NFL AFC Playoff Preview

We look ahead to this weekend’s NFL playoff games, starting with the American Football Conference.

Tue, 3 Jan, 12:00 AM

Hasn’t the AFC just become one of the most underwhelming playoff scenarios in recent memory? New England should be a lock to punch their ticket in the coming weeks to the Playoffs.

Nik Hatzi

Game #1: Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans

Blimey, we could be seeing the 2016/2017 NFL playoffs open up with Connor Cook vs Brock Osweiler. Titanic matchup isn’t it? Unfortunately that’s what injuries and stupid contracts (See the dumpster fire that Brock Osweiler has become) lead you to.

The Oakland Raiders had found a gem in Derek Carr who unfortunately went from a hand injury to a significant leg break within the span of about 4 weeks. The poor guy had been a pivotal cog in turning around the Oakland organisation from a pathetic mess to a team many were saying had a chance to knock off the Patriots in the AFC. Connor Cook will probably be taking the reigns as backup Matt McGloin got banged up last week and is questionable to play. Cook came into the game and threw for 150 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Not the worst numbers, but now that Houston has some game film on him, and can game plan for him his opportunities will be quite limited.

Did we mention that Savage got injured as well? Yeah, Tom Savage that was meant to be the saviour for Houston after the woeful performances that bad bad Brock put in. Savage got concussed before halftime and after having wrapped up their playoff spot fans at the Nissan Stadium were subjected to the atrocity that is Osweiler at quarterback. Reports said that Savage should be right to go which would’ve been a beautiful thing for the NFL. I could think of nothing worse for the brand of the game than trotting out Osweiler in a significant playoff fixture.

At first glance: Punters, keep your money in your pockets. At best I could recommend the Under in this match at 37 points. Neither quarterback will be setting the world on fire. Their respective backups of Savage and possibly McGloin will be doing less than nothing in relief if needed.

Probably not worth waking up at 8:30 on a Sunday for this. I’d recommend church over watching this snooze fest.

If you want to back Houston I’d get on earlier rather than later. Money has been predominantly coming in on the Texans from -3 to now -3.5.

Game #2: Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Miami, Miami, Miami. I haven’t got the words to describe what they are as a franchise let alone what they put out on the field. I’m not a fan of Miami. They’ve crowned Ryan Tannehill as a franchise quarterback when I strongly believe he’s one of the 5 worst quarterbacks in the league. I also feel this organisation as a whole isn’t totally invested in the quality of product they put out on the field. One bright spot in the Dolphins’ season has been the acquisition of Coach Ryan Gase. This man knows how to coach and he will earn my respect if he finds a way to shed that Tannehill fella quite soon.

I digress, Matt Moore will be starting in place of the Injured Tannehill for the Dolphins. Now, travelling in the playoffs is one thing. Travelling to the frosty land of the Steelers is another thing and going against one of the all-time triplets of Big Ben, Brown and Bell is another obstacle altogether. Odds makers have factored this into the line as we see it sitting at 10 at the moment. Jay Ajayi is a stud and will continue to build on what has been a stellar year for the youngster. All in all, Miami doesn’t have the resolve, talent or motor to keep pace with the offensive juggernaut that is Pittsburgh.

I’ve been down on Pittsburgh in recent years because of their unpredictable performances and soft defence. This season the unpredictability still has me cautiously backing them but at least the defence has improved to become average. This just strikes me as the type of game where Pittsburgh take it easy and don’t go all guns blazing. Particularly after most of the starters were given the week off last week having wrapped up their playoff spot.

At first glance: Early indications would tell you that Pittsburgh win this one, but I’d wait till closer to kick off to bet this one. Only 40% of the money has come in on Pittsburgh at -10 so there’s no real risk right now of the line moving off that key number. A play on the under 47 looks appealing at the moment.

Recommended plays on every NFL playoff matchup will be released later in the week. Check back for more NFL playoff content.

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