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Here are the Sunday NFL wild-card predictions:
TENNESSEE TITANS (+3.5) over Baltimore Ravens; Under 54.5
The Ravens are a bully team that can destroy the likes of the Bengals and Browns all they want but have trouble when the going gets tough. The Titans defeated them, 30-24, as six-point home ’dogs on Nov. 22, this after 28-12 romp at Baltimore as 10-point ’dogs in last year’s divisional round.
Lamar Jackson wears his 0-2 playoff mark around his neck until he wins one. Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel has had the Midas touch, and Ryan Tannehill can get the ball down the field as a complement to Derrick Henry.
Chicago Bears (+10) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS; Over 47.5
I might rue this pick by midway through the first quarter, but here’s the rationale: 1. The Bears have some disruptors on defense in Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and a decent secondary. 2. Before last week’s face-plant vs. the Packers, Chicago had scored 30, 36, 33 and 41 points in its previous four games. 3. The Saints haven’t won a postseason game by more than six points since 2011. Leaning Over because dome playoff games have gone Over around 70 percent of the time in the past decade, per VSiN. And it’s also a hedge because if the Saints do go off, it would raise the total.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-6) over Cleveland Browns; Under 47.5
The Browns make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and have to go without their bright young coach, Kevin Stefanski and top offensive lineman Joel Bitonio. This will hurt because Stefanski is a good play-caller, and Bitonio, a three-time Pro Bowler, is key to both the running and passing games. Not being able to practice isn’t a good thing, either. Cleveland still has some playmakers, but this is a tough ask. The Steelers had their own problems in the final month after starting 11-0, but Mike Tomlin should be able to hit the reset button.
Last week: 5-10-1 overall, 0-2-1 Best Bets. Lock of the Week finishes 4-12-1 and does not advance to the postseason.
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