Inquirer handicapper Vegas Vic looks at the NFL’s wild-card weekend and has faith in Carson Wentz, is skeptical of the Saints, and expects a big effort from the Texans. But for his best bet, he’s heading up to Boston and dancing with the GOAT.
Here are Vic’s thoughts on the weekend’s four games along with staff picks and the season’s win-loss records.
Just about every metric you look at favors Buffalo. Seems like the entire world is on the Bills. And why not? The Buffs enjoyed a gorgeous 7-1-1 mark in their last nine road games, and Houston covered only one of the last eight as a home favorite.
Everyone is in love with Buffalo QB Josh Allen and the two-headed rushing attack of Frank Gore and Devin Singletary. OK, understood, but here’s my argument. Deshaun Watson is still as dangerous as any quarterback in the league. The Texans have a pretty sweet rushing attack of their own with Carlos Hyde gobbling up 1,070 yards on 245 runs for an average of almost 4.5 yards per pop.
Then we looked at Houston’s last three losses and found a common thread. (Throw out last week’s 35-14 loss because the stars sat on the bench.) The Texans posted a huge win over the Chiefs in Week 6, then lost to Indy the next week. Totally flat, understandable. They were crushed by the Ravens — the BEST team in the NFL — in Week 11. Understandable. They put it all on the field in a win against the Patriots in Week 13, then lost to the Broncos. Also somewhat understandable.
Watson WILL be ready after losing his first playoff game last season to the Colts. Allen is playing in his first postseason game. Like that yin and yang, so we’re gonna roll with home cooking.
Don’t like Tom Brady. Don’t like Bill Belichick. Don’t like anything within 100 miles of Boston, but still gotta roll with the GOAT. It even pains me to type GOAT when talking about Tommy Terrific, but it’s impossible to deny. And now we have the GOAT vs. Ryan Tannehill at ONLY -5.
Are you kidding me? Ryan T. has never started a playoff game, while TB-12 is 30-10 with SIX rings. Did a little Tannehill research from his years with the Dolphins, and guess what, he was brutal up at the Razor Blade, Gillette Stadium, with an 0-6 mark, and lost by an average of 22 points. Just because he has a different uni on, don’t think it’ll change. Not at Foxborough, where New England is working on its own perfecto, a spotless 8-0 record at home in the first game of the playoffs the last eight years.
Heard all the chatter about Tommy B. now slipping badly, the bum elbow, and the lack of weapons, but I’m on Brady even if he has to throw with his freakin’ left hand. Let’s call this the weekend’s best bet, baby!
Leaning to Captain Kirk and the Purple People, but gotta see if Dalvin Cook is gonna play. He’s listed as probable, but you know how NFL coaches love to lie. If Cook is a go, we’re on Minnesota, light.
Love Drew Brees, love Michael Thomas and the rest of the offense, but let’s dig a little deeper. Most folks are looking at last week, when the Saints crushed the Panthers, 42-14, and the Vikings lost to the Bears, 21-19. Not a big surprise. Carolina was atrocious and Minny rested Cousins and most of the key starters.
Then we dissected New Orleans’ past performances, and noticed a little gem. Sure, the Saints were 13-5, posting wins against teams such as the Bucs (twice), Jacksonville, Chicago, Arizona, and Atlanta (twice). Note the common thread. All losers, except the Bears at 8-8!
In games against teams with winning records, Drew and crew beat the Texans, 30-28, no cover; lost to the Rams, 27-9; beat Seattle by only five (33-27); squeezed past Dallas by just two (12-10); and lost to the 49ers, 48-46.
Saints march into the next round, but it will be tight.
All you hear about are injuries. Man, everyone is hurting, both sides.
Seattle’s injury list is at least as long as the Birds'. The Seahawks lost their top two running backs and had to bring back “Beast Mode,” Marshawn Lynch. I love Skittles as much as anyone, but c’mon, the guy’s been on the party circuit for the last year and a half.
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Sadly, my main man, my prop money machine, Zach Ertz, is on the availability bubble. Zach paid for my Airbnb at Pebble Beach over the New Year with all the overs on total receptions. But Carson Wentz still has some weapons. Like Miles Sanders, whose ankle appears to be trending in the right direction. All the SandMan did was lead all rookies in yards from scrimmage, and if he’s a go, that would be crucial.
The Green closed the season with a 4-0 flourish, while Seattle dropped three of its last four. And, of course, we’re talking revenge.
The 'Hawks squeezed out a 17-9 win over the Birds at the Linc back on Nov. 24. But they sacked Russell Wilson six times, and held him to 200 passing yards. Wentz was 33-for-45 for 256 yards, but the two INTs and two fumbles were killer. This is Carson’s first crack at the playoffs. He will be ready, and, he WILL take care of the ball.