The first weekend of the NFL playoffs is in the books, leaving 8 teams left to battle for a trip to Super Bowl 54 in Miami on February 2.
From the local New Jersey sports betting perspective, Eagles fans are licking their wounds after a tough loss last Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks.
It was a great run by the Eagles to end the season winning 4 straight games to make the playoffs. But the Birds simply ran out of luck, with starting QB Carson Wentz suffering a concussion in early 1st quarter.
NFL divisional playoffs preview
Looking ahead to this weekend in the NFC, the Vikings head to San Francisco to play the 49ers on Saturday, while the Seattle Seahawks will journey to the “frozen tundra” of Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers.
The “final four” AFC teams will not include the New England Patriots for the first time since 2009, after the Pats were defeated at home by the Tennessee Titans 20-13.
The Titans playoff journey doesn’t get any easier as they head to Baltimore to play the #1 seed Ravens on Saturday. The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs round out the schedule with their game at Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon.
It’s interesting to note that of the 8 remaining teams, the Chiefs now are the only team left to have made the playoffs for each of the last three seasons.
A young AFC quarterback contingent
There are some definite “new shooters” in the playoff mix, with dynamic young quarterbacks at the helm who have raised their game in 2019. This is especially true in the AFC which features the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (24 years old), Texans’ Deshaun Watson (24 years old) and the Ravens’ odds-on MVP candidate Lamar Jackson (23 years old).
All three of these QB’s are poised to press the reset button and make some new history, considering the legacy below of the AFC Champion QB, dominated by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning since 2003:
For the first time since 2002, a QB not named Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger or Flacco will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Will be Lamar, Mahomes, Watson or Tannehill. pic.twitter.com/jiITDwyVVy
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 5, 2020
The “elder statesman” of the AFC QB’s is the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill (31 years old) who didn’t begin the year as the starter but has gone 8-4 since taking over for Marcus Mariota.
It is battle-tested quarterbacks for the NFL
The NFC QB contingent is a bit more playoff battle-tested compared to the AFC, with 2 QBs that have already won a Super Bowl, the Packers Aaron Rodgers in 2010 and the Seahawks Russell Wilson in 2014.
When you include Jimmy Garappolo of the 49ers and Kirk Cousins of the Vikings, the NFC QB’s top the AFC QB’s in age, playoff experience and salary:
Yearly contract value of final 8 QBs:
Ryan Tannehill ($7.0M)
Patrick Mahomes ($4.1M)
Deshaun Watson ($3.5M)
Lamar Jackson ($2.4M)
Russell Wilson ($35.0M)
Aaron Rodgers ($33.5M)
Kirk Cousins ($28.0M)
Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5M)
Each NFC QB $$ > All 4 AFC QBs $$ combined
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) January 6, 2020
While the perception may be that years of experience is necessary for a QB to win a Super Bowl, reality suggests otherwise.
Aaron Rodgers was 27 when he beat the Steelers in Super Bowl 45 in 2010. While it was his 5th year in the league, it was only his second full season as a starter.
Russell Wilson, MVP of the Seahawks Super Bowl 48 win over the Broncos was just 25 years old and in his second season overall. Wilson became only the 4th QB to win a Super Bowl in his second season in the league.
This bodes well for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, both in their 3rd year in the NFL but 2nd season as starters. Lamar Jackson is in his 2nd year as a starter and in the league. For these AFC QB’s, the future certainly is now.
Divisional Weekend Playoff Schedule
Saturday, January 11th
- 4:40PM: Minnesota at San Francisco (-7 Total of 44) NBC
- 8:20PM: Tennessee at Baltimore (-9.5 Total of 46.5) CBS
Sunday, January 12th
- 3;10PM: Houston at Kansas City (-9.5 Total of 51) CBS
- 4:40PM: Seattle at Green Bay (-4.5, Total of 47) FOX
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- +225: 49ers, Ravens, Chiefs and Packers to all win (boosted from +200)
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My Picks – from the Jersey Side
A 2-1 record on Wild Card Weekend brought my 2019 NFL betting slate to 26-27-1. The Vikings not only covered the spread but beat the Saints outright in an overtime thriller in New Orleans.
The Eagles, with back-up Josh McCown playing for the injured Carson Wentz, could only muster 3 field goals in their season-ending 17-9 loss to the Seahawks that flew under the total of 45 points.
The Patriots were the lone blemish on my weekend picks, losing at home to the Titans 20-13.
My Wildcard Week Recap
Week 2-1, 2019 Season 26-27-1
- Vikings +8 over Saints (Vikings 26, Saints 20 )
- Eagles and Seahawks UNDER 45 (Seahawks 17, Eagles 9)
- Patriots -5 over Titans (Titans 20, Patriots 13)
My Divisional Weekend Selections
Here are my picks for the NFL Divisional weekend.
Chiefs -9.5 over Texans
The Chiefs Andy Reid will coach his 27th postseason game since becoming a head coach in 1999.
In the 100 years of NFL league history, only three coaches have led their teams to more postseason games:
- Tom Landry
- Don Shula
- Bill Belichick
Also, Reid has been almost unbeatable the week following a bye. He is 5-2 as a Chiefs coach and 18-3 overall following a week off. Incredible numbers, for sure even though this is tempered somewhat by his 2-5 playoff record with Kansas City.
Still, I’m all over the Chiefs in this spot. They face a Texans team that needed a dramatic 2nd half comeback to beat the Bills last weekend. The Chiefs also have the chance to avenge their Week 6 loss at home to the Texans.
All systems go at Arrowhead for the Chiefs to roll with a 31-17 win on Sunday.
Seahawks and Packers UNDER 47
It’s always interesting to peek ahead at the weather forecast for a Green Bay Packers home playoff game in January.
The current forecast calls for 5-8 inches of snow on Saturday night, with a high temperature of 23 degrees on Sunday with a temperature likely in the teens by game time on Sunday night.
I think this game sets up well for a low-scoring affair. The Seahawks running back corps has been depleted with Chris Carson and Rashad Penny both out for the season, prompting the week 17 signing of Marshawn Lynch.
If the Packers can slow down Seahawks rookie WR D.J. Metcalf, then I’m not sure how Seattle will be able to put any points on the board. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones and WR Davante Adams are all healthy and well-accustomed to the frigid conditions that Lambeau will present on Sunday.
I see the Packers dominating this game, winning 27-10 over the Seahawks.
Titans +9.5 over Ravens
The Titans didn’t ask QB Ryan Tannehill to do much against the Patriots and he threw for less than 100 yards.
Though the Titans offense still runs through RB Derrick Henry, I do expect more of a passing attack on Sunday in Baltimore.
I think that the Titans can keep the game close, but I see the Ravens holding on to win 24-20 to punch their ticket to the AFC Championship Game, hosting the Chiefs next weekend.