Tiny Nick Game Pick: 1/16
NFL (2 Units) 2-Team 7 Point Teaser (-140)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -0.5: 12:00 p.m. CT on FOX
Will first playoff starter Jalen Hurts, along with rookie head coach Nick Sirianni, go to Tampa and beat the GOAT and defending champions? If you answered yes, seek professional help. This Eagles team truly epitomizes sneaking into the playoffs, with all of their wins over non-playoff teams while going 0-6 in their games against teams that made the playoffs.
It’s just a bad game for what the Eagles are forced to do with Hurts at QB, which is run the game. The Bucs have the best defense in the league and pick up several key defensive starters just in time for the playoffs. The predicted bad weather has lowered the side and total for this game, just in range to get Tompa Brady at a prime price point that I’m fully confident in.
Kansas City Chiefs -5.5: 7:15 p.m. CT on NBC
So far in this Super Wild Card weekend, the chalk has come in quite easily. But the Chiefs are dropping a lot here who feel seriously at risk of leaving the back door open late, so I’m going to narrow that down to the much safer territory of under a touchdown. If this game goes like the Chiefs’ 36-10 win three weeks ago, the tease won’t be necessary. But this is the playoffs, and the Steelers will likely pull out all the stops in this one.
Andy Reid has a pattern in these situations: getting up early and slowing down the stretch to preserve his players’ health before the next round. He certainly has the offense to take that early lead, as evidenced by the 23-0 halftime score of the first game. But there have been so many late rallies in Pittsburgh this season that I’m wary of scoring 12.5 points. Under a touchdown covers all sorts of scenarios for a Chiefs win, so I see that number as the safest teasing option in this game.
NFL (0.75 units) Kansas City Chiefs 1st Half -7 (-110): 7:15 p.m. CT on NBC
For all the reasons above, I like the Chiefs going into halftime with at least a touchdown lead. Also consider that the Steelers are only 6-11 ATS for first half numbers, but 7-4 ATS for the full game as an underdog. It’s a great illustration of how this team consistently starts slow and comes alive late.
That first meeting between those teams marked the third straight road game in which Pittsburgh trailed by at least 23 points before halftime, the first time that had happened in NFL history. Kansas City has most of the matchup advantage in this game, along with an excellent coaching staff to intrigue early in games. Combine that with Pittsburgh’s early game tendencies, and I see a comfortable lead for the home team at halftime.
Bonus NFL props (0.25 units each) 49ers vs. Cowboys: 3:30 p.m. CT on CBS
CeeDee Lamb Over 63.5 receiving yards (-110)
I find it somewhat annoying that the absence of Michael Gallup actually helps CeeDee Lamb from a production standpoint. This moves him outside where he has been more productive this season and will have more opportunities to catch passes through. Lamb is 9-7 over that number on the year, but should have no problem against a relatively weak 49ers secondary.
Amari Cooper Over 59.5 receiving yards (-110)
Cooper has had its ups and downs this season, but with Lamb occupying the outfield in front of him, he should see plenty of unique coverage in this game. Cooper is still extremely dangerous, especially in single coverage, and has become a safety cover for Dak Prescott. I see the Cowboys passing a lot in this game and that should get Cooper past his prop total.
Deebo Samuel Over 64.5 receiving yards (-110)
As a Cowboys fan, this man scares me. Samuel has become one of the NFL’s deadliest weapons, and Dallas just has to hope to contain him because you can’t stop him. The 49ers will be looking to use short passing to negate Dallas’ aggressive passing rush, and Samuel should get plenty of those opportunities.
George Kittle Over 52.5 receiving yards (-110)
Teams have slowed Kittle down somewhat since his scorching stretch after returning from injury. But I don’t have much faith in the Cowboys’ secondary to hold all the guns in San Francisco, and Kittle should have his today. Elijah Mitchell’s return to the 49ers backfield should open up the passing game, creating plenty of opportunities for Kittle to open up and rack up yards after the catch.
No degenerate today.
Tiny Nick has a record of 524-413 ATS (+80.6 units) on his locks since joining Zone Coverage.
Each day it will offer its Locks and Degenerate choices. The locks are the games he trusts. Degenerates are fun but riskier choices.