Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills BUF -5.5, O/U 49
This is a rematch of the matchup we never had. The Bengals visit Buffalo as 5.5 point underdogs in a matchup they are going to have a tough time consistently moving the ball in. Both of these offensive lines are banged up badly and the Bengals are worse than the Bills. I’d advise keeping an eye on the sack props for this game and smashing the overs. Burrow is likely to get sacked 5+ times and Josh Allen won’t be far behind him.
As most of you know, I’m not a huge Joe Burrow fan. I think he’s overrated, holds the ball too long and relies heavily on his playmakers to make plays for him. This past weekend against the Ravens, Burrow went 23/32 for only 209 yards and a score but did not turn the ball over. In his defense, his offensive line is in complete shambles right now. After having all five Week 1 starters make it to Week 17 healthy, they have lost their three best offensive lineman between Right Guard Alex Cappa, Right Tackle La’el Collins, and Left Tackle Jonah Williams. A QB who holds on to the ball too long in his own right, he is going to have even less time now to get balls down field. I expect this passing game to stay tight to the line of scrimmage and try to get the ball out of Burrow’s hands fast. It also doesn’t help that the Bills gave up the 4th (14.4) fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. However, this will mean good news for Chase and Hayden Hurst but bad news for Tee Higgins. Tyler Boyd is a non sexy floor play without much of a ceiling unless a stingy Bills defense blows a coverage to let Boyd break loose on a free play. I expect 10+ high quality targets for Ja’Marr Chase in this one and 6+ targets for Hayden Hurst, who had 25 receiving yards already in the drive and a half that the Bengals had in their Week 17 matchup. Look for Perine’s reception line and Joe Mixon’s as well. I think dump offs will be in the future for both of these backs.
Speaking of the RBs for the Bengals, the Bengals are going to be utilizing Joe Mixon as the centerpiece of their offense in this one. They are going to pound the rock against this Bills defense that is a little bit more susceptible to the run than they are to the pass. In Week 17, Mixon ran the ball twice, gaining five and seven yards on those runs. Over Mixon’s last four games, he has seen targets of six, nine, five, and four. This coincides with the Bengals offensive line getting hurt and the Bengals keeping things close to the line of scrimmage to hide those warts. Mixon has caught 20 of those 24 targets for 134 scoreless yards. I think there’s a good chance that Mixon tops his receptions line of 3.5 with his carries coming in around 10-13.
Josh Allen hasn’t been his “normal” self since he sustained his elbow injury in Week 10 against the Minnesota Vikings. On top of what I mentioned in last week’s write up, Allen went 19/31 this past week for 254 yards with three scores. He had some costly turnovers though, getting sacked close to the endzone and while trying to do too much, fumbled the ball away for Miami to scoop and score on. Just like I mentioned with the Bills defense above, the Cincinnati Bengals defense has given up almost the same amount of fantasy points to opposing QBs this year, ranking as the 3rd best with 14.2 per game. This completely coincides with the Bengals giving up the 3rd fewest rushing yards to opposing QBs per game. However, as I mentioned last week with Josh Allen, he is a unicorn rushing the ball and matchups can largely be thrown out of the window when facing him. He runs the ball more in big games and I can see it here even after Miami largely kept him in check last week with 16 yards rushing on nine carries. Even though they have a completely different style, the Bengals can be beat by rushing QBs, as Lamar Jackson ran the ball 12 times for 58 yards back in Week 5 and had a long run of 19, something Josh Allen does quite often. If you’re betting on Josh Allen this weekend, it would be to go contrarian and bet on talent with him rushing the ball rather than him completing deep pass after deep pass against this bend but don’t break defense. Allen had 14 rushing yards already against the Bengals on the only drive the Bills had on two carries, going for five and nine yards respectively. On the receiving end, Stefon Diggs is always a great play. His talent alone shines through in every matchup and he is going to be chirping on the sideline wanting the ball like he usually does in big games. It is not a good matchup for Diggs though so this is purely a bet on talent. It is worth noting that in that one drive the Bills had against the Bengals in Week 17, Diggs had 26 of Allens 33 passing yards. I wouldn’t go with Gabe Davis or Khalil Shakir in this one but I would once again take a look at Cole Beasley. Despite giving up the 9th fewest PPR points to opposing WRs overall and 5th fewest to perimeter WRs over the course of the season, they gave up the 9th (20.3) most PPR points to slot WRs over that span and 6th (23.6) most between Weeks 10-16. Last week against Miami, Beasley ran 31 snaps on offense, seeing five targets which was tied with Shakir and Knox for 3rd on the team behind Diggs’ and Davis’ nine targets each. It seems he is fully acclimated back into the rotation and could even top that five target line again this week. I’ll go back to the well on his receiving props and his anytime TD line of +500.
The Bills backfield is a 50/50 split now between Devin Singletary and James Cook and they do not have a good matchup this week. The Bengals gave up the 7th fewest PPR points per game to opposing backs at a 3.9 YPC clip and the 9th fewest four receptions per game to those backs. The Bengals are a stingy defense that plays sound football and doesn’t make many mistakes. They bend but don’t break and sit in the top third or middle of the pack in almost all metrics. Last week against Miami, Devin Singletary started and saw 41 (55.4%) of the snaps while Cook saw 23 (31.1%) of the snaps. James Cook out-carried Singletary 12 to 10 yet Singletary outgained Cook 48 to 39. Cook saw the backfield’s lone TD and neither back saw a target. I have no desire to bet any money on this backfield or play either in DFS.
This is going to be a tough fought game by both teams. Of all of the Vegas lines this weekend, I think this one is the most accurate. I’ll likely be Super Teasing every angle of this game to get a 13-point advantage across the board on all four lines. If you wanted to do a 10-point tease on three teams, I would leave out the under of 59. I think the Bills win in a one score game.
Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers SF -4 , O/U 46.5
This is one of my favorite games this weekend. The Dallas Cowboys enter this matchup after just demolishing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa while the 49ers are the hottest offense in the NFL behind 7th round (last pick) rookie QB, Brock Purdy. This game is going to be decided in the trenches and whichever offensive line is able to protect their quarterback better is likely going to take home the win.
Dak Prescott put up one of the best performances of his career last week against the Bucs. He threw for 305 yards, completing 25 of 33 passes with four touchdowns and only absorbed one sack. He also ran the ball seven times for 24 yards and another score. He completed passes to eight different receivers with Dalton Schultz leading the way with a 7/95/2 stat line. If the Cowboys want to win, they are going to need another performance like that out of Dak to take down the top rated pass DVOA in the NFL. The 49ers have a front seven that can absolutely get after the QB and are schemed to stop the run but if they are unsuccessfully hitting the QB on a consistent basis, their defensive backs are left at a talent mismatch against these Cowboys pass catchers. Ceedee Lamb, who lines up in the slot 70% of the time, is going to have a field day. The 49ers defense gave up the 5th (21.3 PPG) most PPR points to the slot WR over the course of the season. I’ll be all over Lamb’s props as I think they look to get him involved early and not let up on his targets. They’ll rely on their best playmaker against this stout defense. I think Dalton Schultz is a nice security blanket for Dak but he does have a below average matchup here. I think you can also look to TY Hilton for Sunday only slates or the SNF Showdown slate. Hilton took 25 (36.2%) of the snaps for the Cowboys last Monday Night and saw four targets, catching two of them for 23 scoreless yards. Hilton also had a few left on the field and seems to be growing his chemistry with Dak and his involvement with this offense. It is also worth bringing up that 65% of Hilton’s routes came in the slot against the Bucs, which I just mentioned is where the 49ers are susceptible.
In regards to the Cowboys backfield, Tony Pollard took over for Zeke after the first series and dominated, as expected. Unfortunately Pollard didn’t get as much air work as I expected because the Bucs couldn’t keep up with the Cowboys and he didn’t fall in the endzone because Dak hogged all of the touchdowns, but Pollard played well nonetheless. I’m, however, running it right back with Pollard. The 49ers have one of the best rush defenses in the NFL, giving up only 16.3 PPR Points per game to opposing RBs which is the lowest amount in the NFL. They only gave up 3.3 YPC to opposing backs but ironically gave up the 12th most receptions to opposing backs for the 17th most receiving yards. The 49ers linebackers are great tacklers and can cover well so the volume is a scheme thing. Give some leniency to opposing offenses to throw to their backs and trust your LBs to make one on one tackles. However, I think the Cowboys take advantage of that, getting Pollard the ball in space and giving him an opportunity to make plays. I’m not interested in Zeke in this matchup and his fantasy production can only be saved with a multiple TD game.
As I mentioned above that the 49ers have the top pass DVOA in the NFL, the number two slot belongs to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys defense has been one of the best in the NFL all season under Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn. They have the highest pressure rate (25.6%) in the NFL while only blitzing 25.6% (13th) of the time and accruing the 3rd (54) most sacks in the NFL. This is where the chess match comes into play with Kyle Shanahan facing off against his old boss from the famous Atlanta Falcons team who blew the 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots. The 49ers QB, Brock Purdy, has been playing out of his mind to start his NFL career. Last week he dropped 332 yards on 18/30 passing with three TDs with no turnovers. At the moment, Purdy is being propped up immensely by his Head Coach and the insane set of playmakers on this offense. There is no reason for that to change unless the Cowboys can get to Purdy and rattle him into making mistakes and looking like the last pick in the draft. The playmaker with the best matchup is Brandon Aiyuk on the outside. The Cowboys gave up the 3rd most premier WR PPR points in the NFL during the season. Their exterior corners are flat out bad at coverage and they take gambles so that’s why that number is so high. I fully expect Shanahan to incorporate Aiyuk more into this week’s game plan and he’ll see 6+ targets. I like both Aiyuk’s yards prop of 53.5 and his receptions line of 3.5. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are both bet on talent plays.
Christian McCaffrey balled out in the first round of the playoffs, running for 119 yards on 15 carries including a long run of 68 yards in the 1st quarter to basically cash our rushing prop bet immediately. He added in two receptions for 17 yards and a score. His running mate, Elijah Mitchell ran the ball nine times for an impressively bad two rushing yards. He did however add two receptions for 25 yards and a score in the air. The Cowboys front seven may be even better than the 49ers front seven and are an extremely tough matchup for this 49ers backfield. The Cowboys gave up the 3rd least amount of PPR points to opposing backs and the 4th fewest receptions. I still think that Shanahan will get CMC involved at a high rate but no thanks on Mitchell this week. Expect Deebo Samuel to also see some carries on Sunday as well with some sweeps and short yardage plays to keep the Cowboys pass rush on its heels. His rushing yards prop of 16.5 is more appealing than his receiving line of 54.5.
This is going to be a great back and forth chess match between two well coached teams and two of the most talented rosters left in the postseason. I would take the 3 points for the Cowboys and I think they are the likeliest underdog to pull off an upset this weekend.