The 2021 NFL Wild Card Weekend is going to be like any other we’ve seen before. As a result of the expanded playoffs, we have six Wild Card games, with three on Saturday and another three on Sunday. It’s the first time in history that 14 teams will be included in the playoffs. When it comes down to it, this was a money decision that fueled the expanded format. If NFL owners want, NFL owners are likely going to get.
Playoff football is the best football of the year, so I am not going to complain about more teams getting in. Any more than this and the product would be too watered down, though. If this were last season, the Indianapolis Colts would not be in Buffalo playing the Bills on Saturday afternoon. They were granted a spot in the playoffs because of the expanded format.
The Colts deserve the playoffs more than the Washington Football Team do, and it’s hard to complain about a 11-5 team playing postseason football. They won four of their last five games to earn a trip to Buffalo for a date with the Bills. The Bills are coming off a 28-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to close out the season. Jonathan Taylor went wild for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8.4 yards per carry. The rookie out of Wisconsin started slow, but has heated up down the stretch at the perfect time.
Indianapolis got to this point because of a vastly improved defense from previous years and the arrival of Philip Rivers. The former Charger has shown that there is something left in his tank. He passed for 4,169 yards with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Without the defense taking a major step forward, the signing of Rivers would have been a waste of money. They have a tall assignment in Buffalo against a very good Bills team. The Bills head into Saturday with a record of 13-3 and hold a talent advantage on the Colts at the skill positions.
Since losing to the Arizona Cardinals on November 15, the Bills have won six straight games, most recently a 56-26 win over the Miami Dolphins. They’ve won their last three games by a combined 88 points. Not a bad way to go into the playoffs, but it could all come crashing down fast in one game. That’s not really important to me because all I’m playing are props. Head below for our free Colts vs. Bills prop picks for the NFL Wild Card on January 9, 2021.
We've never seen a Super Wild Card Weekend like this before: six games in two days.
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 8, 2021
Nyheim Hines Receptions
This prop is slightly off-the-radar, but something I think we can cash on running back Nyheim Hines. Largely ignored early in the season as a runner, the 24-year-old has played more of a role in the offense in the second half of the season in the backfield. Hines earned his way into getting more hand-offs from Philip Rivers.
Hines had his best three-week stretch recently, as he had at least 40 rushing yards in three straight games from December 13 to December 27. With Jonathan Taylor getting hot, Hines has primarily reverted back to his primary role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Hines has gained 380 yards and 3 touchdowns on 4.3 yards per carry. He was the primary receiver for Rivers out of the backfield, as Hines played an important role primarily as a third-down running back. Hines had 63 receptions on 76 targets for 482 yards and 4 touchdowns.
He had just 2 carries for 17 yards last week, but note that Hines made an impact as a receiver. On 7 targets Hines had 6 receptions for 50 yards. It was the second straight game, and third in his previous four outings, Hines made at least 4 receptions. Through the last six games, Hines has averaged 4.5 receptions a game. He should be able to grab at least 4 receptions from Rivers.
Dawson Knox Receiving Yards
In another off-the-radar prop, tight end Dawson Knox might be worth some consideration on Saturday afternoon. Knox may not be a household name, but he plays a serviceable role as a blocker on the offensive line and occasionally in the passing-game. Knox is a big target at 6’4” 254 pounds and uses it to his advantage as a receiver. He finished the regular season with 288 yards and 3 touchdowns on 24 receptions.
Knox played his best football in December with at least 27 receiving yards in all of his five outings. He averaged 35.4 yards, with Q4 of the regular season when Knox was the most impactful in the offense. Knox is coming off a 29-yard performance against the Dolphins. There were several inaccurate passes that didn’t get to Knox or it could have been a better performance. Knox was targeted 8 times for 2 receptions. I will bank on Knox recording at least one more yard.
T. Y. Hilton Receiving Yards
T. Y. Hilton may not play as big of a role for the Colts as he did in the past, but the 31-year-old veteran still plays a crucial role in the offense. Hilton caught 56 receptions for 762 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2020. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. He just doesn’t take games over on his own like he used to with Andrew Luck.
Hilton got hot towards the end of November. In his previous six outings, Hilton has had at least 60 yards receiving in five out of six games for an average of 72.5 yards receiving. Hilton caught all of his touchdowns through the final stretch of the regular season, including 2 touchdowns against the Raiders. This total looks too small given his recent form, promoting a play on the OVER.