The NFL playoffs are finally here and Wild Card weekend offers six intriguing games to watch. Whether it is seeing the first Browns playoff game in nearly two decades or the last stand of the Saints, storylines will be plentiful over the weekend.
The limited action also means there are fewer opportunities for bettors to try and make some money off of this weekend’s matchups. Let’s take a look at FanSided’s betting guide for Wild Card Weekend, with all lines provided courtesy of the FanDuel Sportsbook.
Saturday, January 9
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Buffalo Bills (13-3)
Line: Bills -6.5
Over/Under Total: 51.5
The most dangerous team playing this weekend might be the Bills, who have won nine of their last 10 games and blew out the Dolphins in Week 17 to knock them out of the playoffs. Buffalo gets a potentially tricky matchup against a rugged Colts’ defense but Indianapolis has struggled down the stretch, collapsing against the Steelers in Week 16 before toughing out a playoff-clinching win over the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
The line has dipped under a touchdown, favoring the Bills by 6.5 points, which is the perfect time to pounce on it for Buffalo. There is no doubt that the Bills are playing elite football right now and should win by at least a touchdown given how both teams have played down the stretch. The total of 51.5 is intriguing but push the over given the display Buffalo put up against a strong Dolphins’ defense in Week 17.
Los Angeles Rams (10-6) at Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
Line: Seahawks -4.5
Over/Under Total: 42.5
These teams split their regular-season meetings but the key to this game is the availability of Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff. Los Angeles won an ugly game in Week 17 without Goff, who underwent surgery to repair a fractured thumb, in the hopes he will be available to play in this game.
The Seahawks are favored by 4.5 in a game that should be tight given the strong defenses involved and Russell Wilson’s second-half struggles. Take the points with the Rams and play the under in a game that has a 17-14 final written all over it.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) at Washington Football Team (7-9)
Line: Buccaneers -8.5
Over/Under Total: 45.5
This matchup appears to be a mismatch on paper but Washington is being severely underestimated as the home team in this matchup. Tampa Bay is clearly better on paper but the Football Team’s defense could cause some problems for Tom Brady, who has historically struggled to beat teams who can rush the passer with just the front four, which Washington is capable of.
8.5 points are simply too much to lay on the road with a good defense for Tampa Bay. Take the points with Washington and play the under given Washington’s trouble scoring throughout the season.
Sunday, January 10
Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Tennessee Titans (11-5)
Line: Ravens -3.5
Over/Under Total: 54.5
The Titans have won the last two meetings between these teams, including a playoff upset in Baltimore in January, but the Ravens are favored by 3.5 points here. Baltimore has been hot down the stretch, ripping off five straight wins to surge into the playoffs, while Tennessee’s defense has turned into a sieve down the stretch.
The spread isn’t a ton to lay and it is smarter to lay it with the hotter team in the Ravens, who should secure the first playoff win of Lamar Jackson’s career here. The best play is the over, which is the highest on the board at 54.5 points but should hit given the combination of the Titans’ explosive offense and suspect defense.
Chicago Bears (8-8) at New Orleans Saints (12-4)
Line: Saints -9.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5
The Bears backed into the playoffs at 8-8 thanks to some help from the Los Angeles Rams and should have a ton of trouble with a full strength New Orleans roster. The NFL did the Saints a favor by putting this game on Sunday, allowing time for Alvin Kamara to clear COVID protocols and suit up for this matchup.
This is the biggest line of the week at 9.5 points and it feels about right, although it is worth noting that the Saints were heavily favored against the Vikings in the Wild Card round last season before getting upset. Lean towards laying the points with the Saints since Chicago is far less capable offensively than Minnesota was but the smarter play is the under in a game that could be dominated by defense.
Cleveland Browns (11-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
Line: Steelers -5.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5
This game opened with Pittsburgh laying four and has spiked to 5.5 after the news that Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski has tested positive for COVID-19.
Stefanski would presumably be unavailable for the game which could have a devastating impact on Cleveland’s game prep, as evidenced by the awful performance Detroit put up in Week 16 when interim head coach Darrell Bevell and most of its defensive coaching staff were sidelined by COVID protocols.
It is also worth mentioning that Pittsburgh’s backups almost beat Cleveland in Week 17 with nothing to play for at FirstEnergy Stadium, so a switch in venue and a full-strength team makes laying the points with the Steelers a no-brainer. Play the under here too since defense should be the order of the day between these two teams.