No, your eyes do not deceive you. It’s a special Super Wild Card edition of The Dogs Are Barking, mainly because I like a bunch of dogs this weekend, and I finished the season on a winning note, going 2-1, to end with a season record of 30-21-4.
So let’s try to keep it rolling.
A couple of very unsettled QBs situations have produced some big spreads on this wild card weekend. Seven of the 16 signal callers are playing their first playoff game, which makes handicapping these games a little trickier. As usual, sometimes you just have to hold your nose and roll with a team that looks overmatched. I like four dogs this week; here they are in no particular order:
Seahawks +9 ½ at 49ers
Here’s a perfect example. The Seahawks have wilted down the stretch, got swept by the 49ers, and are only here because the Packers got outplayed, outhustled, outsmarted…I could go on (I’m over it, really, I am). But this feels like a big number for a divisional game with a coach who knows how to get his guys ready in the post-season.
There’s rain in the forecast and with temps in the 50s, look for Kyle Shanahan to try to make things easy for Mr. Irrelevant. We don’t know how Brock Purdy will handle his first playoff test. I imagine he’ll pass it, but he’s liable to make a couple of mistakes to help the Seahawks stick around. It would also help if Geno Smith can play like the guy we saw in the first half of the season. Feels like a 24-16 kind of game to me.
Ravens +9½ at Bengals
I’m on the Ravens after hearing that QB Tyler Huntley was a full participant in Friday’s practice. If he doesn’t play and Anthony Brown starts, I’m deleting this one. But I expect Huntley to start and that gives Baltimore a chance to put some points on the board. This is another game that I expect to be low scoring, and that’s a big spread in a defensive battle.
The Ravens rested most of their guys last week with an eye on the rematch. And with the Bengals hurting on the right side of the offensive line, Baltimore is rested and ready to wreak some havoc. They can slow Joe Mixon and make Joe Burrow get rid of the ball quickly. You can bet the Ravens want to show that they’re not Lamar and the Pips. They’ll be focused, well-coached, and ready to make things tough on their bitter rivals.
Buccaneers +2 ½ vs. Cowboys
This one seems too easy. That should probably be a red flag, but how can you trust the Cowboys here? If only they hadn’t laid such a big egg last week; the line would probably be a point higher.
- Fact: the Cowboys haven’t won a road playoff game since 1992. That was title game that caused coach Jimmy Johnson to screech ‘How ‘bout them Cowboys?! That was, like, two generations ago.
- Fact: Tom Brady has never lost to Dallas—he’s 7-0.
- Fact: Dak has not covered the spread in four career playoff games.
- And fact: Dallas was an underdog three times this season; they lost all three games.
The Bucs defense is as healthy as it’s been all season with the return of Vita Vea and Carlton Davis. Tom Brady won’t worry about the Boys’ pass rush — he’ll get rid of the ball in a nano-second. Brady’s getting points at home in the wild card round? Yes, please.
Giants +3 at Vikings
Sorry, Vikings fans. I mean, I absolutely can see a scenario where the Vikes win by three and we push here. But I find it hard to imagine a scenario where they win by more than that, and I think it’s more likely they squeak by or lose outright. One thing working in their favor is Kirk Cousins’ playoff experience against newbie Daniel Jones. But Jones will be comfortable at US Bank after putting up nearly 500 yards of offense a few weeks ago, and I trust Brian Daboll to concoct a game plan that plays to his strengths. Meanwhile, Minnesota gets Garrett Bradbury back, which will help fortify the offensive line.
Unfortunately, Brian O’Neill is gone and the Giants pass rush has a solid advantage here to make Kirk uncomfortable. Throw in the fact that two key pieces to the secondary who missed the first meeting, Xavier McKinney and Adoree’ Jackson, are back. The G-Men list nobody on their injury report. Finally, there’s this: The Giants were an NFL best 13-4 ATS this season and Jones rocks as a road dog, 16-5 against the spread. Call it Vikes: 24-23.
Last Week: 2-1