AMERICAN Football bible Tom Selwyn (@Tom_Selwyn) returns with three more best bets from Sunday’s NFL card.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons | Sunday 21.25 | Sky Sports 2
The final week of the season can be quite a tough one to make picks on; there are a lot of teams with nothing to play for and also the potential for teams already secure in their play-off spot to rest their starters, so I’ll be sticking to games that at least have some meaning.
To start with I’ll be looking into the match that will decide the winner of the worst division in the league and backing Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart to go Over 73.5 yards rushing against the Falcons.
I must admit I’m not sure why the Panthers persisted with starting DeAngelo Williams over Stewart, who is clearly the better runner. When Williams went down in the game against Minnesota, Stewart was promoted to starter and it’s no coincidence that since then the Panthers have won all three games with Stewart rushing for 352 yards in those games.
They are going up against Atlanta who has a middle-of-the-road rush defence, ranking 15th in the league and giving up 113.3 yards a game. With Carolina’s game plan based upon having a successful run game, you have to expect that they will use Stewart to pound the ball early and wear down the Falcons DL for big runs later in the game.
Despite Williams having been listed as “probable” for the game, Stewart has been named as the starter and should get at least 20 carries in this one – I fully expect him to average more than enough a run to break the line.
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs | Sunday 18.00 | Sky Sports 2
It feels like the San Diego Chargers have been playing play-off games for some time now and this game against the Chiefs is no exception – the Chargers win and they get into the post-season. I’ll be getting behind the Chargers to do just that.
I have two main reasons for why I think that San Diego can knock off the Chiefs and secure a wildcard. The first is their QB Philip Rivers. He seems to have been single-handedly dragging the Chargers towards the playoffs in recent weeks, with crazy come-from-behind victories (on the road no less) against the Ravens and the 49ers.
The other reason is the news that the Chiefs starting QB Alex Smith will be out for this game, with backup Chase Daniel taking his place. Daniel is a good backup, but a backup for a reason.
The Chiefs were not a great passing team to begin with – they only have 19 passes of 25+ yards all year and they have ZERO TD catches from their WRs – and having the backup QB in should only see this trend continue. This combined with the news that RB Jamaal Charles is questionable to play (and if he does, he won’t be 100%) will put a lot on the Chiefs defence to keep them in this one.
As I said previously, the Chargers win this and they’re in. The Chiefs on the other hand need a win and a lot of help. I’ll take the superior QB with the extra motivation to get it done in this one.
St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks | Sunday 21.25
If Seattle is able to take care of business against St. Louis, they lock-up the #1 seed in the NFC. It’s arguable that nobody has a better home-field advantage than the Seahawks so they will be highly motivated to get the win here. The charge will be led by an incredible defence and I can’t see the Rams doing much against them here – Under 41.5 points for me.
In the last five games, the Seahawks have been a nightmare for opposing offences, giving up only 33 points – that’s only 6.6 points a game! I would be stunned if Seattle allowed St. Louis to get over 20 points in this game.
The Seahawks offense can be a bit disjointed as well, relying on the brilliance of Russell Wilson or the physicality of Marshawn Lynch to make enough plays to win. But because of the aforementioned great defence the Seahawks have, they normally don’t have to make too many of these, which tends to mean low-scoring from Seattle too.
A heavy dose of rushing from the Seahawks backed up by the league’s #1 defence should keep this a low-scoring affair up in Seattle.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons – Jonathan Stewart Over 73.5 Rushing Yards (5/6 Paddy Power)
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs – San Diego Chargers to win (1/1 Bet365)
St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks – Under 41.5 Points (10/11 Betfred)