It’s the Divisional Playoffs, and there were a few surprises from last weekend, but most of the teams we predicted would win did. Now it’s on to the next round of the playoffs and more high stakes will take place this weekend.
Last week’s results
Against the Spread: 1-2-3 (with Buffalo, Baltimore and Tampa Bay each winning their games, but failing to cover the spread.)
All Odds Courtesy of Oddsshark.com
Saturday January 16
LA Rams at Green Bay
Line: Packers by 7
The Rams started QB John Wolford in their wildcard matchup against Seattle and suited Jared Goff as a backup just in case. Well, there was an emergency, as Wolford was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter due to a neck injury. Goff, who had surgery on his thumb just two weeks ago came into the game and did what he had to do to keep the Rams in contention, only 155 yards passing and a TD, and the defense went to work. LA frustrated Russell Wilson all day sacking him five times, and it all led to a pick-6 by defensive back Darius Williams 42 yards for the TD. The Rams would not look back, as win it 30-20 over the Seahawks. Cam Akers with 131 yards rushing and a TD. They head to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers, who finished the season at 13-3 and secured the #1 overall seed in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers led all QB’s the league with 48 TD’s this season and he’s only been intercepted five times. His top receiver Devante Adams set a Packers single-season record with 115 catches and led the NFL in touchdown receptions with 18. What’s more impressive is their defense. Green Bay held four of its last five opponents to 16 points or less and finished the season ninth in total yards allowed and seventh against the pass. If the Rams have any chance in this game, it will have to be putting some pressure on Rodgers. Right now, their top pass rusher Aaron Donald is nursing a rib injury suffered in the win over Seattle last week. They’re also concerns about WR Cooper Kupp, who suffered a knee injury in the same game. With all the problems, it might be just too much to overcome for LA. I expect the Pack to steamroll over the wounded Rams.
Smooth’s Pick: Green Bay (30-13)
Baltimore at Buffalo
Line: Bills by 2
This will be the matchup of the weekend, as two of the NFL’s rising star QB’s face off. The Ravens got a measure of revenge against Tennessee from last year’s Divisional matchup. Lamar Jackson made sure of it, as he joined Colin Kaepernick as the only QB’s to gain over 100 yards and score a TD in a playoff game. 136 yards rushing and a score to be exact. Overall, 315 total yards, as Baltimore beat the Titans, 20-13. Lost in the shuffle was Derrick Henry. The RB was stymied by the Ravens defense, rushing for only 40 yards in the game. Baltimore heads to Western New York, where the Bills won their first playoff game since 1994, beating the Indianapolis, 27-24. Philip Rivers, in what could be his final professional football game threw for 309 yards and 2 TD’s. The Colts led the time of possession wars, but it was the Bills who would make the best when they did get the ball. Josh Allen throwing for 324 yards and two TD in the game. Stefon Diggs with another big game, 6 catches for 128 yards and a TD. But Diggs could have his hands full with Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey. If he is neutralized, Allen will have to find alternate means, such as WR Cole Beasley. The Bills may also be without rookie running back Zach Moss. He was carted off the field last Saturday with an ankle injury. That being said, as much as I like the Bills as the favorite in this matchup, I like the Ravens chances with Lamar Jackson under center. It may go down to the wire, and it will come down to a field goal.
Smooth’s Pick: Baltimore (23-21)
Sunday January 17
Cleveland at Kansas City
Line: Chiefs by 10
The shocker of Super Wildcard Weekend was the pummeling of the Pittsburgh Steelers by the Browns at home. Cleveland scored their first TD within :14 second on a bad snap to Ben Rothlisberger. The ball sailed into the end zone where the Browns recovered for the score. In all, Cleveland scored 28 points in the first half. That included two rushing TD’s by Kareem Hunt. Baker Mayfield 263 yards passing and 3 TD’s. Rothlisberger was also intercepted four times in the game. He would recover to throw for over 500 yards and 4 TD’s to try to get back into it. But it was too much to overcome, as Cleveland wins their first playoff game since 1994, 48-37 was the final. They head to Arrowhead Stadium to face the well-rested Chiefs and MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes. He was second in passing with over 4,700 yards and 38 TD’s on the year. Most of those scores were thrown to TE Travis Kelce, who caught 105 receptions for over 1,400 yards and 11 TD’s. The defending champions also led the league in passing with 303.4 yards per game. Don’t let the point spread fool you. The Chiefs have failed to cover the spread of their games over 10 points for the last 5 games. They’re 1-4 against the spread, to be exact. But what should be clear is the uncertainty of the Browns in games when it mattered. They did get a number of breaks last Sunday night against Pittsburgh. A better disciplined team like the Chiefs will be harder to come by. This will be close, but expect the Chiefs to come out on top.
Smooth’s Pick: Kansas City (33-27)
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Line: Saints by 3
The Bucs led the whole way against Washington last Saturday night. Brady threw for 381 yards and 2 TD’s. Leonard Fournette with 19 carries and 93 yards rushing and a TD. The Tampa Bay defense got to DC QB Taylor Heinicke twice and got an interception off him. Still, Heinicke had 352 total yards and 2 TD’s in the losing effort. The Bucs win it, 31-23. They head to the “big easy” to take on the Saints. New Orleans was taken to the limit by Chicago. Drew Brees with 265 yards passing and 2 TD’s. Alvin Kamara just misses the century mark in rushing with 99 on the day and a score. For the Bears, they just couldn’t get any offense going, as it’s been most of the season. Mitch Trubisky, 199 yards passing and a TD in the late stages of the game. 21-9 was the final. This is a rematch of week 10, when the Saints ripped Tom Brady and the Bucs at home. This weekend stands to be much different and more competitive. The Bucs defense has been stellar at times, but it will be tough on the road against the Saints. New Orleans finally has a healthy set of starters and the defensive secondary was impressive against Chicago. If you’re a betting man, stay far away from this game or at least don’t bet the farm, as it’s not a sure thing.
Smooth’s Pick: New Orleans (29-27)
Now, with all of our picks, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. For gambling issues, go to gamblers anonymous dot org.
And that’s gonna do it for our Divisional Weekend edition of Smooth’s NFL Football Picks. Join us next Thursday for our Championship Weekend picks. That premieres at 8:30am eastern time. If you miss out, you can always read our picks at smoothjazzandmore.com.
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you later.