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Expanded NFL playoffs means more action at the sportsbooks
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Expanded NFL playoffs means more action at the sportsbooks

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between the lines

Welcome to a nice, long post-season NFL weekend.

Because the league added two more playoff spots, 12 teams are in action. There are three games Saturday and Sunday, with staggered start times.

You won’t see the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. They obtained the first-round byes awarded to the top teams in the AFC and NFC and will play next week.

Here’s the lineup with DraftKings odds:

Saturday

Buffalo -6.5 vs Indianapolis

Seattle -3.5 vs Los Angeles Rams

Tampa Bay -8 AT Washington

Sunday

Baltimore -3.5 AT Tennessee

New Orleans -10 vs Chicago

Pittsburgh -6 vs Buffalo

How are the bettors weighing in?

According to DraftKings, Buffalo has an overwhelming 91 percent of wagering support. The over 51 is being played at 79 percent.

Seattle has garnered 56 percent of the handle, and the over 42 has 58 percent of the money.

Tampa Bay sports 73 percent of the handle while this is the only under supported by the gamblers. The under 45 is being bet by 72 percent of the players.

Baltimore has 56 percent of the action, while the over 54.5 is favored at 65 percent.

New Orleans has 62 percent of the money betting it can cover the big number, while 61 percent back the over 47.5.

Pittsburgh has the second-highest backing of the weekend, 83 percent, while the over 47.5 nailed 73 percent of the money by late Thursday.

Factors moving the lines

Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams is an enigma. He’s trying to return from a thumb injury, but the team played better without him in toppling the Arizona Cardinals last week to get into the postseason. John Wolford is the running threat Goff isn’t.

Seattle has a star quarterback in Russell Wilson, a good hard-pounding running game and receiver D.K. Metcalf.

The Seahawks defeated the Rams 20-9 two weeks ago.

Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be allowed to run the team. This moved the line from Pittsburgh -4.5 to -6, as this could affect the Browns’ chain of command.

Pittsburgh has struggled with its offense in recent weeks but hopes a second-half surge against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16 will carry over. The teams scored in the mid 40s in both of their contests, which is right around the over-under mark for this game.

The team that’s captured the public’s imagination is the Buffalo Bills. They finished strong and walloped the Miami Dolphins 56-26 last week. Quarterback Josh Allen fully matured this year and the presence of top receiver Stefon Diggs has people excited about this team. Buffalo hosts its first playoff game in 25 years.

Washington enters the playoffs as the NFC East champion at 7-9 but are lopsided underdogs against Tampa Bay. Washington has an excellent defense, but a shaky offense. Tampa Bay has been on a sizzling role.

A good matchup to watch is Tampa’s strong offensive line against Washington’s superb defense.

Ironically, Washington coach Ron Rivera led the 2014 Carolina Panthers, the last team to win a division with a losing record. But the Panthers won their first playoff game.

So did the Seattle Seahawks, in 2010.

Chicago is generally considered overmatched against New Orleans, while Baltimore and Tennessee headline the potential game of the weekend.

The Ravens have won five straight and became the first NFL team in 20 years to run for more than 400 yards in a game last weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals.

They clash with The Beast, Derrick Henry, who finished the season with more than 2,000 yards.

This should be a great offensive showcase, leading off the Sunday ticket.

This week’s picks

This week’s selections against the spread, excerpted from Beat the Degenerates, which I co-host with Scott Cronick, director of entertainment publications for The Press of Atlantic City, and Brian Cahill. The show airs 5 p.m. Wednesdays on Newstalk 1400-AM, WONDRadio.com and 92.5-FM. Catch the next one 5 p.m. Jan 13.

Pickett Russell, “Da Kipster,” general manager of Tennessee Ave. Beer Hall in Atlantic City:

Bontempo: Seattle

Cahill: New Orleans

Cronick: Tampa Bay

David Weinberg, Weinberg Extra Points and ShoreNewsToday.com: Pittsburgh

Ky Carlin, WOND sports correspondent: Buffalo

James Rabic: Seattle

Listeners: Buffalo

Last Week: Da Kipster and the listeners were triumphant, while the Dallas Cowboys sank a number of us. Dallas had the ball inside the New York Giants’ 10-yard line in the final two minutes but self-destructed in the 23-19 loss.

The Kipster won the regular season with an impressive 11-6 record, followed by Weinberg at 9-7-1 and Cronick at 9-8, who have the playoffs to catch up to the leader for the Degenerates Cup.

Last week’s action

Buffalo Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie had a second-quarter for the ages last week against Miami. He snared two touchdown passes and then returned a punt for a TD. A hat trick.

The Eagles bowed out with a whimper, yet a storm of controversy in their 20-14 loss to Washington.

Coach Doug Pederson removed quarterback Jalen Hurts from the game after three quarters to showcase the Eagles’ third-string quarterback. Hurts had rushed for Philadelphia’s only two touchdowns of the game and Washington looked prime to be beaten.

The Eagles also passed up a chip-shot game-tying field goal. As the lackluster game, and their 4-11-1 season concluded, angry New York Giants fans tweeted “Tanks A Lot,” accusing the Eagles of tanking the game. The Giants would have won the division if the Eagles had beaten Washington.

The season that begun promisingly, a 17-0 first-half lead over Washington in the first game, ended with another loss to the same team.

Buffalo Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie had a second-quarter for the ages last week against Miami. He snared two touchdown passes and then returned a punt for a TD. A hat trick.

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