For the first time in NFL history, Super Wildcard Weekend features six games across three days with one being a primetime showdown Monday Night.
That’s a lot of playoff action to consume, but the NFL will have no problem dishing out some postseason deliciousness to its hungry fans.
Wild-Card Weekend has two games featuring division opponents (Patriots vs. Bills and Cardinals vs. Rams). Interestingly, those division foes each split their regular season meetings. Plus, there are three other matchups in which both teams met during the regular season (Raiders vs. Bengals, Eagles vs. Buccaneers, Steelers vs. Chiefs). The favorites in those games (Bengals, Buccaneers, Chiefs) each won the first meeting.
That leaves the 49ers and Cowboys as the only two teams we haven’t seen share a field this season.
So, what are our betting analysts predicting for this weekend? Let’s get to it:
- Each analyst must pick five games
- Three of the bets must be against the spread or over/under
- The remaining two picks (if all five aren’t ATS or O/U) can be on the moneyline (but at least one of those picks must be on an underdog)
Jen Piacenti’s best Bet: Arizona +4.5
Have we all forgotten how good the Cardinals were and for so long this year? They were 10-7 ATS during the regular season, and though they have faded a little down the stretch these teams are fairly evenly matched. Meanwhile, Matt Stafford has thrown eight interceptions across his past four games, and tied Trevor Lawrence for the league-high with SEVENTEEN. That’s…not good. If you’re telling me this Rams team is obviously dominant, I don’t buy it. Do they have the talent? Yes. But half the time they just don’t look like they are on the same page. They had a losing record ATS (8-9), their last win was by one point and in Week 18 they lost to the Niners. So, yeah, I think the Rams can win this but not by more than 4.5 points.
Jen’s Season Record: 63-53
Will Laws’ Best Bet: Raiders +5.5
Don’t put too much stock into Cincinnati’s 32-13 victory over Las Vegas in Week 11. The Bengals only out-gained the Raiders by 10 yards despite conducting 23 more plays, pulling away late after Las Vegas trailed by three with a little more than five minutes to go. The Bengals were flagged just once for five yards, while the Raiders were penalized seven times for 75 yards, including three defensive penalties on third downs that would’ve ended drives where Cincinnati ended up scoring. The whistles and Las Vegas’s horrendous third-down conversion rate (1-for-7, failed on first six attempts) should regress to the mean. Those oddities overshadowed how Maxx Crosby and the rest of the Raiders’ pass rush feasted on Cincinnati’s poor protection. That Las Vegas could do so while adhering to their strategy of sending blitzes at the lowest rate in the league bodes well for their chances to bottle up explosive plays, just as they did in holding Joe Burrow to a season-low 148 passing yards in the first matchup. The Raiders reeled off four straight tightly contested wins against playoff contenders to close the regular season and I expect them to lean on that experience to at least keep it close here.
Will’s season record: 40-27
Frank Taddeo’s Best Bet: Chiefs -12.5
No reason to really overthink this investment. These two teams faced off three weeks and the Chiefs came away with a 36-10 win as 10.5-point home favorites despite missing Travis Kelce (COVID-19) as well as a limited Tyreek Hill, who had just been cleared two days earlier from the COVID-19 list. Kansas City has the better quarterback, a superior cast of offensive weapons, a better defense and, oh yeah, home-field advantage. Do you need a solid betting trend as well? OK. In the history of the NFL Wild-Card, home teams who are favored by 10-plus points by oddsmakers are a perfect 5-0 ATS. Yep, that seals it.
Frank’s Season Record: 60-67-1
Bill Enright’s Best Bet: Chiefs -12.5
With a 12.5-point spread, oddsmakers think this will be the biggest blowout of the weekend. In fact: This is the biggest point spread in Wild-Card history. Previously, the largest spread for Wild-Card Weekend was 11 points, which has occurred three times since 1978. The favorites won and covered all three times. Ten times in history there have been double-digit spreads in the Wild-Card round—underdogs only covered in two of those games. Chiefs come into the playoffs HOT! Nine wins in 10 games, including a 36-10 BLOWOUT against the Steelers the day after Christmas. Here’s a quick look at some offensive and defensive comparisons:
Chiefs are #7 in points per play, Steelers defense is 17th
Chiefs are 5th in yards per play, Steelers defense is 17th
Steelers ‘offense is 25th in points per play, Chiefs’ defense is 10th.
I don’t mind the big number here. I’ll take the Chiefs laying the double-digit points.
Bill’s Season Record: 53-44-2
Sports Illustrated’s Betting 101 Series
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• Betting Roundtable: NFC Winner
• Betting Roundtable: AFC Winner
• Raiders-Bengals Betting Preview
• Patriots-Bills Betting Preview
• Eagles-Buccaneers Betting Preview
• 49ers-Cowboys Betting Preview
• Steelers-Chiefs Betting Preview
• Rams-Cardinals Betting Preview
• NFL Season Betting Review
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