So, Tom Brady isn’t in the playoffs at this stage for the first time in a decade and if you’re not a Patriots fan, chances are that you’re feeling fairly smug about it right now.
That doesn’t help your team, of course, but what will help you is the best football weekend of the entire season coming your way.
Kansas City, Green Bay, Baltimore and San Francisco are taking centre stage now and the fatigued four enter the fight of their lives.
Shall we benefit from their misery? Why not.Get your NFL bets on at PaddyPower.com
Minnesota Vikings @ San Francisco 49ers (-7)
You can forget Kirk Cousins and his magic moment. You can forget Dalvin Cook and you can forget any idea you have of the Minnesota Vikings producing another miracle on the road. It’s just not happening.
I could list one hundred clichés, but the bottom line is this – San Francisco are the best team in the NFL. They’re at home. They have an extra week’s rest in them and they’re welcoming back Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford.
Outside runs are the only reason Kirk Cousins looks functional because he can run bootlegs or play-action. The Niners have the best contain unit in the league and that’s just on one side of the ball.
On the other, you may think that Minnesota have favourable matchups because of Barr, Kendricks and Harrison Smith – but that’s assuming Kyle Shanahan gets into a chess match where he wants man coverage.
The Niners’ offence is the most sophisticated in the NFL and contains both man and zone beaters in most of their plays. This is why they’re putting up 30-plus points frequently when a lot of offences in the league are struggling to get into gear.
This is going to be a long night on the west coast with very few ‘Skol’ chants.
Tennessee Titans (+9.5) @ Baltimore Ravens
I trust Mike Vrabel.
I trust Mike Vrabel primarily because he knows how to manage games and he carries himself with enough swagger to turn over anyone.
The only reason teams lose when they shouldn’t is because they go conservative. Look at the three best teams in the NFL – the Niners, the Ravens and the Chiefs. What do they all have in common? They absolutely bomb the ball downfield three to four times a game.
This keeps defences honest. He’ll take his shots, too.
Lamar Jackson still hasn’t thrown a deep out route, nor has he managed to complete a corner route. If you take away passes down the seams, his sit routes and his fades, I’m really not sure he can make the throws to beat you. Tennessee’s problem is that they may actually get pressure on too fast for their own good, leading to Jackson scrambling. With linebackers lacking speed, they may need to swap in a defensive back as a QB spy. Playing in dime against this run game? Oh boy.
Even still, this is a whole host of points and I can’t take any playoff team to beat another by 10 points.
Houston Texans (+9.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Ah, the Texans won in Arrowhead this season, oddsmakers?
While I believe Steve Spagnuolo to be one of the better defensive minds in football, I’m not actually sure he can bridge a gap against a team where everything feels oh so random.
But one thing I definitely think that works in the Texans’ favour is Will Fuller. He could have played last week and reinjured his hamstring, but he sat it out in the hope that his playoff contribution wouldn’t be null.
It could well be significant and those Chiefs defensive backs are going to have to play deep and open up things underneath for a Texans offence that relies on check-downs and odd design.
Can Deshaun outshine Mahomes? Not a chance in hell. But he can definitely finish within a hefty spread.
A Treble on these bets pays out at over 11/2
*All prices and lines correct at time of publication