2019 Season: NFC Playoff Preview (Handicapping, Fantasy)
Let’s look at the NFC from a betting standpoint which leads directly into the fantasy aspect. Some of you play ‘Playoff Fantasy’ (and you should, to enhance the playoff watch more -- it’s easy and some free entry on major sites, I believe), but some with prizes, and there are money leagues to compete in on like FFPC or MyFantasyLeague).
Some play in the FF-playoff leagues that the point values rise with each round your player chosen makes it to, some setups you get a one-time use only player every round and you need new guys every week (so you want to pick good performers from teams that lose), while others have a real fantasy draft of just the playoff players. It’s crazy…and great that we have all these new postseason FF options.
I’m going to go through each game, and share some thoughts notes on each and some players I’m looking at…and perhaps it will aid in your studies/choices. NFC time (see AFC posted yesterday)…
MIN at NO (-7.5)
Vegas thinks it, and we all think it – the safest bet of round ore is probably the Saints beating the Vikings at home Sunday. The Saints are coming in hot and the Vikings are entering losers of three of their last 5 games, 4-4 in their last 8 games.
The Vikings were 1-4 against playoff teams this season (the win against the saddest playoff team, Philly). The Vikings are somewhat of a fraud to even be in the playoffs. Their defense has been dying to the finish…the thing Mike Zimmer (I have a funny feeling this is Zim’s last game as HC of MIN) is most known for is collapsing. Not good facing a Saints team that has won six of their last 7, the loss in that crazy game vs. SF (that they should’ve won). The Saints were 3-1 against playoff teams this season…with that 48-46 last second loss to the 49ers.
All signs point to a Saints rout. Teams are beating the Vikings on the ground…opponents have 140+ yards rushing in five of Minny’s last 8 games.
Minnesota rush yards allowed the last five games: 218-70-62-184-158.
Minnesota pass yards allowed the last five games: 240-205-307-216-207.
Alvin Kamara feels like a hot play for the playoffs…facing the Vikings, and then onto Green Bay (#23 against the run), and then either Seattle (#22 v. run) or San Fran (#17 v. run and got worse as the year wore on). Latavius Murray may have some moments in there too.
When the Vikings get down, they’ll abandon the run and throw 40+ times to try to compete and might garbage up some Cousins-Diggs-Thielen stats. Dalvin Cook would be a risk in this game for sure…between the likelihood the Saints get up quick/big and Cook taking a hit and being done.
As a bettor, I stay away…but picking it – I’d lean taking Minnesota with the +7.5 and hope for a backdoor cover. If you gave every opponent that the Saints faced this season at home/in New Orleans +7.5 points…the Saints would be 2-6 ATS.
Kamara-Thomas are the obvious FF plays. Adam Thielen returning to his former ways is a bit of a sleeper, I’d guess we’d say, for this game. The deep sleeper is Latavius Murray getting nice 2nd-half touches in a blowout against the team/coach that kinda screwed him a couple years ago.
2020 College Football Metrics Season Has Begun
Time to start the studies, scouting, grading, ranking of the 2020 NFL Draft/Dynasty Rookie Draft class. CFM, as always, will have scouting reports on all the top prospects and small-school sleepers and everything in-between as we grade/rank over 600+ prospects by draft day. We’ll cover the East-West Shrine, Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and NFL Draft along the way and build to our weekly Top 200+ Dynasty Rookie Draft rankings (including IDPs).
We’ll also look back at the 2019 NFL Draft and 2019 Dynasty Rookie Draft rankings and re-do the 2019 Rookie Draft to see where we’re at and what items undervalued (now) to target in 2020. So much scouting to do – the Dynasty/Fantasy studies never end and are constantly fluid. It all starts again in early-mid January 2020.
Sign-ups for CFM and/or our Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball (DOBB) subscriptions are found from the FFM home page ‘Subscribe now’ tab.
SEA (-1.5) at PHI
In the war of teams dealing with a ton of injuries, Seattle seems to have the advantage…the Eagles are a shell of themselves, decimated by injury. If not for an easy NFC East last 4 games of the season, where the Eagles went 4-0 and looked bad in most quarters of most of the games (but did get it together to win) – they wouldn’t have had a .500 season nor made the playoffs…but they are here…and hosting a game! Philly went 5-1 in division and 4-6 outside of it.
Seattle staggered to the finish…losing three of their last 4 games. Seattle is confusing… 11-5 season, but only one win by two or more scores. 7-1 on the road, 4-4 at home. It feels like this is a mismatch with Seattle as obvious, but the Seahawks were an 11-5 team that was damn lucky not to be 8-8 or worse. Two OT wins, two 1-point wins. Seattle has been very lucky this season…but credit to them for winning. Russell Wilson doesn’t get the full credit he deserves.
You have to figure Seattle, minus their run game, will go after Philly via the air…it’s the smartest way to attack the Eagles. Russell Wilson ‘unleashed’ is capable of huge FF games. If that happens, he’ll take Lockett-Metcalf with him, most likely. Jacob Hollister hasn’t scored a TD or been much for FF in his last 6 games. The run game will be Marshawn Lynch-led, which is amazing just to type that in 2020. Wilson could be a key FF play in a Philly win and then definitely key when taking on the 49ers next.
If Philly were to win, which I am starting to believe is more and more possible…it could be a shock Jordan Howard return of ground-and-pound or just more Boston Scott savior moments (or both). Seattle died to the finish trying to stop the run in 2019…125+ rush yards allowed to opponents in all of their final 4 games this season. Philly will try to win with RBs and TEs, which is Seattle’s achilles heel…and the Eagles only strength.
The more I look at the data, the more I’m leaning towards this is a toss-up game and that I would take the Philly side because ‘home’ and ‘getting points’. The Eagles are uniquely constructed/shifted into beating Seattle/taking advantage of their weaknesses. Two sketchy teams in the playoffs…I might lean the home team. If OG Brandon Brooks were playing, I’d really feel good about Philly here.
Boston Scott is the FF sleeper here, but not as much a sleeper anymore after his performance the past few weeks. Dallas Goedert is the obvious play. Seattle WR David Moore is the deep sleeper.
Next Round preview/thoughts…
-- Assuming the Saints win, they would then be a 0-2 point underdog to the Packers, I’d suspect, because of ‘at Green Bay’. The weather forecast ahead in Green Bay for that game looks like ‘feels like’ 20-30 degrees and snow possible. Not favorable for the Saints set up. With normal playing conditions, I’d love, like most, the Saints going in and thumping Green Bay, but the weather forecast gives me some pause. However, Green Bay rode, maybe, the easiest schedule in the NFL this season to a 13-3 record…including beating KC at KC with Mahomes out. I do not trust GB, nor have I really seen anything great from GB all season the last 10+ games or so.
Even with the weather, I’d take the Saints because I’ll take Sean Payton over Matt LaFleur always, and Brees v. Rodgers favors Brees these days, and the Saints have as good a defense or better than the Packers. Everything favors the Saints, except the weather.
-- The Philly-Seattle winner likely goes to San Francisco next and will be 4-8 point dogs.
The 49ers have been, arguably, the best coached team in the NFL…and possibly, at full strength, are the best team in the NFL all-around. They have the pieces for a dominating defense (had they not lost Kwon Alexander) and they have been getting their injured CBs back. The 49ers’ offense has been right there with the Ravens in efficiency and production the 2nd-half of the year. With normal playing conditions and no major injuries and playing a normal game – the 49ers and Ravens are clearly better than any team, and the 49ers could be the single best.
The 49ers want to win via the run…it’s a run/RB-centric team. Raheem Mostert has become the starter and has scored 8 TDs in his last six games. The 49ers are going to score 24+ points every week (as they have done in eight of their last 10 games). They two times this season SF has been below 20 points scored was in torrential downpour games (WAS, BAL). The 49ers will score 3+ TDs a game, and at least one is going to an RB.
No one player racks crazy numbers in this 49ers offense, which is the genius of it…it’s like the Patriots – they hit you with punches you don’t see coming. They are hard to plan for or focus on any one player. George Kittle is their leader. Deebo Samuel has become the most interesting WR…4 TDs his last six games…2 receiving, 2 rushing. Samuel has become a quasi-RB playing WR. He’s rushed for 4 TDs this season while averaging 11.4 yards per carry.
I’m guessing we will see a Saints-49ers rematch for the finals, and you have to favor SF in that…at home, and Sean Payton always finds a way to lose in the end the past few seasons, plus the Saints have to get by two opponents to get to the end, where the 49ers have the rest week and just one opponent to get by – and that opponent being one of shaky/much-injured teams SEA-PHI.
I’m picking NO at SF, KC at BAL for the Final Four…and all four teams legit to win a title, but my computer models say the Chiefs are the weakest team (in general) of them…but more likely to upset the Ravens than the Saints defeating the 49ers to make it to the final. The Chiefs are constructed to give the Ravens trouble. SF-BAL Super Bowl is likely, but SF-KC is right there too.
I don’t trust Andy Reid, so I’m going chalk…SF v. BAL, and I’ll lean Ravens just because they have been beyond dominant this season. The 49ers stumble here and there, but the Ravens have just been mowing opponents down since Week 7. The 49ers played them close in-season, but that was in a downpour that I felt the Ravens mostly dominated the game.
However it is that you are playing the NFL playoffs…betting, fantasy, or both – good luck!!
I’ll have game recaps of every playoff game the following week right through to the Super Bowl.
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