This article is part of our NFL Game Previews series.
Jacksonville (+8.5) at Kansas City, o/u 52.5
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EST
I mean, you had to know in a playoff matchup between the Jaguars and Chargers, something wacky was going to happen. Jacksonville's Jekyll-and-Hyde routine last week resulted in the third-largest postseason comeback in NFL history and made it the first team in playoff history to win despite a turnover differential of minus-5 or worse. It was also good to see that Trevor Lawrence still had that kind of performance in him; the second-year QB had only one passing TD in the final three games of the regular season, and there were definitely questions about how badly he was being affected by the toe injury he's been playing through. He also hadn't thrown multiple interceptions in a game since Week 8, so you can probably just throw both halves of last week's game out as anomalies. As with most teams trying to find a way to topple Andy Reid's crew, the game plan might come down to how well the Jags can run the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field as much as possible. Travis Etienne topped 100 rushing yards against the Bolts, the third time in his last five games he's hit for triple digits, but he got held to 45 rushing yards when these two teams met in Week 10, and Seattle's Kenneth Walker in Week 16 is the only running back in the last couple months to even reach 60 yards against Kansas City. Game
Jacksonville (+8.5) at Kansas City, o/u 52.5
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EST
I mean, you had to know in a playoff matchup between the Jaguars and Chargers, something wacky was going to happen. Jacksonville's Jekyll-and-Hyde routine last week resulted in the third-largest postseason comeback in NFL history and made it the first team in playoff history to win despite a turnover differential of minus-5 or worse. It was also good to see that Trevor Lawrence still had that kind of performance in him; the second-year QB had only one passing TD in the final three games of the regular season, and there were definitely questions about how badly he was being affected by the toe injury he's been playing through. He also hadn't thrown multiple interceptions in a game since Week 8, so you can probably just throw both halves of last week's game out as anomalies. As with most teams trying to find a way to topple Andy Reid's crew, the game plan might come down to how well the Jags can run the clock and keep Patrick Mahomes off the field as much as possible. Travis Etienne topped 100 rushing yards against the Bolts, the third time in his last five games he's hit for triple digits, but he got held to 45 rushing yards when these two teams met in Week 10, and Seattle's Kenneth Walker in Week 16 is the only running back in the last couple months to even reach 60 yards against Kansas City. Game script has been a large part of that — it takes a lot of discipline to commit to the run when you know you probably need at least 30 points to have any chance at winning — but Chris Jones and the front seven deserve a little credit there too.
Mahomes didn't quite catch Peyton Manning when it was all said and done for the regular season, even with an extra game, but his campaign was hardly a bust. His final total of 5,250 passing yards is the fourth highest in league history — only some guys names Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are ahead of him on that list — and Mahomes threw 40 or more TDs for the second time in his five seasons as a starter. Nobody else has more than three such seasons in their entire careers (Brady and Aaron Rodgers.) I think everyone sort of takes for granted just how ridiculous Mahomes' numbers are, and if those other guys I mentioned are any indication, he has another decade or so of elite-level play ahead of him at least. Twelve more years at his current annual average puts him second all-time in passing yards, ahead of Brees. Fourteen years (i.e. playing until he's 41) gives him the record ahead of Brady. Don't even get me started on passing touchdowns — he'll move into the all-time top 50 early in 2023, and he barely needs to average 30 a season the next 10 years to join the 500 Club. I'm filling up the word count looking ahead to the 2030s because the outcome here shouldn't really be in doubt. The Jags can't stop tight ends, nobody can stop Jerick McKinnon apparently, and it's Reid coming off a bye. 'Nuff said.
JAC injuries: QB Lawrence (questionable, toe), WR Calvin Ridley (out, suspension)
KC injuries: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (IR-R, ankle), WR Mecole Hardman (out, pelvis)
JAC DFS targets: Christian Kirk $6,000 DK / $7,600 FD (KC 31st in DVOA vs. WR1)
KC DFS targets: Mahomes $8,000 DK / $9,200 FD (JAC 30th in passing DVOA, 28th in passing yards per game allowed), Travis Kelce $7,700 DK / $8,000 FD (JAC 32nd in DVOA vs. TE)
JAC DFS fades: none
KC DFS fades: none
Key stat: KC second in third-down conversions during the regular season at 48.7 percent; JAC 29th in third-down defense at 43.2 percent
Weather notes: temperature in the mid-30s, 20-35 percent chance of rain
The Scoop: Etienne gains 70 yards and a touchdown. Lawrence throws for 250 yards and a TD to Kirk while Jamal Agnew also runs in a score. Isiah Pacheco leads the KC backfield with 80 yards. Mahomes throws for 320 yards and four TDs, hitting Kelce (who tops 100 yards) twice and JuJu Smith-Schuster and McKinnon once each. Kansas City 34-27
N.Y. Giants (+7.5) at Philadelphia, o/u 48
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST
If you look at various statistics and metrics (net yards per play, DVOA, etc.), there were four below-average teams that snuck into the playoffs this season — the Buccaneers, the Chargers, the Vikings and the Giants. Three are gone already, and the fourth is only still standing because they got to face one of the other three. Sure, New York won in Minnesota last week, but it was 2-5-1 down the stretch during the regular season, and its only victories came against Taylor Heinicke and Sam Ehlinger. I remain a Daniel Jones skeptic — yeah, Brian Daboll helped him reduce his turnovers and use his legs effectively, but being the Great Value Josh Allen doesn't make you a franchise QB. Jones still doesn't really do much with his arm, and he threw for 200 yards or less in four of the last five regular-season games before "erupting" last week against a Vikings secondary that couldn't contain Mike White or Mac Jones either. Saquon Barkley is the only really scary threat in this offense, and the Philly defense held him to 48 scrimmage yards in their only meeting this season (Barkley got rested for the Week 18 clash). If he gets contained again, I just don't know where the points are going to come from — and even if they don't contain him, he might not be enough.
I've seen a lot of chatter that this game should be close because Jalen Hurts isn't 100 percent healthy, and all I can say is ... do the Eagles really need him to be? The defense has allowed 22 points or less in 13 of 17 games this season and six of the last eight, including both times it faced the Giants (although given the players actually on the field in Week 18, there's no reason to draw any conclusions from that one). The unit was first in sacks and second in pressure rate, and while Jones did improve in some areas, he still got sacked 44 times — the second time in his career he's been brought down more than 40 times in a season. Hurts might not run at all or launch any bombs, and Philly could still win going away. The third-year QB now has had another week to heal, though, and Nick Sirianni kept things pretty vanilla in Week 18 against a potential playoff opponent. When Hurts was healthy in Week 14, the Eagles stomped the Giants 48-22, and something like that result appears more likely than that 22-16 final from the finale.
NYG injuries: WR Sterling Shepard (IR, knee), WR Wan'Dale Robinson (IR, knee)
PHI injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries
NYG DFS targets: none
PHI DFS targets: Miles Sanders $5,700 DK / $7,200 FD (NYG 32nd in rushing DVOA, 27th in rushing yards per game allowed, 31st in YPC allowed), Dallas Goedert $4,500 DK / $6,300 FD (NYG 31st in DVOA vs. TE), Eagles DST $3,200 DK / $4,800 FD (first in sacks, t-2nd in takeaways, NYG t-27th in sacks)
NYG DFS fades: Jones $5,800 DK / $7,400 FD (PHI first in passing DVOA, first in passing yards per game allowed, fourth in YPA allowed), Isaiah Hodgins $4,900 DK / $6,700 FD (PHI second in DVOA vs. WR1), Darius Slayton $4,200 DK / $5,700 FD (PHI fourth in DVOA vs. WR2)
PHI DFS fades: DeVonta Smith $7,200 DK / $7,400 FD (NYG third in DVOA vs. WR2), Quez Watkins $3,300 DK / $4,900 FD (NYG sixth in DVOA vs. WR3)
Key stat: PHI second in net yards per play during the regular season at 1.10; NYG 25th at -0.44
Head-to-head record, last five years: 8-2 PHI, average score 27-18 PHI, average margin of victory 12 points. PHI has won nine straight home meetings, with NYG's last victory at Lincoln Financial Field coming in Week 8 of the 2013 season, when Tom Coughlin out-coached Chip Kelly and neither team scored an offensive touchdown (final score: 15-7, on five Josh Brown field goals and a Najee Goode fumble recovery TD)
Weather notes: temperature in the high 30s
The Scoop: Barkley manages 80 scrimmage yards and two scores, one rushing and one receiving. Jones throws for 230 yards and a second TD to Richie James. Sanders responds with 120 combined yards and a touchdown. Hurts throws for 270 yards and two TDs, finding Goedert and A.J. Brown, while Haason Reddick returns a Jones fumble to the house. Eagles 31-21
Cincinnati (+5.5) at Buffalo, o/u 48 – Sunday, 3 p.m. EST
It's hard not to view this game through the lens of the one that never happened. Had the Bengals won that Monday night clash instead of it being stopped and never resumed, they'd be playing host to this one instead of needing to travel to Buffalo. (I'm still not sure why that scenario didn't warrant a coin flip or a neutral-site game, the way the league said last week's Cincy-Baltimore game would have had the Ravens won in Week 18, but whatever.) Instead, the Bengals roll into this one having one nine consecutive games around the no-contest. Remarkably, it's been the defense leading the way, as aside from a 30-point hiccup against the Steelers in Week 11, opponents have averaged just 15.9 points a game against them, including last week's wild-card win over the Ravens. Joe Burrow's had his moments too, of course, and Cincy's proven it can win a game in just about any fashion, including on 98-yard fumble returns by hometown heroes. The problem is, that winning streak came after their offensive line finally started to gel, and the line will likely be down three starters Sunday. It's why I have the least confidence in the result below of any of the games this weekend. Season-long numbers say Cincy was the slightly better team, and by enough to overcome Buffalo's home-field advantage, but if Burrow doesn't get enough time in the pocket — even against a fairly average Bills pass rush — then we're looking at something more like the team that went 4-4 to begin the campaign, and that probably won't be good enough.
That said, the Bills aren't firing on all cylinders either. I'm inclined to cut them some slack for last week's struggles to put away the Dolphins — division rivals, seeing each other three times in a season, etc. etc., and Miami gave them fits in the first two meetings too — but Josh Allen's seven turnovers in the last four games are the kind of thing that could prove to be a back-breaker in a tight contest. Of course, he's also produced 13 TDs over that stretch (12 passing, one rushing) and the Bills have won eight straight themselves, so as yet that sloppiness hasn't cost them. Buffalo will also have just about all the intangibles in its favor with Damar Hamlin not only out of the hospital but back in the building already, and the atmosphere in the stadium if he's on the sidelines ... I mean, how could you compete with that?
CIN injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries
BUF injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries
CIN DFS targets: Ja'Marr Chase $7,800 DK / $8,500 FD (BUF 29th in DVOA vs. WR1)
BUF DFS targets: Gabe Davis $4,800 DK / $6,600 FD (CIN 31st in DVOA vs. WR2)
CIN DFS fades: Joe Mixon $6,500 DK / $7,700 FD (BUF third in rushing DVOA, fifth in rushing yards per game allowed), Hayden Hurst $3,200 DK / $5,000 FD (BUF first in DVOA vs. TE)
BUF DFS fades: Allen $7,800 DK / $9,000 FD (CIN t-3rd in passing TDs allowed, third in rushing yards allowed to QB)
Key stat: CIN third in third-down conversions during the regular season at 46.1 percent; BUF seventh in third-down defense at 37.5 percent
Weather notes: temperature in the low 30s, 5-20 percent chance of snow
The Scoop: Mixon ekes out 50 yards. Burrow throws for 290 yards and three touchdowns, finding Chase (who tops 100 yards) twice and Tyler Boyd once. Devin Singletary leads the BUF backfield with 70 yards, while James Cook scores a TD. Allen throws for 260 yards and two touchdowns, hitting Davis and Dawson Knox, but he also gets picked off twice. Bengals 27-24
Dallas (+3.5) at San Francisco, o/u 46 – Saturday, 6:30 p.m. EST
Oh, Cowboys, never change. One week after looking like they belonged near the top of the 2023 draft in a beyond ugly loss to the Commanders in Sam Howell's first career NFL start, they put a mollywhopping on the Bucs in what might have been Tom Brady's last NFL start. Dak Prescott, who seemed color blind down the stretch when it came to identifying which uniforms he should be throwing the ball to, was absolutely clinical against Tampa Bay and avoided getting picked off for the first time since Week 11 en route to five total touchdowns. Which version of Prescott, and Dallas as a whole, will show up this week? Who knows? This is Chaos Season after all, so dismiss the chances of a Cowboys-Jaguars Super Bowl at your own peril. To be honest, I am rooting for at least a Dallas-Philly NFC title game, just because the sight of Jason Peters in navy blue instead of midnight green at left tackle is going to break a lot of brains. When everything is clicking, this is the most dangerous offense in the NFL — apologies to Messrs. Reid, Mahomes et al. in Kansas City — and the Cowboys rang up 40 or more points four times in their last 10 regular-season games, including against an Eagles defense that's one of the few in the 49ers' league. If they can get rolling, an upset is more than possible.
That said, the Niners are the hottest team in the NFL. They haven't lost a game since before Halloween, reeling off 11 consecutive wins including last week's wild-card victory over the Seahawks in which they basically didn't wake up until halftime and still blew Seattle out of the building by the final whistle. Brock Purdy somehow got even better in his playoff debut, throwing for a career-high 332 yards and producing four total touchdowns in his sixth career start. So far, Mr. Extremely Relevant hasn't seem fazed yet by anything an NFL defensive coordinator has shown him. To be fair, the Cowboys will be the best defense he's faced yet and Dan Quinn the best DC, but there isn't really any evidence Purdy's performance to date is purely a schedule-driven mirage. Even if it is, he's backed up by a wealth of skill-position talent headlined by Christian McCaffrey and his seven-game TD streak, and a defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all year and has generated multiple takeaways in four consecutive games and eight of the last nine. Purdy could suddenly turn into Skylar Thompson, and the Niners might keep right on going.
DAL injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries
SF injuries: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (out, foot), QB Trey Lance (IR, ankle), WR Jauan Jennings (questionable, ankle)
DAL DFS targets: Noah Brown $3,100 DK / $4,900 FD and T.Y. Hilton $3,200 DK / $5,000 FD (SF 30th in DVOA vs. WR3)
SF DFS targets: Brandon Aiyuk $5,000 DK / $6,500 FD (DAL 32nd in DVOA vs. WR2)
DAL DFS fades: Tony Pollard $6,100 DK / $7,100 FD and Ezekiel Elliott $5,400 DK / $6,500 FD (SF second in rushing DVOA, second in rushing yards per game allowed, first in YPC allowed, first in passing DVOA vs. RB), CeeDee Lamb $7,300 DK / $7,800 FD (SF fourth in DVOA vs. WR1)
SF DFS fades: Jennings $3,400 DK / $5,100 FD (DAL second in DVOA vs. WR3), George Kittle $5,700 DK / $7,100 FD (DAL fourth in DVOA vs. TE)
Key stat: SF first in turnover differential during the regular season at +13; DAL second at +10
Weather notes: no weather-related concerns
The Scoop: Pollard leads the DAL backfield with 50 yards. Prescott throws for 260 yards and two TDs, hitting Lamb and Dalton Schultz, but he also gets picked off twice. McCaffrey erupts for 130 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. Purdy throws for 250 yards and two scores of his own, finding Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. 49ers 31-20
2022 playoff record: 5-1, 3-3 ATS, 2-4 o/u
2022 regular-season record: 156-113-2, 122-142-7 ATS, 140-128-3 o/u
2021 regular-season record: 174-97-1, 146-125-1 ATS, 125-143-4 o/u
Lifetime record: 1444-882-9, 1127-1134-74 ATS, 875-915-33 o/u (o/u not tracked in 2015)