Frank Schwab and Pam Maldonado get you set for a massive NFL playoff Sunday as the Chiefs take on the Bills and the Bucs take on the Rams. Will Tompa Brady reach another NFC title game?
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FRANK SCHWAB: Welcome to Yahoo Sportsbook Daily. It is Friday, January 21, 2022. I am your betting guide, Frank Schwab, and I'm here with Pat Maldonado to preview what looks like an awesome slate of Sunday playoff games. Let's start with the first one, Rams at Buccaneers. This is minus-3 for the Buccaneers, over-under 48 and 1/2.
Remember, these two teams did play earlier this season. It was all the way back in September. It might seem like a lifetime ago, but the Rams did win that game 34 to 24. We saw both teams play really well last week, albeit against competition that's not quite what they're going to see this weekend in the divisional round.
The Rams blew out the Cardinals on Monday night. We saw the Buccaneers blast the Eagles on Sunday. So both of these teams come in riding high. Pam, who do you like in this first game Sunday?
PAM MALDONADO: I'm backing the underdogs, taking the Rams plus-3. This is a weird little nugget for you, under Sean McVay, the Rams are 12 and 3 in Eastern time zone kickoffs. Yes, something like that could definitely come into play. And the Bucs, they are 13 and 4 at home with Brady, 11 and 1 at home in non-prime time games, which tells me this is going to be a really good match-up, in which case I'm always inclined to back the dog. The big concern for me for Tampa Bay is the health.
They have starting center Ryan Jensen and right tackle Tristan Wirfs, both of which have ankle injuries. That is messing with the offensive line. When you mess with an offensive line, last week Brady was sacked four times, the Eagles couldn't do anything on offense. That's why they were not involved in the game at all. You have a banged up offensive line who can't protect Brady facing a Rams defense that pressured Kyler Murray on 41% of his drop backs on Monday.
That spells disaster. Brady against pressure, 24th in yards per pass attempt, 29th in completion rate. I'm going to take Rams plus-3 just because of this reason alone. The health of the offensive line is a huge concern, and I don't feel comfortable with Brady behind an injured offensive line against this strong of a pass rush. I'll take the Rams.
FRANK SCHWAB: Pam, I am worried, because we're both going to be against Tom Brady in a big playoff game.
PAM MALDONADO: Oh, no.
FRANK SCHWAB: I know. Like, what are we doing? Look, through the years, you could read anything I've written basically, I've been fading Tom Brady. I always keep saying, this is the year it happens, this is year, blah, blah, blah, and I keep losing money going against Tom Brady. But yet I'm going to be doing it again. I don't know when to stop. And here's the reason, and you put it very well, it's the injuries. It's the guy-- it's not Brady at all.
Brady is playing at the top of his game. But it's the guys around Brady. Look, no, you didn't feel the losses of Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown against the Carolina Panthers in week 18, not even last week, really, against the Eagles, but this is a different animal. The Rams defense played really well last week. They gave Kyler Murray fits.
I think they can make life difficult for Tom Brady. And like you talked about, the offensive line adds in another part of this. Wirfs is probably a top 10 tackle, honestly. Jensen, any time you lose your center, especially a good one like that, it really affects your entire offense, the calls and everything. I think Jensen will play, don't get me wrong, but I don't know if he's going to be 100%.
I don't know if Wirfs is going to play at all. I definitely don't think he's going to be 100% if he does play. And you're going against the defensive line with the great Aaron Donald, maybe the greatest defensive player I've ever seen other than Lawrence Taylor, and also guys like Von Miller. They have a ton of guys who can get after the quarterback. And especially, if you can pressure Tom Brady up the middle, I think that gives you an edge. We know the Rams can do that, because they have Aaron Donald.
So we haven't seen the Bucs offense really struggle without Godwin, without Antonio Brown, without Leonard Fournette, who might be coming back this week, but I think this is the week it happens. And I know it's probably dumb to keep saying this is the week, this is the week, but I really do feel that way. And the Rams didn't play really bad late in the season, it was just the Matthew Stafford turnovers. But I think that's mitigated a little bit with the run game. We saw Cam Akers come back. He was effective. Sony Michel played really well late in the season.
I think they could take a lot off of Matthew Stafford's plate. They could run it effectively, make sure he's not having too much on his shoulders to where he's throwing these 50-50 balls to get picked off. He was struggling with turnovers late, but we saw the formula last week where he just made plays. I think he threw fewer than 20 passes, but he really was efficient with those. I think that's the Matthew Stafford we're going to see in this round, right here.
I think Cooper Kupp is going to have a big game. I think Odell Beckham's really coming along for them. It's almost a 1-A, 1-B situation for them. So I really do like the Rams here. I think they win outright. I'll be on the money line, and again, I'll probably lose money betting against Tom Brady. Is there anything else you like in this game, Pam?
PAM MALDONADO: No, we could be fools. We could be fools going against the Super Bowl champ from just last year. But it's not the same team, and this team is-- the strength of this team now compared to what the strength of this team was last year, it just doesn't compare.
Last year, they were strong, they were healthy, Leonard Fournette was in the lineup, he was in there, it was playoff Lenny, and he's also banged up. It's just not the same squad, so you got to go with a team that is healthiest, and that's going to be the Rams. Cross your fingers.
FRANK SCHWAB: Yeah, I will throw one other match-up type thing out there. And I know the Rams haven't used Jalen Ramsey like this all season, they got him in that star position where they line him up everywhere, but I think at this particular match-up, they might look and say, look, if we could take Mike Evans out of this game, what else do they got?
Tyler Johnson is going to beat us? I do think we're going to see a lot of Jalen Ramsey on Mike Evans. If he can control Mike Evans a little bit, take him out of the game, what's the Bucs counterpunch at that point? And again, I'm saying all this, and I'm sure on Sunday night I'm going to say, oh, yeah, it's it's Tom Brady, he found a way.
Let's move to the second game. And I'm almost going to throw it right to you, Pam, because I have no idea. There are some games, there's some games-- look, just because it's a big game doesn't mean I have a great opinion on it. I can make a case for the Bills.
I could make a case for the Chiefs. The Chiefs are minus-1 and 1/2 in this game. We saw a line move, it was 2 and 1/2 to open, then down to 1 and 1/2, which really did surprise me, I'll be honest. Over-under of 54 and 1/2. Look, this is the game of the season before the Super Bowl.
I think this is the AFC Championship game. This is determining who's going to the Super Bowl, and I think, who's going to win the Super Bowl, too. Great teams coming off great wins last week. Pam, who do you got? Give me some idea here, because I'm changing my mind about 2,800 times this week.
PAM MALDONADO: Nobody, I promise you right now, you ask 100 people, you will get 100 different answers, because it is all dependent on what futures tickets we are holding. And the people who have--
FRANK SCHWAB: So true. So true.
PAM MALDONADO: The people who have a Bills futures tickets, they're going to be backing the Bills. I myself have a Chiefs futures ticket, so I'm backing the Chiefs. That does not mean I'm putting extra money on it. I'm letting my futures ride.
So instead I'm having to look to the total, because what else are you going to do? And the only thing that I can see is an over, which is scary, because this line has been bent down. It opened up 55, it is now at 53. But you know what? These two teams, the Bills and the Chiefs, they are fourth and first in points per drive.
All I see is fireworks happening. The defense, they could show out early but get loose late. Just as we saw last week with the Steelers, it was 0-0 in the first quarter, and then boom, fireworks and explosion. In the first match-up, the Chiefs did lose 38 to 20. But you know what? There was a lot of points left upon the board. They had two fumbles, two interceptions, two field goals, and turnovers on downs.
That's a lot of points left up on the board, and I'm trusting Patrick Mahomes and this offense, who has gelled together in the second half of the season, to come together, put up some points. You're not going to be able to stop Josh Allen. His legs on the ground, he's going to get the job done. They're going to be scoring. So what's going to be left to do? Outscore the Bills. And that's exactly what the Chiefs are able to do. I'll take the over.
FRANK SCHWAB: That makes total sense to me. It makes more sense than a side. I'm going to try to pick a side here, and I will go with the Chiefs. And I'm just-- look, I don't like simplicity like this, but I'm just going to throw this out there. In games Patrick Mahomes has started for the Kansas City Chiefs, including playoffs, they are 57 and 15.
And I think, if you're going to the window and say, I love the Buffalo Bills this week, at least tell yourself that before you place this bet, right? 57 and 15. This Chiefs team doesn't lose. They've won 11 out of 12 games. This is not a team stumbling into the playoffs. The only loss in that stretch was on the last play at the Bengals, who are still alive in the final 8, by the way. So this is not a Chiefs team that's vulnerable in any way. I think they're playing really well. We saw that last week after a bit of a rough start against Pittsburgh.
Nothing against the Bills. Look if you ask me in 20, minutes I might pick the Bills and make a good argument for them. But right now, as I sit here, as well as the Bills played last week, this is still a team that was a little bit up and down. They did struggle to close close games. And people look at that as a bad luck thing, and I think in many ways it is, but it also is one of those experience things.
Chiefs have been in a lot of these games. They've had to come back from behind, if they have to do that. They're very much experienced here. Look, I love the narrative of a team barely knocking on the door, getting stopped short, and then making the next step the next year. That comes from me growing up with the Jordan Bulls, right? Like they had to knock down the door with the Pistons all those years, and then they finally broke through. The Bills got to the AFC Championship game last year. They lost to these Chiefs, but I don't know that this is the Bills time yet.
They were very good in the season, best point differential in football, number two in DVOA, but I just think it's so hard to go against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. That place is going to be rocking. It is loud, it is a tough home field environment, and I just think the Chiefs have the experience edge here, and I just think this is a Patrick Mahomes game. I think we're going to see about, like you said, with the [INAUDIBLE] correlates with the over, I think we could see a five touchdown game from him.
Even against this great Bills defense, I trust Patrick Mahomes, I trust Andy Reid, and I trust this Chiefs team to find a way. But again, ask me before kickoff, it might totally change, because I can make a great argument for the Bills. Look, the Bills played great last week. They might be this year's team. I have a Super Bowl future on them, actually. So I will be, kind of in the back of my mind, rooting for that, too. But if I'm just looking at this game, I have to take the Chiefs.
PAM MALDONADO: Tell me this is not a game of the alpha male. Is it going to be king to the field? Which quarterback comes out on top?
FRANK SCHWAB: Yeah, absolutely. And look, for as great as Josh Allen did play last week, and as great as he has played at times this year, Patrick Mahomes is still better. I'm sorry. He still is. He's still the king of the mountain. I think Josh, going back to Jordan, Josh Allen might be Clyde Drexler, nothing against Clyde Drexler, but Jordan is still Jordan, Mahomes is still Mahomes, so I have to ride with Mahomes on this.
Let's recap real quick. Pam likes the Rams and an over on the Chiefs-Bills game. I'm going to go with the Rams. I do feel strongly about that one. Not so strongly about the Chiefs, because look, Bills-Chiefs is just a Super Bowl, basically. It's our prelude to the Super Bowl, because I think these might be the two best teams in football, especially the way they are playing now. You can follow me on Twitter over @YahooSchwab. Pam is @PamelaM35.
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