What’s up Darters. It’s been awhile. My victory lap(s) finally ended this summer and I have joined what the adults call the “real world.” One time I had an interview for the show, The Real World; but that’s a different story for a different day. The craziest/worst part of pretending to be an adult is having to hide your degeneracies around people that are probably trying their hardest to hide their own vices as well. I made a dark joke about being lucky that I didn’t drive over any bridges on the way to work on a shitty day wayyyyy too early into my employment and I am now 100% pegged as the guy to watch out for by at least a couple people.
I’ve been off my gambling game but have kept my ear to the ground and am ready to come back in, fuck shit up, and leave a winner. I prefer playoff time because you really get to dive into specific matchups and you aren’t overwhelmed by a 14+ game slate. Last year during the Championship Round I hit my infamous 5 team parlay which helped fund half of this year’s shenanigans. But you guys aren’t here to listen about what I’m up to (or are you?), you’re here to make some money. Let’s get it.
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs (-8)
The Titans are much worse than their 9-7 record suggests. I was praying that either the Chargers or Ravens would claim the 5 seed instead of Tennessee. Alas, neither did. The Titans do have one thing going for them:
FINALLY Derrick Henry will be freed from his DeMarco Murray shackles and will be able to ball out for a full game. I drafted Henry in fantasy in like the 11th round and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited….to no avail. Even Sirius Black was like damn dude you waited forever.
After a couple impressive wins at the beginning of the season, the Titans had a ridiculously easy schedule, and still managed to lose to the 49ers and Cardinals down the stretch. Their receivers have been plagued by injuries and their 1st round WR Corey Davis hasn’t really done anything. Delanie Walker is still a mainstay in the offense, despite Marcus Mariota taking a step back this season. Their secondary is on the rise, but they are still vulnerable downfield. Alex Smith doesn’t take deep shots very often, but he does have the best deep threat in the league on his side in Tyreek Hill. There probably isn’t a single human in the NFL that can match Hill step for step, so it’s a matter of time before he breaks one off.
When/if Hill is covered, Travis Kelce has a great matchup this week. If Gronk didn’t exist, Kelce would be one of the biggest names in the NFL. He’s still pretty much a household name. With Hill, Kelce, and rookie RB Kareem Hunt teamed up with a veteran game manager in Alex Smith, there is simply too much offensive firepower for the Titans to be able to contend. Also pencil in Kelce to catch a shovel pass TD.
Atlanta Falcons (+6) @ Los Angeles Rams
With Carson Wentz’s injury, the NFC race is kind of wide open. The Vikings may be the favorites, but I’d put my money on the Saints. That being said, a team like the Falcons can make a serious run themselves. They proved to be a Super Bowl worthy team last year for 3 1/2 quarters, and have nearly the same roster top to bottom this year. Matt Ryan has been off all year, but at any moment he and Julio Jones can click and rack up 200+ yards. The Falcons have an endless supply of skilled pass catchers, and have the best RB duo not named Ingram and Kamara.
The Falcons racked up 39 sacks this season. They’re going to do everything they can to get pressure in Jared Goff’s face and try to force turnovers due to his inexperience. Additional pressure on Goff would force the Rams’ hand into keeping Todd Gurley in the backfield to pick up blitzes and protect Goff. That would be huge for Atlanta. If they can eliminate Gurley for even 10 more plays than usual, that’d force the Rams to move the chains with lesser playmakers in Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, etc. Keanu Neal and Deion Jones will be sitting back ready to pounce.
Despite having Aaron Donald clogging up the middle, the Rams nearly gave up 2,000 yards on the ground this season. Keep Freeman and Coleman away from Donald, and they can get to the second level with relative ease. I like the Falcons straight up; +6 seems crazy.
Buffalo Bills (+8.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
I like the Jaguars, but 8.5 points is a lot. I think that we’ll get a bit of a defensive slugfest, despite each team having a top RB in the league. Good running games mean that the clock will tick. A game like this could end 17-14 before you know it. As long as Nathan Peterman isn’t on the field, the Bills don’t turn the ball over a lot. Sacksonville has prided themselves on getting to the QB, and Jalen Ramsey solidified himself as one of the best corners in the game. The Bills don’t have a real standout pass catching threat that can give Ramsey any trouble. So basically the Jaguars can pick any receiver on the Bills and eliminate him by having Ramsey cover him. That’ll open the door for LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay. If McCoy can reach 150 total yards from scrimmage, then that’ll be good news for the Bills.
The Jaguars have been plagued by injuries to their wideouts and they’ll now face a Bills secondary that has been surprisingly good. Micah Hyde turned out to be one of the best signings in the league, and Tre’Davious White had a fantastic rookie season. Allen Hurns should be 100%, and he’ll draw the top coverage guys. That means that one of my favorite college players from last year, Dede Westbrook, will have many opportunities to make a difference in this game. I was shocked that he dropped into the 4th round last year. Watching him with Baker Mayfield was fascinating, and I hope he can make some plays for Blake Bortles this weekend.
The Bills have been susceptible to the run this year and the Jaguars have one of the biggest and baddest RBs in the league in Leonard Fournette. He’s going to get his, so it’s a matter of whether or not the Bills O comes in to Jacksonville ready to play.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (-7)
I mentioned before that the Saints are probably my favorite to come out of the NFC. They finally have something that resembles a defense and they have the steal of the draft in Alvin Kamara. Also, the Saints are a different animal at home in the dome. They score and score, then score some more. Unfortunately for the Panthers, their secondary has been their biggest issue this year, and recent results prove that:
Michael Thomas has been practicing in full and I’m willing to bet that he finds his way into the end zone this week. Ted Ginn Jr is also going to find his way in for 6. The former Panther was Tyreek Hill before he entered the league and he would certainly like a little shot at revenge.
The Panthers do have some studs up front in Luke Keuchly and Charles Johnson, but the lethal combo of Kamara and Mark Ingram has been way too much to handle since the Saints cut ties with Adrian Peterson.
The Saints are gonna go marching on in what I think is going to be a shootout in the Superdome.
It’s good to be back. Playoff football is the best. If this parlay hits I’ll be one step closer to getting out of this “real world” and back to public degeneracy. Pray for me.
Also, keep your eyes and ears peeled for some news about potential podcasts coming your way. I don’t know who, what, when, where, why, or how, all I do know is that some equipment should be in my possession come Monday. Can’t wait s/o Bart Scott.
By the way here’s an absolute banger that you need to listen to: