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Stars to shine in LA on Wildcard Weekend

Stars to shine in LA on Wildcard Weekend

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After a season fit for the silver screen, the LA Rams faces a major challenge when the NFL play-offs get underway on Saturday with the defending NFC champions, the Atlanta Falcons, coming to tinsel town.

The LA franchise is reaping the rewards of their major gamble in appointing 31-year-old Sean McVay as head coach during the off-season, going from 4-12 last year to NFC West champions this term on the strength of an 11-5 record.

Not only has McVay guided the Rams to their first post-season in 14 years but he has also got the best out of a rag-tag bunch of young stars, including Jared Goff and Todd Gurley.

However, they are all entering uncharted waters now in the form of a play-off encounter and they are taking on a team hitting their stride at just the right time in Atlanta.

The Falcons won six of their last eight matches to clinch a post-season spot, downing the mightily impressive New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers along the way.

The Falcons came alive at play-off time last year during their run to the Super Bowl and having seen it and done it before, could be worth taking a chance on to win in LA at 5/2 in what should be a thriller.

The key to the match up will be Atlanta’s versatile running-back Devonta Freeman, who could really hurt a Rams defence that has struggled to stop the run if he is passed fit.

The other NFC wildcard match-up is another blockbuster affair as NFC South rivals New Orleans and Carolina face off.

The Saints are 20/67 favourites for the win and rightly so given they have already beaten the Panthers twice this year, while their offence finished the regular season ranked second in the NFL.

The Panthers have pulled off some big wins of their own on route to the play-offs but still lean too heavily on unpredictable quarter-back Cam Newton.

Newton’s performance will swing the balance of this game one way or another, while stopping the two-headed running back monster of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will also be vital if the Panthers are to pull off the upset at 13/5.

On the AFC side of things, the Buffalo Bills will look to ride the wave of momentum given to them by their remarkable play-off run.

The Bills are returning to the play-offs after a 17-year absence but face one of the dark horses for the Super Bowl in the 18/1 shots Jacksonville.

The Jaguars had the second-best defence in the regular season, recording sacks at will at times, while they also have the best rushing offence. Combine that with a poor run defence for the Bills, who could also be missing star back LeSean McCoy, and home side look on course to make the divisional round.

Jags running-back Leonard Fournette at 16/5 to score the first touchdown looks a strong choice come Sunday.

The final wildcard play-off clash sees the Kansas City Chiefs playing host to a Tennessee Titans team who stumbled over the regular season finishing line.

Losing three of their last four, the Titans are struggling for momentum heading to Arrowhead but could still prove a tough nut to crack for the Chiefs, who rallied to win the AFC West.

The Titans at 10/11 with a plus-9 handicap makes senses for this one given their tight run defence and the struggles Chiefs quarter-back Alex Smith had in the second half of the season.

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Gareth Freeman Gareth is our daily tipster, who has years of successful sports betting behind him and is always on hand to offer a value bet. As well as a passion for Football (UK and European), he also has in-depth Tennis, Boxing, Snooker and Basketball knowledge.