Did I use that title to put the mush on Green Bay? You betcha.
Bucs (13-5) @ Packers (14-3); 2:05pm CT
Pick #1: Packers -3.5 (commit to the mush)
Action: 60% of bets on the Packers
No surprises here, but the public digs Green Bay. This makes sense because the Packers just methodically schlonged the elite Rams D last week while the Bucs have benefitted from opposing playoff QB matchups of Taylor Heinicke and Drew Brees with a torn rotator cuff (thanks to Mrs. Brees for that info but Big Cat knew all along).
Sharps see it differently. This line opened at GB -4, and despite the majority of bets falling on the Pack, the line moved down to a juiced 3.5 after professionals gobbled up TB +4 and put some additional coin on TB +3.5. They probably aren't expecting the 38-10 blowout we saw when these teams last met in Week 6, but there's sharp sentiment that Tampa can win this one outright.
But let's take another look at Week 6. It was Davante Adams' first game back after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury, Robert Tonyan was knocked out of the game, and the absence of Allen Lazard was still fresh after getting surgery in early October. And on top of that, the Packers suffered two in-game injuries to their O-line. The Bucs smelled blood in the water and they blitzed like crazy, suffocating Rodgers and forcing him into two horrific INTs (one pick-six and one returned to the GB 2-yard line) as part of his worst performance in years.
But that loss was a learning moment for the Pack. Since then, aided by the addition of healthier and emerging receiving options, LaFleur made offensive line adjustments to combat the rush and implemented significantly more motion to help Rodgers diagnose blitz packages. This has kept the QB cleeeean for months, and it has given us the smug-as-fuck version of Rodgers we've all come to know and love (*Chicago blogger grits teeth*):
The Packers O-line will be prepared to neutralize the insanely talented Bucs D-line (the return of Vita Vea is a problem), and that will allow the best offensive "big three" in the NFL to do work. To draw a mythological comparison, Rodgers/Jones/Adams are the Cerberus (three-headed dog) of this Green Bay offense. This is not to be confused with the Sybaris, which is a hotel chain of fuck shacks in the Midwest:
The Green Bay offense is peaking at the right time, and they'll be able to pile up points against a Bucs D that hasn't faced this level of offensive competition since the Chiefs dropped 20 first half points on them in Week 12. We'll see plenty of "I love goooold" end zone celebrations, which to reiterate is a very cool and timely reference.
Switching to Tampa, they also have a top-5 offense, but the same word keeps coming up: "disjointed." Based on talent alone, this is an offense with 10-out-of-10 potential, but the discordance across Arians/Leftwich/Brady has prevented them from reaching optimal efficiency. With Brady gaining increased control of the play-calling it would appear that they are hitting their stride, but I have some question marks based on how they match up with Green Bay.
I've said this before, but the way you beat the Packers D is over the middle of the field. I have no doubt Chris Godwin and Cameron Brate will be up to the task, but I'm not so sure about Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones out of the backfield. I of course want to see another "Playoff Lenny" shoutout from Joe Buck…
…but Lenny is not the dynamic pass-catcher that Brady will need to rely upon in this matchup. Ronald Jones is the more versatile player, but he's more prone to the dumb play that can cost you a playoff game, so Arians will be limiting his usage. Brady is a rhythm quarterback, and when I think of his RB options, the word "rhythm" doesn't come to mind.
The good thing for Brady is that his G.O.A.T. status is obviously cemented regardless if the Bucs fall short here, but between the Tampa coaching staff and RBs it only helps his legacy that there will be plenty of goats to blame.
Done deal. Packers by a billion. 0% chance of losing. And again, I'm definitely placing this bet because Green Bay is the better team and not because I'm looking to jinx them out of a Super Bowl appearance.
Bills (15-3) @ Chiefs (15-2); 5:40pm CT
Pick #2: Bills team Over 26.5
Action: 61% of bets on BUF +3 and 57% of bets on the Over 54.5
In a stunning development, America has spoken, and they're taking the historical "lovable loser" Bills over the defending champs. It appears that people are tired of losing money on KC (1-8 ATS in last 9 games) and they want to be a part of the underdog story.
I can't commit to a side because I think both offenses will go the fuck off (Mahomes is closer to 100% than most people realize and reminder: he's the best QB in the world), so I'll target the lower team total that falls under a key number and take the free money with the Bills team Over of 26.5.
I've talked up Bills OC Brian Daboll all year, and this is a particularly important game because the Chargers quizzically passed on him for head coach in favor of former Rams DC Brandon Staley. Daboll has more Super Bowl rings (5) than Staley has years of NFL experience (4), so it's safe to say Daboll is furious to be robbed of an ideal head coaching gig with a budding superstar QB. In today's offensive gameplan, Daboll will be figuratively slipping on some high heels and a tight dress to show the Chargers what they'll be missing.
Buffalo's offense hasn't looked great in the past two weeks, but they just faced a top-10 Colts D with an average starting field position of their own 15-yard line and a top-10 Ravens D in 20+ mph winds that made deep passing impossible but gave us some A+ Justin Tucker crackhead faces:
This week it's different. Weather won't be a factor, and the KC defense will be a significant step down from Buffalo's recent competition. The Chiefs horrendous run D (partly by design) will dare Buffalo to hand it off. 5-yard runs will be there for the taking, but Daboll won't give KC that satisfaction. Again, the hallmark of the Bills offense this year is that they don't play your game. Sure, they'll grab some easy yardage on the ground here and there, but they'll never stop searching for the big play.
Against a Chiefs defense that ranks dead last in red zone defense (allowing TDs on over 77% of opponents' red zone trips) and a far inferior KC special teams unit (Andre Roberts alert!), the Bills will have no problem racking up 7's, especially knowing the offensive firepower on the opposing sidelines.
Just sit back and watch the fireworks. Best of luck and enjoy this fine Sunday!