The NFL has finally sorted the wheat from chaff as only 12 teams remain as we head into wildcard weekend where the headline act comes from Los Angeles, with the Rams preparing to host the Atlanta Falcons.
This will be the Rams’ first play-off game in 14 years after a remarkable turnaround in fortunes under the league’s youngest head coach, Sean McVay, who has worked his magic in his debut season leading a team.
LA has a high-powered offence, led by running back Todd Gurley, which averaged nearly 30 points per game during the regular season, the highest in the NFL.
The Falcons are no slouches on offence themselves and are rolling heading into the play-offs after shaking off their Super Bowl hangover to win six of their last eight matches.
This one is tough to call although Atlanta’s defence and versatile running back Devonta Freeman gives them the edge at 5/2. Do not be surprised to see a high-scoring affair, with over 49 points at 10/11.
The other NFC wildcard match sees the Carolina Panthers head to New Orleans, with the Saints looking to make it a hat-trick of wins over their NFC South rivals.
The Saints look the most well-balanced team in the play-offs given the strides they have made on defence while the addition of Alvin Kamara has augmented what was already a great offence.
It is tough to know which Carolina will turn up given their up-and-down season, with much depending on enigmatic quarter-back Cam Newton, who does love the big stage.
Given the Saints won both regular season matches – by 19 and 10 points respectively – they should cover the -7 point spread at 50/57.
While the NFC has two humdingers this weekend, the AFC is lagging behind with their offerings.
The Kansas City Chiefs should have too much for the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead on Saturday night, with the Titans having scraped in to the play-offs, losing three of the last four in the regular season.
Tennessee can be a tough nut to crack, though, with a strong run defence, meaning the Chiefs might have to rely on inconsistent quarter-back Alex Smith to get the job done. The Titans with a +9 handicap at 10/11 is the pick.
Finally, we come to the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Buffalo Bills. Who thought this would be a play-off game at the start of the year?
The Bills will be riding high, having snuck into a wildcard spot to end a 17-year post-season absence, but their hopes rest on whether star running back LeSean McCoy can get healthy in time.
If he doesn’t feature then look for the Jags’ defence to dominate and for their RB Leonard Fournette to have a big day. The rookie is 16/5 to score the first touchdown.
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