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Lines by DraftKings as 01-22-22 9:00 AM
Many believe this is the most exciting week of NFL football: Divisional playoff round two. Eight teams left, and the pretenders got eliminated in the first round. This year the NFL expanded playoff-eligible teams to seven per conference, adding one each, from the traditional two wild card entrants. While it was fun to watch in the final several weeks of the regular season, the extra teams diluted the playoffs. Both seven seeds (Eagles and Steelers) got pummeled on the road and did not belong in the dance. Week one saw every home team win except Dallas, and now only one of the six Wild Card teams remain: the ‘Niners. Home cooking at this stage is real.
The big game this week is supposed to be Bills at Chiefs. The mainstream sports press is billing it as the “real AFC championship game,” totally disrespecting Tennessee, which earned the top seed with half a team most of the season and beat both the Chiefs and the Bills in the regular season.
The proverbial chip on the Titans’ shoulder remains intact. In the words of legendary NFL coach Tom Coughlin, “Talk is cheap. Play the game.”
Let’s throw in Big Tuna: “You are what your record says you are.”
My youngest son Joe and I are in Nashville today for the Titans-Bengals game. We are ready.
Speaking of sons, my oldest son Jack, English literature teacher and J.V. men’s head basketball coach and assistant men’s varsity coach is 4-0 in conference play with his team: West Tallahatchie High School in Mississippi’s Delta region. They trounced a crosstown rival last night at home while missing their best player. I asked him on Thursday night how it would affect Friday’s game, and what changes he planned to make to compensate. His response was classic: “None. Dad, I coach to the team, not a player. If we can field a team, we can win.” Classic! Go Choctaws!
Taking no prisoners, I was 4-2 ATS last week, making my readers money yet once again. I am like an ATM machine!
That brought my regular-season + playoff record to 102-78-2 (ATS). That’s 24 games over .500. My goal is +25 so we are one week away!
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Bengals at Titans (-3.5)
Do you really want to play this team at home with all their players finally back after a nightmare season where the Titans set a record with 90+ roster players? Tennessee gets no respect, which is the moniker they use in the locker room. And guess what? The Beast is back, with a no-snap limit. The first 10+ yard run Derrick Henry breaks will bring the house down. Meanwhile, as good as Cincinnati looked last week early in the game, remember they defeated an exhausted Raiders team at home. As drained as the Raiders were, they were one eight-yard touchdown pass away from overtime (or winning if they went for and made the two-point conversion). Derrick Carr lit the Bengals secondary up like a Christmas pinball machine. Add in the fact the Bengals’ offensive line is a spaghetti strainer and the Titans have a fierce pass rush and this points to a home cooking win. The Titans have 35 sacks and 153 QB pressures, both second in the NFL. And they don’t blitz much (18%) which means no single coverage for Chase. This is the first game where the Titans have a full roster. A week off was a Godsend for a team wracked with injuries to key players all season. Nissan Stadium is sold out for the first time in 20 years. In fact, Titan’s executives limited the number of game tickets Bengals fans could buy in an unprecedented move manipulating Ticketmaster. It’s time.
Pick: Titans -3.5
San Fran at Pack (-5.5)
It’s over, Jimmy Jesus. This is not your Dan Devine Packers. Aaron Rodgers is lights out, and the fact he blasted Joe Biden #FJB yesterday makes him the enemy of the Woke. LOL, the Packers QB basically told Biden he couldn’t do a simple presser, and then mocked how he ever got 81 million votes. He didn’t. And Rodgers knows it. Look, playing in Green Bay at Lambeau Field on a Saturday night is a horror show. Temperature is 10 above zero at kickoff. The Packers are a complete team, with a Super Bowl defense. While the ‘Niners have been solid down the stretch, this is a tough draw. Here’s my philosophy on dogs on the road, which has served me well over the years. If you actually think the team can win, take the points. If you are taking the points in the hopes of getting a late garbage touchdown to cover, kiss your money goodbye. I don’t envision a scenario where San Fran wins this game. So lay the points. Pick: Pack -5.5
Rams at Bucs (-2.5)
Tom Brady at home is money. You saw how he sliced and diced a really good Eagles defense last week. He turned it into a mismatch of sorts, playing catch. The Rams belted a hapless and over-rated Cardinals bozo show last week at home, big deal. Yawn. The Rams are short-handed in their secondary, look for Brady to go to Gronk over the middle a bunch, then open up the sidelines. Plus the Bucs can run the ball. This is basically a Brady bet. He’s at home, he’s got a defense that almost pitched a shutout against the Eagles and he’s playing a team that showed itself vulnerable at the corners. Also watch Bucs wideout Mike Evans who’ll be matched up against Rams corner Jake Ramsay, their one secondary standout. Evans lit up the Rams the last two games but Ramsay played the other side. If Evans goes berserk, the double coverage starts, giving the old master more single coverage options. Pick: Bucs -2.5
Bills at Chiefs (-1.5)
This game opened at KC -3 on Monday night and steadily dwindled to 1.5. All the public money is riding the Bills bandwagon. Why not? Josh Allen is an entire offense unto himself. Last week the Bills played the immaculate possession game. Seven possessions, seven touchdowns, without one-third down and long over five yards. The Pats looked sick. What’s worse, they started arm tackling early in the second quarter, and spit the bit. It was a quitters convention in Buffalo by the Pats’ so-called defense. So England was a phony entrant, playing in the AFC East, where four of their wins came against the Jets, Jags, and Texans. Now the Bills travel to Arrowhead. Was last week an anomaly or was that the Bills team that many were waiting for? Who knows?
Here is what we do know: the Chiefs are at home. The public dumped the kitchen sink on the Bills, and the public buys Las Vegas hotel operators bigger and bigger hotels on the strip. Everybody is picking the Bills. Except me. Chiefs find a way. It won’t be pretty, but this isn’t Buffalo and this isn’t the phony Pats. Pick: Chiefs -1.5
Take out the vintage boots: in honor of Bum Phillips, the greatest Oilers coach ever, second only to the iconic Sid Gillman who once told his hapless Oilers players who were complaining about his relentless practices and no pansy-ass philosophy: “I’ll issue a license to hate me in order to win.”
Old school. This game is for you, Sid and Bum. Love ya Blue.
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John Fredericks is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Virginia Star. He is also the host of The John Fredericks Show weekdays on NewsTalk WJFN 100.5 FM and 820 AM.
Photo “Tom Brady” by All-Pro Reels. CC BY 2.0.