Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Free NFL Pick: Over
Best Lines: Pinnacle
This a swift turnaround rematch from just 15 days ago that Baltimore won 22-10 on the road. How might that contest impact this wild-card playoff game? While we don’t know what each team will do for sure, it is not impossible to surmise what changes will be made and how that might not only impact the outcome but the total for your NFL picks.
This season, Baltimore’s stop troops were No. 1 in total defense (292.9), No. 2 in points allowed (17.9) and No. 5 in pass defense (209.9). In just three games did the Ravens allow a passer to throw for 300 or more yards, and that was against Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield (twice). In each instance, their teams’ game plan was to throw outside the numbers immediately and let the receiver make a play and later come back and work the tight end over the middle 10-20 yards between the hash marks, while blending in the running game.
The Chargers did not deploy this method and Philip Rivers was sacked four times and hurried on numerous other occasions. Rivers is a rhythm passer. If he gets the ball out of his hand quickly, the Bolts score at least 20 points.
For all the accolades the Chargers were receiving as the AFC’s most complete team before losing to the Ravens, skip their Week 17 outcome against an inept Denver offense (9 points) and L.A. had conceded 101 points in their previous four contests. Granted, they did face Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Baltimore, yet, this included the Jeff Driskel-led Bengals, who scored 21 points. With the total at 41, do Chargers keep the Ravens below 20 points?
Let’s side with the “over” on the total of 41, with Baltimore 11-3 “over” after playing a game at home and the average total score of a Chargers road game this season is 47.7 points.
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET (NBC)
Free NFL Pick: Under
Best Lines: Bookmaker
In the last game of wild-card weekend, the total is 41 in this NFC clash. Thanks to permitting only 41 points in their last four outings, Chicago ended up as the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL at 17.7 PPG. The Bears’ next challenge is containing Mr. Late Season, Nick Foles, who the last two years just finds ways to win games in a relief role and has the full belief to do so from his Philadelphia teammates.
After scuffling a good portion of the season, the Eagles’ offense with Foles or Carson Wentz got healthier and averaged 27 PPG in winning five of their last six. The emergence of running backs Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams and the return of Darren Sproles has not only helped the running game but also the passing offense.
The Chicago defense is ferocious and what makes them so tough is the skill and speed at all three levels. That is why seeing Philadelphia scoring more than 17 points is a challenge.
Because Chicago coach Matt Nagy is naturally aggressive, we expect him to attack a weakened Philly secondary and that becomes the key to the total. If the Bears have a lot of success, Mitchell Trubisky can make this an “over” play if he connects, with his team scoring 27 or more points. If Trubisky is just so-so or below average, the Bears end up at 21 to 23 points.
We will lean “under” because of the Chicago defense and the uncertainty of the Bears offense to put the Eagles away.