By News Team
14th January 2022
The NFL postseason is here. 32 teams started the season with varying aspirations, and just 14 remain, with 12 in action this weekend.
With spectacular matchups at every turn, the weekend will be filled with big moments and gut-wrenching failures.
We preview some of the best playoff games below.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
An AFC-East matchup to kick off the postseason for two teams with genuine AFC Championship aspirations. The Buffalo Bills will feel they are still in their Super Bowl window, while Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots can never be discounted, even in the post Tom Brady era.
Josh Allen hasn’t been quite as impressive as last year, but nonetheless the Bills are a formidable football team, with a strong defence and an offense that can score big numbers quickly.
The Patriots are arguably the opposite, built on sound fundamentals, a strong run game, and a takeaway-hungry defence. However, it will be Mac Jones’ playoff debut, and these occasions can get to young quarterbacks.
With a handicap of just 4 points on what is set to be a bitterly cold Buffalo night, it looks set to be classic playoff football. The Patriots have been impressive this year and with Jones could have a very bright future, but expect Buffalo to progress to the Divisional round and cover the -4 spread at 10/11.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys go into the playoffs with major Super Bowl hopes. Sound familiar? For many years now, this hope has been extinguished usually very quickly. This time feels slightly different. Dak Prescott is fit, they’ve got core pieces at nearly every skill position, and a ball-hawking secondary could make plays in the big moments.
The San Francisco 49ers feel like an afterthought, despite boasting an excellent defensive front and, in Deebo Samuel, one of the best, most unique weapons in football. He seems to get better every week, which is impressive considering the level he’s playing at, and could be a huge difference maker for the 49ers here.
Dallas are favourites at 5/8, with San Fran 7/5 to head into the next round. It should be a close game at AT&T Stadium, but Dallas will look to make a statement early. The over/under is 51 points, and based on both teams offensive potential, this could be hit by the 3rd quarter. Take the over at 10/11 and look forward to a Sunday night shootout.
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams
The final game of Wildcard Weekend sees another divisional rivalry. The Arizona Cardinals have stuttered into the playoffs after being the NFL’s pacesetter for a long portion of the season, while the LA Rams won the NFC West despite losing last time out. The loss to the 49ers last week marked the first time Head Coach Sean McVay had lost after leading at halftime, which should be a point of serious concern for a very good Rams outfit. With ageing superstars brought in, it’s a small window for success, and this may be the last hurrah for a few.
The Cardinals seem to be at the other end of that process, with an exciting young QB in Kyler Murray and still a few years to come from superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins, so a loss here wouldn’t be catastrophic for the Cards.
The Rams are 10/19 for a home win, with the Cards 17/10. The handicap is 4, and the way the Rams have played in recent weeks, it’s hard to imagine them covering that comfortably. Arizona +4 is 10/11, and it should be a nailbiter to close out the weekend.