2020 Season AFC Divisional Fantasy Football and Handicapping Preview
We’re going to take a look at each divisional game from a handicapping and fantasy (playoffs version) perspective and then project/predict the full AFC bracket to the Super Bowl. Yesterday, we looked at the NFC (see FFM home page).
Ravens at Bills (-2.5)
I want to just leap to my typical conclusion…the one that has served me so well in the past 8 games or so – that the Bills are the best team in football, and always undervalued by Vegas/the public, so they are a great bet…and I’ll take that bet. It has worked a lot in-a-row…until they didn’t cover against Indy last week.
So, last week cooled off some of the Bills heat…and also last week fanned the flames for the Ravens among the public. Vanquishing the Titans, furthering their win streak seems to have more people on the bandwagon with the Ravens again. I’m not there. I sense the old momentum/media vibe/public sway happening…Bills undervalued, thus their opponent overvalued. I’ll take the Bills, who are the better team, and lay the -2.5 thankfully…thankful that it’s not -3.0-4.0.
For the Ravens to win, they are going to have to run…led by the QB running. The Bills struggled with Cam Newton the first time they met midseason, the Bills lost Kyler Murray (via fluke), and then wrecked Cam at the end of the season. I think the Bills will contain the Ravens run game enough to allow Josh Allen to win it.
And it will be Josh Allen leading the way…watch for Allen to run as much/more than Lamar Jackson. Allen does this against better pass defenses to loosen them up and then he starts firing away. Allen is likely to have one of those 2 pass TDs + 2 rush TD type games…and Lamar will be forced to throw once the Ravens go down, and then the Baltimore problems will ensue/accelerate when Lamar has to throw his way back into things.
Allen and Diggs should be fine for fantasy, Marlon Humphrey is good but not a total shutdown. His image is bigger than his reality…A.J. Brown was great against him last week.
I’ll be interested to see how much the Ravens lean on J.K. Dobbins – in a game like this, if the Ravens split the carries again…then that tells you that’s their mindset overall and into 2021 (split role/multi-pronged backfield). Dobbins could be the X-factor that wins this game for the Ravens, but if he has 9-12 carries along with Gus and Lamar…then the Ravens will likely lose by 7+.
I like the Josh Allen 'over' 6.5 carries in this game prop bet.
Browns at Chiefs (-10.0)
I’m going to pick the Browns to cover, but I wouldn’t bet a lot on it. I don’t love any of the matchups/Vegas lines this week…except I like the Bills -2.5 the most. So, I’m going with the underdogs otherwise. 10 points is a lot of points, and KC tends to give inflated lines because they are beloved and feared by the public.
The Browns are perfectly built to beat the Chiefs…they can run the ball/control clock, and if needed – Baker can go toe-to-toe with Mahomes. Most people do not believe that, but that’s because they Mahomes (and thus KC) on a platform so high no one can reach it…not even Josh Allen, despite Allen playing better than Mahomes all season. But the Browns secret weapon is Baker can go up-tempo and Air Raid if you want him to…he was born in that system.
I’m going to take the 10 points and hope the game starts out with something crazy, like…oh, I don’t know…the Chiefs first snap of the game goes over Mahomes’s head and the Browns land on it in the end zone. That’ll work.
Andy Reid off a bye with this experienced team…they could/should win by 20+.
For Fantasy, what you suspect works…works. A lot of Nick Chubb (to control clock) vs. Patrick Mahomes, with Travis Kelce more of a sidekick this game than Tyreek Hill (vs. Denzel Ward)…but never rule out Tyreek. The X-factor fantasy player might be Kareem Hunt out for blood vs. his old team in KC. If Baker has to go wild, Rashard Higgins might come up big as he did late in the season.
Kareem Hunt ‘over’ 15.5 receiving yards and ‘over’ 31.5 rushing yards seems like an interesting prop bet.
Best AFC Division Week FF plays:
QB: Allen (4pts) and Mahomes (6pts)
RB: Nick Chubb
WR: Tyreek and Diggs
TE: Travis Kelce
Sleeper: Kareem Hunt vs. his old team that dropped him
Deep Sleeper: Baker Mayfield forced to throw a lot and gets into an even shootout with Mahomes and is the top QB of the week.
AFC bracket predictions…
KC def. CLE
BUF def. BAL
BUF def. KC
Our 2021 scouting previews of all the Senior Bowl invites/prospects is planned to begin Monday 1/18, as I publish a quick preview summary of each player through my 30 minutes or so of preview scouting each prospect (looking at outputs and couple games tapes) and I'll assign a preview grade and cap it off with a 'Mock Draft' of the top prospects from my previews.
During the 2021 Senior Bowl week I'll be sharing takeaways/reports all week from the practices and from the rumor mills behind-the-scenes...on the prospects and the NFL coaches and GM's press conferences, etc., capped off with a game analysis/report and then a re-do of the grading/ranking...adjusted for post-Senior Bowl week.
After the Senior Bowl, we follow the same process leading into the NFL Combine (whenever it is/assuming it is still on).
All the while, full scouting reports on prospects will continue to flow up to and through the NFL Draft, going into the summer and into the NFL preseason.
The Senior Bowl is the first leg of a very long race to understand these prospects and their capabilities up to NFL opening day 2021.
We'll be covering it on College Football Metrics.com all offseason/preseason. Hope you come along for the ride for NFL Draft prep and Dynasty Rookie Draft prep, among other strategic and handicapping ways to consider the information.
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