The Las Vegas Raiders dominated the headlines last weekend as the regular NFL campaign to an end.
The Raiders needed to avoid defeat to secure the final playoff spot, but they managed to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 35-32. In overtime, a field goal secured their spot in the NFL playoffs for the second time in 19 years, but their squad did not get much time to regroup.
The attention now turns to Wild Card Weekend, as they face the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.
That is one of two battles on the agenda, as two AFC East teams also collide when Buffalo Bills face off against the New England Patriots.
Rested Burrow Primed to Strike
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was rested for his team’s final game of the regular season, but he will be back this week. Burrow is playing the best football of his career, and if Raiders pass-rushers Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are not on form, the Raiders could be in for a long afternoon.
Nerves are likely to play their part as both teams play playoff football for the first time in many years, but Burrow looks like he is primed for the big stage. He led the NFL in completion percentage this season, the youngest QB to achieve that, and he is 10/11 to throw over 261.5 passing yards.
The Bengals, 20/43 to win, have been preparing for the playoffs for a few weeks, while the Raiders might have already produced their best performance of the campaign last week.
Home Comforts Will Help Buffalo Along
It wouldn’t be the NFL playoffs without a bit of weather drama as the New England Patriots prepare to travel to Buffalo to tackle the Bills.
Temperatures are projected to be around freezing this week, but the Patriots are used to the tough conditions.
They let quarterback Mac Jones throw only three passes in their latest win over the Bills due to the difficult conditions, and Saturday’s clash is likely to be settled on the ground.
The Bills’ defense allowed league lows in yards and points in the regular season, but against the run, they have struggled.
However, experience and home advantage are likely to get them over the line, with punters able to back them at odds of 10/19.
Jones could crumble under pressure in his first playoff game, and with conditions against him, it seems a safe bet to side with Buffalo this time around.
Those who want to err on the side of caution may stick with the Bills via the -4 handicap, but rookie QBs are 0-6 outright in the postseason since 2010.
Buffalo need to give themselves a confidence boost ahead of their Super Bowl push, and beating a divisional rival could be the perfect tonic.
*All odds correct at time of writing