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- American football player (1898-1965)
The NFL playoffs get underway this weekend with six games spread out on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We all know we're going to be betting these games, so the Yahoo Sportsbook staff sat down for a roundtable to go through our favorite bets, favorite underdog and best bet to score a touchdown. All betting lines are as of Friday afternoon and courtesy of BetMGM.
What's your favorite bet for this weekend's games?
Nick Bromberg: Bengals -5.5 vs. Raiders. I’m impressed by the Raiders’ ability to bounce back and get into the playoffs over the last month of the season. However, I can’t ignore how they did it and who they beat. They haven’t won a game by more than four points since beating the Eagles 33-22 on Oct. 24. I don’t think this game is a blowout, but Cincinnati wins by 10 or so.
Frank Schwab: I have to agree with Nick. The Raiders’ run to the playoffs was fun but I also worry they left a lot on the field last week in beating the Chargers. The Bengals already beat them by 19 in Las Vegas and assume we’ll see a repeat.
Sam Cooper: Steelers vs. Chiefs under 46.5. I’m trying to envision the best path toward competitiveness for the Steelers in this one and it involves a heavy workload for Najee Harris. At the same time, Kansas City’s offense hasn’t been quite as explosive this season as it has been in recent years. If Pittsburgh can have success running the ball while limiting KC’s explosiveness and forcing some long drives, that can eat up the clock and result in a lower scoring game.
Greg Brainos: Everyone scoot over, I’m jumping on board the Bengals train. Derek Carr is 0-5 in games where it’s 37 degrees or colder. It’s expected to be 32 degrees at kickoff and dropping from there. Cincy already thumped them a couple months ago in Vegas and that was before their offense morphed into a pass-heavy attack more suited to their strengths.
Pete Truszkowski: I'll lay the points with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. They're giving 8.5 points at home against the Eagles. Young quarterbacks are terrible against the spread against experienced quarterbacks and it seems like weather might be a factor. Tom Brady has seen it all and won't be rattled. Brady also has the whole motivational aspect with the Antonio Brown drama. Leonard Fournette returning is a big deal.
Which underdog are you backing to win outright?
Nick Bromberg: Cardinals +160 vs. Rams. I’m torn between this game and the Patriots over the Bills. I think New England can muck it up against Buffalo again with the freezing temperatures in the forecast. But ultimately I’ll go with the Cardinals here. I’m not sold on either of these teams but Arizona should be confident heading into this matchup and can exploit the undermanned Rams secondary.
Frank Schwab: I think the 49ers have a great shot at an upset. They’ve won seven of nine. They have the pass rush to disrupt Dak Prescott and the running game to control the pace. And for all the talk of the Cowboys’ stars, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk are pretty good too. San Francisco is +135 on the moneyline.
Sam Cooper: I like the Cardinals, too. I’ve had success fading Matthew Stafford at various points throughout the season and he’s just too erratic to trust as a favorite. I know the Cardinals struggled down the stretch, but the Rams are in a situation where they had to sign Eric Weddle out of retirement to bolster their secondary. Kyler Murray can get it done. I’ll almost certainly be on the under in this one, too.
Greg Brainos: I guess I’m gonna be Frank’s plus-one at this roundtable. The Niners are a sneaky good play. Dallas hasn’t beaten a good offense in months and San Francisco has won seven of the eight games Deebo Samuel has played since they changed their offense up and mixed him into the backfield. They have multiple matchup nightmares and the league’s third-best defense, so I’ll put my faith in Kyle Shanahan to outplan Mike McCarthy.
Pete Truszkowski: Give me the Patriots at +165. For a team that plays its home games in western New York, the Bills are shockingly not built for weather games. I think Belichick pulls out all the stops and can rattle Josh Allen who has been prone to mistakes this season. I expect him to focus on shutting down Allen in the run game since there's not much threat from the Bills' running backs. Mac Jones makes just enough plays behind a great run game and defense. It'll be a Mark Sanchez like performance.
Who's your favorite bet to score an anytime touchdown this weekend?
Nick Bromberg: Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase. The rookie is -115 to score a TD and I think that he’ll have another big game as Cincinnati gets its first playoff win in what feels like forever. We’ll see if the Raiders leave him in single coverage a fraction as often as the Chiefs did two weeks ago.
Frank Schwab: I feel good about Rob Gronkowski at +125. The Buccaneers’ passing tree will be very narrow. The Eagles do a very good job against receivers and give up a lot to tight ends. If the Eagles can limit Mike Evans who else but Gronk is going to score for them?
Sam Cooper: Miles Sanders is expected to be back from a hand injury for the Eagles, but the much better play is Boston Scott. Other than QB sneaks with Jalen Hurts from the 1-yard line, Scott is by far Philly’s most effective runner at the goal line. And you can get him at +375. That’s great value for a running back with four TDs over his last three games.
Greg Brainos: I’ll go back to the Deebo well. Samuel has scored a touchdown in seven of eight games since being regularly deployed in San Francisco’s backfield. The Cowboys’ aggression on defense has led to them getting burned for the fifth-most receptions of 20-plus yards and the third-most receptions of 40-plus. I love the Niners’ speedy YAC monster at +100.
Pete Truszkowski: Sam and Nick like the Cardinals this weekend, and I'll back them up with this pick. James Conner scored more touchdowns than every skill player in football this season except Austin Ekeler and Jonathan Taylor. He scored 15 on the ground and 3 through the air. In two games against the Rams this season, Conner has four touchdowns. Conner has had a resurgence this season in Arizona and the threat of Kyler Murray's legs opens up rushing lanes in the red zone. I'll take a +115 bet on Conner to find pay dirt.