Stone Cold Locks
By Bob Gaughan
2022 Record 56-33-2
2021 record 62-49
2020 record 52-52-4
2019 Record 62-41-2
2018 Record 72-50-3
Mr. Over/Under: 7-point teaser Bengals -2.5, Niners -2.5
Last year, 5 of the 6 home teams won their wild card game. Dallas lost at home to San Francisco. All the home teams were also favored. This Sunday only 4 of the 6 home teams are favored. Both Cincinnati and the Jersey Giants covered the spread 13-times this season. Tampa Bay has the worst covered record, doing so only 4-times. San Francisco has won their last 10 in-a-row while Cincinnati and Buffalo have won 7 in-a-row. The only thing that bothers me about games like this is that, if the game appears to be in the bag, these teams may rest a few starters, as they hope to make it to the big dance. That could affect the spread. So, even though I think these two teams will cover, I’m going to play it a little safer and parley the Bengals & the 49ers in a 7-point teaser.
Man in Stripes: SF -9.5 over Seattle
OK, we brush off the TCU debacle and move on. Yes Seattle has been a great story this year by almost doubling their win total. Yes, Geno Smith went from the witness protection program to looking decent at times. But this is the playoffs now. Seattle limbed into the playoff needing overtime to beat a bad Rams team. Then they needed the Lions to beat the Packers on Sunday night. Seattle hasn’t had a lot of offense this season going 0-5 ATS the last 5 vs the NFC. They are traveling to maybe the hottest team in football. The Niners have won 10 in a row and are 10-5 ATS the last 15. They have beaten all of the lower teams by plenty. THEY ARE THE TEAM TO BEAT!!! Christian McCaffrey has been a great addition along with Brock Purdy. They have a beat down at home.
Mano: Jacksonville +2.5 over Chargers
Everyone is in love with this Chargers team and rightfully so. Justin Herbert is an elite talent who will battle with the top dogs in the AFC for a while. They’ve got superstars on both sides of the ball. Almost seems like they are built for the playoffs, BUT not so fast. The Jags and Trevor Lawrence find themselves hosting a playoff game after ripping off five straight wins. The Jags are young and hungry. When comparing the two teams they are mirror images of each other. This match-up has the 10thand 11thranked offenses going up against the 20thand 23rdranked defenses. There is no clear edge in my eyes to have the Chargers favorites. I like the experience Trevor Lawrence brings into this one in terms of big games. I can’t trust Brandon Staley who left his starters in last week and got big Mike Williams hurt in the process. I love Jacksonville in this spot. You get the hotter team at home and the better coach. Jags pull off a small upset and head to Kansas City next week.
Brutal: Bengals -9.5 over Baltimore
The Bengals didn’t have a great game last week but I feel the Bengals held back last week when it came to play calling. The Bengals are much better then the Lamar Jackson-less Ravens. The Bengals are healthy at the skill positions and should put up a ton of points. I can’t see the Ravens putting up 20 points with a banged up offense. The four receivers the Bengals throw at you are going to be deadly. This could be a blowout.
Bob: Giants +3 over Minnesota
The Giants were one of the best teams against the spread this year going 13-4. These two teams just played and Minnesota needed a 61-yard field goal at the end of the game to win it. These two teams are pretty evenly matched. Don’t look now but all of the analytics people love the way Daniel Jones ended the season. Brain Daboll has him playing as well as he can possibly play. Let’s face it no one believes in the Vikings. They have to be the worst 13-4 team in the history of the NFL. The Vikings are 13-4 with a negative point differential. How does that even happen? Vikings defense is 31stin the league in yards. Giants will stick around and I love getting a field goal in a game that should be decided by three.