The N.F.L. playoffs are right here and with them comes the added theater of the primary Monday evening wild-card recreation and two matchups of groups assembly for the third time this season that can anchor the postseason’s opening weekend.
Saturday evening’s Patriots-Payments III and Monday’s third contest between the N.F.C. West-rival Cardinals and Rams sandwich a weekend the place parity — and familiarity — must be on show. A rematch between the Raiders and Bengals, and a contest between the Cowboys and the 49ers, two of the N.F.L.’s most-storied franchises, must also ramp up the drama after Las Vegas and San Francisco each wanted additional time to say their playoff spots.
This weekend, although, the N.F.L.’s sudden-death additional time guidelines will apply: The size of the additional interval stretches to fifteen minutes from 10, and there gained’t be any query of whether or not to kneel because the video games will proceed till somebody scores.
Right here’s a have a look at the wild-card spherical of the N.F.L. playoffs, with all picks made towards the unfold.
Final week’s report: 6-10
Common-season report: 129-143
All occasions are Japanese.
2021 N.F.L. Season Information and Evaluation
- The Motive Each Playoff Staff Will Lose: All however one remaining group have a deadly flaw.
- N.F.L. Coach Firings: Brian Flores (Dolphins), Matt Nagy (Bears), Mike Zimmer (Vikings) and Vic Fangio (Broncos) have been all dismissed earlier than the Giants fired Joe Decide and introduced the retirement of G.M. Dave Gettleman.
- Week 18 Takeaways: What we realized from the ultimate video games of the common season.
- Trying to find Pleasure in East Rutherford, N.J.: An illustrated look on the chilly, moist Giants loss to the Washington Soccer Staff.
Saturday’s Video games
Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 p.m., NBC
Line: Bengals -5.5 | Complete: 49.5
There are few tales this postseason extra fascinating than the Raiders (10-7), a group as soon as thought-about out of playoff rivalry till it closed the common season by profitable 4 consecutive one-score video games to earn a wild-card spot. They face a Bengals (10-7) offense that has thrived beneath Joe Burrow, who enters the sport on a tear, having thrown for over 300 yards in three of his final 4 begins.
Burrow may exploit the Raiders’ secondary, the most-vulnerable unit of Las Vegas’s protection, which has allowed over 300 passing yards 4 occasions this season. The Professional Bowl defensive finish Maxx Crosby and different lineman can generate strain towards a Bengals entrance that’s given up 55 sacks. However the Bengals have a Plan B in Joe Mixon, who completed third within the league in speeding yards (1,205), and will thrive as a receiver on check-down routes towards the Raiders’ zone-based protection. Cincinnati beat Las Vegas comfortably in Week 11, and there’s little motive to suppose it won’t occur once more. Choose: Bengals -5.5
New England Patriots at Buffalo Payments, 8:15 p.m., CBS
Line: Payments -4 | Complete: 42.5
Spherical 3, anybody?
Each good combat wants a 3rd installment, and this assembly between the Payments (11-6) and Patriots (10-7) might be just like the primary, in Week 13, when New England let Mac Jones try solely three passes in its win over Buffalo. Forecasts in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Saturday name for temperatures that hover round 0 levels and a 30 p.c probability of snow, an outlook that once more favors a heavy reliance on the operating recreation.
The Payments’ protection allowed league lows in yards and factors within the common season, but it surely has been inclined to the run. Within the groups’ late-December assembly, a Buffalo win, the Payments compelled Jones right into a 14 of 32 passing efficiency with no landing throws and two interceptions. Assuming extra of the offensive load in current weeks, Jones has appeared just like the rookie he’s, and trusting a first-year passer to beat the unfold, on the street, within the chilly, towards an ascending group isn’t actually a protected guess. Choose: Payments -4
Sunday’s Video games
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Buccaneers -8.5 | Complete: 49
Tom Brady should endure mentions of Tremendous Bowl LII and the Philly Particular as he prepares for the Eagles (9-8), who pivoted their season by specializing in the run to such an extent that Philadelphia completed with the league’s highest speeding common (159.7 yards per recreation). The Eagles’ salvation performs proper into a significant power of Tampa Bay’s, since they offer up solely 92.5 operating yards per recreation, third-fewest within the league.
And the Buccaneers’ (13-4) injured starters are trickling again into the lineup. Coach Bruce Arians mentioned Monday that he anticipated operating again Leonard Fournette (hamstring), linebacker Shaquil Barrett (knee) and edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) to play Sunday. That bodes effectively as they try and defend their Tremendous Bowl championship, not revisit Brady’s nightmares. Choose: Buccaneers -8.5
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m., CBS
Line: Cowboys -3 | Complete: 50.5
This the closest unfold of wild-card weekend, and for good motive: The 49ers (10-7) can counter the whole lot Dallas does effectively defensively. The quick drop backs and speeding assaults which are staples of Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense negate linebacker Micah Parsons’s capability to generate strain and sacks (he has 13 this season). San Francisco doesn’t depend on deep throws, which may neutralize Trevon Diggs, the Dallas cornerback who led the league in interceptions (11).
Regardless of the beating Dallas (12-5) gave to Philadelphia’s backups final week, the Cowboys’ offense has extra usually suffered from miscommunications between Dak Prescott and his receivers and an inconsistent run recreation. Behind the versatile receiver Deebo Samuel and a protection that allowed a median of solely 260 yards over its remaining 4 common season video games, the 49ers may look to safe an upset, or at the least hold the rating uncomfortably shut. Choose: 49ers +3
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas Metropolis, 8:15 p.m., NBC
Line: Kansas Metropolis -12.5 | Complete: 46
One may argue that the Steelers (9-7-1) are the luckiest group within the postseason, as they benefited from the Colts’ inexplicable Week 18 breakdown towards the Jaguars to sneak into the playoffs. That magic — and Ben Roethlisberger’s N.F.L. profession — ought to finish towards Kansas Metropolis (12-5), which blew out Pittsburgh by 26 factors in Week 16.
Kansas Metropolis Coach Andy Reid anticipates Tyreek Hill (heel), and operating backs Darrel Williams (toe) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) to all play. Positive, Kansas Metropolis underwhelmed in its season-ending win towards the Broncos, however nothing in Pittsburgh’s current performances factors to the Steelers being greater than a bump within the street. Choose: Kansas Metropolis -12.5
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: Rams -4 | Complete: 49.5
The very best group within the N.F.L. by means of October, the Cardinals (11-6) have misplaced 4 of their final 5 video games and relinquished home-field benefit, and so they now should journey to face the division-rival Rams (12-5). Arizona could get some much-needed assist if J.J. Watt, who returned to observe this week after a three-month absence, is obtainable, although his standing remains to be unsure. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has a knee harm and hasn’t performed since Week 14, won’t be out there.
Matthew Stafford completed the season tied for first within the league in interceptions (17), and his decision-making might be examined with microscopic scrutiny because the playoffs progress, given the draft capital Basic Supervisor Les Snead gave as much as Detroit to commerce for him. However at the least for the primary spherical, he can depend on the Cardinals’ errors to be extra damaging: Arizona has been flagged for at the least six penalties in every recreation throughout a five-game stretch, and has fumbled an egregious 17 center-quarterback snaps this season. Choose: Rams -4
How Betting Traces Work
A fast primer for many who should not accustomed to betting strains: Favorites are listed subsequent to a destructive quantity that represents what number of factors they need to win by to cowl the unfold. Raiders -5.5, for instance, implies that Las Vegas should beat Chicago by at the least 6 factors for its backers to win their guess. Gamblers also can guess on the overall rating, or whether or not the groups’ mixed rating within the recreation is over or beneath a preselected variety of factors.