The best weekend of the NFL season is finally here. Wild Card Weekend has been heavenly for NFL bettors for years, but the 2021 edition is supersized thanks to the league’s decision to expand the playoff field to 14 teams. So, instead of having four games spread across two days, we’ve got six NFL games spanning the entirety of the upcoming weekend.
BetOnline is one of the many quality NFL betting sites offering you countless different ways to wager on the festivities. Oddsmakers have posted a fresh batch of odds booster options in advance of Wild Card Weekend. Which boosters stand out from a betting value perspective? Let’s find out.
Bills, Seahawks, and Buccaneers ALL to Win (+200)
Saturday features a trio of interesting matchups. The Buffalo Bills will try to win their first playoff game since 1995 when they host Philip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts in the first game of the day. Buffalo’s high-octane offense has been the catalyst in the team’s six-game winning streak entering the postseason. Buffalo is a six-point favorite here at home.
No opposing defense has had an answer for Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, who have quickly formed one of the most lethal tandems in all of football. The Bills’ running game leaves plenty to be desired, but that hasn’t really hampered their ability to put points on the board. Buffalo has scored at least 38 points in each of their last three games. It’s hard not to like the Bills’ chances of winning this one at home as -280 favorites.
Stefon Diggs has been named a first team All-Pro.
Josh Allen has been named a second team All-Pro.
Cole Beasley has been named a second team All-Pro.
Tre'Davious White has been named a second team All-Pro.
Seattle will host the Rams in what looks like the best game of the Saturday slate. The Seahawks went 1-1 against Los Angeles during the regular season, but there’s a chance the Rams will have to start backup QB John Wolford for the second straight game as Jared Goff continues his recovery from a thumb injury. Sean McVay has been coy about whether Goff will be ready to roll on Saturday, which helps explain why Seattle is favored by just three points at home.
The Rams’ defense has been stellar all year long, and that alone may be enough to keep them in this game.
If Wolford draws the start, though, that spread should grow in the Seahawks’ favor. This is the diciest bet of the three, but the public is still backing Seattle fairly heavily. 58 percent of all bets have come in on the Seahawks to win, along with 55 percent of the total money wagered.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers check-in as an eight-point road favorite in the nightcap in Washington. The Football Team was just good enough to back their way into an NFC East title, but it would be a legitimate shock if this team actually won a playoff game. The Buccaneers’ offense has been firing on all cylinders of late, which is why Tom Brady and co. are massive -400 road favorites in this one.
Carlos Hyde to Score At Least One Touchdown (+300)
Carlos Hyde has been battling an illness of late, but Pete Carroll said earlier this week that he expects his backup running back to suit up for Saturday’s game. Hyde was on the field for 32 percent of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps in the last game he played back in Week 16, while Chris Carson led the way at 63 percent.
Hyde has averaged a solid 4.4 yards per carry on the year, but this is Carson’s backfield as long as he’s healthy. Carson led the team with 141 carries for 681 yards across 12 regular-season appearances. Seattle has a stable of running backs with Rashaad Penny also in the mix, but Hyde will presumably be the No. 2 if he’s healthy enough to play.
While it’s possible to think Hyde could find the end zone if he rotates into the game at the right time, Carson is still the guy getting most of the goal-line work. Carson has a total of seven goal-line touches since Week 14, while Hyde didn’t get a single attempt in either of his last two games.
This might be a more appealing flier option if you were getting better odds, but the +300 number looks a little optimistic given Hyde’s questionable role in this offense.
Tom Brady to Have 350+ Passing Yards and Bucs Win (+200)
Tom Brady may not be in his prime anymore, but he’s pretty clearly still one of the most prolific QBs in the league. Brady threw for over 4,600 yards with 40 touchdowns this season, so he’s got plenty of gas left in the tank. The future Hall-of-Famer topped 350 passing yards in four of the Bucs’ 16 games this season, but two of those instances came in Tampa’s final three games of the season.
The Buccaneers are one of the most pass-happy teams in football. Among playoff teams, the Steelers were the only team to throw the ball on a higher percentage of their offensive plays. They’re in for a tough test in this one, though, as Washington was the second-best pass defense in the league during the regular season. The Football Team yielded just 191.8 passing yards per game. The Rams were the only team that allowed fewer yards through the air.
This weekend will be a first: In his 21 NFL seasons, Buccaneers' QB Tom Brady never has gone to the postseason as a wild card.
Brady’s ability to top 350 yards in this one may hinge on Washington’s ability to stay in the game. If Tampa Bay is able to jump out to a big lead, it’s pretty unlikely that Alex Smith and the impotent Washington offense will be able to mount a big comeback. That could lead to the Bucs taking their foot off the gas and running the ball more often than usual in the latter stages.
If Washington can somehow keep it close, the Bucs should throw the ball as often as they usually do. That kind of game script certainly makes it more likely for Brady to put up big individual numbers.
Ravens, Saints, and Steelers ALL to Win (+185)
Sunday’s slate brings three more intriguing matchups. The Baltimore Ravens will look to exact a little revenge on the Tennessee Titans in Nashville in the first game of the day. Lamar Jackson’s squad certainly hasn’t forgotten that Derrick Henry and the Titans stormed their way through Baltimore to pull the upset almost exactly a year ago, and the Ravens are actually slight road favorites here.
Baltimore is -3 after squeaking their way into the AFC playoffs.
The Titans’ chances of winning hinge almost entirely on their defense’s ability to slow down Jackson. They were able to force Jackson into committing three turnovers in last year’s playoff tilt, but getting stops has been a much more difficult task for Tennessee’s defense in 2020.
The Saints will host the Bears as the biggest favorites of Wild Card Weekend. Chicago made the playoffs despite a middling 8-8 record, and oddsmakers aren’t too keen on Mitch Trubisky’s chances of staging a big upset in the Big Easy on Sunday. The Saints fell at home to the Vikings in the Wild Card Round last year, but that isn’t keeping New Orleans from opening as a hefty 9.5-point favorite. The -500 moneyline odds on the Saints to win are also the most lopsided of the weekend.
The Steelers will face the Browns for the second week in a row in the final game of the weekend. Cleveland enters this game with all sorts of question marks thanks to a reported virus outbreak earlier this week. Most of the Browns’ key players will suit up, but they’ll be without first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. The absence of the coach didn’t do much to swing the odds, but Pittsburgh is still favored by nearly a touchdown in this one.
The Ravens-Titans game could legitimately go either way, while it’s tough to gauge what we can expect from the Steelers. Pittsburgh stumbled down the stretch of the season following their blazing start. The Steelers obviously have quite a bit more playoff experience than the Browns do, but good luck having a ton of faith in a rickety old Ben Roethlisberger given the way he has played in the second half of the campaign.
Saints (-9.5) to Cover AND Over 47.5 Points (+280)
The Saints went 9-7 against the spread during the regular season. Keep in mind they were forced to play several games without Drew Brees, while Michael Thomas missed the majority of the season with a nagging ankle injury. Thomas’ status for Sunday is still in doubt, but Brees and Alvin Kamara should both be on the field.
The Bears went 8-8 against the spread, which sounds about right given their all-around mediocrity. Chicago’s offense showed signs of life later in the season once Trubisky returned from his own injury, but oddsmakers clearly don’t expect the Saints to have much trouble here.
Most valuable rookie WRs per PFF WAR (since 2006): 🔹 Keenan Allen, 2013 🔹 Odell Beckham Jr., 2014 🔹 Justin Jefferson, 2020 🔹 Michael Thomas, 2016 pic.twitter.com/krIQ0wO4cV
The Saints tend to be a good “over” bet because they play half of their home games in the comfortable indoor conditions of the Superdome. New Orleans hit the over in 10 of their 16 games this season, which hardly comes as a surprise. The over hit in half of the Bears’ games this season, but five of their eight road games went over. The Bears’ offense should be able to find at least a little traction here considering they won’t have to fight with the windy conditions they’re used to dealing with in Chicago.
The over on 47.5 points looks like a solid bet by itself. Thomas returning to the field would help the Saints’ chances of covering that sizable spread, too. He practiced earlier this week, which bodes well for his odds of playing on Sunday.
Bears (+9.5) and Browns (+6) BOTH to Cover (+295)
If you’re not interested in backing the Saints to cover, perhaps betting on the Bears to keep the game within a manageable margin is more appealing. You can combine a Bears cover with a Browns cover at +295 here instead.
It’s very difficult to get a read on the Browns-Steelers game in general. Pittsburgh crushed Cleveland 38-7 in their first meeting of the season, but that was back in October when the Steelers were red-hot. The Browns battled back to beat the Steelers last week in Cleveland, but Pittsburgh rested a few key players in that one with the game having no real meaning for their playoff fate.
Cleveland will be without Joel Bitonio, which is big. Bitonio is one of the better guards in the league, and the Browns will need to keep that vaunted Steeler pass rush from setting up shop in Cleveland’s offensive backfield if they want to find a way to win this game. Pittsburgh’s offense has some question marks, but the defense will be the driving force if the Steelers wind up making a playoff run.
What’s The Best Bet?
The worst bet here is Carlos Hyde to score in the Seahawks’ game against the Rams. His role is pretty undefined these days with Carson healthy. It’s risky enough to bet on any single starter to score a touchdown. Betting on a backup to do so at +300 just isn’t an attractive bet, in my opinion. Pass on Hyde to find paydirt.
I’m also skeptical that Brady will top 350 passing yards on Saturday. Tampa Bay has the potential to win this game going away, so the Bucs may not need their legendary quarterback to go all-out. The Bucs’ goal is to win a Super Bowl, so if the game gets out of hand, they probably won’t even keep the 43-year-old on the field for the entire game if they don’t need to. Brady could start the game hot, but if the Buccaneers pull away I don’t like his chances of putting up huge numbers. Pass on Brady, as well.
The Saints should take care of business against the Bears.
I’m not nearly that confident in the Ravens or Steelers to do the same in their respective games. Baltimore’s tilt with Tennessee should be one of the more fun games of the weekend, and it’s the only game that looks like a true 50/50 proposition. I’d take the Steelers to beat the Browns if I were forced to choose one outcome, but I don’t say that with much confidence in Pittsburgh. Pass on the Steelers, Ravens, and Saints all to win at +185.
The spread in that Saints/Bears game is one of the bigger playoff spreads you’ll ever see. New Orleans’ status as a heavy home favorite is justified, but we did just see them lose a home playoff game in the Wild Card Round last year. And that was with a full stadium’s worth of home fans in attendance. The lack of home-field advantage could throw a wrench into things. Frankly, I’m not all that comfortable banking on either team to cover in this game.
By process of elimination, we go back to the very first bet on the board. The Bucs should be able to handle the Football Team. The Bills are arguably the biggest threat to the Chiefs in the AFC, so I doubt they suffer a letdown at home this week against the Colts. The Seahawks look better than the Rams either way, but that’s especially true if John Wolford draws another start for LA.
I like the Bills, Bucs, and Seahawks all to win on Saturday. Take the +200 odds on the three-way result while you still can.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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