The surest thing of the Wildcard Weekend turned out to be the upset of the weekend.
Obviously, seeing New England bow out in the opening weekend of the playoffs was stunning but those who had objectively watched them play knew their performances were nowhere near that of a Super Bowl contending team.
Unfortunately, the Patriots will continue to dominate the news as the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick will he/won’t he drama lingers into the foreseeable future.
The huge upset and undoubted surprise for most was New Orleans’ exiting thanks to some Kirk Cousins wizardry in overtime. At times the Saints had looked like the best team in the NFL but here we are, with eight teams remaining and them not being among them.
Wildcard Weekend is in the books and we are onto Divisional Weekend and, boy, do we have some mouthwatering contests.
Here is how to play them. We went at 60% on suggested bets last week so hopefully you have a penny or two for these monster games…
No one thought the Vikings could beat the Saints and no one thinks they can beat San Fran in Santa Clara.
Kirk Cousins found his playoff groove late last week finding Adam Thielen for a bomb to put them on the goal line then making the game-winning TD pass to Kyle Rudolph.
Dalvin Cook was the real reason Minnesota won the game. He ran the rock with speed and finesse and found the end zone twice. The Vikings will face a much stiffer defence this week with Nick Bosa, Richard Sherman and the gang waiting.
Across the field, Jimmy Garoppolo has led this squad to a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Sure, head coach Kyle Shanahan is masterful with his play-calls but Jimmy G is developing into a safe, but certain QB.
And tight end George Kittle is worth the price of admission — even at the NFL’s exorbitant rates.
Congrats to the Purple People Eaters on winning last week but I think San Francisco will prove way too powerful in sunny California.
Tip: San Francisco 27, Minnesota 17
San Francisco win 1-13 points ($2.41)
Derrick Henry ran all over Bill Belichick and the Patriots defence last week. Can he repeat the dose in chilly Baltimore? The former Heisman-winner chalked up over 200 total yards and rumbled into the end zone for a thunderous TD.
Replacement QB Ryan Tannehill is playing excellently but the Titans’ post-season run will go as far as Henry’s incredibly broad shoulders will take them.
For the well-rested, high-flying Ravens, the Action Jackson show recommences with the runaway MVP favourite entering his first ever playoff game.
He is ably assisted by Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and ’Hollywood’ Brown but all eyes are on Jackson — and for darn good reason. He’s explosive, elusive and exhilarating.
One is a quarterback and the other is a running back in a defensive end’s body but watching Henry rumble over defenders and watching Jackson evade them with electrifying footwork will be a highlight of the weekend of football.
Tip: Baltimore 24, Tennessee 17
Derrick Henry anytime TD ($2)
Baltimore win 1-13 points ($2.48)
Houston needed some Deshaun Watson magic to escape with an overtime playoff victory at home to a dogged Bills outfit last weekend. Watson and DeAndre Hopkins got rolling in the second half to overcome a 16-zip deficit.
This week, getting behind that many will spell disaster because Patrick Mahomes and co. are lethal. The Chiefs were an offside away from a Super Bowl appearance last season and they seem to be the sleeping giant of this playoff campaign.
KC will score points — we know that — so the question is, can Houston keep up? Or could they possibly score even more and pinch this one?
The Texans are $4.45, enormous odds considering this is a Divisional Playoff game. I get the feeling we could see points, points and more points so we are going a little extravagant in this one.
Tip: Kansas City 35, Houston 30
Both teams to score 30 points YES ($8)
Both teams to score 1+ TD each half YES ($2.25)
Total points +51 ($1.94)
A battle between two of the great modern quarterbacks awaits to finish off Divisional Weekend. Russell Wilson and the road warriors from the Pacific North West trek east to freezing Lambeau Field, home of Aaron Rodgers and the Cheese Heads.
The Seahawks are 8-1 on the road this season and went into Philadelphia last week and handled the Eagles. The main reason is Wilson — he always gives them a chance.
Rookie receiver DK Metcalf is proving a steal from the draft and Marshawn Lynch has added some spark, despite not amassing huge rushing numbers.
I like the Pack at home, but Seattle will give you a real run for your money if you take the $2.74 currently on offer.
Tip: Green Bay 24, Seattle 20
Green Bay win 1-13 points ($2.46)
Total points -47 ($1.90)
-KC/HOU both teams to score 1+ TD each half ($2.25)
-Baltimore win ($1.21)
-San Francisco win ($1.29)