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MARC LAWRENCE: A PAIR OF SENSIBLE UPSETS FOR THIS WEEKEND’S NFL WILD CARD ROUND

PlaybookSports.com — Weekend of January 15 – January 17, 2022 —

Las Vegas over CINCINNATI by 3

Joe Burrow enters this scrape with a hot hand, having tossed for 971 yards in his last two starts – just three yards short of an NFL record over a two-game period. Along with rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase, they have become one of the league’s most feared duos. With RB Joe Mixon tallying 16 TDs in 16 games this season, this is an offense no one wants to face this postseason. Meanwhile, the Raiders ride a 4-game win streak. With it, this will mark the first playoff game for both signal-callers, Derek Carr and Burrow. Las Vegas coach Rich Bisaccia became the first interim coach since 1960 to take over a team during mid-season and lead his troops to the playoffs. With the Raiders looking to avenge a 32-13 home loss to the Bengals back in November – a game much closer than the final score indicates when the contest got out of hand late (Burrow threw for 148 yards) – and the Bengals riding an 8-game losing skein in the playoffs since their last win during the 1990 season, look for Cincy to succumb to its postseason inexperience and an 0-5 SUATS record in the playoffs when entering off a loss. Take the points.

San Francisco over DALLAS by 3

Ever since the league first expanded the playoff fi eld to 12 teams, and began seeding them in 1990, at least four new clubs have reached the postseason every successive year. The 2021-22 lineup features seven (50%) new teams – and two of them lock horns here, while also including the likes of the Cardinals, Bengals, Raiders, Patriots, and Eagles. After a 2-5 start, the Niners won eight of their final 10 games to qualify for the postseason, beating three playoff teams in the process. That’s a pretty strong body of work. Since the 49ers began using WR/ RB Deebo Samuel extensively in the backfield in Week Ten, Samuel has been one of the NFL’s most unstoppable offensive weapons. He tied for the league high with 11 touchdowns over that span, and ranked No. 4 in yards from scrimmage (1,006). On the other side of the ball, since Dallas QB Dak Prescott returned to the lineup in Week 9 the offense has sputtered. Prescott ranked No. 11 in Total QBR in Weeks 1 to 6, but only No. 17 in Weeks 9 to 17. Worse, the Cowboys have beaten up on Washington and Eagles backups lately. Complicating matters, Jerry’s Boys are the worst team in the loop in Penalties Per Game (7.5) this season. Yes, Dallas was 10-2 SU and 11-1 ATS in conference play this season, but the Pokes are just 3-10 SUATS in the playoffs since 1997, including 1-6 ATS as a favorite. You know what to do.

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