Submitted by Wayne Root on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 7:00 AM
In the past, handicapping the NFL Playoffs was easy. You took the underdogs in the first weekend, because there wasn’t much difference between the worst division winners and the two Wildcards. Then, you went with favorites after that because the bye teams were fresh and playing on their home fields.
It’s not quite so simple any more. This year could prove particularly tricky because some of the divisional winners were just as good as the bye teams (the Rams, the Saints, and arguably the Jaguars since they own a road win over Pittsburgh). And, a few of the Wildcard teams have been inconsistent at best in recent weeks (Tennessee, Buffalo, and Carolina).
You regulars know that WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is THE KING OF UPSETS. I may have an upset call or two this weekend. I hope you won my New Year’s Day PINNACLE play on Central Florida, an outright winner as a double-digit underdog vs. Auburn. I also won that day with Notre Dame outright over LSU, and Alabama in a blowout of Clemson. I would have won Oklahoma in regulation, but suffered bad luck with an overtime dog loser. Still, a big weekend for my ROOT TRUST after the Tennessee Titans as a PINNACLE keyed a 3-2 Sunday in the NFL.
I’ll talk about Georgia/Alabama later this week. For now, let’s think about upset potential over Wildcard weekend.
Can these offenses score enough vs. the opposing defenses to win outright?
BUFFALO: tough call at Jacksonville
TENNESSEE: in poor form as they head to Kansas City
ATLANTA: Matt Ryan is capable of anything, including a big day in LA
CAROLINA: Cam Newton isn’t healthy, but makes things happen
That’s not an ideal set of dogs if you’re looking for teams who can “outscore” their opponents on offense. You’ll notice that I didn’t take Clemson vs. Alabama because I knew that dog had little hope of driving the field. Maybe there just isn’t a PINNACLE caliber NFL dog this weekend. I’d feel better about Atlanta if the QB was in sync with the offensive coordinator.
What about “defensive” dogs who can at least offer value to stay close?
BUFFALO: definitely, vs. Blake Bortles, the Bills can hang around
TENNESSEE: the Titans might need some help from the weather, though KC peaked early
ATLANTA: you don’t think of the Falcons that way, but it’s possible
CAROLINA definitely, though fatigue seems to be setting in
Could turn out that the Under is the way to think about Bills/Jaguars if you don’t believe in either quarterback. My sources back in New York will help me work through that one. It’s great to have the Bills back in the playoffs after so many years away! I’ll certainly be talking with my Hollywood connections about the Rams readiness for their game with the Falcons.
What about intangibles that could drive an “us against the world” mentality?
BUFFALO: definitely, have you seen all the fan celebration videos?!
TENNESSEE: not playing that way, and didn’t really shine in a must-win situation vs. Jax
ATLANTA: not usually something you’d associate with the defending conference champ
CAROLINA: maybe, given Cam Newton’s recent bad press
The best option for an “emotional” run would be Buffalo. As long as they didn’t waste all their energy celebrating their good fortune. Though, I’d rather the Bills “controlled their own destiny” rather than hoping Blake Bortles has a bad game.
What about any of this weekend’s teams as potential Cinderella’s to go the distance? A lot more promise there. New England is one bad game away from early elimination. Actually, if favorites win this weekend, we’ll have rematches from the AFC regular season that saw underdogs Kansas City and Jacksonville score upsets over New England and Pittsburgh. Though I’m no fan of Bortles, the Jacksonville defense can definitely match what Denver pulled off in Peyton Manning’s final championship run. Jacksonville is so dicey that they may survive as a vulnerable favorite to become a dangerous dog.
In the NFC, the #1 seed Eagles have turned into a longshot because they’ve played so badly lately! New Orleans or the Rams could definitely reach the Super Bowl without it being a big shock…and then could hang with the AFC champ. Atlanta just went last year. Carolina’s no stranger. Several Cinderella’s are on their way to try on slippers.
I can’t post my official ROOT TRUST selections here in an article. I can assure you that the only man in the sports betting industry with a star on the “Walk of Fame” here in Las Vegas will be taking full advantage of my resources the next few days to find the right bets.
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