Fooch’s update: One day of the playoffs down, and we have a pair of upsets in the books. The Titans went into Arrowhead Stadium and beat the Chiefs 22-21, thanks in part to some shaky officiating. The Titans divisional round opponent depends on the outcome of the Jaguars-Bills matchup on Sunday. If the Jaguars win, the Titans will face the Patriots. If the Bills win, the Titans will face the Steelers.
In the evening, the Falcons went into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to beat the Rams 26-13. The Falcons never trailed in this one, and advance to face the Eagles. The winner of Sunday’s matchup between the Panthers and Saints will travel to face the Vikings next week.
The 2018 NFL playoffs officially get underway Saturday morning! The San Francisco 49ers are on vacation for the time being, and even the front office can take a brief respite with no turnover at the top. The 49ers will be busy at the coming pre-draft all star games, but in the meantime, we can relax and enjoy some playoff football over the next month.
The first day of the wild card round provides plenty that should intrigue 49ers fans. Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs host the Tennessee Titans at 1:20 p.m. PT on ESPN/ABC. That is followed the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams hosting the Atlanta Falcons at 5:15 p.m. on NBC.
Alex Smith finds himself in a tough situation. After winning five straight to open the season, he and his Chiefs came back to earth, losing six of seven. They closed the season with four straight wins to lock up the division. There has been plenty of talk about Pat Mahomes eventually replacing him, but when exactly is tough to say. The Chiefs are an eight point favorite, according to Odds Shark. Tennessee will be without DeMarco Murray, although getting Derrick Henry more work could end up a decent option in their favor. I’m not overly enamored by either team heading into this one, but I’ll take the points with Tennessee.
The second game of the day features the Rams playing their first playoff game since 2004. Sean McVay is a strong coach of the year candidate, and he gets his first crack at the playoffs with Jared Goff and company. They face last year’s Super Bowl loser in the Falcons. The Rams are giving 5.5 points in this one, according to Odds Shark. It’s hard to figure this one out. The Falcons have the experience, but I feel like we see a strong performance by the Rams in covering the spread.
The second of the wild card round features the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Buffalo Bills at 10:05 a.m. on CBS. That is followed by the New Orleans Saints hosting the Carolina Panthers at 1:40 p.m. on FOX.
The Bills-Jaguars game is fun from a fan perspective, because Bills and Jags fans are absolutely crazy. Do a YouTube search of Bills fans jumping through tables, and “Duval” for Jags fans, and you’ll see what I mean. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Bills upset, but I feel like this ends up a one-sided matchup. The Jaguars are a nine-point favorite, according to Odds Shark, and I think they win this one by double digits.
The Panthers and Saints are playing for the third time this season. The Saints won by 21 points in Carolina and by ten points in New Orleans, putting up 30+ points in both games. They are a touchdown favorite in this third game, according to Odds Shark, and I think they cover at home.
All times PT
Wild Card Weekend Schedule
Saturday, January 6
AFC: Tennessee Titans 22 - Kansas City Chiefs 21
NFC: Atlanta Falcons 26 - Los Angeles Rams 13
Sunday, January 7
NFL Divisional Round
Saturday, January 13
Sunday, January 14
Sunday, January 21
NFC: FOX, 12:05 p.m.
AFC: CBS, 3:40 p.m.
Super Bowl LII
Sunday, February 4
NFC champion versus AFC champion (NBC, 3:30 p.m.)