AFC WILD CARD ROUND JAN 7 – 8
RAIDERS 5th Seed (12-4) vs TEXANS 4th Seed (9-7)
This game all of the sudden looks to be a flip of the coin. The Raiders were looking like a solid team and ready to fight to make that AFC Championship round, but without Derek Carr they have a long way to go. I know people are down and out now because Connor Cook is starting, but to me he played well last week vs maybe the best defense still in the NFL. We also have to remember that Cook is a rookie along with that, this was the first time he suited up all year for a game. Connor Cook brings a lot to the table and if the rest of Oakland shows up they can pull out a win vs Texans. For fantasy value, I believe Oakland will have to lean more on the rushing game. The Texans are ranked 11th in allowing points to the opponent running back, so I believe Oakland will lean on that 3 headed RB core they have. The Texans are ranked 3rd best in allowing opponent QB’s points, which means Cook will have his hands full.
I believe for the Texans to get the win, we will need to see the best game of the year for Brock Osweiler. I want to the best out of him not just for the win, but to save himself on bad season he gave the Texans and those fans. Brock has a very talented roster to use and no team can just overlook DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and the rest of the WR group. Each of them WR’s have great speed and are are 6 foot+ in size. The Raiders are not so good on defense, and fantasy wise they are ranked 26th in allowing opponent overall points. The Raiders are also ranked 23rd in allowing points to the opponent running backs, which means Lamar Miller could have a field day.
Vegas Current Spread: -3.5 HOU (my pick, take HOU)
Fun Fact: Connor Cook has become the 1st NFL rookie QB to make his season debut start in the postseason.
DOLPHINS 6th Seed (10-6) vs STEELERS 3rd Seed (11-5)
I am personally excited to watch this game, I have always been a Matt Moore fan and it will be good to see him in the playoffs. Moore does not have a favorable match-up at all, so he has a large task at hand. The Steelers are ranked 7th in allowing opponent QB’s points, and I don’t believe that will change at all in this game. I assume they will keep rushing Moore and trying to put that pressure on him for an easy turnover. The Steelers also have been locking down the opponent WR’s and once again are ranked 7th in allowing points to the opponent WR position. I think the focal point for the Dolphins will be in the run game with Jay Ajayi. As of right now Ajayi is listed as questionable, but if he does play he has a favorable match-up with the Steelers be ranked the 27th worst team in allowing points to the opponent RB’s.
Now for the Steelers, what is there to say really. This team will not slow down, nor will playoffs as long as Big Ben is helm. The last time the Steelers missed playoffs was back in 2009 and the time before that was 2006 and then all the back to 1999 and 1998. If you want to go back even more, you have to go back to 1991 and 1990. So this franchise knows about the playoffs all to well. Also holding the current record for most Super Bowl wins (6 total) helps that knowledge as well. The Steelers are one of the top teams favored to make it and win the Super Bowl (2017) again. My personal opinion is the Steelers beat the Dolphins and make it to the AFC Championship game. I don’t see the Dolphins having an answer to stop Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Both of these players have very very favorable match-ups. The Dolphins are ranked 22nd in allowing points to the opponent RB’s and again 22nd to opponent WR’s. Also this game is in Pittsburgh and the forecast is calling for cloudy and cold weather on Sunday. If you are playing fantasy, don’t be scared to ever start Bell and Brown. If you are looking at which QB to roll this weekend, Big Ben has a great match-up with the Dolphins being ranked 28th in allowing points to the opponent QB. To me, Big Ben might be the best QB play this weekend.
Vegas Current Spread: -10 PIT (my pick, take PIT and buy down .5 or full 1)
NFC WILD CARD ROUND JAN 7 – 8
LIONS 6th Seed (9-7) vs SEAHAWKS 3rd Seed (10-5-1)
I love Matthew Stafford and have since those Georgia days. It was great to seem him drafted 1st overall in 2009. I remember watching that draft and was glad he went ahead of Mark Sanchez. But once they started off the career, Sanchez did well with going to the playoffs and everyone started to jump on that wagon thinking he was QB to take from that 2009 draft. I never bought into that hype and my peronsal opinion was that the Jets defense and Thomas Jones (RB)/Shonn Greene (RB) took that Jets team to those playoffs. Anyway, back to this wild card game match-up. I think Stafford is going to have his hands full with that Seahawks defense. The Seahawks are ranked 4th in allowing points to the opponent QB, which does not help Stafford at all. The Seahawks have been so up/down this season vs opponent WR’s and the Lions have two very fast outside weapons in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. I think that the Lions need to try and keep passing it and trying to work in deep shots with these two explosive WR’s. The Seahawks tend to keep the opponent TE’s in check so I don’t see Ebron being much of a factor outside of the redzone, but he might soak up DE players in the middle of the field to help that outside down the field shot.
The Lions I don’t believe will have much of a run game, they are missing Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah hasn’t played since week 2 of the season. The Lions will look mostly at Zach Zenner who had 20 carrier last week. I think the Linos will need to try and work Dwayne Washington in to help Zenner carry that load vs a stingy Seahawks defense. For fantasy value I will be avoiding Lions players in general.
The Seahawks get maybe the easiest matchup in the NFC. The Detorit Lions had to fight back in every game this season, which does not help them vs a team like the Seahawks. Russell Wislon will be facing a Lions DE that is ranked 31st worst in allowing points to opponent QB’s which makes Wilson a lock for fantasy. Russell will be passing to one of the best TE’s in the NFL today in Jimmy Graham. The Lions are ranked 29th worst in allowing points to opponent TE’s which is great for a player like Graham. I believe Graham will be open alot and maybe have the best game of the season for himself. Wilson will also two good WR’s in Doug Baldwin (who I love in general) and Jermaine Kearse. I think Pual Richardson is also a sneaky play and someone that the Seahawks will try and work in. I don’t think you should be scared in taking a WR from the Seahawks roster when the Lions ranked 25th worst in allowing points to opponent WR’s. My picks would be Baldin/Graham and maybe if I wanted to use a flyer, lock in Richardson for the sleeper play of the whole Wild Card Round.
For the Seahawks run game, I think Rawls is a lock and not much to say. I think he will have a solid game and you can go wrong. I think people will sleep on him because he has been down as of late, but I think he will fine vs this Lions defense. But I also think that Alex Collins will get some work and could have a nice day as well.
Vegas Current Spread: -8 SEA (my pick, take SEA and maybe buy down to -7)
Fun Fact: Lions are the best comeback team in NFL history for a single season, with 8 come from behind wins in the fourth quarter.
GIANTS 5th Seed (11-5) vs PACKERS 4th Seed (10-6)
This in my opinion will be the best game of the Wild Card Round. Eli Manning will be facing a Packers defense that is ranked 26th worst in allowing points to opponent QB’s. Eli could have a field day and it helps having a WR core like the Giants have. The Packers are also ranked 22nd in allowing points to opponent WR’s which is great for players like Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. Each of these WR’s have great speed, which spells trouble for that Packers DE who ranks 31st in total defense vs the pass and has allowed 32 passing TD’s. I don’t see the Giants being that great in the run game, the Packers have been pretty solid in stopping the run. If you want some fantasy value out of a Giants RB, I would look at Paul Perkins for that sneaky play. Myself, I will be avoiding them if I can help it.
All in all, I think the Gaints have a solid squad going into this playoff round and are getting overlooked way to much.
The Packers to me are getting to much love going into this game. They have been playing well as of late, but the Giants are just not getting any love. The 4 of the last 6 games for the Packers were against teams NOT in the playoffs. The other 2 games games were against two current playoffs team in SEA and DET. Well to me the Seahawks have been up/down all year and the Lions are missing a starting RB along with not having a good defense at all. They also got embarrassed by the Redskins 42-24 and before that they got embarrased by the Titans 47-25. The Packers also barely pulled out a win vs the Bears 30-27. I think they will have a hard day vs Eli and that WR’s core the Giants have. The Giants are ranked 5th vs opponent RB’s and 5th vs opponent WR’s. These numbers don’t help out the Packers at all, and think Montgomery and Adams will be the players to target for Rdogers. Also don’t forget the Giants are ranked 2nd in points allowed to opponent QB’s. I am staying away from the Packers roster myself.
Vegas Current Spread: -4.5 GB (my pick, take NYG).
Fun Fact: Lambeau Field Playoff Record for Aaron Rodgers 2-2 and Eli Mannings record is 2-0.