NFL Football Wild Card Round Preview 2023. When it was obvious that the Eagles weren’t going to pull off a win against the Giants, coach Sirianni sat some starters, including an injured Jalen Hurts, who hurt the middle finger of his throwing hand jamming it against a Giants rusher. That’s the second lowly team they’ve been beaten by in so many weeks. They are only the second team since 1966 to start the season 10-1 and not win the division. You can see why they’re only 2.5-point favorites against the Buccaneers.
But at least the Eagles got in. The Jaguars were supposed to have an easy time against the Titans, except they were beaten 28-20. Because they lost, they are out of the playoffs, which meant the Steelers got in.
The 49ers already clinched the NFC, so they sat their starters against the Rams. But it was still a big win for the Rams, who haven’t won against San Francisco in regular season play in over five years.
Those were just some of the surprises from Week 18. Be prepared as a bookie for any unexpected outcomes this weekend by using your limits and layoff accounts whenever necessary. The playoffs get even crazier.
Saturday, January 13
- Cleveland Browns (-2.5, 43.5) at Houston Texans
- Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5, 43.5)
Sunday, January 14
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-9.5, 38.5)
- Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5, 49.5)
- Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions (-3, 51.5)
Monday, January 15
- Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5, 44.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
The Browns are in the playoffs for the second time in 20 years, and it only took five quarterbacks to get there. We’re all wondering how well Joe Flacco will play in the post-season, but the bigger question will be C.J. Stroud’s performance. Rookie quarterbacks almost always struggle in the playoffs. Since 2012, rookies are 4-11 in the postseason, with two of those wins coming from games with rookie quarterbacks on both teams. The other two were Brock Purdy.
Cleveland has the most turnovers in the NFL (37), but their defense has forced the sixth-most turnovers (28). Their defense is one of the best in the league, but on the road, they allow an NFL-high 29.4 points. That’s more than double the points they allow at home (13.9).
Houston has been great against the run but struggles against the pass. Stroud has 17 touchdowns at home versus only six on the road.
Having this game in Houston is playing to the Texans’ strengths and the Browns’ weaknesses, but Cleveland is still the favorite.
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have won the AFC West for the eighth time in a row. Surprisingly, it was the defense that shone this year, not so much the offense, which led the NFL in dropped passes and was near the top for offensive penalties and turnovers. Whether they can fix this will be a significant factor in their movement in the playoffs.
Miami’s offense was explosive all year, but they only beat a winning team once. Running back Raheem Mostert and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle missed the Buffalo game with injuries and are questionable for this game. They also lost offense linebacker Bradley Chubb to a torn ACL in Week 17.
With Miami’s injuries, little experience in the playoffs, and their inability to beat winning teams, I would keep my limits in for this one.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
The Steelers got past the Ravens as expected but got lucky when Jacksonville couldn’t get past the Titans. Now they must face the Bills, who finally got their mojo back. Pittsburgh has its third starting quarterback this year, but Mason Rudolph is a keeper. He’s won the season’s last three games with deep passes that also open up their running game.
In Weeks 16 and 17, the Steelers’ offense scored over 30 points, which they haven’t done since the 2020 season. Their worries are that their defense, which was the team’s strength, is now riddled with injuries. Can Rudolph keep his streak going?
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