Rams @ Seattle
The Rams D was very solid but Russ hasn’t been cooking much for a while now and only served up a BLT with a half a piece of bacon, which was his bomb to D.K. Metcalf. The lettuce was old and I think he used Rye Bread? The Deep ball has mostly went and gone and he has really lacked in his decision making. Pete Carroll and Co have decided they are going to Establish the run again next year, even with out Brian Schottenheimer who will no longer be with the team next season.
Jared Goff did not look good, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams go back to Wolford vs the Packers. Goff’s finger is likely still bothering him and Wolford is probably a slight upgrade at this point. The Rams offensive line continues to block well in the run game and Cam Akers continues to look good, doing it on the ground (28-131) and in the pass game (2-45). Malcolm Brown (9-30) spelled him at the end and closed the game out with his fresh legs.
Cooper Kupp who led the Rams in targets (9) and yards (78) suffered a knee contusion in this game and didn’t practice today (Tuesday), but I would still expect him to be out there this Saturday. Aaron Donald also suffered some sort of Rib injury, but Sean McVay said today he will be out there Saturday. Darrell Henderson will probably be out again with his high ankle sprain.
The Rams had a defensive TD in this game also got a gift late in the 4th quarter when Seattle fumbled a punt and the Rams recovered. Goff finished off the drive with a wide open TD pass to Robert Woods who finished with 4 catches for 48 yards and a TD.
Tampa Bay @ Washington
Tyler Heinecke (Heineken) looked solid and did everything he could to pull out a W for the Football team. He was accurate and showed good pocket presence with speed and quickness. He reminded me of a mobile Chad Pennington. I think he could be a starter in this league, but either way he should have earned himself a lot of money. Antonio Gibson didn’t really look healthy and didn’t really find anywhere to run vs the Bucs top Run D. McLaurin did his usual 70 yd bid.
Tom Brady’s arm looks strong and he has looked like he has grasped this offense for the past month or so. The addition of Antonio Brown has helped. Chris Godwin caught a TD but also had 3 or 4 drops which is a rarity for him. Mike Evans also gutted out his injury and played well leading the team with 6 catches for 119 yards. Gronkowski was invisible in the pass game because he was blocking most of the time, helping to stop that vaunted Washington pass rush. The benefactor of that was Cameron Brate who finished with four catches for 80 yards and looked good doing it. We may see more of the same against the Saints this weekend. Scotty Miler caught one pass and Tyler Johnson did nothing except become the lead blocker for Leonard Fournette on his TD run. Fournette stepped into the starting role after Ronald Jones suffered a Quad injury at the start of the game. Jones is questionable to return this weekend. Keshawn Vaughn also had a fumble which gave Fournette full burn and likely had Vaughn shining Arians yacht Monday morning.
Chicago @ New Orleans
I thought Mitch played decent in this game, it didn’t help Javon Wims dropped a TD, which was a dime from Mitch and the Bears could not run the ball at all as David Montgomery was held to 31 yards on 12 carries. Having no Darnell Mooney in this game also didn’t help and the New Orleans D did not allow any big plays. Janoris Jenkins has revived this year and Lattimore also made a nice play on a bomb to Wims. Mitch took over for Foles and at least got the Bears in the playoffs, but the Bears will most likely draft, sign or trade for another QB to compete with Mitch, as they should. Nick Foles needs to star in a Foldgers commercial.
Brees had a fine game (28/39, 265, 2 TD’s) and got back to throwing to Michael Thomas who returned from his injury and finished with 5 catches for 73 yards and a TD. Deonte Harris also returned from his long absence and was a big part of the gameplan leading the Saints in receiving with 7 catches for 83 yards, he even got a carry, although it went for -2 yards. Harris is like the Saints poor man version of Tyreek Hill, but that’s not to take anything away from Harris, he is extremely quick and not an easy cover. The Saints were smart to feature him. Latavius Murray did next to nothing in this game and Marquez Callaway who had been filling in for Harris and Thomas the past couple weeks, took a back seat, getting 0 targets, only playing a few snaps. Even Lil’ Jordan Humphrey played more than him. Kamara was mostly bottled up outside a 25 yard run, but did finish with 23 carries for 99 yards and a TD. Taysom Hill was a non factor in this game and threw an interception after his pass was tipped and picked off. Jared Cook Aka BeetleJuice finished with 4 catches for 40 yards while Manny Sanders did next to nothing with just two catches for three yards. Expect a better performance against Tampa.
Ravens @ Titans
The Titans and Ryan Tannehill started out this game hot, going up 10-0 in the 1st quarter with Tanny hitting A.J. Brown for a TD, but they soon fizzled out, finishing with just 3 points the rest of the game. Derrick Henry was bottled up (18-40) unable to wear out the Ravens D this time, Calais Campbell’s return in this 2nd matchup likely made a big difference. You would like to see the Titans try to get a little more creative with Henry in the pass game, a couple screens and play actions throw to him, wouldn’t hurt. Get him in space, in motion, they did neither in this game. Corey Davis erased in this game, 0 catches, but he had a career breakout season.
Lamar did very little in the pass game (17/24, 1 Int) but killed it on the ground with 16 carries for 136 yards including a 48 yard TD run. Marquise Brown was found often and had his first 100 yard game since Week 1, but didn’t find the endzone, although he has 6 TD’s in his last 8 games. Mark Andrews was fairly quiet with just 4 catches for 41 yards and FB Patrick Ricard was their 3rd leading WR with 3 catches for 26 yards. Lamar still continues to struggle with his middle to deep perimeter/boundary throws which was evident on his intercepted pass to Miles Boykin. It seemed the Ravens tried to offset that inaccuracy by having Lamar throw little flat routes to the boundaries instead. It helped sustain a few drives. I think we will see that again against the Bills. Dobbins only had 9 carries that went for 43 yards and a TD. They need to give him more burn vs Buffalo, at least in the passing game as he only had one catch for -6 yards. Gus Edwards had 8 carries for 38 yards and Mark Ingram was a healthy scratch.
Browns @ Steelers
The Steelers started the game with a errant snap which led to a Browns defensive TD, to open the game 7-0. Big Ben followed that up with three first half Int’s which gave the Browns a 28-10 halftime lead. Rothlisberger threw 4 Picks in total but wound up throwing 4 TD’s with 500 yards as he spread it around to Claypool, Diontae, James Washington, JuJu and Ebron who all had productive games. James Connor scored a TD, but has lost his juice, the Steelers should be in the market for a new RB next season and they should also give Anthony McFarland more burn as well. Ben will return and the pass options will all be fantasy assets once again. You would like to see them feature Chase Claypool next season. Since they limited his snaps to “prevent him from hitting the rookie wall” and to give James Washington more playing time, they went 1-6. Ben also needs to ease up on that .2 second, throw the ball offense. Maybe they can build that Oline up, since he’s seems like he’s trying to protect himself from injury.
The Browns got some gifts and their D got chewed up, but Baker Mayfield (21/34, 263, 3 TD’s) is definitely playing better Football and looks much more accurate and decisive with this throws. Jarvis Landy has been on fire, finishing with another strong game (5-91, 1 TD). Austin Hopper has also picked up the pace after a sluggish start to the year and had a quality game here with 7 catches for 46 yards and a TD. Alex Van Pelt did a great job filling in for Kevin Stefanski with his playcalling with some timely plays, most notably the screen pass to Nick Chubb which went for a 40 yard TD. Stefanski (Covid) will return this week. Kareem Hunt (8-48, 2 TD’s) ran great behind that solid Browns offensive line. The Browns will look to get back Top CB Denzel Ward and G Joel Bitonio (Covid) this week against the Chiefs, both players statuses are still in the air. With Bitonio out last week backup guard Michael Dunn filled in and did a great job. However, he went on IR this week. Both a Bitonio and/or Ward return would be huge for the Browns, especially Ward, since the Browns secondary will need everything they can vs KC.
Colts @ Bills
The first game of the Wild Card round was also its best, as both teams played clean Football (0 Turnovers) although, that was pretty much a fumble on that last drive by Zach Paschal. Rivers made a lot of good throws in the face of pressure but did miss on on a crucial 3rd down pass to Michael Pittman. On that same drive Rodrigo Blankenship (Blankman) missed a 33 yard FG. The Colts also had another solid drive in the first half that came up empty when they went for it on 4th and 4 on the GL and Rivers just threw it a bit out of reach for the 6’4 rookie, Michael Pittman. They had more yards than Buffalo and could have won that game if they had executed those two drives.
The Bills did a good job closing out the game which ended on a failed Rivers Hail Mary attempt which didn’t even reach the endzone, probably should have opted for Jacoby Brissett there. After a strong first drive Jonathan Taylor was mostly contained finishing with 21 carries for 78 yards and a TD. The Bills did a good job on him overall, although they allowed 75 carries on just 6 carries to Nyheim Hines. Pittman had a good game leading the colts in receiving with 5 catches for 90 yards, followed by Jack Doyle who had 7 catches for 70 yards. Trey Burton had 3 catches for 34 yards and made some big catches, as did Mo Allie-Cox who had 4 catches for 32 yards. The Colts have three legit starting Tight Ends. Zach Pascal had three catches for 37 yards and a TD. After a strong finish to the season, T.Y. Hilton dudded out in this one with just 2 catches for 32 yards. The Colts should bring Rivers back for one more year while backing him up with a solid backup in Jacoby Brisett and possibly draft a QB for the future. Or they could get one in the ’22 NFL Draft. This is a solid Colts team that could have made a deep run in the playoffs. They will be back strong next season.
Josh Allen (26/35, 324, 2 TD’s) continued his hot streak, making throws on the run that few QB’s in this league can make. Allen always extends plays by running to the sideline and making ridiculous throws or breaking tackles, out running, pump faking defenders to get 1st downs. He did it twice in this game, sideline catches by Gabriel Davis, who did a great job of his keeping his feet in on both catches. Davis had a good game with 4 catches for 85 yards and he could be a huge factor going forward in these playoffs. He is going to have a good career in Buffalo with the combo of his talent and playing with Allen. Cole Beasley played through an injury and finished with a respectable 7 catches for 57 yards. John Brown let a ball go through his hands (did look like it was 100 mph) and surprisingly did not have a catch on the day, after returning in Week 17 and having a good game. Bills will need him to step up vs Baltimore. Zach Moss was injured in this game and will miss the Baltimore game. They will miss his physical running style but Devin Singletary can step in along with T.J. Yeldon. The Bills really haven’t gotten much out of their running game all season. Allen had a good game running with 4 or 5 designed runs finishing with 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD.
Divisional Round Preview
Rams @ Packers (-6.5, O/U 45.5) 4:35 Est, Expected Weather 28 Degrees, 6 MPH, 15% Chance of Rain
The Rams will be relying on either John Wolford who certainly is serviceable or a less than 100% percent Jared Goff as the the LA team moves to chilly Lambeau field. I think Cooper Kupp will play even if not 100%. If Kupp is OUT, which I doubt, Josh Reynolds has filled in admirably when called upon. Nobody has been able to stop Aaron Rodgers all season except for Tampa, and the Davante Adams vs Jalen Ramsey matchup will be a great one, but I expect Rodgers and Adams to keep doing their thing. I expect Adams to fool Ramsey a couple times in this game. Aaron Donald looks good to go after getting hurt vs Seattle. Green Bay CB Jaire Alexander has been a shut down CB all year and will shut down whoever he is covering. The Rams offense will be limited because of this and they will need to rely on their running game with Cam Akers and utilize their Playaction roll out game, however Zadarius and Preston Smith are going to be coming off the edge and could blow those roll outs up. I think Green Bay is simply playing too well and I think Rodgers and Company march on to victory, winning 27-16.
Ravens @ Bills (-1, O/U 50) 8:15 Est, Expected Weather 34 Degrees, 15 Mph winds, 15% chance of Rain
The best game of the week in my opinion because watching Josh and Lamar is always a good time, now they are both in the same game. These two faced off last year in Week 14 and the Ravens came out victorious in a very close 24-17 game. Obviously the Bills are much better offensively this season under Allen, who had a MVP type season. Lamar took a bit of step back this year but finished with a strong year and the Ravens are still a SB contender. The Bills let Running QB Kyler Murray run for 61 yards and two TD’s on 11 carries vs them, but did a pretty good job stopping him in the passing game (Outside of that Hail Mary of course). Lamar will likely get his again on the ground, but I think the Bills can slow this passing game with Tre’davious White, Levi Wallace and their two talented Safties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, who NFL Films Greg Cosell called the best safety combo in the league. Allen is going to make plays on the other side and I just think the combo of his arm, accuracy, playmaking ability and playmakers with Stefon Diggs, Beasley, Brown and the emerging Gabriel Davis will be enough to overcome Baltimore as the Bills advance to the AFC Championship game. The Bills have sort of been disrespected by oddsmakers all year. This line dropped from 2.5 to 1 pretty quick, as people are still not fully recognizing Josh Allen’s talent. Bills 31, Ravens 27.
Cleveland @ KC (-10, O/U 57.5) 3:05 Est, Expected Weather 42 Degrees, 10 MPH winds, 10% Chance of Rain
I think this game will be high scoring, as does the betting market. I don’t think the Browns will be able to stop Kansas City and I think the Browns can move the football with their running game and Baker and company. If the Browns can get back Denzel Ward, that will be huge, but it still likely won’t make a difference. The Browns will need to go toe to toe with the Chiefs on offense, but this will likely be like the National Championship game where Ohio State, simply could not keep up with Alabama on offense. Andy Reid will have this team ready to roll. KC 38, Browns 27.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-3, 0/U 51) 6:40 Est, Dome.
The 2nd best game of the weekend, features two hall of fame QB’s in Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Two 40 year olds, going at it. I love the way Tom Brady has fully grasped this offense and his arm looks strong, with his deep ball accuracy improving the past couple games. Evans, Godwin, Brown, Gronk, even Cam Brate, Miller, Tyler Johnson, Brady has some great weapons along with stud rookie LT Tristan Wirfs doing an excellent job protecting his blindside. The Bucs kept Gronk in to pass protect a lot last week, to further Brady’s protection.
On the other hand, Drew Brees has one of the best WR’s in the league back healthy in Michael Thomas, with solid vet, Manny Sanders and of course Alvin Kamara. This game can go either way. I think the Bucs Run D can contain Kamara on the ground, although I think Brees will have a solid game through the air. I love the way Janoris Jenkins has been playing this season, the Jackrabbit has returned. Marcus Lattimore is still a solid corner. However, I do think Brady will move the rock, just too many weapons. Hopefully Ronald Jones can return healthy for Tampa.
The Saints beat the Bucs in both matchups this season, Week 1, 34-23 and in Week 9, 38-3. However, I think Brady has been much better since that game, like I mentioned earlier, becoming much more comfortable in this offense, grasping it fully. I think this game is back and forth, a fairly high scoring affair. This really is a legendary game, I think I take it back, this might end up being the best game of the weekend. These two QB’s, just awesome. I have no pick yet, too early, too close to call. I will post on my Twitter @FantasySavvy, but I will say take the Over 51, this game could hit the 60’s.
I will be looking to do a podcast Friday Night, stay tuned. Also NFL and DFS Picks will be updated on this site for this weekend. Please Follow me @FantasySavvy on Twitter. Have a great rest of the week.