Will Damar Hamlin be Joining His Buffalo Teammates?
The pretenders are about to be discovered as the NFL prepares to cut the list of teams vying for the Super Bowl to the final four.
When looking at the NFL Wild Card Update, Kansas City and Philadelphia are the biggest favorites while the Cincinnati-Buffalo and Dallas-San Francisco games could be the most competitive of the four played this weekend.
The totals range from 46.5-47 for the Cowboys-49ers tilt to the Kansas City matchup with Jacksonville going as high as 53 per the NFL Wild Card lines.
The biggest move in the totals has been the Bengals-Bills showdown with the total moving as much as two points in some books. There has been very little movement in the other three games. Perhaps that will change when Friday’s practice reports are announced.
Keep an eye on the Buffalo game, especially is defensive back Damar Hamlin makes an appearance only a few weeks after a cardiac arrest episode during a never completed game against the Bengals.
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Opening line: Kansas City -9.5
Current line: Kansas City -9
Even though the Chiefs will be without receiver Mecole Hardman and there are still questions regarding the availability of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the money continues to come in on the Chiefs to roll in this one. One thing to consider in terms of the NFL Wild Card Update, there are sites that have a teaser protection line of -10 on the Chiefs.
Jaguars’ second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence might have been wise not to suggest that the noise the Jacksonville fans make is likely close to what he will hear in Kansas City because the Chiefs fans will certainly take that as a challenge.
Lawrence has played in some hostile environments during his time at Clemson. Still, could this be the game where the absence of starting left tackle Cam Robinson becomes a problem? He has been limited in practice but there is no truth to the rumor that his last full practice took place when he was playing for Dabo Swinney at Clemson.
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Opening line: Philadelphia -7
Current line: Philadelphia -8
It is probably not a great sign that of the seven NFL players from the Giants listed as questionable for the Saturday night affair, five of them are defensive backs and another is top pass rusher Azeez Ojulari. That is a factor when it comes to the NFL Wild Card Update.
New York needs to be as healthy as possible to deal with 1,000-yard receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith as well as tight end Dallas Goedert.
The good news is players like Adoree Jackson, Julian Love and Landon Collins were out there last week. Also, receiver Isaiah Hodgins is trending in the right direction.
There are questions about two of the Eagles’ most important players as offensive lineman Lane Johnson and defensive end Josh Sweat are both questionable. That hasn’t had much of an impact on the betting line.
What could be concerning is the division matchups between Buffalo and Miami as well as Cincinnati and Baltimore were closer than anticipated despite the underdogs being without their starting quarterbacks.
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Opening line: Buffalo -4
Current line: Buffalo -5.5
Offensive tackle La’el Collins went on injured reserve late last month and now guard Alex Cappa and tackle Jonah Williams are questionable. However, they are on the wrong side of questionable as both missed Thursday’s practice and that’s showing up in the line movement.
The Buffalo Bills might be without Von Miller, but Gregory Rousseau (eight sacks in the regular season), A.J. Epenesa (6.5 sacks) and Matt Milano (two sacks in the NFL playoff bracket opener) can wreak havoc if the Cincinnati line isn’t able to protect its franchise quarterback. Still, when looking at the NFL stats leaders, Buffalo was only tied for 14th with 40 sacks during the regular season.
Interior defensive linemen DaQuan Jones and Jordan Phillips are questionable for the Bills and that would be huge if they can’t go.
Speaking of NFL injuries, there are rumblings of safety Damar Hamlin, who nearly died on the field when the teams met during the regular season, being on hand for the game. That would give the host Bills even more motivation as they look to reach the AFC title game for the second time in the last 29 seasons.
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Opening line: San Francisco -4
Current line: San Francisco -4
There has been no movement in this line with the 49ers holding steady as a four-point favorite at home.
The Cowboys are known for their postseason failures as a favorite. However, Dallas has lost its last seven playoff games when listed as the underdog and covered in just two of those games.
Dallas might be without veteran tackle Jason Peters as he did not practice on Thursday. Rookie Tyler Smith played well at left tackle this season.
However, if he slots in there, that leaves a hole to fill at guard. Safety Jayvon Kearse was limited in practice and the Cowboys need all the defensive backs that they can throw out there against Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey.
For the 49ers, cornerback Ambry Thomas did not practice while defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw and Samson Ebukam were limited. The latter issue could be the most concerning since Dallas will look to run the ball early and often in this NFL matchup.
Dallas played on Monday night on the road while San Francisco had the first of the Saturday games in the wild-card round and that could factor into how this game plays out.Follow us on Twitter
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