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I believe Washington is definitely capable of the upset in this game and just needs a few big plays on offense to make it happen. I would not be surprised to see Washington's defense come up big similar to their Week 1 efforts against Philadelphia. The Browns are 0-5 ATS in their last five games going back to 2019, and I think that streak continues.
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San Francisco 49ers (+400) A lot of what they do well doesn’t jump off the screen and they lost some pieces, along with some contractual disputes emerging with some key pieces on the team. But still, what some suspected could happen someday occurred a little ahead of schedule, as the Niners finally caught some breaks on the injury-front and showed what they can do at close to full-power. I can understand the sentiment that their formula for success isn’t so iron-clad that they can’t slip up, especially with other contenders in the conference making a big push this season. But something tells me our eyes don’t deceive us and San Fran rightfully has earned the right to be considered the top team in the NFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+450) I like what Bruce Arians is doing in Tampa, particularly the way they played at times in the second half of last season. And this was with a QB who threw 30 picks. Get Tom Brady in there with all those weapons and we could see a surge on offense in a big way. That could bring the rest of the team up with him. Any number of things could go wrong with a quarterback who is 43. But this pick isn’t made in the spirit of them simply getting Brady. Their roster looks as strong as it has since they won the Super Bowl all those years ago. Brady has two top receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans to work with and it would actually be a surprise if Tampa wasn’t in the postseason making some noise this season.
New Orleans Saints (+500) You have one of the more talent-rich rosters in the sport, along with a Hall of Fame quarterback who has Father Time leaning against him in a major way. The last two seasons have provided ultra-painful moments in the postseason, but the championship window is still open. A healthier Alvin Kamara, along with the newly-acquired Emmanuel Sanders should have this offense clicking, as Brees works behind what should again be a great line. The defense sees Malcolm Jenkins back in the fold and how the pass-defense performs will be a key part of their success. Even if Brees does slip a bit and the NFC South has gotten a little tougher, I see them in the mix late again this season.
Seattle Seahawks (+1000) A little further down the list, this could be the season where the Seahawks put it together. After seeing their defense spiral a little last year, look for that to be a major point of emphasis this season. Their linebacking corps should be tip-top, but their pass-defense has a ways to go—not a good thing in this conference. After they won the Super Bowl, they’ve won ten games in five of the six subsequent seasons. They never really fell off and I think a surge could be in the cards. With some better health on the running back front, in addition to more growth from receivers like young DK Metcalf, Russell Wilson should be in good shape as he makes another run in the postseason.
Kansas City Chiefs (+300): Getting a mega deal and coming off Super Bowl glory might lead some to expect the Chiefs to lose their razor’s edge this season. I wouldn’t be so sure. Nothing has occurred to appreciably alter their recipe for success—a formula that is built to deliver time and again. They might not be as hungry as other contenders on this list, but is anyone really questioning whether they’ll have a good season and be a factor in the postseason again this year? The thing about the Chiefs is that what they do well isn't something that is going to inexplicably go away. Having a winner at QB, a stocked cast of burners and a playmaking defense that is getting better doesn't just suddenly all fall flat without a good reason, and there doesn't appear to be one.
Baltimore Ravens (+325) Seeing Lamar Jackson and the Ravens come up short two seasons ago in the playoffs after a super-strong finish to the season was one thing. Seeing them fall badly to the Titans at home as huge favorites coming off a 14-win season in the divisional round of the playoffs is the last thing we remember this team for. It was definitely a horrible look. But one slipup, however bad it was, doesn't erase the fact that up until that point, they looked to be the class of the league. With an axe to grind this season, something tells me not to count out this group. Granted, even if they have another huge regular season where they’re blowing almost everyone out, it will be nervous-time come the playoffs. But look at it this way, if they had gone on and cleaned everyone’s clock en route to winning the Super Bowl, the price would be so low on them now that it wouldn’t be worth it.
Indianapolis Colts (+1100) Granted, watching Philip Rivers last season didn't inspire much confidence. Nevertheless, a change of scenery and less dysfunction around him could do wonders. It's a really packed roster on both sides of the ball, and Rivers, long hungry for some postseason distinction, will have a ton to work with on offense. Working behind a much better line with more continuity could really take this offense to another level, and I expect some good things from Indy this season. It’s not just the boost they get at quarterback, as other areas of this team are filled with players coming into their own.
Tennessee Titans (+1400) This could be one of the better value picks on the board. A few things we saw last season were not mirages—coach Vrabel’s handiwork with this bunch, Tannehill lifting the offense to new heights, and the late-season rampaging of dominant running back Derrick Henry, who put this team on his back only to be stopped by eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City in the AFC Championship. I’m not sure what’s behind the sentiment that they will fade this season, but I wouldn’t be so quick to relegate them to the scrap heap just yet. Sure, it might not be easy to see them getting to the big one, as they had to scrap and claw to get into the playoffs, then catching a nice wave of momentum. Still, if anyone else slips and they build on the form they showed late, they look to be a definite contender.
San Francisco will try to control this game with its running game and its defense. Kansas City, on the other hand, will just try to outscore the 49ers. Most importantly, though, as far as betting the total goes, this game looks like it should be close throughout, which leads us to think about the under. The two recent Super Bowls that played under were also close throughout, while several recent Super Bowls that played over did so in part because one team took a big lead, then let the other rally. We don't see that happening here. We're betting the under for Super Bowl LIV.
Anyone who is too sure-headed about this pick has likely missed the boat. It’s good to feel confident about your pick, but the tight point spread truly attests to a hard-to-pick game where any number of different eventualities are plausible. It’s hard to go against a Chiefs team that has won 8 straight games with the most bankable QB in the business. I just see the 49ers taking advantage of the Chiefs’ defense to a greater degree, with enough big plays from their own defense to secure the big Super Bowl win. I’ll take the Niners.
San Francisco is just the much more impressive team in this match-up. The 49ers own the better running game and the much better defense, and usually, that's enough for us right there. Also, of San Francisco's 14 wins this season, nine came by at least nine points. Meanwhile, Green Bay's been playing with fire all season long. It's almost hard to figure how the Packers have gotten this far. The 49ers might not win this one by 29 points, but eight would suffice. We like San Francisco here.
If a road-weary Titans team were to get slapped around on Sunday by a fresher Chiefs team that built up some momentum last week, it wouldn't be all that surprising. It still seems reasonable to perceive these teams as matching up pretty well against each other, where a somewhat evenly-contested game will ensue. It's hard not to be a little scared on either side of this coin, but I feel pretty good about getting this many points on Tennessee right now. I'll take the Titans.
These teams played a very close game the last time they met, and there's good reason to believe that will also be the case Sunday. And if that's the case, four points can be a lot. We're taking those points with Seattle.
Wild card win and first results against Kansas City aside, I think the Texans have exhausted the limitations of what they can do this season. The things that didn’t manifest defensively against Buffalo and their tepid offense will do so here and not in a good way for the Texans. The Chiefs have too much offense, and their improvements on the other side of the ball will help prevent Houston from keeping pace. I see a well-contested game opening up a bit, as KC gets the separation they need to notch the win and cover at home.