The 2021 NFL postseason has arrived, and it's going to be an incredible ride for fans and bettors alike.
Rather than just splitting wild-card weekend between Saturday and Sunday, the NFL decided to extend the first round of the playoffs until Monday as well, which means we will be spoiled with three straight days of playoff football.
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Coaching and quarterback play matters even more during the postseason.
Even though Sean McDermott has done an excellent job in Buffalo since he was hired in 2017, the Patriots certainly have the coaching edge with Bill Belichick, who is coaching his 44th NFL playoff game, still at the helm.
Nonetheless, the quarterback matchup is not even close, as Josh Allen is a top 3-5 QB in the league when he's at his best. Among quarterbacks who dropped back at least 100 times during the regular season, Allen ranked sixth in overall PFF grade, third in big-time throws (39), second in the percentage of pressures turned into sacks (10.6%) and eigth in average depth of target (9.0 yards).
|Quarterback||J. Allen||M. Jones|
|Passer Rating Clean||100.0||98.1|
|Passer Rating Under Pressure||74.0||74.2|
|Big-Time Throw %||5.7%||4.3%|
|Turnover-Worthy Play %||3.4%||2.5%|
|Power Rating Rank||4th||16th|
This game will feature two of the NFL’s best defenses, as the Patriots (75.9) rank fourth in team-defense grade while the Bills (73.0) are close behind in ninth.
The Bills defense will have a much easier task on their hands, as the recipe for success all night will be to stop the run and get Jones off of his spot. As a player, I loved facing young QBs who were going to be a statue; therefore, I expect the Bills passing defense — fourth in team coverage grade (88.8) — to put forth a dominant performance.
I'm picking the Bills to win by a touchdown.
Most believe that Dak Prescott is the better quarterback in this matchup, but I I don't. After Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady , I trust Jimmy Garoppolo more than the rest of the NFC playoff quarterbacks. Garoppolo ranks second among quarterbacks (min. 100 dropbacks) in yards per attempt (8.6) and seventh in passing grade when kept clean (90.4).
Defensively, the Cowboys thrive at rushing the passer (78.3 team pass-rush grade, eighth-best in the NFL) and creating turnovers, as the Cowboys led the NFL in takeaways (34) during the regular season.
The 49ers' game plan will be to establish dominance on the ground with their offensive line that boasts the No. 1-ranked run-blocking grade (88.4). Shanahan uses pre snap motion and misdirection to get defenses out of position and force defensive backs to tackle. The 49ers rank first shift/motion rate (80.3%) and average 0.70 expected points added (EPA) per play when doing so.
If San Francisco's ground game is effective, it will enable Garoppolo to get the ball out of his hands quickly to let his playmakers create big plays, as the 49ers ranked first in yards after the catch per reception (6.6) during the regular season.
Give me the 49ers plus the points Sunday.