Expert NFL Betting Picks for All 6 Super Wild Card Weekend Games
A trio of handicappers offer their insights on the weekend's games
This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the professional football season. Here are our top betting picks for all six Super Wild Card Weekend games.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get right to it with some help from Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Odds Assist CEO Dave Rathmanner.
Seattle Seahawks (+9.5, O/U 42) at San Francisco 49ers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the 49ers listed as a 10-point home favorite. The public is all over the 49ers, yet the line has fallen from -10 to -9.5. This signals some respected money taking the points with Seattle. However, I’m targeting the total. The forecast calls for rain and 10-20 MPH winds. Wild Card Weekend unders are 16-8 (67%) over the past five postseasons. This is also a divisional-under-system match. I’ll sweat the under 42.
Gable’s Guess: The Seahawks were one of the surprising teams this year and they snuck into the playoffs in a year where no one was picking them to do so. They were often picked to finish last in their division. Geno Smith finally got another chance to start this year and led his team into the playoffs. For all their troubles, now they’re sent to San Francisco to face a team many are predicting will get to the Super Bowl. The Niners have already beaten Seattle twice this season. and outscored them 48 to 20 in those two games. The Niners are just such a complete team and I don’t think it will be enough for Seattle even if rookie quarterback Brock Purdy makes a mistake or two. That being said, I’m not touching the spread in this one, so I’ll take the under.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: While the 49ers are the better team overall, asking them to lay double digits against a division rival in a playoff game with an inexperienced QB in Brock Purdy is a bit much. The 49ers have only beaten the Seahawks by double digits once in their last 10 games. In fact, Seattle has won six of the last 10 outright between these two teams. The one area Seattle may be able to exploit is the 49er pass defense, which is ranked in the middle of the pack. While the records may not be comparable, the offensive units are. San Francisco ranks sixth with 26.5 points per game and Seattle is right behind them ranking ninth in scoring with 23.9 points per game. Seattle is 6-3-1 ATS in the last 10 as an underdog against San Francisco. I’m looking for the Seahawks to keep it close on Sunday and playing Seattle with the points.
Best Bet: Siding with the under.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5, O/U 47.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Chargers listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. Despite 60% of bettors laying the points with Los Angeles, this line has remained frozen at -2.5 and even dipped to -1 at times throughout the week. Wild Card weekend dogs playing an opponent who missed the playoffs the previous season are 10-1 ATS (91%) over the past five postseasons. Jacksonville is also a contrarian bet in a heavily bet primetime game. I’ll take the Jags +2.5. I also like the Jags as a teaser piece (+2.5 to +8.5), passing through multiple key numbers.
Gable’s Guess: The story going into this game is how LA coach Brandon Staley used his starters in a meaningless game last Sunday which resulted in Mike Williams and Joey Bosa getting injured. Now they’re traveling cross-country to face the Jags. It was almost inexplicable that Staley left all the starters in for as long as he did against the Broncos. Jaguars won a tough game against the Titans in Week 18, but I feel they were very fortunate to come away with a victory. This team has done a great turnaround under Doug Peterson this year. In this game, I’d expect both of the offenses to be able to move the ball on each other. The Jags are certainly going to be able to run the ball on the Chargers. I’m taking the over here.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: These two teams will meet on Saturday night in a rematch of an early-season game . In the first meeting, Jacksonville dominated 38-10. However, the Chargers were dealing with quite a few injuries then. Chargers QB Justin Herbert should have some success throwing the ball as the Jaguars rank 28th against the pass, but there is a question about the health of WR Mike Williams who left last week with a back injury. Both teams have solid defensive units. The Jaguars allow only 20.6 points per game and the Chargers allow 22.6 points per game. Given that, the total of 47 seems a bit high. The Jaguars have played to the under in seven of their last 10 home games and the Chargers are 6-3-1 to the under in their last 10 games overall. I’m playing the under in what should be a competitive game Saturday night.
Best Bet: Taking the Jags with the points.
Miami Dolphins (+13, O/U 43.5) at Buffalo Bills
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line has been all over the place. It opened Bills -11 then fell to -9 on the news that Tua might play. But once Tua was ruled out, the line shot back up to Bills -13. I can’t be with the public laying the worst of the number with Buffalo. But I’m also not confident in Skylar Thompson scoring enough to keep it close. Instead, I’ll target the total. Despite 67% of bets taking the over, the total fell from 45 to 43.5. The Bills are 10-6 to the under. This is also a divisional-under-system match. Give me under 43.5.
Gable’s Guess: The Dolphins are in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 after squeaking out an 11-6 victory over the Jets on Sunday. They split with Buffalo this season but it sounds like we’re going to see Skylar Thompson start at quarterback on Sunday. When the line opened at 11, the expectation was Teddy Bridgewater was going to start. The Bills didn’t look outstanding against the Patriots in Week 18 but it certainly helps when you have a couple of kickoff returns for touchdowns. It was an emotional game for Buffalo, so that may have been why they didn’t look sharp. The defense is the biggest cause for concern for me. We’ve all seen New England’s struggles on offense this year, but Mac Jones looked tremendous against Buffalo on Sunday. I’m still going to lay the points with the Bills.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Dolphins will continue to be without QB Tua Tagovailoa as he recovers from a concussion. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater is also out, meaning the Dolphins will have to turn to rookie Skylar Thompson. There is no need to overthink this one. While the regular season games were competitive, this one will not be with Thompson under center. The Bills’ defense is second in the league in allowing just 17.9 points per game. Last week against the Jets, the Dolphins did not even score a touchdown, but won the game 11-6. There is no chance the Dolphins’ defense will be able to keep them in this game against the Bills. The Bills rank second in both yards per game and points per game and their offense averages 31.75 points per game at home. It may be a big number, but I’ll play the Bills -13.5 or better on Sunday afternoon.
Best Bet: Miami is going to be rough on offense. Going under.
New York Giants (+3, O/U 48) at Minnesota Vikings
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Vikings listed as a 3-point home favorite. The public is in on Minnesota, yet the line hasn’t budged. This signals a sharp line freeze on the Giants, with books reluctant to hand out the hook to contrarian New York bettors. Daniel Jones is 16-5 ATS in his career as a road dog. Minnesota might be 13-4 but they’re -3 in point differential, which means they’ve gotten very lucky this season. I’ll sweat the GMen at +3.
Gable’s Guess: These teams met in the regular season with Minnesota winning 27-24 less than a month ago. The Vikings have played in close game after close game this season and seemingly won them all. Both these teams finished with negative point differentials for the year despite making the playoffs. Both teams have first-year head coaches who have gotten improved play from their starting quarterbacks. Daniel Jones only has five interceptions on the year and Kirk Cousins has managed to lead eight game-winning drives this year. What really could be the difference in this game is how well Cousins is protected. The Vikings’ starting guards have allowed more sacks and more quarterback pressures than any other tandem in the NFL this season. I think New York’s pass rush should be able to get to Cousins. I’m going to take the points with New York.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This game is another rematch of a regular season meeting that saw the Vikings come out on top at home against the Giants 27-24. The Vikings have made a habit out of winning very close games all season long. Seven of their wins were by five points or fewer. Neither of these teams specializes in defense. The Vikings are ranked 31st, allowing 388.7 yards per game. The Giants are not much better, ranking 25th, allowing 358.2 yards per game. Offensively the Vikings are a bit better, putting up 24.9 points per game compared to the Giants’ 21.5 points per game. I expect this game to turn out very similar to the first meeting. Going with a teaser here, let’s move the Giants up to +9 and the total down to 42.
Best Bet: The luck of one of these teams is going to run out. Betting it’ll be the Giants and laying the points.
Baltimore Ravens (+9.5, O/U 40.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This game opened with the Bengals listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. With Lamar Jackson expected to miss the game, we’ve seen the Bengals get steamed up to -9.5. I liked Cincinnati in a teaser (-7 to -1) earlier in the week, but now that value is gone. I lean under, as the total has fallen from 43.5 to 40.5 and it’s a divisional-under-system match. But my angle is to jump on the Bengals +850 to win the Super Bowl right now, as that payout will drop after they win this game.
Gable’s Guess: Things are chippy between both these teams after last week’s game. Baltimore’s defense is going to need to lead the way for the Ravens to stand a chance here without Lamar Jackson. They’ve held opponents to 16 points or fewer in seven of the nine games they’ve played since acquiring Roquan Smith midseason. While the Bengals did put up 27 points on them on Sunday, seven of them came on a defensive score and the Baltimore offense also turned it over three times. The defense for the Ravens has been good, but the offense has been downright terrible whether it’s Tyler Huntley or Anthony Brown at quarterback, I just don’t feel good about their chances here. It’s a stay-away for me at 7.5, but I’d lay a touchdown with the Bengals.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: It will be an uphill battle for the Ravens without QB Lamar Jackson, who seems unlikely to play Sunday. The Ravens should have backup QB Tyler Huntley back for the game, though it likely won’t make much of a difference. The Ravens have appeared disorganized on offense for much of the season regardless of who has played at quarterback. The Ravens have scored the second-fewest points on the season amongst all playoff teams. The Bengals would like nothing more than to knock the Ravens out of the playoffs and into an offseason of uncertainty. The Ravens have the 26th-ranked pass defense in the league. That will spell trouble against QB Joe Burrow and a very talented group of Bengals receivers. These teams just played last week and the Bengals won by 11. I can’t see it being any closer Sunday. Playing the Bengals at -9.5.
Best Bet: Maybe the Bengals temporarily look past this game and the Ravens get some points. Going over.
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5, O/U 45.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Cowboys listed as a 3-point road favorite. The public is split, yet the line has fallen from Dallas -3 to -2.5. This signals pro money backing Tom Brady at home plus the points. The Bucs have value as a buy-low “bad” ATS team (4-12-1) against a sell-high “good” ATS team (10-7). I’ll back the Bucs +2.5. I also like them in a teaser (+2.5 to +8.5), passing through multiple key numbers.
Gable’s Guess: While Tampa did win their division, I don’t think anyone could really say they deserved to host a playoff game this year with the way they’ve looked. But, the Cowboys aren’t exactly looking strong coming into the playoffs either. Since week 12, Dak Prescott has thrown 11 interceptions, the most of any quarterback in that timeframe. He ended up tied for the lead league with 15 picks despite missing five games. It’s worth mentioning the Cowboys are 1-4 this year playing on grass and Tampa has a grass field. Throughout the week there’s been the narrative of Dallas struggling in the playoffs and Tom Brady being 7-0 against them in his career, but I’m going to lay the points with Dallas because I like the number.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This game — like every wild card game on the weekend — is a rematch of a regular season game. This one happened way back in Week 1 when Dak Prescott got hurt and the Bucs won comfortably. Tom Brady’s track record speaks for itself. He has a ton of playoff experience and knows how to win big games. That would be the exact opposite of the Dallas Cowboys, who have not had any success in the NFL playoffs. Dak Prescott has also been a turnover machine this season. Very little separates these teams in terms of yards on either offense or defense. The line opened at -3 and immediately dropped to -2.5. Going to follow the move and play Tampa +2.5
Best Bet: Brady has never lost to the Cowboys and isn’t going to start now. Tampa with the points.
Week 18: 2-3; This Season: 37-44-2
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Make sure to double-check the odds before making your Super Wild Card Weekend bets.
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