Jan 10, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans linebacker David Long Jr., (51) and cornerback Desmond King II (33) stop Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the Tennessee Titans game against the Baltimore Ravens. Mandatory Credit: George Walker/The Tennessean via USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson rushes Ravens past Titans

Lamar Jackson rushed for a touchdown en route to recording his first NFL playoff win in the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

Jackson completed 17 of 24 passes for 179 yards and rushed 16 times for 136 yards, including a 48-yard score with 2:32 left in the second quarter. His performance helped fifth-seeded Baltimore outgain fourth-seeded Tennessee, 401-209.

The victory propels the Ravens into the AFC semifinals next weekend, when they’ll visit either the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs or second-seeded Buffalo Bills. That will depend on the result of Sunday night’s matchup between the sixth-seeded Cleveland Browns and third-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Titans failed to build on a 10-0 first quarter lead as their high-powered offense couldn’t crank up the running game. NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry, who authored the eighth 2,000-yard rushing season in league history, was held to 40 yards on 18 carries by a defense that used run blitzes liberally.

Tennessee initiated scoring with 5:39 left in the first quarter on Ryan Tannehill’s 10-yard pass to A.J. Brown. It upped the lead to 10-0 just under four minutes later, turning Malcolm Butler’s interception of Jackson into Stephen Gostkowski’s 45-yard field goal.

Baltimore got on the board with 10:02 remaining in the first half on Justin Tucker’s 33-yard field goal, then tied the score on Jackson’s electrifying third down touchdown scamper.

Rookie J.K. Dobbins gave the Ravens the lead for good on a 4-yard scoring run with 9:01 left in the third quarter, finishing off a 77-yard drive.

Gostkowski pulled the Titans within 17-13 by nailing a 25-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter, but Tucker increased the lead to seven on a 51-yard boot with 4:23 remaining.

Tennessee’s last chance to tie the game ended when Tannehill was intercepted by Marcus Peters on the first play after the two-minute warning.

Tannehill finished the game 18 of 26 for 165 yards. The Titans managed only 83 total yards after the first quarter.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) runs the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half in the AFC Wild Card game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Bills end postseason skid with wild-card win over Colts

Josh Allen passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another and the Buffalo Bills recorded their first playoff victory since 1995 by notching a 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in an AFC wild-card game at Orchard Park, N.Y.

Stefon Diggs caught six passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, Dawson Knox also had a scoring reception and Tyler Bass kicked two field goals as second-seeded Buffalo snapped a six-game postseason skid. The Bills’ opponent in the divisional round hasn’t yet been determined.

Allen completed 26 of 35 passes and added 54 yards on 11 carries for Buffalo, which has won seven consecutive games.

Philip Rivers completed 27 of 46 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns for the seventh-seeded Colts. Jonathan Taylor rushed for 78 yards and a score on 21 carries while Jack Doyle and Zach Pascal caught scoring passes.

The Colts took possession with 2:30 left for a final gasp and Rivers later hit a sliding Pascal for 17 yards on fourth down to the Bills’ 46-yard line. Indianapolis couldn’t move any closer and Rivers’ final-second Hail Mary pass was broken up by Buffalo’s Micah Hyde.

The late defensive stand allowed the Bills to leave the field victorious in the postseason for the first time since a club led by Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas engineered a 37-22 win over the Miami Dolphins in a wild-card matchup on Dec. 30, 1995.

Buffalo held a 24-10 lead after Allen connected with Diggs on a 35-yard scoring play with 14:10 left in the contest. The Colts answered with Rivers’ 9-yard touchdown throw to Pascal, but an ensuing two-point run by Taylor failed and left Indianapolis trailing 24-16 with 11:32 left.

Bass boomed a 54-yard field goal through the uprights to make it an 11-point margin with 8:08 remaining. But the Colts quickly moved 76 yards on five plays with Rivers hitting Doyle on a 27-yard scoring pass and on the ensuing two-point conversion to move within 27-24 with 6:13 left.

Indianapolis outgained the Bills 472-397.

Buffalo led 14-10 at halftime after a questionable Indianapolis decision to pass on a field goal.

The Colts were leading 10-7 and had first-and-goal on the Bills’ 4-yard line but came up empty on four straight plays, including an incomplete fourth-down pass from Rivers to Michael Pittman Jr.

The Bills took over with 1:46 remaining and moved 96 yards on 10 plays. Allen capped the drive with a 5-yard keeper with 14 seconds left to give Buffalo the four-point halftime lead.

Buffalo took a 17-10 lead when Bass booted a 46-yard field goal with 11:10 left in the third quarter. Indianapolis attempted to counter but Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 33-yard field-goal attempt that clanked off the right upright.

Earlier, the Bills held a 7-3 lead on Allen’s 3-yard scoring pass to Knox with 1:49 left. Taylor scored from the 1 to give Indianapolis a 10-7 edge with 8:07 left in the half.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Bears biggest wild-card weekend underdogs

The Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 7-9 record, but it’s the Chicago Bears who were installed as the biggest underdogs on Sunday night for wild-card weekend.

Fourth-seeded Washington will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who earned the NFC’s top wild-card spot. The Bucs were installed as 7.5-point favorites by DraftKings shortly after Washington secured the final playoff spot with a win over Philadelphia in the final regular-season game on Sunday night.

The Bears lost to top-seeded Green Bay on Sunday but qualified for the postseason at 8-8 when the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Chicago is a 9.5-point underdog at the New Orleans Saints by DraftKings.

The other NFC matchup will pit the Rams at the Seattle Seahawks, who are 4.5-point favorites.

The final AFC order was established when the Tennessee Titans won the South division with a last-second win over the Houston Texans. That relegated Indianapolis to the seventh seed in the conference, and the Colts have been installed as 6.5-point underdogs at No. 2 seed Buffalo in the first game on Saturday.

Fifth-seeded Baltimore joined Tampa Bay as the only road favorites next weekend, with the Ravens favored by 3.5 points at Tennessee.

Wild-card weekend will conclude with Cleveland playing its first playoff game since 2002 at Pittsburgh, with the third-seeded Steelers installed as early 3.5-point favorites by DraftKings.

–Field Level Media

WORLD SERIES ODDS

2018 World Series Odds

We take a quick break from the pigskin to go through the 2018 MLB World Series odds.

Following a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, the Colorado Rockies are forced to play in a Wild Card matchup against the Chicago Cubs. Tomorrow, the New York Yankees (who boast the third best record in baseball) are forced to play against the Oakland Athletics. After that, the playoffs are a mystery, although the Boston Red Sox certainly seem to be in good shape.

World Series odds

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Wild Card Appearances (2002-2018)

Since the NFL was restructured in 2002, there are four teams that have not played in the postseason as a wild card. The Patriots, Bears, Texans and Buccaneers have either won their division or missed the playoffs completely.

In the same time frame, the Patriots have made 14 postseason appearances. Combined, the Bears, Bucs and Texans have made 10 appearances. 

Amount of wild card appearances is a good metric for the continued strength of a division as a whole. The graphic below displays each division and the number of wild card appearances since 2002. The AFC North comes out on top, boasting five consecutive seasons from 2008-2012 in which they sent at least two teams to the postseason. The AFC East and NFC West each finished with only six appearances.

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