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Monday, September 25, 2023

The spread with Blake Pace — Betting on Wild Card weekend

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With the 2018 NFL Playoffs set to begin this weekend with four matchups in total, betters and bookies are turning it up a notch and Vegas is sharpening its knives, salivating at the chance to make some life-changing money on the best teams in the NFL.
Throughout the playoffs, I will be giving my picks on the spreads for each game and provide a brief analysis on what factors will lead to that result. Should you choose to follow me in those bets, you’ll make some good money. If you think I’m full of shit, bet against me and we’ll both find out how that works. Either way, let’s have some fun this postseason and try and make some money.

Tennessee Titans (+8) at Kansas City Chiefs
Just because I’ll make bets on every game this postseason, doesn’t mean I’m confident enough to put a lot of money on it. This eight-point spread is a tough one to take, however I just don’t see Kansas City being able to pull away and win by near double-digits against a Dick Lebeau defense. The Chiefs are committed to running the ball since Matt Nagey took over playcalling duties, however the Titans do a great job at stopping the run — especially when they line up in their bear front defense, placing a defensive tackle directly over center and two individuals blocking each a-gap.

I’m picking the Chiefs to win this game — thanks to their weapons in the passing game against a weak Titan secondary and Marcus Mariota’s inability to not turn the ball over — but I see this game as a four-to-six point victory for Andy Reid and his team.

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)
This game — what I expect to be the best game of Wild Card weekend — is another tough one to pick. While the Rams are the unexperienced, young team and the Falcons are the only team in the NFC to make the playoffs this year and last season, there are too many issues with the Falcons to make me feel as if this game will be any bit closer than seven points.

For starters, the Falcons aren’t a healthy unit right now. Missing left guard Andy Levitre was placed on IR this week — a huge loss for a line that has to deal with the league’s best defensive lineman in Aaron Donald. While running back Devonta Freeman and wide receiver Julio Jones are both expected to play, neither are at 100% and Jones will be matched up against cornerback Trumaine Johnson — one of the best corners in football.

All of this plays into the Rams’ favor this weekend and should ensure the first playoff victory for the Los Angeles Rams in their new city. While this isn’t the most confident bet of the week for me, I do trust this Rams’ offense to win by at least a touchdown over Atlanta.

Buffalo Bills (+8.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)
Am I going to say each game this weekend is a tough pick? Probably. But, yes, this game is another very tough line to pick. Looking at the Bills offense, I don’t see a single skill player having any success against the Jags defense. None of the receivers are fast enough to create separation from corners Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, and the linebackers will do just fine chasing down Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy — especially if McCoy is not at 100%.

While this Bills team is extremely well-coached and Sean McDermott has done a great job in taking a talentless roster into the playoffs in just his first season, their main area of struggle on the defensive side is running the ball — allowing 4.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Should the Jaguar coaching staff realize that and decide to take advantage of that weakness, running back Leonard Fournette should have a field day.

The only thing that worries me about taking the Jags to win by nine points is the offensive coaching staff putting too much of the game in Blake Bortles’ hands — the one player on this roster that can singlehandedly lose them this game. However, I believe Doug Marrone and his staff no the danger that Bortles can cause, so I expect them to avoid using him unless absolutely necessary — making a bet on Jacksonville in the playoffs a first in my lifetime.

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7)
Finally! A game I feel comfortable betting decent money on. Of the first four games this weekend, New Orleans by a touchdown is the game I feel most comfortable as a lock for the playoffs. The Saints have had Carolina’s number all season — winning 34-13 in week three and 31-21 in week thirteen — and I don’t see that trend stopping any time soon.

This New Orleans defense isn’t great, but it’s much improved over the past few seasons where they were amongst the worst in the league. Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore is not just the defensive rookie of the year, he’s one of the top five corners in all of football. There are no receivers on the Panthers that are quick enough to get separation from Lattimore and the Saints’ secondary, making life miserable for Cam Newton in the passing game.

Flipping to the other side of the ball, the Saints have neutralized the greatest strength of Carolina — owning linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis Sr. in both matchups. Rookie running back Alvin Kamara has left the two in the dust, especially in their most recent matchup, and the rest of the defense can’t keep up either. Furthermore, Drew Brees has thrown at career-low levels — making his arm and legs more than well-rested for the playoffs. Should they need to rely on the passing game more than they did in the last two matchups, Brees has the juice left in his arm to get it done.

Take the Titans (+8), the Rams (-6.5), the Jaguars (-8.5) and the Saints (-7) if you want to make some serious cash in Wild Card weekend.

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