The New England Patriots are back in play-off action but face a huge test against the Chargers while Philadelphia's title defence is tipped to end in New Orleans.
Los Angeles Chargers @ New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have somehow managed to fly under the radar this season but here we are again in January with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick preparing for a home game having had a week off on a bye.
Something’s got to give here as the Chargers are 9-0 outside of Los Angeles while the Patriots are 8-0 at home – and Brady is 7-0 against Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Anthony Lynn’s side were mightily impressive against Baltimore last week and they’ve now won their last five games as underdogs – although this game is the closest one to call on the odds of the weekend.
If running back Melvin Gordon is fit the Chargers have the perfect weapon to keep churning out the yards and keep Brady off the ball, while when the Pas offence is on the field Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will need to win the battle on the edge to make life as uncomfortable for Brady as possible.
Rivers has that big-play ability though with receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams around, and the Patriots have been susceptible to long passing plays this season as they allowed 59 of them of 20 yards or more this season.
On paper then, the Chargers are well placed to cause a big upset, but this is the Patriots and Brady we’re talking about, who has more wins, games and touchdowns in the play-offs than anyone in NFL history.
Verdict: Chargers (+3.5pts) at 10/11
Points: Under 47.5pts at 10/11
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl favourites New Orleans host Super Bowl champions Philadelphia having already hammered them 48-7 already this season – but that wasn’t the play-off Eagles under QB Nick Foles who seemingly is unbeatable in the post-season.
The Saints are the best balanced team in the league having finished in the top five for passing and rushing, and at home in particular they’ve been outstanding when averaging 40 points in their last five games.
This won’t be a repeat of that earlier beatdown as the Eagles have transformed themselves into a tough nut to crack down the stretch and into the play-offs – just ask Chicago who couldn’t get it done last week even if they were unlucky with the last-second kick hitting the post and crossbar.
Drew Brees could well be the league MVP this season and as long as his offensive line can fend off Philadelphia’s powerful defensive front he’ll be looking to hand it off to his superb running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, or find Pro Bowl wideout Michael Thomas.
The Eagles have a lot going for them now, certainly more than they did in the first meeting this season, and Foles has won his last six starts as an underdog.
Even though there’s a hint of destiny again paying a part for the Eagles they’re still overmatched and playing in one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL and this should be the end of the road for their title defence.
Verdict: Saints to win (-5pts) at 4/7
Touchdowns: Alvin Kamara & Golden Tate to score at 13/2