Monday Playoff Preview

Breaking down the opening weekend of the 2023 NFL playoffs.

2021 Fantasy Football Team Outlooks

What was originally scheduled to be one game is now a pair, due to inclement weather in Buffalo. Saturday’s slate brought a 2-0 start and Sunday featured a pair of intriguing NFC contests. After nailing both, I’m 4-0 to open Wild Card Weekend. FullTime Fantasy’s Monday Playoff preview breaks down the Pittsburgh at Buffalo and Philadelphia at Tampa Bay games.

Using our RDA* projections, we can break down each game to find the statistical edge that can give us a leg up in playoff fantasy and daily fantasy lineups. Also, we can determine the best bets to make.

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Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7) at Buffalo Bills (11-6)

Time: 4:30 Eastern

Line: Buffalo -9.5

Total: 37.5

Money Line: Steelers +400, Bills -525

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh dipped to 29th in offense, yet Mike Tomlin did another phenomenal job rallying his club above putrid quarterback play. Tomlin is sticking with the ‘hot hand’ in QB Mason Rudolph. However, expect the Steelers to feature both of their running backs heavily, Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, against a suspect Buffalo run defense.

Also, the Steelers won’t have their best defensive player in T.J. Watt. The Steelers have only garnered a single victory in the 11 games Watt has missed since debuting in 2017. The under has hit in 10 of Pittsburgh’s last 15 games and 7-of-8 when facing the Bills.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are surging into the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. A change of offensive coordinators resulted in more emphasis on James Cook and the rushing attack. Of course, QB Josh Allen leads the club in rushing scores and is one of the top running QB threats in football. The Steelers ranked just 19th against the run this season.

WR Stefon Diggs has not thrived since the scheme change. But Diggs remains a strong play against a modest secondary. This game was originally scheduled for Sunday and moved due to weather. The cold and snow could still factor in. Additionally, the under has hit in six of the last seven games played at Highmark Stadium.

UNDER 39.5 LOSS

Philadelphia Eagles (11-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8)

Time: 8:15 PM Eastern

Line: Philadelphia -3

Total: 43.5

Money Line: Eagles -150, Buccaneers +130

Philadelphia Eagles

The once-dominant Eagles are reeling. Philadephia enters the playoffs having lost five of their last six. That’s a terrible dynamic. In the Super Bowl era, the previous five teams that dropped 5-of-6 before entering the postseason are 0-5 in their playoff game. Additionally, the Eagles are beat up. QB Jalen Hurts has been contending with numerous ailments for a while and No. 1 WR A.J. Brown (knee) has been ruled out. Expect more targets to go to TE Dallas Goedert and WR DeVonta Smith, who is poised to have a big game.

Also, it makes sense to project RB D’Andre Swift to have an expanded role. However, Tampa Bay ranked 5th against the run and Swift has only topped double-digit fantasy points once in his last six games. Philly’s chances rest with Hurts, as both a passer and runner. These two squads faced off in this stadium back in Week 3 and Hurts produced 305 yards of offense and two scores.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Meanwhile, Tampa is also dealing with injuries. QB Baker Mayfield was limited all week with ankle and rib injuries and is listed as questionable. Mayfield is tough and will play. But the matchup is a tough one. Particularly for a limited signal caller. In Week 3, the Eagles held Mayfield to 146 passing yards and one score at Raymond James.

Despite the 25-11 loss to Philadelphia in September, this is a good matchup for Tampa’s skill-position group. The Eagles ranked 31st against the pass. Mike Evans scored seven touchdowns at home this season, including the team’s only TD in the previous matchup. Chris Godwin produced double-digit fantasy points in his final five outings of the regular season. Our RDA* projections love Godwin tonight. Also, RB Rachaad White can factor in as a dangerous receiving option if the Eagles’ No. 10 run defense factors in.

With the Eagles struggling and Tampa winning five of their last six to win the NFC South, I like the Buccaneers to cover and might even consider the money line.

Bucs +3 WIN

 


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About Jody Smith 460 Articles
With over a decade of winning experience, Jody is a well-known fixture in the fantasy football community. He was named Fantasy Pros’ **Most Accurate Ranker** previously and was the site’s Top NFL over/under totals picker with a record 65% accuracy in 2020, while also ranking 5th in the country with a 55% against-the-spread hit rate. Jody has written for many sites over the years including Pro Football Focus, FantasyPros, CBS Sportsline, FantasyData, and is a regular contributor to the Fantasy Index magazine expert’s poll, draft, and auction. Jody’s experience ranking and projecting player performance will help prepare the Fulltime Fam for their big draft days as well as answers they can trust on Sunday for those ever crucial Who Do I Start questions.