My left knee is pinchy when I squat. WAHHHH 😫. Good thing I don't have to get hit by a 300 lb man in full pads and a helmet trying kill me... I mean tackle me like many of the half-injured or players returning from injury in this wildcard weekend. I can not remember a wildcard weekend where most outcomes were SOOOOO injury based. It may have happened but I have a short memory, I’m getting old 👵.
Here‘s some super wildcardy takes on this 🤷🏻♀️ fluky weekend:
Bill vs. Texans (HOU -2.5)
Injury Difference Makers: Will Fuller, JJ Watt
Fuller - Stats show that Watson AND Hopkins perform much better when Fuller is on the field. Not only is Fuller an outstanding receiver but draws attention away from Hopkins and gives Watson another deep ball option. He can swing the big plays in this game.
Watt - Hot take here ... when JJ Watt is on the field the Texans put more pressure on opposing offenses. Houston’s defense is currently one of the worst ranked defenses in the league in the red zone and on 3rd down conversions. Watt’s 8 week absence maybe-kinda-definitely affected these stats.
Watt is playing, Fuller is still unknown (but likely to play) so the question is whether they will both able to play at full capacity which could obviously swing the outcome. Maybe we can ask Professor X because his prediction is as good as any of our guesses. I’ll DM him and get back to you.
My lord they’ve been streaky. And still I’m counting on Watson to make some big plays against a good Bills defense and Houston to score in the mid 20s especially if he has Fuller. Their defense is iffy but have shown some flashes of being able to stop the run.
I WANT them to win. It'll be a great story if they can win their first playoff game in over 20 years. They are one of the healthiest teams playing this weekend (super jealous Eagles fan here 🙋🏻♀️). Their running game is good and their passing game turned out to be a pleasant surprise (Brown as a breakout fantasy star... who would've thunk it!). If Josh Allen can make a couple of clutch throws - which he’s done a few times this season - and they let Singletary run the ball a lot outside the tackles I think the Bills have this one.
I’m taking the over on 43 1/2.
Titans at Patriots (NE -4.5)
Injury Difference Maker: the Patriots pride
Pats Pride - After Fitzmagic made the Pats pride and playoff rest week disappear before their eyes the Pats are in an unfamiliar position. They had to reschedule their spa weekends to play football in a winter storm.
I’m so tired of historical references with this team. Unfortunately it matters. Brady is a competitor and Belichick is a genius. This will be their last game at home this season and they like when people count them out. Edelman is listed as limited but I really just thought that was part of his permanent designation this season. Pats defense is still outstanding in the secondary and pass rush but they are middle of the pack against the run and from the eye test don’t look as formidable.
Well well well - when did Tennessee become good? In case you missed it this QB Ryan is actually pretty good. And they have a pass catcher. And a serious RB. And oh a good pass rush. If they don’t turn over the ball and they can pressure Fraidy-cat Brady I think the Titans will reign supreme in this one. Yeah but who'd they beat this year that's good? Two up and down playoff teams - the Texans and the Chiefs? Guess who didn't beat those teams... the Patriots. But those damn B boys - Brady and Belichick.
I’m taking the titans +4 1/2 Ughhhhh
Vikings at Saints (NO -8)
Injury Difference Makers: Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen
Cook - He’s back but again workload and capacity? Will he be the Dalvin Cook who was one of the premier running backs of the season? Who the fuck knows? If he is he could be the biggest asset for the Vikes.
Thielen - He looks like he’s back close to 100% and could have a great game. But he was out so long with that hamstring and one crazy move could re-aggravate. Hamstring injuries always worry me.
I want to like cousins I really do. He’s an underdog in my opinion and I always root for the underdog. But then he just goes out and proves me wrong. He has the ability and talent. And then he just chokes. If he puts together a good game the Vikings will score a lot of points. If Thielen and Cook can operate at even 90% the Vikings offense can do well even against tough and now healthy Saints defense. The Saints will probably put up some points (mayyybe) so health of those two guys and the mental health of Cousins is the wildcard here.
Drew Brees. Alvin Kamara. Michael Thomas. Their backup QB Taysom Hill can apparently play any position on the team. The defense is healthy and playing better. The Superdome is one of the places where home-field matters. That stadium is insanely loud and the fans are wild. They will already have been tailgating since Friday night so the crowd will be loud in that stadium for a 1 PM kick off. Oh sorry 1:05 because the NFL is stupid. Let’s just stop there - the Saints are obviously going to win this game. If they don't, the NFL is fixed (how dare I??)
I wanted to take the over on this game but Vikings could be a joke or they could put up 30 points. Also any line that’s at 8 1/2 with the Vikings is too much for me.
Seahawks at Eagles (SEA -1.5)
Injury Difference Makers: the entire Philadelphia Eagles roster, Seattle's O and D lines
2 particular notes - Zach Ertz is cleared to bring his lacerated kidney with him to the game and try to play in this somewhat physical sport. Don't worry he has another one so it’s totally OK. Miles Sanders playing with a sprained ankle is a toss up. Lately Philly doesn't seem to care who's in the game as long as there is someone with a helmet. So, as they say 1 million times in the last month in Philly - next man up.
Seattle is banged up on both lines and at RB. Almost as bad of a situation as Philly is in. They do have an amazing quarterback you may have heard of - Russel Wilson ring any bells? Their starting WRs are pretty good too with Tyler Lockett looking like his old self and Monster Metcalf dragging people hanging from his legs as he gets another 10 yards. Seattle also brought back one of my all time favs, Beast Mode, who could be a big impact at the goal line when he "run through a motherf*er face... over and over and over and over... ". You get the idea. Their defense is not great though so they will have to work to defend against all those big names on the Eagles (Burnett, Holyfield... who ARE these people?). Did I mention they have Russell Wilson? Somehow this team keeps winning close games and he’s the reason.
Everyone knows the story here... practice squad, everyone is out, yadda yadda. As one of my favorite Eagles analyst Benjamin Solak tweeted 'we had to sacrifice everyone else to have a healthy Carson Wentz...’ or something like that. As an Eagles fan, I feel like we’re lucky to even be here and everything else from this moment is just for funsies. However, game script, run defense, play calling, QB play, and pressure on opposing QBs has not been luck. It's been talent, good coaching, execution, and fun to watch. Carson has the 'it' factor right now and Pederson and the coaching staff deserve a medal for making the adjustments based on what we have and who we are playing, which didn't happen the first 75% of the season. I’m just thankful to be watching them for another week. The Eagles play better as the underdog and when they have momentum. The Linc will be rockin' and the Eagles D plays amazing at home where they allow some of the fewest points in the NFL. Fly Eagles Fly.
I’m not even gonna talk about betting on this one
It's going to be a fun, ugly, enthralling, entertaining wildcard weekend. Enjoy and good luck with all the betting and to everyone except the Seahawks and the Patriots.