LOS ANGELES, January 6, 2018: As the East Coast gets blasted by a Bomb Cyclone, the National Football league prepares for its red-hot postseason. The 1967 Ice Bowl saw the Green Bay Packers win the NFL championship in 13 degrees below zero weather. The 2017 NFL playoffs, the Bomb Cyclone Bowl, will test the resolve of 12 teams fighting each other and the brutal elements to house the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The matchups are set. Here is the NFL 2017-2018 Wildcard preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Saturday, January 6, 2018 Bomb Cyclone Bowl games:
4:30 pm on ESPN: AFC: 5) Tennessee Titans at 4) Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5) —
This is the Tomato Can Bowl. Whoever wins this game will be quickly dispatched on the road against a much better team. The 8-4 Titans collapsed down the stretch, losing three straight before winning their final game to sneak into the playoffs. The 5-0 Chiefs cratered to a 6-6 record and three-way tie atop the AFC West before going 4-0 down the stretch. The Chiefs are soft, but the Titans are softer. 24 years ago the Chiefs beat the Houston Oilers in the playoffs, causing owner Bud Adams to blow up his team, relocate it to Nashville, and rename it the Titans. The Chiefs have more weapons on offense, and Tennessee does not have the talent to go on the road to win this game. Chiefs cover.
8:15 pm on NBC: NFC: 6) Atlanta Falcons at 3) Los Angeles Rams (-6) —
Unlike the AFC, everyone in the NFC is good. There are no easy victories. The 10-6 Falcons and 11-5 Rams both have a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Matt Ryan throwing passes to Julio Jones still scares defenses. Jared Goff has come into his own and Todd Gurley could be the league MVP. Weather will not be a factor in Los Angeles. On paper, the Rams have the advantage, but Atlanta is the defending NFC champion. This is not the same Atlanta team as last year, but Atlanta has the experience. Go with experience every single time. Upset special, Falcons win outright.
Sunday, January 7 Bomb Cyclone Bowl games:
1:00 pm on CBS: AFC: 6) Buffalo Bills at 3) Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5) —
After 18 years, the Bills are finally back in the playoffs. Their 9-7 record was just enough to make it. The 10-6 Jaguars have a solid defense but lost their last two regular season games against teams with worse records. Neither Tyrod Taylor or Blake Bortles inspire much confidence. The spread is too high to trust Jacksonville’s anemic offense. 21 years ago, a Jacksonville squad in only its second year of existence went into Buffalo in the Wildcard round and shocked the Bills 30-27 to end Jim Kelly’s career and Buffalo’s AFC dominance. Defense will not carry the Jaguars to their first Super Bowl, but it will be good enough at home to get them to the next round. Jaguars win but fail to cover.
4:30 pm on FOX: NFC) 5) Carolina Panthers at 4) New Orleans Saints (-7) —
Both teams finished 11-5 but the Saints swept the Panthers during the regular season. Early in the year New Orleans went into Carolina and blasted the panthers 34-13. In the rematch at home, the Saints held 31-21. Despite the large margin of victory in both games, beating a team three times in one season is never easy. The Saints have the advantage on offense with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram powering a strong running game that takes the pressure off of pinball wizard Drew Brees. Carolina has a tough defense. On offense, Carolina goes as Cam Newton goes, and he is streaky. At home, trust the Saints. With the game on the line, trust Brees. Saints win but fail to cover.