Derrick Henry on how he maintains his dynamic level of production
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for football fans.
The NFL playoffs are set to kick off with the wildest Wild Card weekend ever, featuring six games over two days.
After that, it’s the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night.
TSN will be your home for all of that action.
Of course, TSN Edge has you covered with everything you need to know heading into that three-day stretch, continuing with our top plays for this week’s NFL contests.
Here are our best bets for NFL Wild Card weekend.
Domenic Padula: Buffalo Bills -6.5 vs. Indianapolis Colts
For five weeks I’ve written about how the Buffalo Bills were the team with the best chance to upset the Kansas City Chiefs in a potential playoff game.
So it only makes sense that I take Buffalo to win a home playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts as my best bet this weekend.
No team is hotter than the Bills, who enter the playoffs on the heels of six straight double-digit wins and covers.
Josh Allen is coming off an MVP-calibre season in which he led a Buffalo offence to an average of 47.3 points per game over the final three weeks of the regular season.
With John Brown back in the lineup next to Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley, this Bills attack will have its full cast of offensive playmakers available to allow Allen to stretch the defence.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo defence allowed just 5.8 yards per pass attempt over the final seven games of the regular season and will make it difficult on Philip Rivers and company to keep up.
I’ll take the Bills to win by a touchdown at home.
Pick: Bills -6.5
Chris Amberley: Baltimore Ravens -3 at Tennessee Titans
Aside from the Bills, there isn’t a playoff team you’d like to avoid more than the Baltimore Ravens on Wild Card Weekend.
The Ravens ended the season on a five-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents by 97 points during that stretch.
Lamar Jackson is back playing like his former MVP self, accounting for 15 touchdowns over the final five weeks, and now gets to face one of the softest defences in the NFL.
No playoff team allowed more yards or points per game than the Tennessee Titans, and only the Minnesota Vikings finished the season with a worst pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus.
Of course, the Titans were able to overcome their atrocious defence by scoring 30.7 points per game. However, we saw just two weeks ago at Lambeau Field how game-script dependent rushing King Derrick Henry is.
Tennessee is built to run the football and is not equipped to play catch up.
When they fall behind early, they’re forced to abandon the run, which puts extreme pressure on a weak pass blocking unit.
Only four teams had a lower pass-blocking grade than the Titans. Considering how poorly they’re playing on defence, the likelihood that they trail at some point in this game is very high.
That’s good news for the Ravens defence, which ranked second in 2020 in points allowed, and held five of its last six opponents below 20 points.
Pick: Ravens -3
Luke Bellus: Baltimore Ravens -3 vs. Tennessee Titans
After making a magical run to the AFC Championship game last season, the Tennessee Titans have followed that up by going 11-5, winning the AFC South this season and being an underdog ahead of hosting the Baltimore Ravens.
Ryan Tannehill has shown the league that last year wasn’t a fluke as you find his name amongst the league leaders in quarterback rating and QBR, and we haven’t even talked about his running back yet.
Derrick Henry looks poised to take over in the playoffs once again.
The 26-year-old ended the season on fire, becoming the first player since Adrian Peterson in 2012 to break the 2,000-yard mark.
Henry’s 2,027 rushing yards made him the eighth person in NFL history to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in a season, and he did it thanks in a huge end to the season.
Since Week 14, Henry has rushed for 710 yards on 107 carries, good enough for 6.64 yards per attempt and he’s found the end zone five times in those four games.
On the other side, the Ravens are peaking at the right time.
Through 12 weeks of the season, it appeared the league had caught up with Lamar Jackson and this Ravens running game, but it appears they were wrong.
Jackson and his offence have bounced back, averaging 37.2 points per game and ending the season on a five-game winning streak.
While I’m not sure this is the season we finally see Baltimore get over the hump and win a playoff game, I am positive that this offence will be effective on Sunday.
The Ravens will be able to take advantage of this Titans defence that was awful against the pass all season, and mediocre at stopping the run.
I think we see the Ravens put up points and Tennessee has the firepower to keep up.
The over was 12-3-1 in Titans’ games this season, I’ll ride with that.
Pick: Over 54.5