What an entertaining weekend of football. Saturday was exciting with the Eagles edging out a tight contest with the Falcons and the Patriots showing their ready to repeat with a dominant performance over the Titans. But then Sunday was absolute mayhem. The barn burner of a 45-42 win for the Jaguars over the Steelers and then a ridiculous ending in the Vikings vs Saints game where Stefon Diggs pulled in a hail mary on the last play of the game and went untouched into the end zone for the win. It was one of the wildest endings I’ve seen watching football.
From a betting perspective I went 1-1 with the Falcons offense not able to solve the Eagles defense on Saturday, but the Jags beating the spread and getting the win on Sunday. I’m now 3-1 against the spread in these playoffs.
I’ll be using SportsInteraction.com for all of the spreads and predictions below. You can see our full Sports Interaction review here. I have plays on 2 of the wild card games which I’ve outlined below.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots
- Jacksonville +9.5
- New England -9.5
The Jags pulled out a big win last week in Pittsburgh, but the performance still made me concerned with the Jags defense, which ended up allowing Big Ben to bring the Steelers back into the game and make things interesting after the game really should have been out of reach.
Roethlisberger ended up throwing for 469 yards and 5 touchdowns against what is supposed to be the best secondary in the league. That is definitely cause for concern going into this game against the best QB of all time.
If the Jags aren’t able to take away the pass, then this Pats offense is going to run all over them on Sunday. The Pats running back committee of Lewis, White and possibly Burkhead returning from injury is no Le’Veon Bell, but as a committee they are still extremely dangerous and if they can put up some big plays, which I expect them to be able to do, this game could get out of hand quickly.
Also, let’s not forget that the Pats were without their biggest weapon in Rob Gronkowski in their Super Bowl run last year. Vance McDonald thrashed this Jags defense down the middle for 10 catches and 112 yards last week, so I fully expect Gronk to have a big game.
As good as the Jags defense is, I just don’t think they will be able to slow down this offense on the road, and I don’t think the offense is good enough to keep this game close. The Pats D was shaky early in the season, but they have been great since around week 5. Consider that the Pats gave up over 400 total yards in each of the first 6 weeks of the season and have only given up over 400 total yards once since and that was on the road against the potent Steelers offense. The Pats defense has figured it out and the Jags won’t be able to keep pace.
Play: Patriots -9.5
Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles
- Minnesota -3.5
- Philadelphia +3.5
This one is a tough game to call. That said, I still think that the Eagles loss of Carson Wentz will cost them at some point, and that point will likely be this week.
Foles played well enough last week against the Falcons, but the Vikings defense is another step up. Minnesota has the top run defense in the league and they pretty much shut down the Saints potent run game last weekend. If they can shut down Ajayi and Blount, which I expect them to be able to do, that will put the pressure back on Foles and I don’t have confidence in him to be able to rise to the occasion.
We saw how clutch and dangerous both Adam Thielen, and of course Stefon Diggs, are at wide out for the Vikings and I expect Case Keenum to be able to find some success through the air this week, which will likely be needed against another strong run defense.
This game will likely come down to which QB can put up 2+ touchdowns and in that respect my money is on Keenum. He’s been proving the doubters wrong all season and I think he makes another few big throws to his pair of all-star receivers and gets the Vikings to the Super Bowl.
Play: Vikings -3.5