This article is part of our FanDuel Sportsbook series.
New England Patriots (+4.5) (-106) at Buffalo Bills
Part III of this AFC East will be played in frigid temps on Saturday night in Buffalo. Each team won on the other's home field this year, so road success is a bit of the norm. In fact, the Bills have yet to beat the Patriots in Buffalo under Sean McDermott. New England is not coming into the playoffs in top form, so that is a bit of a concern, but I also think that plays into the line value on the Patriots as well. I am shocked to see them getting more than a FG, continuing the theory that the power ratings on Buffalo have been inflated all year. I've been high on the Pats and low on the Bills all year and I'm staying true to form here. Also to consider: road teams in this round of the playoffs are 15-3 ATS the last 4 seasons and when division rivals are featured, the road team is 11-3 ATS since 2003. Those trends only solidify my thoughts on this game. I'll take Darth Hoodie getting points in a playoff game just about every time.
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UNDER 45.5) (-110)
At last check, the weather in Tampa is supposed to be very interesting with a bunch of rain and winds in the 15-20 mph range. In addition to the possible quagmire, the strengths and weaknesses of these teams should also contribute to a lower-scoring game. Tampa relies on Tom Brady and the passing game, but they are hardly in top form or health at this point. The offense has feasted on bad competition over the last month, which has falsely boosted public perception. If the weather is as predicted, the passing game could struggle even more. On the other side, Philly knows their path to a win is running the ball, something that is nearly impossible to do against the Bucs front. However, the Eagles' alternatives are limited. Jalen Hurts won't hurt you with his arm and the weapons he has are below average at best. Philly has to do everything in their power to shorten the game by running the ball and playing into the weather. Does anyone see a shootout here? I certainly don't, so we'll take the under with this publicly inflated total.
Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5) (-114) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Laying big numbers with KC has been a losing proposition all year, but I simply don't see a path where Pittsburgh keeps this close. The Steelers are playing with house money, which is dangerous, but the offense is just so severely limited. Najee Harris is great, but he seems to have worn down towards the end of his rookie season, and who can blame him. He is solely responsible for any ground success running behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Ben Roethlisberger can't get the ball downfield, so defenses are basically able to defend the Steelers with a 10-yard field. KC isn't the juggernaut of years past, but they have figured things out defensively and Patrick Mahomes has adjusted to being content with what the defense has given him. Arrowhead Stadium is a very tough place to play, and the Chiefs took care of the Black and Gold by a score of 36-10 just 3 weeks ago. I see no barriers preventing that from happening again.
Jalen Hurts rushing yards (OVER 50.5) (-113)
I mentioned in the earlier blurb featuring this game that it is nearly impossible to run on Tampa. That's true…..for running backs. The Tampa D has actually struggled a bit against mobile QBs, including giving up over 100 yards rushing to Josh Allen earlier this year. As I said previously, Philly's only path to success in this game is shortening the number of possessions and clock by keeping the ball on the ground. Jalen Hurts gives them the best opportunity to do that, particularly against the fierce Tampa pass rush. The weather will likely contribute to Hurts' success on the ground as well, making him think twice about making throws with a slippery ball and taking off running instead.
Rob Gronkowski receiving yards (OVER 58.5) (-110)
Seems odd to recommend an over for receiving yards in a rainy and windy game, doesn't it? Well, the Bucs have to move the ball somehow and their strength is passing…..it isn't like Tom Brady is going to have zero yards passing just because it is rainy. And who is his main man in the short passing game, particularly in the playoffs? The Gronk. Philly is 31st in the league in defending the TE position, allowing a league-high 107 receptions to TEs this year. I see a big game for Gronk and, at some level, Cameron Brate. Both may be worth looks for reception and TD props as well.
Elijah Mitchell rushing yards (OVER 79.5) (-114)
As pointed out by Paul Charchian, when Elijah Mitchell is playing, he gets the rock. It doesn't matter if he's 100% or 70%, San Fran knows Mitchell gives them the best chance to establish their power running game. Said power running is the key to beating the Cowboys this week. The Dallas D has vastly improved this year, but the improvement has come by creating pressure and turnovers. Their kryptonite to that philosophy is a power running game, which is exactly what the Niners and Mitchell do best. George Kittle and Deebo Samuel force the Cowboys to be honest, which should open things up for Mitchell. San Fran is my choice to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and their road starts in Big D behind a big game from Mitchell.
Last week: 3-3, -0.15 units
The Bears. That is all.
Overall: 19-23, -5.16 units