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Cincinnati Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow on ‘voice rest’ after throat contusion, expected to play against the Detroit Lions

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Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is on “voice rest” following a throat injury that required a precautionary hospital visit, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Wednesday.

Burrow did not meet with the media for his weekly news conference. According to the team, the Bengals’ medical staff advised that the second-year player speak as little as possible after he went to the hospital Sunday to be evaluated for a throat contusion.

He is still expected to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

“Everything’s going good,” Taylor said. “We’re just limiting what he has to say and how he’s gotta use his voice through today.”

Taylor said Burrow participated fully in Wednesday’s walkthrough. He was taking the usual reps during the portion of the day’s practice open to the media.

Burrow was not required to stay at a local hospital for monitoring on Sunday night following the team’s 25-22 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers. Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase said he spoke with Burrow before he was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

On Wednesday, Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins said Burrow’s communication was not abnormal during the team’s walkthrough.

“He was the regular old Joe,” Higgins said.

Burrow, the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, has appeared in every game for the Bengals (3-2) since he suffered a season-ending knee injury that caused him to miss the final six games of his rookie season. Through five contests, Burrow has completed 71.7% of his passes for 1,269 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.

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NFL wild-card round playoff game picks, schedule guide, bold predictions, odds, injuries, matchup keys and more

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The NFL wild-card round for the 2021 season is stacked with great matchups, and we got you covered with what you need to know heading into the six-game weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the biggest keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score picks.

Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information provides a big stat to know and a betting nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. Matt Bowen picks out a key matchup to watch for every game, and Kevin Seifert tells us what to know about the officiating. Everything you want to know is here in one spot to help you get ready for a loaded weekend of NFL playoff football.

Let’s get into the full wild-card slate, including Joe Burrow and Derek Carr doing battle on Saturday to kick things off, the Patriots and Bills meeting for a third time, Tom Brady attempting to start yet another run to the Super Bowl against the Eagles, Nick Bosa and Micah Parsons facing off on Sunday afternoon and Ben Roethlisberger trying to keep, what could potentially be his final season, alive against the Chiefs. It all culminates with a Monday Night Football matchup between the Cardinals and the Rams on ESPN.

Jump to a matchup:
LV-CIN | NE-BUF | PHI-TB
SF-DAL | PIT-KC | ARI-LAR

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating:
46.3 | Spread: CIN -5.5 (48.5)

What to watch for: This game could be decided early. The Raiders need pass-rushers Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue to fluster Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who is currently in the best form of his young career. If Cincinnati goes up early and Burrow finds his rhythm, it could be a long day for a Raiders’ offense that was tied for 18th in yards per drive during their four-game win streak. Both teams will want this one badly; it’s the first playoff meeting in NFL history between teams who are each at least 18 years removed from their last postseason win, per the Elias Sports Bureau. — Ben Baby

Bold prediction: Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow will have more catches and more TDs than Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase, whose 1,455 receiving yards were the most by a rookie in the Super Bowl era. Weather will be a factor on Saturday, so the vertical passing game and Chase’s explosiveness could be negatively affected. But that plays into the midrange passing game in which Renfrow — who led Las Vegas in catches (103), receiving yards (1,038) and receiving TDs (9) — excels, especially as the security blanket for quarterback Derek Carr, who is not afraid to check it down. — Paul Gutierrez

Stat to know: Burrow led the NFL in completion percentage (70.4%) and yards per attempt (8.9) this season, the youngest player in NFL history ever to do both in the same season (25). However, he was also sacked 51 times, and of the previous 54 QBs sacked 50 times in a season, none reached the Super Bowl.

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Dan Orlovsky believes the Bengals might have trouble vs. the Raiders if Joe Burrow isn’t protected better by the offensive line.

Bowen’s game-plan key: Look for Bengals running back Joe Mixon to press the ball to the perimeter in what should be a high-volume day for him on Saturday. Read more on E+.

Injuries: Raiders | Bengals

What to know for officiating: This game will feature a matchup of the NFL’s least-penalized team against the third-most penalized team. The Raiders (142) were flagged nearly 70% more frequently than the Bengals (84), and Vegas offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood led the league in false starts (seven). Referee Jerome Boger received his second consecutive playoff assignment after going seven years without one, and his regular-season crew tied for No. 11 in the NFL with an average of 13.3 flags thrown per game. — Kevin Seifert

Betting nugget: Carr is 19-13 against the spread as an underdog over the past three seasons. Read more on E+.

Gutierrez’s pick: Raiders 20, Bengals 17
Baby’s pick: Bengals 31, Raiders 17
FPI prediction: CIN, 67.5% (by an average of 6.0 points)

Matchup must-reads: ‘Job’s not done’: Raiders’ Carr finally gets a playoff start, but wants moreBengals poised to end ‘Curse of Bo Jackson’Inside the chaos and weirdness of the 2021 Raiders season


Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
90.7 | Spread: BUF -4 (44)

What to watch for: Can Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen put on a performance like he did in New England a few weeks ago, or will his recent accuracy issues show up? In the last two games of the regular season, Allen completed 49.3% of passes. The Patriots, meanwhile, held opponents to the second-lowest completion percentage in the league this year, only behind the Bills. Plus, Allen has the second-worst completion percentage in freezing game temperatures over the past 15 seasons (50%), so his ability to put together a more complete game at home will go a long way in the outcome. — Alaina Getzenberg

Bold prediction: Brrrrrr. Here’s a bold prediction: They are going to run out of hot chocolate at Highmark Stadium, with temperatures projected to be around 0 degrees. The coldest game the Patriots ever played was a 17-14 home playoff win over the Titans on Jan. 10, 2004, when it was 4 degrees with a wind chill of minus-10. For the Bills, the coldest game in franchise history was Jan. 15, 1994 — a 29-23 playoff win over the Raiders when it was 0 degrees with a wind chill of minus-32. — Mike Reiss

Stat to know: Bills receiver Stefon Diggs has 15 catches for 233 yards and three touchdowns against Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson since 2020. Jackson has only allowed four touchdowns as the nearest defender to all other players combined over the past two seasons, per NFL’s Next Gen Stats.

Bowen’s game-plan key: In the Week 16 win over the Patriots, the Bills played man on 61% of coverage snaps against Patriots QB Mac Jones, while also using late rotation from the safeties. Jones was 14-of-32 for 145 yards and two interceptions. Read more on E+.

Injuries: Patriots | Bills

What to know for officiating: The Bills were the NFL’s fourth-most penalized team (139), led by offensive linemen tackle Dion Dawkins (nine) and Spencer Brown (eight). The Patriots ranked No. 8 (105). And referee Brad Allen’s regular season ranked No. 10 in the NFL with an average of 13.4 flags thrown per game. — Kevin Seifert

Betting nugget: Rookie quarterbacks are 0-6 outright in the postseason since 2010 (2-4 against the spread). The past three rookie QBs to reach the playoffs went 0-3 against the spread and outright. Read more on E+.

Reiss’ pick: Bills 20, Patriots 17
Getzenberg’s pick: Bills 17, Patriots 13
FPI prediction: BUF, 61.6% (by an average of 3.9 points)

Matchup must-reads: Is this Belichick’s best coaching job with the Patriots?Brothers Stefon and Trevon continue to push each other to further heightsJones’ play sparks questions about rookie wall as Patriots enter playoffsTop moments from the Patriots-Bills rivalryBills, Patriots enter their first playoff matchup in 58 years on different paths


Sunday, 1 p.m. ET | FOX
Matchup rating:
68.8 | Spread: TB -8.5 (46)

What to watch for: The Buccaneers have boasted the league’s top-ranked run defense the past two years but have looked vulnerable in that department the past two weeks, giving up over 100 yards on the ground in each of the last two regular-season games. Pay close attention to the perimeter, where Eagles running back Miles Sanders is dangerous with his lateral quickness. The Eagles average 6.0 yards per carry, and the Bucs have given up 4.6 yards a pop. They also had issues defending run-pass options last week, and coach Bruce Arians acknowledged that Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts “is a lot faster than Sam Darnold.” Much will depend on how much Tampa Bay can get out of defensive starters Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Lavonte David. — Jenna Laine

Bold prediction: It will take a late scoring drive by Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady for the Bucs to survive and advance. Sure, this is Hurts’ first playoff start and Brady’s 46th (Hurts was just three years old when Brady made his postseason debut during the 2001 season). And yes, the defending champion Bucs are heavy favorites. But Tampa Bay doesn’t have the same firepower on offense as it did in a Week 6 win over Philly, while the Eagles have established a new run-heavy identity (league-high 159.7 rush yards per game). The underdog Eagles will play loose, physical and inspired football and put a scare into the GOAT. — Tim McManus

Stat to know: According to ESPN tracking, Brady was pressured on 16.8% of his dropbacks this season, his lowest since 2011, and has averaged 2.5 seconds from snap to release. The Eagles have blitzed 19% of the time (lowest in the NFL), sacked opponents 4.5% of the time (third-worst) and pressured opponents 27% of the time (seventh-worst).

Bowen’s game-plan key: The Buccaneers have been Cover 3-heavy this season (31.2% of coverage snaps), but will they match up in passing situations or use a linebacker to re-route Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert — who has five or more receptions in four of his past six games — at the line of scrimmage? Read more on E+.

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Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth break down whether the Eagles have any advantage against the Buccaneers in Sunday’s wild-card matchup.

Injuries: Eagles | Buccaneers

What to know for officiating: Referee Craig Wrolstad, whose regular-season crew ranked No. 9 in the NFL with 13.8 flags thrown per game, received his first playoff appearance in five years here. Roughing the passer flags are generally thrown by the referee, and Wrolstad tied for the league’s second-most such calls (12). The Eagles and Buccaneers, however, were only called for three roughing flags apiece during the season. — Kevin Seifert

Betting nugget: Philadelphia is 10-1 against the spread as a postseason underdog since 2001 (6-5 outright), and it covered in five of its past six playoff games. Read more on E+.

McManus’ pick: Buccaneers 31, Eagles 30
Laine’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Eagles 26
FPI prediction: TB, 77.4% (by an average of 9.9 points)

Matchup must-reads: What makes Eagles quarterback Hurts tick? ‘He wants to be so perfect’Sherman put on injured reserve, shifts focus to ‘coaching butt off’ for BuccaneersBrady revisits snub of Foles’ handshake ahead of rematch vs. Eagles, says ‘I try to be a good sport’


Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating:
79.5 | Spread: DAL -3 (51)

What to watch for: These storied rivals are meeting in the postseason for the first time since the 1994 NFC Championship — and for the first time in the wild-card round. The Cowboys own a 5-2 advantage in postseason meetings against San Francisco and are 3-0 in wild-card games at AT&T Stadium. They can’t allow the Niners’ run game to control the tempo of the contest and need big plays on offense. San Francisco allowed 51 pass plays of 20 yards or more during the regular season. — Todd Archer

Bold prediction: San Francisco receiver Deebo Samuel will remind everyone that he’s the NFL’s most dangerous multipurpose weapon, going for 200-plus yards from scrimmage. The Cowboys secondary is giving up 6.3 yards after catch per reception this season, second-most in the NFL, while Samuel is first in the league in gaining those yards (10.0). Add in Samuel’s ability to create havoc from the backfield against a Dallas defense susceptible to the run (especially on the perimeter), and Samuel is well-positioned for a big day. — Nick Wagoner

Stat to know: Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is 7-0 when he doesn’t throw an interception this season and 2-6 when he does. Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs led the NFL with 11 interceptions, which was the most by any player since Everson Walls (11) in 1981.

Bowen’s game-plan key: Watch for Dallas to manipulate zone looks by overloading them and creating boundary voids. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott posted 30 explosive play throws against zone coverages during the regular season. Read more on E+.

Injuries: 49ers | Cowboys

What to know for officiating: Alex Kemp will be the referee in his second playoff game, and his regular-season crew ranked No. 8 in the NFL with an average of 14.4 flags thrown per game. He could have his hands full with the Cowboys, who were the league’s most penalized team with 153 flags — 10 more than the next-closest team. Among other players, guard Connor Williams led the league in holding calls (13) and was second overall with 15 total penalties. Cornerback Trevon Diggs had 11 total penalties. — Kevin Seifert

Betting nugget: Dallas was 10-3 against the spread as a favorite this season, the best cover percentage in those spots in the NFL. It also went 6-3 against the spread against teams with winning records this season, best among teams playing this weekend. Read more on E+.

Wagoner’s pick: 49ers 30, Cowboys 21
Archer’s pick: Cowboys 31, 49ers 27
FPI prediction: DAL, 64.0% (by an average of 4.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Why the blocks of 49ers tackle Williams went viralBrothers Stefon and Trevon continue to push each other to further heightsGaroppolo ‘could have easily tapped out,’ instead he ‘stepped up’Can Cowboys’ Parsons follow Kearse’s footsteps all the way to the Super Bowl?


Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating:
61.1 | Spread: KC -13 (46)

What to watch for: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a career QBR of 91.9 against the Steelers, higher than against any other opponent. Sure, it’s only two games, including one in 2018. But if the Steelers allow Mahomes to do as he pleases — he has nine TD passes with zero interceptions in the two games — Pittsburgh’s path to victory appears non-existent. The Steelers have lost three straight playoff games, giving up an average of 43.0 points in those games. — Adam Teicher

Bold prediction: The Steelers will make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. They got blown out in the regular-season meeting three weeks ago and trailed 23-0 at halftime. This time around, though, the Steelers are playing with house money. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger even said his club probably shouldn’t be in the playoffs and that they’re 14th out of the 14 teams in the playoffs. But even when they can’t get off to a fast start, the Steelers have had success in second-half surges. The Chiefs have more talent, but the Steelers have the momentum after two straight wins and will make this game closer than it should be. — Brooke Pryor

Stat to know: Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris had 1,200 rushing yards this season — a team rookie record — and at least 90 rushing yards in three of his past five games after doing so three total times in the first 12 games of season.

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Louis Riddick breaks down the keys to success for the Steelers to upset the Chiefs on wild-card weekend.

Bowen’s game-plan key: Look for the Chiefs to get tight end Travis Kelce involved a lot, using flood concepts and over routes. Read more on E+.

Injuries: Steelers | Chiefs

What to know for officiating: Two Steelers — receiver Dionte Johnson and offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor — tied for second in the league in false starts (six), but Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones tied for third in the NFL with a total of seven defensive offsides, encroachment or neutral zone infractions. And the Steelers might want to target Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who tied for second in the NFL with five defensive pass interference penalties. Referee Shawn Smith’s regular-season crew tied for No. 11 in the NFL with an average of 13.3 flags thrown per game. — Kevin Seifert

Betting nugget: Ten of Kansas City’s 17 games this season went over the total, tied for the second-highest over percentage in the NFL this season. But only six of Pittsburgh’s games went over the total. Read more on E+.

Pryor’s pick: Chiefs 31, Steelers 24
Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 26, Steelers 16
FPI prediction: KC, 75.9% (by an average of 9.3 points)

Matchup must-reads: Steelers open 21-day window for Smith-Schuster to return from injured reserveSteadiness of Reid righted the Chiefs’ seasonRoethlisberger on Steelers’ long odds against Chiefs: ‘Let’s just go in and play and have fun’Chiefs have dominated first quarters, but after that ‘they’re stalling out’


Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN/ABC
Matchup rating:
83.3 | Spread: LAR -4 (49.5)

What to watch for: The Rams and Cardinals split the regular-season series, each winning on the road. The Cardinals dominated in Week 4 with a 37-20 win, enabled by a flawless Kyler Murray performance and their defense forcing two turnovers that were converted into touchdowns. In Week 14, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald wreaked havoc for Murray when he turned in a three-sack outing. So what can be expected in the rubber match? The Cardinals played their best on the road (8-1), while the Rams are coming off a disheartening loss in the regular-season finale and are intent on proving they can not only move on but also remain a Super Bowl-caliber team. Watch for Murray and Matthew Stafford to enter a quarterback dual, with the one who produces the fewest errors advancing to the divisional round. — Lindsey Thiry

Bold prediction: All signs point to Arizona defensive lineman J.J. Watt returning from shoulder surgery for Monday night’s game, and with him will come a major boost for the Cardinals’ defense. He will get two sacks and a fumble recovery to spark the Cardinals into the divisional round with another road win. Arizona’s defense was generating pressure on 31% of opponent dropbacks before Watt’s Week 7 injury, but that dropped to 23% without him over the rest of the regular season. — Josh Weinfuss

Stat to know: Rams running back Sony Michel has 554 rushing yards since Week 12, the third-most in the NFL over that span behind Rashaad Penny and Jonathan Taylor. But on the other sideline, Cardinals running back James Conner scored 18 touchdowns this season, the NFL’s third-most this season.

Bowen’s game-plan key: Can Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury use play designs to get receiver Christian Kirk loose on the deep corners and crossers? Kirk had three receptions for 86 yards in the last meeting with the L.A. defense. Read more on E+.

Injuries: Cardinals | Rams

What to know for officiating: Clay Martin will be appearing in his second playoff game as a referee, and his regular-season crew ranked No. 13 in the NFL with an average of 12.9 flags thrown per game. The Rams finished the season with the NFL’s third-fewest flags (92), while the Cardinals ranked No. 24 with 120. Offensive lineman Josh Jones led the Cardinals will 12 total flags, including five false starts and four holds. — Kevin Seifert

Betting nugget: Four of the past five meetings between these two teams have gone over the total. Read more on E+.

Weinfuss’ pick: Cardinals 34, Rams 24
Thiry’s pick: Rams 28, Cardinals 21
FPI prediction: LAR, 58.0% (by an average of 2.7 points)

Matchup must-reads: Is Murray the best QB from Texas?Safety Weddle unretires, joins Rams for playoffsKingsbury expects Murray to play ‘best game of his career’Rams’ NFC West title spoiled by another bitter loss to 49ers

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NFL wild-card betting nuggets – Tom Brady’s history against the NFC East

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In the regular season, underdogs (53%) and unders (52%) were both profitable. Recently in wild-card weekend, both have been successful. Underdogs are 15-3 ATS in wild-card games over the past four seasons, and since divisional realignment in 2002, unders have come through 60% of the time.

This weekend likely features the biggest underdog in the history of wild-card weekend with the Kansas City Chiefs favored over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh has not been this big of an underdog since Super Bowl XXX in 1995. History is against the Steelers, as double-digit home favorites are 7-0 ATS in the wild-card round.

This week also features two divisional rematches as the New England Patriots visit the Buffalo Bills and the Arizona Cardinals face the Los Angeles Rams. Since 2014, underdogs are 7-0 ATS in divisional rematches in the postseason (5-2 outright). Arizona was 6-0 outright as an underdog in the regular season, the best mark in the Super Bowl era.

Regular-season stats

Favorites: 126-140-3 ATS (.474); 169-99-1 SU

Home teams: 129-140-3 ATS (.480); 140-131-1 SU

Unders: 144-125-3 (.535) this season


Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5), Saturday, 4:30 ET

  • Las Vegas was 8-9 ATS this season (9-8 unders). Cincinnati was 10-7 ATS (8-8-1 over/unders).

  • Derek Carr is 19-13 ATS as an underdog over the past three seasons.

  • Las Vegas is 6-1 ATS and 5-2 outright in its past seven games as an underdog of at least five points (since Week 5 of last season).

  • Cincinnati has covered five straight and 10 of its past 12 games against Las Vegas. When these two teams faced off in November, Cincinnati won and covered as two-point favorites, 32-13.

  • Cincinnati has covered three straight games as an underdog (2-1 SU).

  • Cincinnati has lost eight straight playoff games (1-7 ATS) with its last win coming back in 1990. Cincinnati scored 17 or fewer points in each game.

  • Since 2017, teams favored by at least five points in the wild-card round are 1-10 ATS and 5-6 outright.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-4), Saturday, 8:15 ET

  • Bill Belichick is 55-29-1 ATS as an underdog with the Patriots, including the playoffs. Belichick is also 5-2 ATS as an underdog against Buffalo.

  • Bill Belichick is 32-18 ATS with less than six days to prepare as New England’s head coach including playoffs. He is 13-2 ATS in that spot since 2016, though he lost outright as a favorite in his last playoff game in that spot (2019 wild-card game vs. Tennessee).

  • New England had a cover margin of +6.18 points per game this season, the best mark in the NFL this season.

  • New England is 8-3 ATS in its past 11 games and 6-2 ATS in its past eight games as a favorite.

  • Bill Belichick is 5-2 ATS with New England as an underdog against Buffalo.

  • Buffalo is favored against New England for the fourth time in their past five meetings after being favored in just one game across their previous 33 meetings.

  • Buffalo is 3-0-1 ATS across its past four games.

  • Rookie quarterbacks are 0-6 outright in the postseason since 2010 (2-4 ATS). The past three rookie quarterbacks to reach the postseason went 0-3 ATS and outright (since 2016).

  • Since 2014, underdogs are 7-0 ATS in divisional rematches in the postseason (5-2 outright).

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9), Sunday, 1 ET

  • Philadelphia was 8-8-1 ATS this season (10-7 overs). Tampa Bay was 9-8 ATS this season (9-8 overs).

  • Philadelphia is 2-6 ATS against teams with winning records this season (1-7 outright).

  • Since 2001, Philadelphia is 10-1 ATS as a postseason underdog (6-5 outright). Philadelphia has covered in five of its past six playoff games.

  • Tampa Bay is 6-1 ATS in its past seven home games.

  • Tom Brady has covered three straight and six of his past nine playoff games.

  • Tom Brady is 0-5 ATS (2-3 outright) against NFC East opponents in the playoffs.

  • Tom Brady is 2-3 ATS in the wild-card round, including 0-3 ATS in his past three wild-card games (2009, 2019, 2020).

  • Since 2017, teams favored by at least five points in the wild-card round are 1-10 ATS and 5-6 outright.

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys (-3), Sunday, 4:30 ET

  • Dallas is 10-3 ATS (10-3 SU) as a favorite this season, the best cover percentage in the NFL (min. 2 games as favorite).

  • Jimmy Garoppolo is 13-4 ATS in his career as an underdog (12-5 outright) including playoffs.

  • San Francisco is 2-1 outright and ATS as an underdog this season.

  • San Francisco went 7-2 ATS from Week 10 on, tied for the best cover percentage in the NFL over that span.

  • Over the past three seasons, San Francisco is 10-7 (fourth best in NFL) outright and 12-5 ATS (second best in NFL) as an underdog.

  • Mike McCarthy is 11-6-1 ATS in his postseason career, all with Green Bay. He is 4-1-1 ATS in the wild-card round. However, he is 0-5 outright and 2-2-1 ATS against NFC West opponents.

  • Dallas had a cover margin of +5.94 points per game this season, the second-best cover margin in the NFL this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5), Sunday, 8:15 ET

  • The largest spread ever in a wild-card game is 11.5 points. Double-digit favorites are 7-1 outright and ATS in the wild-card round, with double-digit home favorites going 7-0 outright and ATS.

  • Ben Roethlisberger has never been an underdog of 11 or more points in his career. Roethlisberger has been a double-digit underdog just twice, going 0-2 ATS in those games. One of those instances came in Week 16 at home against Kansas City (+10, lost by 26).

  • Pittsburgh has not been at least an 11-point underdog since Super Bowl XXX in the 1995 season against Dallas (+13.5, lost by 10). The next-longest span without being at least an 11-point underdog belongs to Baltimore (2007).

  • There have been four 12-point upsets in the Super Bowl era. The last upset this large was in Super Bowl XLII in 2007 (New York Giants upset New England as 12.5-point underdogs).

  • Ten of Kansas City’s 17 games this season have gone over the total, tied for the second-highest over percentage in the NFL this season.

  • Kansas City went 5-1 outright and ATS against teams with winning records from Week 10 on, the best in the NFL among wild-card teams.

  • This is the second time in Patrick Mahomes’ career that he has been a double-digit favorite in the playoffs (1-0 ATS). He is 6-9 ATS as a double-digit favorite in his career during the regular season.

  • Ben Roethlisberger is 3-1-1 ATS as a road underdog in the playoffs.

  • Since 2017, teams favored by at least five points in the wild-card round are 1-10 ATS and 5-6 outright.

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4), Monday, 8:15 ET on ESPN

  • Arizona is 6-0 ATS and outright as an underdog this season. That is the most outright wins as an underdog in a single season without a loss in the Super Bowl era.

  • Teams to go 2-0 ATS or better as underdogs during the regular season are 15-25-1 as underdogs in the postseason (Arizona: 6-0 ATS as underdog).

  • Arizona was 8-1 outright and ATS on the road this season.

  • Sean McVay is 9-1 ATS against Arizona and 5-1 ATS against Kliff Kingsbury. Los Angeles was favored in all but one of those games (underdogs in past meeting in Week 14).

  • Sean McVay is 17-8-1 ATS with at least seven days between games. Kliff Kingsbury is 8-5 ATS with at least seven days between games (7-2 ATS as underdog).

  • Four of the past five meetings between these two teams have gone over the total.

  • Since 2014, underdogs are 7-0 ATS in divisional rematches in the postseason (5-2 outright).

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From Tua Tagovailoa to Xavien Howard, big decisions await new Dolphins coach – Miami Dolphins Blog

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MIAMI — After firing Brian Flores on Monday, the Miami Dolphins are one of eight teams in the market for a new head coach this offseason.

Under owner Stephen Ross, the Dolphins have employed four head coaches, none of whom had held that position before. When asked about his hiring plans, Ross shot down the notion that he wants to hire current University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh but was noncommittal about whether he prefers an experienced head coach or another upstart assistant.

“You know, certainly having the experience always helps,” Ross said. “But if we find somebody that’s exceptional, that’s been a coordinator or some other position in football, I strongly will look at that very seriously. Our mind is open.”

No matter who stalks the sideline for the Dolphins next season, there are several big moves that need to be made between now and September.

Howard, a cornerback with a combined 15 interceptions over the past two seasons, is the Dolphins’ best player and there’s not much argument against it. He requested a trade last offseason before the team reworked his contract to give him more money in 2021, but if he’s not satisfied with his contract it’s in Miami’s best interest to work things out with him again.

Asked before the season finale how he feels about his future with the organization, Howard said: “Until somebody says something, I’m a Miami Dolphin.”

Byron Jones will have the third-highest base salary ($14.4 million) of any cornerback in the NFL next season according to Spotrac and gives Miami a good starter to anchor the secondary if it can’t keep Howard, but the team’s new coach must decide just how important Howard, a three-time Pro Bowler, is to his defensive scheme.

The same logic goes for Ogbah, a defensive end who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and has 18 sacks in two seasons with the Dolphins. Spotrac estimates his market value at $10 million a year, which the Dolphins can easily afford with roughly $70 million in salary-cap space.

Gesicki, a tight end, seems like a no-brainer to keep as the second best pass-catching option on an offense starving for playmakers behind rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle (104 catches). Gesicki’s production slowed a bit down the stretch, but he still recorded career highs in receptions (73), targets (112) and receiving yards (780) in 2021.

Miami could also turn to Durham Smythe, who is an unrestricted free agent and would come at a much lower price point, or see what it has in 2021 third-round pick Hunter Long. But Gesicki is the best option of the three and pass-catchers are at a premium on this roster.

Figure out an offensive identity

It begins with putting together an offensive staff. This was Flores’ Achilles’ heel during his three-year tenure as he had four offensive coordinators, four offensive line coaches and three quarterback coaches. The coaching turnover contributed to offense ranked 27th overall (’19), 22nd (’20) and 25th (’21), respectively.

If Ross and general manager Chris Grier hire an offensive-minded head coach, that task gets a little easier. If they opt for someone with a defensive background, that coach must hire someone experienced as an offensive coordinator. Miami’s defense, which ranked 15th overall after dominating down the stretch, is playoff-caliber. The other side of the ball needs to catch up while the window is open.

From there, Miami’s new coach must work with Grier to add an influx of talent on offense.

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Paul Finebaum and Keyshawn Johnson break down why the Dolphins will move on from Tua Tagovailoa if a better option at quarterback comes up.

Ross insisted that Tagovailoa “played no role” in his decision to fire Flores, but made an interesting comment when asked what he expects from Miami’s next coach.

“I have a lot of confidence in Tua and I think you know, the next head coach will work with him or whoever else,” Ross said. “But I have a lot of confidence in [Tagovailoa]. I watched him grow. I think he’s a fine young man and he is right now the quarterback and that will be dependent upon the new head coach.”

Right now.

Seems like a hollow endorsement for the former No. 5 overall pick. Tagovailoa’s 2021 season was inconsistent — he was 7-5 as a starter with 16 TD passes and 10 interceptions — and marred by injuries, but he flashed enough to warrant another year of evaluation. The Dolphins’ new coach must figure out if Tagovailoa fits into his future plans.

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