AHHHHH! We all finally get to breathe a collective sigh of relief as we get to turn the calendar over to the new year of 2021. 2020 indeed brought challenges to all of us but thankfully the NFL Playoffs are here to restore a sense of normalcy for us all. Can any of the NFC Wild Card teams playing this weekend challenge the heavily favored Green Bay Packers? We will preview each of the NFC Wild Card games below, but before we do let’s take a look at the current odds to win the NFC crown.
Green Bay Packers +160 New Orleans Saints +300 Tampa Bay Buccaneers +425 Seattle Seahawks +500 Los Angeles Rams +1500 Chicago Bears +5000 Washington Football Team +6500
LA Rams @ Seattle Seahawks: 1/9 @ 4:40PM EST
Current Odds: Seattle -3.5; O/U: 42
Can Sean McVay and his adept play-calling upset the great Russell Wilson on his home turf? The typical Seahawks home field advantage (which is usually amongst the loudest stadiums in the NFL) will be nullified in this game due to Covid-19 not allowing any fans in the stands.
The main question as of this writing is: Who will start at quarterback for the Rams? Jared Goff had surgery a few days ago to insert screws into his right thumb (OUCH!) It does not look like Head Coach Sean McVay will reveal whether Goff or newcomer QB John Wolford will start. Wolford did NOT throw a touchdown pass last Sunday against the Cardinals. However, the young QB did a serviceable job, throwing for 231 yards.
Even rookie sports bettors know that it is difficult to bet against all-world QB Russell Wilson, who is an 8-time Pro Bowl selection. Wilson had a phenomenal 2020 campaign by throwing a career high 40 touchdowns and leading the Seahawks to a 12-4 record. Sean McVay knows that you cannot stop Wilson, so the young coach will need to cook up a good offensive game-plan to try and outscore Seattle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Football Team: 1/9 @ 8:15 EST
Current Odds: Tampa Bay -8; O/U: 44.5
We all know that Washington has a losing record, and it is probably a bit unfair that they get “rewarded” by getting to host a playoff game (Maybe they should rename the NFC East to the NFC Least…LOL). Nevertheless, Washington will get a chance to upset the Bucs and their new QB Tom Brady.
Even though much is being made about Washington’s 7-9 record, you have to feel good for a coach like Ron Rivera. Rivera fought cancer during the season and still found the strength to lead his team to the playoffs. The feel-good stories continued for the Football Team as journeyman QB Alex Smith fought his way back to the playing field after doctors told him he would do well just to walk again. These hardships seemed to galvanize this Washington team, but will that be enough against arguably the best QB of all-time?
43-year-old Tom Brady continues to prove he may indeed be a cyborg instead of a human being. The former 6th round pick (still can’t believe that) threw for 40 touchdowns and well over 4,000 yards in the 2020 season. Brady also helped get WR Antonio Brown to Tampa. He has even helped keep Brown on the straight and narrow by letting him move in with him. Tampa will probably win this football game but the key question for sports investors is: Will the Bucs cover the large spread?
Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints: 1/10 @ 4:40 EST
Current Odds: New Orleans -10; O/U: 47
The largest spread of the NFL slate of games this weekend belongs to this game. “Da Bears” barely squeaked into the playoffs. This will cool the so called “hot seat” for Chicago Head Coach Matt Nagy. Can the Bears hang around in this one or possibly pull the outright upset?
Chicago thought that bringing in veteran QB Nick Foles would be a good insurance policy if Mitch Trubisky’s play continued to spiral down. Unfortunately for Bears fans neither QB really lit the world on fire this season. However, “Maserati Mitch” (funny nickname ?) did throw twice as many touchdowns (16) as he did interceptions (8). The surprising disappointment for Chicago has been on defense. The Bears ranked more towards the middle of the league in many defensive categories, which is a letdown when you consider how much money they have tied up on that side of the ball.
The New Orleans Saints compiled a 12-4 record this season and they did it without QB Dree Brees for 1/4th of the year. The rumor mill is a-churning that Brees will announce his retirement after this season (who can blame him after suffering 11 broken ribs). If that’s indeed true, then the Saints motivation level will be at an all-time high. Perhaps no one athlete has done more for the city of New Orleans than Drew Brees. Sean Payton will have the offense ready to rumble in this one, but can the Saints cover by such a large margin?