NFL Wild Card Weekend odds and betting trends to get your head in the game!
The NFL playoffs are finally here and along with the usual cast of stars like Pittsburgh and New England, this year offers a handful of teams getting their first crack at the Lombardi in a long while.
In Los Angeles, the Rams haven’t been to the show since 2004, when they were still in St. Louis. For the Titans it has been nine years and their playoff losing streak is at three-straight. Staying with the South, Jacksonville was absent for the past decade. Sunday’s game will actually mark their first home playoff date since the 1999 season.
And then there is the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo’s long playoff drought ended miraculously Sunday when the Baltimore defense let Andy Dalton complete a fourth and-a-mile bomb to Tyler Boyd, who waltzed through the secondary like he was the pope on parade. Cincinnati’s win gave Buffalo (9-7) an edge over the Ravens based on ‘strength of victory’. It literally came down to that one matchup with Cinci.
This will be Buffalo’s first playoff game since the Music City Miracle in January 2000 against the Titans. No word yet if Doug Flutie will be in attendance. Perhaps Bills fans should be more concerned as to whether or not owners Terry and Kim Pegula are considering starting Nathan Peterman over Tyrod Taylor. Hope it’s not ‘too soon’ for that joke.
NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND DASHBOARD
Four of this weekend’s eight starting quarterbacks are making their playoff debut. Road dogs like Marcus Mariota and Taylor have a 2-10 SU and 4-8 ATS record in this spot the past 15 years. Home faves like Jared Goff and Blake Bortles aren’t much better at 5-9 SU and 4-10 ATS. Combined that’s 8-18 ATS but in the case of Buffalo and Jacksonville, something’s got to give.
(5) TENNESSEE AT (4) KANSAS CITY
This was Tennessee’s second-straight season with nine wins and the first time they have posted back-to-back winning years since 2007-08. In our 2017 Titans preview we suggested the defense and special teams would need major improvements if the team was to go anywhere in the playoffs. Each unit has improved marginally, but this game could come down to matchups.
Kansas City ranked ninth in rushing yards per game with 119 and the Titans are fourth at stopping the run (89 RYPGA). KC’s top passing threats are Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Tennessee is 28th against the pass and ranks 32nd defending tight ends.
Special teams and coaching edge go easily to Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Pointspreads can be a great equalizer. In this case, it’s a question of how much is enough?
(6) ATLANTA AT (3) LOS ANGELES RAMS
All four home fave lines are making early moves but this one is this hottest ticket in town. Online sportsbooks opened the Rams at -5 points. Although the betting percentages only say 53-percent, the series of half-point ticks suggests large dollar values camping with the Rams.
Atlanta has been trying to prove themselves all season after the epic Super Bowl meltdown. An offensive correction of -12% in total yards (365) and -35% in scoring (22.1) isn’t going to help the cause. Especially against a Rams team that led the league with 29.1 PPG.
Another thing going in the Rams’ favor is that they played five games this year against 2016 playoff teams. LA was 4-1 SU/ATS in those games, outscoring opponents 34.2 to 15.4.
(6) BUFFALO AT (3) JACKSONVILLE
Home faves on Wild Card weekend have a 10-3 ATS record the past five years against foes that score on less than 40-percent of their offensive drives. Buffalo’s drive efficiency this year is not only ‘average’ at .333, it has in fact fallen from 2016.
The Bills will need to win this game on D and special teams but it won’t come easy. Wild Card dogs of +3 points or more that slipped in drive efficiency are 1-10 SU since 2002, going 3-8 ATS.
(5) CAROLINA AT (4) NEW ORLEANS
The Saints have won six-straight against the Panthers ATS and it’s hard to believe that they were only favored in one of those contests. New Orleans shredded the Panthers for 30-plus in each meeting this year and five of the last seven between these teams went over the total.
When a team has covered at least five of the past six against their playoff adversary, chances are they’ll do it again. The record since realignment is 18-8 SU and 15-10-1 ATS. On a more interesting note, the same 26 games in this angle finished 6-20 O/U, staying low by an average of 5.4 PPG.