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Zach's Super Wild Card Weekend Underdog Pick'Ems



Joe Flacco HIGHER than 36.5 pass attempts


The Browns are dropping Joe Flacco back to pass at the eight-highest rate in the NFL according to FantasyLife.com’s utilization report, and he’s had 42 or more pass attempts in all of the games he’s started since Week 13 besides Week 17, when he threw for 296 of his 309 yards against the Jets in the first half. Remember when Flacco was sitting on the bench falling asleep in the second half? Yeah, that’s why Flacco didn’t hit the 40-attempt threshold that week, and he took week 18 off.


They’re going to get right back to him slinging it all over the yard against the Texans, and I have to imagine that there’s no touchdown prop to take the over on because he’s just been a touchdown machine since he was named starter – he has at least two touchdown passes in five straight starts. Of all the picks that we’re going to be talking about, this one feels the most automatic.

 

C.J. Stroud LOWER than 245.5 pass yards


Let’s preface this by saying that I love C.J. Stroud, and I know it’s going to be unpopular to take the lower on any of his picks and it’ll probably be even less fun rooting against him having a big day. But Stroud has played five games against teams inside the top 10 for fewest passing yards allowed this season, and in four of those five games, he’s fallen short of the 246 passing yards he’d need this week to break the over on his prop. He had 91 yards against the Jets, 140 yards against the Panthers - who like I’ve been saying all season, do a really good job of keeping quarterbacks quiet in terms of production - 199 yards against the Saints, and 242 yards against the Ravens.


The only team inside the top-10 for fewest passing yards allowed that he threw for more than 246 yards against? That would be the Falcons - and he only had 249 yards in that game.


The Browns are top-2 in yards allowed to quarterbacks in the NFL this season behind only the Panthers, and we missed out on Stroud in Week 16 when the Browns went to Houston. Like I said, I love Stroud and what the Texans have going for them, but the Browns defense is lights out and Joe Flacco has the offense just humming. I’m gonna roll with what we’ve seen C.J. Stroud do against tough defenses so far and say that he doesn’t blow the doors off of NRG stadium this weekend.

 

Mason Rudolph LOWER than 26.5 pass attempts


Not only has Mason Rudolph eclipsed 26.5 pass attempts in just one of his three starts this season, but the weather in Buffalo is supposed to be absolutely atrocious for throwing the ball and the Steelers have relied on their run game all season to help sneak them into the playoffs. Why would they go away from the run and put the ball in Rudolph’s hands in this game when the object has been to have him throw only when he absolutely has to? And don’t rule out the Steelers pulling out all of the stops if Mason Rudolph struggles in the first half –if it’s close, we could see the Steelers make a QB change like they’ve been doing all season.


So with the gameplan likely leaning away from Mason Rudolph, the weather tilting its hand a bit at causing the passing game for both teams to be less than optimal, and that looming threat of replacement mid-game from a team that’s backed into a corner before the game even starts, I’m not inclined to take the over on Rudolph’s pass attempts. It certainly hasn’t been the quarterback play that’s gotten them to where they are, and I don’t think they’re keen on relying on that now that they’re in the playoffs.

 

Puka Nacua HIGHER than 76.5 receiving yards


Over the last three games, these have been the stat lines of the top receiver facing the Lions’ defense:

  • Week 16 (Justin Jefferson): 6 catches, 141 yards, 1 TD

  • Week 17 (CeeDee Lamb): 13 catches, 227 yards, 1 TD

  • Week 18 (Justin Jefferson) 12 catches, 192 yards, 1 TD

So now they have the red-hot Rams and Matthew Stafford coming to town, and I don’t trust this defense at all to handle Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp. Puka’s separating himself from Kupp as the 1A in the offense and he’s gone over his line for this week at 76.5 in four of the past six games - and it would have been five of the last six easily if the Rams had something to play for in Week 18. So essentially that makes it four of his last five games that he’s gone over 76.5 receiving yards, and the Lions/Rams game has the highest projected total this week at 51.5.


Puka is also averaging the eighth-highest yards per reception this season at 14.2, which is tied with D.J. Moore among all receivers with 100 or more targets. If the game is going to be a shootout like Vegas is projecting – and I know you and I agree that this game has high-scoring written all over it – Puka should have no trouble coming through Sunday night.

 

Jared Goff HIGHER than 1.5 passing touchdowns


So we know that Jared Goff is much better at home and indoors than he is anywhere else, and that plays right into his hand this week with his passing touchdown line. Since the Lions’ bye in Week 9, Jared Goff has thrown for 2 or more touchdowns in four straight starts at home, and the Rams have given up the 10th most passing touchdowns this season on defense.


Again, we can point to the over/under on this game being the highest of the week and it should be a reasonably competitive game between these two teams, so two touchdowns feel very well within reach for Goff. He’s also thrown the fourth-most touchdown passes in the NFL since Week 9. It’s all coming together too perfectly it feels like, but things are definitely trending towards this being a pretty safe pick.

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