Ravens vs Bengals Predictions, more

The NFL playoffs resume on Sunday with three Wild Card games to kick things off.

All three games on Sunday, like every game in this round, are a regular season rematch. It is the first time since 2009 that the entire round is full of rematches.

Here are my thoughts on Saturday’s slate, including what I bet and some fun guesses about the final scores for each. Enjoy the games and good luck with whatever you decide to bet.

I just don’t see how Miami’s underwhelming defense can slow down Buffalo’s explosive offense, especially considering Josh Allen has excelled under pressure all season. That doesn’t bode well for the heavy flashy Miami plan.

Consequently, that will pressure Skylar Thompson (in a super hostile environment) to keep the dolphins in play with his arm. That probably won’t end well.

This is bills or nothing at all. And I didn’t even get to the huge special teams that Buffalo holds.

remarkable nugget: Double-digit underdogs are 3-11 against the spread (ATS) in the playoffs since 2011. Double-digit underdogs in the Wild Card round are 1-7 ATS in the last 20 years.

Final Score Prediction: Bills 30, Dolphins 13

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Throwing away an essentially pointless Week 18 game against a tanking Bears team, all of the previous 11 Vikings’ wins all came by one possession. Meanwhile, 13 of New York’s 17 games were decided by one score.

Long story short, there’s a good chance this game will end with the Vikings winning by one point, which is why I felt comfortable teasing the Giants to +9 (with the Bucs), even if it’s not the ideal ‘Wong teaser’.

When these two teams met a few weeks ago, the Vikings finished as a 4.5 point favorite. They eventually won that game by a field goal, but the Giants finished with nearly 100 more total yards and a 1.7 yards-per-play lead.

In addition, the Giants have much better health since that game, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Don’t underestimate the importance of getting both Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney back from injury in high school, especially in this particular game. Justin Jefferson had 12 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in the first encounter without those two at the back.

With a healthier secondary, the pressure the Giants can put on blitzing could cause serious problems for Kirk Cousins. He’s mostly struggled against the blitz this season in a new offensive plan.

That could be even more problematic when you consider that Minnesota’s offensive line won’t be at full strength after Brian O’Neil loses his right hand to injury. That’s a huge loss that not enough people talk about. It’s also worth noting that starting center Garrett Bradbury is also dealing with an injury.

I think this line is pretty close to fair, although I’m closer to 2 if I factor in injuries and dive a bit further into the game, that’s why I felt comfortable teasing the Giants, even at +3.

This should go down to the wire, as you would expect with both teams, but I’ll go overboard with the mini and take the G-Menwho will also benefit from the notoriety of having already played in Minnesota earlier this season.

remarkable nugget: Daniel Jones is 13-2 (86.7%) ATS as a single-digit road underdog. However, since 2002, first starting quarterbacks against quarterbacks with playoff experience have gone just 14-35-1 ATS (28.5%).

Final Score Prediction: Giants 27, Vikings 24

The Bengals have a huge quarterback and wide receiver advantage, which will likely prove to be the difference in this league showdown. However, I think that’s way too many points for a franchise that has had as much success in this roadspot under John Harbaugh as any organization in the last 15 years.

I believe the Ravens defense is still one of the most underrated units in the league since they trade for Roquan Smith and get a few key other pieces back from injury. They also have the cornerbacks on the outside that can at least compete with the dynamic Cincinnati wideouts. For what it’s worth, Joe Burrow has struggled when both Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphey were both on the field.

There is also not enough talk about the offensive line injuries that Cincinnati has suffered on the right side with La’El Collins and now Alex Cappa. Burrow has been under a lot of pressure in the second half of the past two games after those two respective injuries. Hakeem Adeniji and Max Scharping are both big commitments.

Baltimore should own the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and can lean on its elite defense and big lead on special teams (and coaching) to keep it within the number. The Ravens will not fear this leg and simply played in Cincinnati, further diminishing home field advantage in a divisional game.

The Ravens probably can’t get over 20 with their limited attack. They haven’t scored more than 17 since they lost Lamar Jackson but I think they’ll try to follow the same formula that they used to win games ugly over that stretch which should lead to a cover up here without any major revenue. that’s what Tyler Huntley gives you the best chance of avoiding.

Keep Dobbins running all night, look for Andrews on third downs, take a deep shot down the sideline every time, and feel OK while relying on the defense and special teams. That’s the formula for a Ravens cover in a game I think will be closer than most.

remarkable nugget: John Harbaugh is 5-0 straight-up (SU) and ATS in Wild Card games on the road, with an average margin of 15 points per game.

Final Score Prediction: Bengal 20, Raven 17

If the Cowboys hadn’t stumbled on the stretch – especially last week in Washington – this line probably would have been 3 or maybe even 3.5. Unfortunately we have a 2.5 instead, which makes the Bucs a perfect teaser piece. I combined them with the Giantsas I stated above.

That said, I’m much more concerned about the Cowboys in this particular game. Since cornerback Anthony Brown’s injury, their secondary has fallen off a cliff for a defense that has allowed the most yards per game of any team in the NFL over the past five weeks. Assuming the play-calling doesn’t get too vanilla on early downs, Tom Brady can pull apart this faltering defensive backfield – though the health of the center position is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

If Ryan Jensen can come back, it could give a huge boost to Tampa’s offensive line. If he can’t and his backup’s injury is serious, it could spell big trouble for Brady, who struggles with internal pressure. And Dallas can still put pressure on the best.

Likewise, the passing offense has suffered a similar fate with Dak Prescott struggling with far too many turnovers. If you can slow down Dallas’ powerful attack, you can stop this offense in its tracks. Getting Dak Prescott to beat you as a drop-back passer is the path to success for the opposing defense against the Cowboys.

So, can Tampa shut down Zeke and Pollard? I think so. During the season, their running defense fell short of expectations. For example, the Bucs were only 20th in first down run defense.

However, their defensive numbers across the board were heavily impacted by injuries down the defensive line and in secondary. With both Vita Vea and Akiem Hicks in the lineup, the Bucs went 6-1 while allowing only 3.9 yards per rush and 15 points per game. Without either, they went 2-7 while allowing 4.8 yards per rush and 25 points per game. That’s a drastic difference.

Combine the health up front with a now healthy secondary and this defense is as healthy as it has been since it held the Cowboys to three points in a Week 1 win.

Me, too believe the Dallas offence some negative red zone regression coming up, while the opposite is true for the Tampa defense. Everything points to the Corsair healthy defense is the underrated unit in this game that ultimately makes all the difference.

remarkable nugget: The Cowboys lost 19-3 to the Bucs earlier this season. Teams that lost by double digits in the regular season meeting and are listed as favorites in the playoff rematch have only gone 11-21 ATS (33.33%) in the last 20 years.

Final Score Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Cowboys 20

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