- Super Wild Card Weekend features three games each on Saturday and Sunday
- The Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens enter the playoffs red-hot
- See the odds, our game-by-game analysis and our betting picks below
Are you ready for some football?
It’s perhaps the best weekend of football all year — NFL Wild Card Weekend — and it’s super-sized with two extra games. Sure, the Kansas City Chiefs loom over all, and the Green Bay Packers are business as well, but it’s not a stretch to say you could be looking at a Super Bowl finalist in this field … just not Washington or Chicago.
NFL Wild Card Odds
|Indianapolis Colts||+240||+6.5 (-106)||Over 51.5 (-110)|
|Buffalo Bills||-295||-6.5 (-114)||Under 51.5 (-110)|
|Los Angeles Rams||+164||+4 (-110)||Over 42.5 (-108)|
|Seattle Seahawks||-196||-4 (-110)||Under 42.5 (-112)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-420||-8.5 (-110)||Over 45 (-106)|
|Washington Football Team||+330||+8.5 (-110)||Under 45 (-114)|
|Baltimore Ravens||-180||-3 (-122)||Over 54.5 (-112)|
|Tennessee Titans||+152||+3 (+100)||Under 54.5 (-108)|
|Chicago Bears||+385||+9.5 (-104)||Over 47.5 (-105)|
|New Orleans Saints||-500||-9.5 (-118)||Under 47.5 (-115)|
|Cleveland Browns||+225||+6 (-105)||Over 47.5 (-110)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||-275||-6 (-115)||Under 47.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 5 from FanDuel.
And if you’re reading the right signs, you might also be able to cash in with the right wagers. That’s where we come in. Let’s run through the games and find you the best bet for each.
Colts (11-5) vs Bills (13-3)
Kickoff Time: Saturday at 1pm
Notable Betting Line Changes: Nothing too significant from the opening, though the Colts have closed from +260 on the moneyline to +240, and the Bills shifting from -320 to -295. The total dropped a point as well, to 51.5.
Analysis: If there’s one way to slow down Josh Allen and that dynamite Bills offense, it’s through ball control and limiting his possessions. It may have taken all year, but Colts rookie Jonathan Taylor showed exactly the type of dominant runner he can be, exploding for 253 yards in a must-win against the Jaguars in Week 17.
— NFL (@NFL) January 4, 2021
The Bills are a middle-of-the-pack run defense, surrendering just under 120 yards a game, which ranks 17th in the NFL. But make no mistake, Buffalo is the hottest thing going in the NFL as they enter the playoffs riding a six-game win streak and have beaten each opponent by at least 10 points, while averaging a blistering 38.1 points a game.
How UNBELIEVEABLE has Josh Allen been this season?
▪️4,320 Pass Yds
▪️43 Total TD
These marks have only been exceeded ONCE in NFL HISTORY (Drew Brees, 2011) pic.twitter.com/gW9RxSQpxJ
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) December 29, 2020
Just under the fireworks of Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes’ MVP battle lurks Allen, who likely would have won this award in any other year. Indy is second-best in run defense, but 20th against the pass. That’s not a good combo against Allen and NFL receiving leader Stefon Diggs. Hope those scoreboard lights in Buffalo have been replaced recently, because they’re going to be worked over.
The pick: OVER 51.5 points (-110)
Rams (10-6) vs Seahawks (12-4)
Kickoff Time: Saturday at 4:30pm
Notable Betting Line Changes: Seattle opened as 4.5-point favorites, but that’s been shaved by half a point. LA opened at +188 on the moneyline, they’re now at +164. The ‘Hawks started at -225, they’re currently at -196.
Analysis: It’s the rubber match of this season series, as both teams split during the regular season, but the Rams may be down the most important piece on offense. Quarterback Jared Goff’s status is questionable, as he tries to return from a dislocated and fractured right thumb. If he can’t go, at least John Wolford showed he’s a serviceable starter that can play QB in the NFL.
On the #Rams & QB Jared Goff: While no one has ruled Goff out for Saturday vs. the #Seahawks, it’s expected to be challenging for him to play. He was able to throw Sunday, which is good. But 12 days after thumb surgery, in the cold, it'll be difficult. Could be more John Wolford.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 4, 2021
It all comes down to how well that Rams’ defense plays against Russell Wilson. Wilson’s second half numbers have plummeted since setting the league on fire through the first nine weeks.
This is such a marvelous throw from Russell Wilson with the game on the line. pic.twitter.com/vNxmrpN017
— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) January 4, 2021
After tossing for 300+ yards in five of his first eight starts, with three or more TD passes in six of those contests, he’s thrown for 263 yards or less the rest of the way, including three sub-200 yard outings, and four games with just one TD pass.
Aaron Donald and the Rams’ D leads the league in yards allowed by a massive margin at 281.4 per game, with no other team in the NFL under 300, while limiting passers to an average of 190.7 a contest. Both games this season never broke 40 points. You know the deal.
The pick: UNDER 42.5 points (-112)
Football Team (6-10) vs Buccaneers (11-5)
Kickoff Time: Saturday at 8:15pm
Notable Betting Line Changes: Big fluctuations here from the opening lines, as the Bucs moved from 7 to 8.5-point favorites, and the total also jumped by 1.5 points to 46.5.
Analysis: Look, there’s not much to this one. Tampa Bay has looked electric in their last two games of the regular season, finally looking like the offensive juggernaut many thought they would be when Tom Brady took the reins with all those weapons at his disposal.
Brady to Brown! #GoBucs
That’s three-straight games with a TD for @AB84! 👏👏
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) January 3, 2021
Mike Evans’ scary knee hyperextension in Week 17 shouldn’t keep him out of this one, but there’s plenty of love to spread. Antonio Brown has caught fire, with four TD catches in his final three games. Ditto Chris Godwin. And there’s still Rob Gronkowski and Ronald Jones to worry about.
Chase Young drops into coverage, and records a sack all in one play
— The Victory Bell (@VictoryBellOSU) December 13, 2020
Washington’s strength is its pass D, which surrendered just 191 yards a game, second only to the Rams, and their 47 sacks was sixth best in the NFL. Unfortunately, Alex Smith’s game management won’t be enough to match Brady, who will put up points.
The pick: Bucs Moneyline (-420)
Ravens (11-5) vs Titans (11-5)
Kickoff Time: Sunday at 1pm
Notable Betting Line Changes: None.
Analysis: A rematch of the divisional playoff from a year ago, when Tennessee stunned the football world and knocked off the powerhouse Ravens and MVP Lamar Jackson. They did it riding stud running back Derrick Henry, who’s quietly put together one of the best rushing season’s in league history for an encore, the eighth player to ever eclipse 2K rushing yards.
Another game, another big Derrick Henry TD run 💪pic.twitter.com/b9HcUwNe9r
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 3, 2021
That loss really sent the Ravens spinning into this year, but Baltimore is a team no one wants to play right now. They enter the postseason on a five-game tear, scoring more than 34 points in all but one contest. They don’t have Henry, but a bulldozing backfield by committee, which just hung 404 yards rushing on the Bengals in Week 17. Jackson is back to his devastating self, and became the first QB ever with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
LaMAr jAcKSoN cAn’T ThrOW
— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) January 3, 2021
Can Baltimore’s defense corral Henry? They’re seventh overall defensively, and rank eighth against the rush. Contain him, and the Ryan Tannehill play-action game doesn’t pick apart the secondary. Conversely, the Titans are surrendering 4.5 yards a tote, and rank 19th in rush yards allowed. With all this running, I can’t see them surpassing the highest total of the weekend.
The pick: UNDER 54.5 points (-108)
Bears (8-8) vs Saints (12-4)
Kickoff Time: Sunday at 4:30pm
Notable Betting Line Changes: The betting line moved another point to New Orleans by 9.5, making this the largest spread of the weekend. The Bears’ moneyline odds lengthened from +340 to +385, while New Orleans went from -430 to -500.
Analysis: We’re talking about a Bears team that backed its way into the playoffs vs a Saints’ squad that was contending for the conference’s top seed to Week 17 and still trounced a game Carolina Panthers’ squad 33-7 without any of their regular running backs.
Thanks to the NFL schedule-makers, the #Saints are optimistic they'll have RB Alvin Kamara for their playoff opener against the #Bears … and WR Michael Thomas should be back too. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/NUE2nIqgBj
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 4, 2021
The Saints should have super weapon Alvin Kamara back from COVID protocol, and it’s quite likely their best receiver Michael Thomas, who they shut down a few weeks ago with a wonky ankle, will also be available.
Their return, and a dominating Saints’ defense should make life miserable for the Bears. The Saints rank fourth against the run, and they’ll be focussed on stopping a suddenly resurgent David Montgomery, because they want to force Trubisky into making plays through the air, where they rank fifth against the pass and eighth in sacks with 45.
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) November 22, 2020
Still … is there a more dominant team yet scary team to bet on in the playoffs than the Saints? You can already find this line at double-digits at some books, and you’re a braver person than me if you take those Bears points. Me? I’ll stroll to the moneyline and scamper out of here.
The pick: Saints Moneyline (-500)
Browns (11-5) vs Steelers (12-4)
Kickoff Time: Sunday at 8:15pm
Notable Betting Line Changes: Pittsburgh opened as 4.5-point favorites, but it’s now a 6-point spread in favor of the home team. The total also jumped a half-point to 47.5.
Analysis: In keeping with the tradition of God hating Cleveland, it was announced Tuesday that Browns head coach and borderline messiah Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19. Also on that list is pro bowl guard Joel Bitonio and receiver KhaDarel Hodge. They are all out for Sunday.
Right now, the #Browns offense is currently down its HC/play-caller (Stefanski), OL coach (Callahan), OL asst. (Peters), WR coach (O’Shea) and TE coach (Petzing). How does CLE get through the week of practice offensively?
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 5, 2021
All you need to do is watch the Lions-Bucs game from Week 16 and see how a lost a team is without their coaches. Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, defensive line coach Bo Davis, defensive backs coach Steve Gregory and linebackers coach Ty McKenzie were all out for COVID protocol, leaving Evan Rothstein, the head coach assistant/research & analysis to assume the role. It was a mess. Tampa shredded Detroit 47-7.
If that wasn’t enough, starting rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills and receiver Rashad Higgins were both cited for drag racing Tuesday morning.
"Too much dancing, not enough yards" Well, JuJu Smith-Schuster came to play vs. Colts despite all the noise.
Records a season-high 96 receiving yards & comes down with the game-winning TD to secure the AFC North.
And, what a dime from Roethlisberger. His best throw of the year. pic.twitter.com/udxxdPFjzR
— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) December 29, 2020
It’s too bad, because I think Cleveland could really test this edition of the Steelers. For a team that started 11-0, Pittsburgh went into the tank, losing three straight and putting up 16.3 points a game. After getting dominated by the Colts for a half, Ben Roethlisberger but together a solid 30 minutes, generating three TD drives to win, before shutting it down against Cleveland in Week 17. That’s one good half in five games.
Baker Mayfield's 2020 regular season:
305-487 (63%) – 3,563 yards – 26 TD – 8 INT#Browns
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) January 3, 2021
The Steelers do have a tough defense that ranks first in sacks, third against the pass and tied for 10th against the run. Cleveland loves to run the ball, racking up close to 150 yards a game, which is third best in the NFL. Baker Mayfield will need to improve on his career averages of 177 yards passing and 1.4 TD’s in five games against the ‘Burgh to give them a chance. Enough to keep it close, not sure about the W.
The pick: Browns +6 (-110)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.