they still have one of the NFL’s weakest defenses. Mayfield has been on a hot streak of late — he has nine total TDs in his past three games before his Sunday night game against the Giants in Week 15 — and should be able to decimate the Jets’ lackluster secondary. —JC

  • Trubisky had a decent outing against a solid Vikings defense, throwing for over 200 yards, adding 34 on the ground, and tossing one TD. The Bears are playing the Jaguars in Week 16, so Trubisky can be trusted in that matchup. He has played well against weaker defenses and has threethree-TD games on the season in seven starts.– JC

  • Against defensive mastermind Bill Belichick in Week 15, Tagovailoa had a solid day. He passed for just 145 yards, but he managed to run for two TDs. Tagovailoa will get a much easier matchup against the Raiders in Week 16. The Raiders have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to QBs this year and are dealing with some key injuries on defense, so Tua could have another multi-TD day. —JC

  • Lock only had one TD against the Bills, but in his past three games, Lock has posted seven TDs compared to four turnovers (a relatively light number for him) while averaging 188 passing yards per game. Lock’s numbers aren’t spectacular, but he can surely take advantage of a good matchup against a Chargers defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to QBs on the year. Lock had 248 passing yards and three TDs the last time he played the Chargers, and if he repeats that performance, he should be an intriguing QB streamer or DFS play. —JC

  • The Chargers are playing the Broncos in Week 16. Against the Bills, the Broncos committed their 30th turnover, the most in the NFL, and ensured that they had committed a turnover in each of the games they have played this season. The Chargers defense has been rocky throughout the year, but if they can pressure Drew Lock and force him into some mistakes, they could be a worthwhile streamer against a Broncos team that allows the third-most fantasy points to D/ST units. — JC

  • The Eagles defense are ranked second in the NFL in total sacks and they will have a chance to get a lot of pressure on Andy Dalton and the Cowboys. Dalton has been sacked multiple times in three of his last four games and the Eagles should feast on Dallas’ offensive line. That should give them a high floor, so if you need consistency at the D/ST spot, the Eagles aren’t a bad option. —JC

  • The Panthers defense just held Aaron Rodgers’ Packers to three points in the second half of their Saturday night game. They are playing the Washington Football Team, and Washington has scored a meager 24 offensive points in their last two games. If the Panthers’ pass rush shows up, they should be able to continue to slow down the Washington offense, regardless of whether Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins is playing quarterback for the team. —JC

  • The Cardinals are playing the 49ers in Week 16 at home. The 49ers have had some rough outing under Nick Mullens’ watch, and he has turned the ball over at least once in his last six games played. The Cardinals are improving on defense and Haason Reddick has generated a lot of pressure recently, so the Cardinals are a potential top-10 defense this week. —JC

  • Washington is a top-five team in terms of total sacks, and its defense has improved exponentially in recent weeks. They had a couple of defensive TDs against the 49ers and were able to largely limit an explosive Seahawks offense in Week 15. Next week, they’re taking on the Panthers and should have a chance to get a lot of pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, who has been sacked seven times in his past two games behind a banged-up offensive line missing Russell Okung. —JC

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Sean McVay vs. Matt LaFleur: Inside the battle of NFL’s two most successful young coaches

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Sean McVay vs. Matt LaFleur: Inside the battle of NFL's two most successful young coaches

Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur are two of the most successful coaches in the NFL. They also happen to be two of the youngest.

Their paths cross when the Rams face the Packers at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox. McVay and LaFleur have a coaching tie that dates back to their time together on the Rams’ staff. It is a testament to the successful youth movement among NFL coaches.  

Sporting News takes a closer look at McVay, LaFleur and a coaching matchup that could be a part of the NFC playoff picture for years to come.  

MORE: The highest-paid NFL coaches in 2020

Who is the youngest coach in the NFL?  

McVay, 34, is the youngest active coach in the NFL. There are nine coaches in the NFL who are 42 years old or younger. LaFleur, 41, is the sixth-youngest coach in the league as of Jan. 16, 2021. Here is a closer look at the youngest coaches in the NFL: 

NAME BIRTHDATE AGE
Sean McVay, Rams 1/24/86 34
Zac Taylor, Bengals 5/10/83 37
Kevin Stefanski, Browns 5/8/82 38
Brian Flores, Dolphins  2/24/81 39
Joe Judge, Giants 12/31/81 39
Matt LaFleur, Packers  11/3/79 41
Kyle Shanahan, 49ers  12/14/79 41
Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals 8/9/79 41
Matt Nagy, Bears 4/24/78 42

Sean McVay’s coaching record  

McVay took over the Rams in 2017. In four seasons, he has compiled a 43-21 record in the regular season and a 3-2 record in the postseason. Los Angeles has the fifth-best record in the NFL in that stretch behind New Orleans (52-18), Kansas City (52-18), New England (48-23) and Baltimore (45-22).  

In 2018, McVay led the Rams to a berth in Super Bowl XLIII, where Los Angeles lost 13-3 to New England.  

The Rams missed the playoffs last season, but they finished 10-6 this year behind the league’s top-ranked defense. Los Angeles beat Seattle 30-20 in the NFC Wild Card round. Aaron Donald is a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.  

Matt LaFleur’s coaching record  

LaFleur took over the Packers in 2019. In two seasons, has a 26-6 record in the regular season and a 1-1 record in the playoffs. Green Bay has the second-best record in the NFL in that stretch behind Kansas City (29-6).  

The Packers made the NFC championship game last season before losing 37-20 to the San Francisco 49ers.  

Green Bay had the best record in the NFC this season at 13-3. The Packers are the top seed in the conference, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a leading candidate for the NFL MVP award.  

LaFleur was an assistant for McVay  

LaFleur served as the offensive coordinator for the Rams under McVay in 2017. The Rams finished 10-6 that season before losing 26-13 to Atlanta in the NFC wild-card round.  

The Rams led the NFL with 29.9 points per game and finished 10th at 361.5 yards per game that season. LaFleur left to become the offensive coordinator for Tennessee for one season before taking the head-coaching job with Green Bay.  

Strength-on-strength matchup  

LaFleur and McVay meet head-to-head for the first time in a strength-on-strength matchup.  

The Packers lead the NFL with 31.8 points per game, and Rodgers has benefited from a second year in LaFleur’s offensive system. Rodgers finished with 4,299 passing yards, 48 TDs and five interceptions. Davante Adams added 115 catches for 1,374 yards and 18 TDs.  

The Rams led the NFL with a defense that allowed just 18.5 points per game. Donald had 13.5 sacks this season, and Jalen Ramsey is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. McVay said that Jared Goff, who underwent thumb surgery after a loss to Seattle in Week 16, will remain the starting quarterback.  

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NFL playoff schedule: What games are on today? TV channels, times, scores for 2021 divisional round

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NFL playoff schedule: What games are on today? TV channels, times, scores for 2021 divisional round

The 2020 NFL playoffs are down to the “Elite Eight.”

Last week’s wild-card round was full of upsets with four lower-seeded teams emerging victorious, including wins by the Browns and Rams, the No. 6 seeds in the AFC and NFC brackets. Will the underdogs prevail yet again? Or will the top contenders reign supreme?

Here’s everything you need to know about the NFL divisional round games, including a full schedule with TV channels and start times.

MORE: Watch today’s NFL games live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

NFL playoff schedule: What games are on today?

Saturday, Jan. 16

(All times Eastern)

Game Time Channel
Rams vs. Packers 4:35 p.m. Fox
Ravens vs. Bills 8:15 p.m. NBC

Sunday, Jan. 17

(All times Eastern)

Game Time Channel
Browns vs. Chiefs 3:05 p.m. CBS
Buccaneers vs. Saints 6:40 p.m. Fox

NFL PLAYOFF PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

NFL playoff game TV channels, live stream

Rams vs. Packers

Key storyline: Jared Goff leading the offense

There is no quarterback controversy. John Wolford has been ruled out with a neck injury, so Goff will be the starter against the Packers. Despite dealing with a thumb issue, Goff did enough to push the Rams past the Seahawks (9 of 19 for 155 yards and one touchdown). He has to be much better if Los Angeles wants to take down the NFC’s top squad.

Ravens vs. Bills

Key storyline: Limiting Lamar Jackson

The 2019 NFL MVP racked up 179 yards passing and 136 yards rushing in a 20-13 win over the Titans. If Jackson gets outside of the pocket and makes big plays, the Ravens have a chance. If the Bills can contain him, they should advance to the AFC championship game.

Browns vs. Chiefs

Key storyline: Browns playing keep away

The best defense against Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes might be an offense that doesn’t let him see the field. Baker Mayfield will obviously play a huge role here, but Browns running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (124 rushing yards, 82 receiving yards, three touchdowns combined vs. Steelers) can help Cleveland control the clock by consistently breaking tackles and moving the chains.

Buccaneers vs. Saints

Key storyline: Putting the pressure on Tom Brady

In two regular season matchups against Brady, the Saints defense totaled five interceptions and six sacks. New Orleans must force Brady into mistakes again in order to defeat Tampa Bay for a third time.

NFL scores for divisional games

You can keep up with live scores and stats with SN’s live scoreboard.

Saturday, Jan. 16

Game
Rams vs. Packers
Ravens vs. Bills

Sunday, Jan. 17

Game
Browns vs. Chiefs
Buccaneers vs. Saints

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Divisional Round Betting Guide: Spread, moneyline, over/under picks for first round of NFL Playoffs

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Divisional Round Betting Guide: Spread, moneyline, over/under picks for first round of NFL Playoffs

After an interesting (and very busy) wild card weekend, the NFL playoff field has been trimmed down to eight remaining teams. The divisional round slate offers many angles for bettors, whether against the spread, on the moneyline, or on the over/under.

Every week, this column provides a detailed breakdown of our favorite bets, weaving in a preview of exclusive data from BetQL. This compilation serves as a mere sneak preview of all that BetQL offers. Check us out now to reveal our full betting predictions for every game of the divisional round, including projections and best bet ratings from our NFL Best Bet Model.

All data presented is as of Friday morning. You can track all NFL line movement on BetQL’s Line Movement Dashboard.

Divisional Round Betting Picks: Spread pick of the week

Los Angeles Rams (+6.5) at Green Bay Packers

When will people stop doubting the Rams? These guys just keep defying the odds in front of our eyes, and yet Vegas gives them a touchdown this weekend? Sign me up.

Los Angeles has the best defense in the league, led by one of the best pass-rushers in NFL history in Aaron Donald and elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Rams D can dominate every level of the field and make the life of an opposing quarterback a living nightmare.

Last I checked, Aaron Rodgers has a pretty poor track record in the playoffs against elite defensive units. That’s not to take away from his insanely impressive regular season, for which he will likely win AP Most Valuable Player honors. For the second time in his career, he finished the regular season with over 40 touchdowns and at least a 115.0 passer rating. Only three other QBs have done that, and all received MVPs during those seasons. According to NFL.com, he’s also the first QB in 10 years to lead the league in both metrics (48 passing TDs, 121.5 QB rating).

But as Rodgers knows all too well, regular season accolades don’t always translate into playoff success. Crazy things happen in the playoffs, and great game plans and defensive execution start to play larger parts in wins. He and Matt LaFleur are obviously jelling, but no D can stop a team dead in its tracks like the Rams.   

Just look at what the Rams did against the Seahawks last week. Twelve days after starting QB Jared Goff had thumb surgery, coach Sean McVay made the difficult decision to start backup John Wolford in the first round of the NFL playoffs. This guy had “Finance” listed as his LinkedIn industry before the previous week! Well, Wolford started and got knocked out of the game with a scary hit to the head and neck. Goff came in — throwing thumb still recovering — and did just enough to get LA the win, shouldered mostly by rookie back Cam Akers (28-131-1) and the aforementioned dominance of his defense.

Wolford checked back out of the hospital that same night after being given the thumbs-up (I had to) by doctors to celebrate the big win with his team. He will be watching from the sideline in Green Bay this weekend, as Goff returns to his role as the Rams’ starting QB. Goff, who disagreed with McVay’s decision to start Wolford over him last weekend, said he’s good to go.

In his lone career meeting with the Packers, Goff threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns and posted a 111.0 QB rating. If he duplicates that kind of success this week, this game could be an instant classic. He will need another strong performance from Akers, as well as the veteran receiver tandem of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Rodgers has a pair of tremendous playmakers in receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones, and both have a nose for finding the end zone.

Ultimately, I think the Packers win this game, and Rodgers ultimately squares off against Patrick Mahomes in a Super Bowl that StateFarm could not have scripted better. But I don’t see the Packers running away with it, especially in a cold-weather stadium against one of the more elite defenses this league has ever seen. If Goff can lead the Rams to a 30-20 playoff victory over Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, he can lose by less than a touchdown to Rodgers in the playoffs.

Divisional Round Betting Picks: Moneyline pick of the week

Buffalo Bills (-145) vs. Baltimore Ravens

If you simply need a lock for this week, I would be more apt to go with the Packers over the Rams, or the Chiefs over the Browns, but you will find literally no value whatsoever in those moneylines. Green Bay’s ML is -320. Kansas City’s? A whopping -510. Thus, my moneyline pick of the week is a Bills team that’s favored by the fewest points of any this weekend (-2.5).

Oddsmakers seem to be giving reigning MVP Lamar Jackson too much credit while giving 2020 MVP candidate Josh Allen too little. What gives? Jackson has struggled with accuracy and decision-making at times this season, while Allen just continues to get better as the campaign progresses.

Jackson threw for just 179 yards last week in Baltimore’s 20-13 win over the defensively-challenged Titans. He had no passing touchdowns and threw one interception. Much like many of his games in 2019, the damage he inflicted primarily came on the ground, as he finished with 136 rushing yards and a touchdown. Rookie JK Dobbins, bruising back Gus Edwards, and wideout Marquise Brown combined to add another 100 yards rushing (Brown also had seven catches for 109 yards).

There’s no doubting Jackson’s penchant for making big plays, and “Hollywood” Brown sure seems to be shining at the right time. But, plain and simple, Buffalo has been the better team all season and has shown no signs of slowing down for anyone.

On wild card weekend, Allen led Buffalo to a tough 27-24 win over veteran Philip Rivers and the Colts, who featured one of the better defenses in the league this season. The Bills finished with 397 total yards, 301 of which came through the air.

That was Buffalo’s seventh consecutive victory, and 10th win in 11 games. Its only loss since Oct. 19 came in Week 10 in Arizona, on a last-second, game-winning Hail Mary from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins. If not for that play, the Bills might have had a shot at the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.

But this team was meant to keep rolling and probably benefited from having to play last week. It has a lot of fight and a hell of a lot of talent on both sides of the football. Allen’s chemistry with Stefon Diggs has likely guided the veteran receiver to his first All-Pro selection. Diggs led the NFL this season with 127 catches and 1,535 yards, and he put up a line of 6-128-1 last week. He had eight touchdowns this season, one more than breakout rookie receiver Gabriel Davis.

Diggs and Davis join veteran slot receiver Cole Beasley, as well as veteran speedster John Brown, to form an electric foursome of playmakers. Allen has no problem spreading the ball around to whoever finds separation. He has developed an Aaron Rodgers-like level of field vision and pocket awareness, and he’s lockstep with Brian Daboll and his offensive playbook. When defenses sell out to cover the pass, he often burns them with his legs. Case in point: He ran 11 times for 54 yards and a score last week against Indy.

Baltimore has been one of the better defenses in the NFL this season, and Jackson continues to be one of the more entertaining QBs in the game today. The Ravens clearly got a lot of love from Las Vegas after going 7-2 in road contests this season and getting hot late in the year. But there’s a reason they got bounced from the playoffs last year after a 14-2 regular season and a reason they only went 1-1 straight up as a road underdog this season. They do not have a reliable passing game. Baltimore finished the season ranked dead last in yards through the air.

Meanwhile, Leslie Frazier’s Bills defense has made vast improvements down the stretch. The Bills finished the regular season with the second-best turnover percentage (15.3 percent) and the third-most takeaways (26). Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (119 tackles) and cornerback Tre’Davious White (three INT, 11 PD), both Pro Bowlers, lead a gritty, proud unit.

This Buffalo team feels destined to get to the AFC Championship (and maybe beyond). It finished tied for the second-most wins in the league this season, yet it sits as the only favorite with under -150 odds to advance to the next round. The Bills have shown time and time again that if others don’t give them respect, they will go out and get it themselves. Buffalo wins 27-23.

Divisional Round Betting Picks: Over/under pick of the week

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns: UNDER 57

It’s easy to see why 80 percent of money and 97 percent of tickets are on the OVER for this game. The Browns offense has been scorching hot, and Kansas City has somehow managed to improve upon its Super Bowl-winning system. But we at BetQL like the value presented by the UNDER, which our Best Bet Model backs with a five-star confidence rating.

The betting public may have fallen victim to recency bias. The Browns are coming off a 48-37 barnburner win over the division-rival Steelers on wild-card weekend. They scored a defensive touchdown on the first play from scrimmage after Pittsburgh sailed its first snap into its own end zone and Cleveland safety Karl Joseph fell on it. The Browns had a 28-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, which set the tone for sloppy, frenetic play the rest of the game. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger finished the first half with three interceptions, but somehow racked up 500 passing yards and four TDs by the end of the game.

Once you catch your breath from that busy recap, consider a couple facts from that contest. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, who deserves Coach of the Year consideration, was watching the game from back home in Cleveland after testing positive for COVID-19. Top cornerback Denzel Ward suffered the same fate, a fate dozens of Browns players have met throughout the course of the season.

Without its head coach and its second-best defender, the Browns defense packed it in too early with a big lead. It lost its focus and got gashed for big plays throughout the second half. But the Browns still prevailed with their first postseason win since 1995 and first playoff win on the road since 1969.

Stefanski and Ward are back in action this week, so we at BetQL expect a much different picture than the 87 points we saw in Pittsburgh. After all, Cleveland’s three previous games averaged a total of 37 points.

The Chiefs have a formidable offensive attack, which probably plays a huge part in everyone and their mom pounding the OVER here. But consider a few factors before jumping on the bandwagon:

  • 1.     Kansas City averaged 25.3 points over the course of its final six games this season.
  • 2.     The Chiefs committed eight turnovers in their last four contests.
  • 3.     Defending Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes has not played an NFL game in weeks. He rested during KC’s inconsequential Week 17 tilt with the Chargers, and then enjoyed a first-round playoff bye.
  • 4.     The Chiefs defense has drastically improved in its first year under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. KC ranked 10th in points surrendered this season.

By all means, go for the OVER if you enjoy rooting for high-scoring theatrics. But 57 points seems way too high for our liking, especially considering the UNDER has hit in four of the seven home games in which KC served as the favorite this season. Our Model projects the first-half total at 27 points and end-game total at 54 points. I personally like the Chiefs to win 30-23.  

For more betting analysis and information, head over to BetQL and check out our model’s best bets, sharp data, and much more for every playoff game! You can find all updated NFL lines, spreads, and odds at BetQL!

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