Bring on the NFL Playoffs round two.
While the Philadelphia Eagles’ season is over and fans debate Monday’s firing of head coach Doug Pederson, New Jersey online sports bettors await a stellar second NFL Playoff weekend.
Can the ‘dogs bark again?
NFL Wild Card Weekend featured a strong performance for the underdogs. They went 3-2-1 and captured two games outright.
Who shouts loudest this week, when the NFL’s final eight teams go to the divisional round?
Here are the matchups:
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) January 11, 2021
Let’s look at each conference and our weekly Odds 5.
Rams preparing for Green Bay + Rodgers
The Los Angeles Rams, who produced a 30-20 road upset over the Seattle Seahawks, invade the top-seeded Green Bay Packers as a decided dog. But when the spread opened at Green Bay -7, Rams betting made the first line move go down to Green Bay -6.5 on Tuesday morning.
The Rams showed the effect of a smothering defense against the Seahawks.
They scored off a sloppy pass by quarterback Russell Wilson and never looked back after the Pick 6 put them ahead 13-3.
Wilson looked overmatched by the big Rams offensive linemen and could not extend drives by scrambling.
Can the Rams put the same pressure on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers? That’s a major question, but at least the Rams can ask it.
The Packers finished the regular season 13-3 and secured the NFC bye.
Green Bay features Rodgers, the runaway MVP quarterback, star receiver Davante Adams, and a stellar offensive line. The line may indeed be the big story, enabling Rodgers to float throughout the pocket and find receivers who break off their routes and get open.
Rodgers notched a nearly-unheard of 48 touchdowns versus only five interceptions this season. It is one of the finest, and most efficient campaigns a quarterback has ever put together.
It is the highest number of touchdowns passes Rodgers has ever thrown. He also surpassed 4,000 yards for the third straight year. His yardage and touchdown-pass totals will be prime betting targets.
The Rams cannot outgun the Packers. This comes down to whether they can win the battle of ball control.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff did well enough to manage the game in relief last week while Cam Akers supplied a spark in the backfield.
Rams coach Sean McVay improved to 37-0 when his team leads at halftime.
Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees, round 3
The New Orleans Saints dominated the two earlier matchups against the Tampa Bay Bucs and offseason acquisition Tom Brady. However, this is the one that counts and the NFL betting line was on early gridlock.
It was stuck on New Orleans -3.
If it goes to -2.5, the Saints backers will be all over it. Should it drift to -3.5, here comes Tampa Bay money. Bettors can also buy the line they want, but it’s cheaper if the line goes there in the first place.
The talk is always about how hard it is to beat a team three times in one year. We’ll find out.
Brady was lured from New England to Tampa Bay in order to transform a team that had talent. The Bucs have won their last five.
The Bucs invade the Saints, who waged a close-to-the-vest type of game against the Chicago Bears. It was what the Saints defense prevented, rather than what its offense accomplished, in the 21-9 triumph. But the Saints had receiver Michael Thomas back, and he scored. Quarterback Drew Brees did just enough and running back Alvin Kamara had a good second half.
Brees, Kamara, and Thomas will attract prop betting attention, along with Brady, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown. The Brady-Brown connection is percolating.
NFC extra points: Pederson is out
The Eagles make the hot-stove circuit. There are no NFC playoff matchups involving them, but the Pederson news dominated Monday headlines.
It had looked as though Pederson would be given one more year after Philadelphia’s 4-11-1 season, but his meetings with team owner Jeffrey Lurie appeared to convey no long-term vision.
There was also a clash of ideas regarding Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles have a long-term commitment with Wentz.
After speaking with two people close to former #Eagles coach Doug Pederson, it sounds like this is what it boiled down: Pederson was sick of people telling him what to do.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 11, 2021
Ravens are one hot NFL Playoff team
Look out for the Baltimore Ravens, now winners of six straight. Their crushing ground game was expected in Sunday’s 20-13 triumph over the host Tennessee Titans.
What wasn’t forecast was the tremendous job of limiting “The Beast,” Derrick Henry, to 40 yards. Henry led the league in rushing, eclipsing 2,000 yards, but the Ravens stuffed the line of scrimmage and dared the Titans to beat them through the air.
We have mentioned Baltimore as the team nobody wants to play. They will now visit the Buffalo Bills in a great betting game from both sides. Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson as an anytime and first scorer remain popular wagering opportunities.
Baltimore’s defense has suddenly come alive and, combined with a stellar ground game, make the Ravens formidable.
The second-seeded Bills advanced to this conference semifinal, which they’ll host. This was their first playoff win since December 1995.
Buffalo showed playoff jitters in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts before building a 14-point second-half lead and barely hanging on, 27-24. Quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs are Buffalo’s major weapons
Can Browns rock again as double-digit underdog?
The Cleveland Browns visit the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs as a large, double-digit dog. The Browns obtained their first playoff victory in 26 years Sunday night, jumping to leads of 28-0 and 35-7 before coasting home, 48-37. The 28 first-quarter points is the most in an NFL playoff game, post 1970 merger.
Cleveland got its first win in Heinz Field since 2003 and secured its first-ever playoff victory over Pittsburgh. The Steelers, once 11-0, fizzled out and lost five of their last six games, including the Wild Card game.
Cleveland is rocking behind the punishing running game of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the league’s best backfield tandem.
Both players scored (Hunt twice) against Pittsburgh, rendering most of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s 500-plus passing yards against Cleveland’s defense an afterthought. The Browns intercepted Roethlisberger four times.
The Chiefs have not resembled their Super Bowl-winning form in a long time. In Week 16, they barely slipped past the Atlanta Falcons. In Week 17, the starters rested. Last week, this team was off.
Can the Chiefs suddenly turn it back on?
Patrick Mahomes has an arsenal of weapons and he usually targets Tyreek Hill early in the game for those thinking first touchdown scorer.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren