2020-21 Season Playoffs: Conference Finals Fantasy Football and Handicapping Preview
Tampa Bay at Green Bay (-3.0)
Tom Brady is somewhat sputtering into this game…less than 55% Comp. Pct. his two playoff games, and under 60% Comp. Pct. against playoff teams in the 2020-21 season overall. He’s brutalized/run it up on bad teams and been hit and miss against good teams, more miss – before the two playoff wins, TB was (1-5) in the regular season against teams that made the playoffs.
The Bucs scuffled past Washington and allowed Taylor Heinicke to leave college classes and have a platform to an NFL career by taking it at the Bucs in the wild card round. Tampa Bay was down to the Saints for the first 2.5+ quarters of this game and then the wall collapsed, and the Bucs closed in and won. It has not been ‘vintage Brady’ or ‘awesome Bucs peaking at the right time’…it’s kinda been ‘survived’ or ‘stumbled through’ to this point.
On the other hand, the Packers are roaring into the NFC finals…hitting on all cylinders. Aaron Rodgers is only getting better as he goes. The Packers offense is ascending…the Packers defense has been playing very quietly god+ football (ranked top 10-15 in most key defensive metrics).
Everything points to the Packers crushing Tampa Bay, except the one bad (and it was awful) game Aaron Rodgers had this season…was in a 38-10 whooping Week 6 at Tampa Bay. The Bucs are on record having defeated/crushing this offense this season – they don’t come in intimidated. The last time the Packers/Rodgers was embarrassed like that in the regular season was 2019 against the 49ers, and then they faced SF again in the playoffs…and the 49ers beat them again. Might the Bucs follow that pattern?
Past parallels aside. Just looking at what’s in front of us, the way these teams are coming into this game, and the fact that it is at a very cold, foggy, slippery Lambeau Field – you have to give all the edges to the Packers.
Green Bay has the better QB, backfield, and comparable WR group and O-Line.
Green Bay has the more sound defense, and the Bucs the more erratic defense. The Bucs at their best have a top 3 menacing NFL defense…but at their worst they are very sloppy/over aggressive and give up 25+ points in games like it is nothing.
The Bucs have allowed 27 or more points in a game in four of their last 8 games played (since Week 12). Since Week 12, Green Bay has not allowed more than 25 points in any game.
Given the home field plus ALL the trends going with Green Bay…how can you not take the Packers here and lay the -3.0?
For Fantasy, I would stray away from the Bucs offense top-to-bottom, except Ronald Jones (the Bucs will have to run their way to victory)…but then you have to worry that obstinate Arians sticks with slug Leonard Fournette too much. The Packers should be fine on offense, they’re used to playing in this weather...however, the explosive FF-upside is somewhat capped by the weather for the passing game and the sometimes (been ‘down’ lately) devastating Bucs run defense for holding down Aaron Jones.
My favorite player prop bet from this game: Tom Brady 'over' 0.5 INTs in the game. Also, I like ‘under’ 289.5 yards passing – Brady tends to beat up weak teams in good weather or in dome conditions…and that’s not the setup here. Brady went (1-5) against playoff teams in the regular season with 8 TDs/9 INTs and under 270 passing in five of the 6 games. Now, you have him in the coldest temps he has played in on a slippery field.
Buffalo at Kansas City (-3.0)
*This is assuming Patrick Mahomes is going to play.
This is the real heavyweight fight of the weekend. The two best teams in football going at it. It has all the makings of a shootout because Buffalo doesn’t want to run the ball and believes it can go toe-to-toe with KC’s offense.
KC defeated Buffalo 26-17 in Week 5, but there’s nothing about that game that is normal to compare here. The Bills were missing a starting corner and linebacker and the Chiefs ran it heavy With Clyde Edwards-Helaire. In this week’s playoff game, the Bills defense is as healthy as it has been all season and the Chiefs may or may not have CEH (and who cares if they do). The Week 5 game was also played in a rainy drizzle and both offenses were kinda throttled back on explosions (the two QBs had, arguably, their worst games of the year in the same game. That shouldn’t be the case here.
I like Buffalo just because I think they’re the superior coached team and that Josh Allen 2020 is better than Patrick Mahomes 2020. But, with Mahomes…anything is possible. My eyes watching this entire season tells me KC comes in having played very sloppy football most of the 2nd-half of the season while the Bills have been mostly meticulous in execution winning 11 of their last 12 games (their only loss the Hail Murray lucky ending/Arizona win).
If Breshad Breeland is out this game, then the Bills should have a normal offensive output and then some. With Mahomes at QB, KC should have their normal offensive output. Team with the ball last wins.
Buffalo is undefeated this season whenever Matt Milano (12-0) and Levi Wallace (12-0) are playing for the Bills (both missed the KC game earlier this season).
My favorite player prop from this game: We discussed on The Bet The Close Podcast (posting soon for your listening pleasure): The best odds on Dawson Knox to score a TD and Isaiah McKenzie to score a TD (like 700+ to 1 at FanDuel). I kinda like Devin Singletary ‘over’ 39.5 yards. The Bills should need/want to run the ball a little here, and with no Zack Moss this would be a fine time for Singletary to get 10+ touches.
**Best prop bet of the weekend (team): Buffalo 'over' 25.5 points scored.**
Best Conference Finals DFS FF plays:
QB: Anyone but Brady. Mahomes in 6pts, Allen in 4pts are my faves. Josh Allen overall to pick just one (especially if Breshad Breeland is out). Fearing the GB weather puts a lid on Rodgers, and who knows about Mahomes’s ‘nerve’ issue with another hit – would be my tiebreakers to land on Allen.
RB: Ronald Jones (if TB is smart and doesn’t waste time with Fournette), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (if he plays)
TE: Travis Kelce
DST: Green Bay
PK: Mason Crosby (I don't know that KC or BUF will attempt a FG, unless no other reasonable option)
Sleeper: Darrel Williams (if CEH is out), Allen Lazard (scores a long TD again this week)
Deep Sleeper: Devin Singletary (maybe Buffalo goes heavy run early to confuse KC), Mecole Hardman, Cameron Brate (Brady’s #1 TE target now)
BUF def. KC
GB def. TB
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