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Bills won’t run away with this one

It doesn’t take a lot to be considered New York’s Finest in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills enjoy that distinction, and not just by default as the only team that actually practices and plays in, um, New York. Even if two other teams qualify by title, the New York Giants need binoculars to see the Bills, and the New York Jets need a telescope.

The Bills are 13-3 and head to the postseason for the third time in Sean McDermott’s four seasons. Before his arrival, they had gone 17 dry seasons following the “Music City Miracle” wild-card loss to the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 8, 2000.

One thing McDermott has not yet been able to do is to win a playoff game. The Bills lost, 10-3, to the Jacksonville Jaguars following the 2017 season and fell, 22-19, to the Houston Texans last year in a game Buffalo led 16-0. But the feeling here is that on Saturday, the Bills will get their first playoff victory since Dec. 30, 1995, when Thurman Thomas rushed for 158 yards in a 37-22 win over Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. To put in perspective how long ago that was, Thomas is now 54 years old.

The Indianapolis Colts head to Orchard Park with an 11-5 record, a veteran quarterback in Philip Rivers who has won three road playoff games, and a lead runner in Jonathan Taylor who capped a 1,169-yard season with 253 yards last week against the Jaguars. Colts coach Frank Reich also owns an important piece of Bills playoff lore — he was the quarterback who led Buffalo back from a 35-3 deficit to beat the Houston Oilers, 41-38 in overtime, on Jan. 3, 1993, the largest comeback in NFL history.

Indianapolis is a good enough team to win this game outright, and the sharp betting thus far has been on the Colts, as the line has dipped under 7 to 6.5 despite the public money being on the Bills. The sharp side is where I usually like to land, but I just have a feeling the Bills are a special team. Last year, they rested players in Week 17, lost to the Jets then lost the wild-card game. Last week, McDermott stayed all-in, and the Bills destroyed a motivated Miami team, 56-26.

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has created a monster, and the team has scored 48, 38 and 56 points the past three weeks. It seems there’s always a wide-open receiver or a free runner out of the backfield. Stefon Diggs makes all the tough catches, and Josh Allen is making all the right decisions and getting that tough yard or two when needed. I think this is their time, and they make a strong opening statement.

The pick: Bills -6 and Over 51.5.

Bills, 34-23.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (-3.5) over Los Angeles Rams; Over 42.5

The Rams won with backup QB John Wolford (and a whole lot of defense) last week, but the Seahawks and Russell Wilson will be a much tougher challenge than the Arizona Cardinals were with a gimpy Kyler Murray. Just two weeks ago, the Rams lost, 20-9, in Seattle. Both teams have been playing low-scoring games in the past month, which is why the total is microscopic. Seattle often does just enough to win but not cover, but feels like the better team by more than this number. Leaning to the Over because Sean McVay is going to need to do some out-of-the-box things to score if Wolford plays again for Jared Goff.

Seahawks, 27-16.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5) over WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM; Under 44.5

Not that I have anything against under .500 teams in the postseason. The last two actually have won their wild-card game, including the 2014 Carolina Panthers team (7-8-1) coached by Ron Rivera. The storylines (Rivera’s cancer fight, Alex Smith’s comeback) are excellent and the defensive front very good for the WFT. But the offense isn’t so hot. Smith can’t really move, and I want no part of Taylor Heinicke.

The Bucs come in sizzling, having scored 47 and 44 the past two games with a 46 and a 45 since late October. They have the experience with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and plenty of other weapons. Plus, I figure Brady will try to leave no doubt in his first playoff game away from Bill Belichick.

Bucs, 33-10.

Last week: 5-10-1 overall, 0-2-1 Best Bets. Lock of the Week finishes 4-12-1 and does not advance to the postseason.

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