Wild Card NFL Playoff Odds and Picks
The first round of the NFL playoffs is always about spotting the upsets no one sees coming. With at least one Wild Card team making a deep run almost every season, there is bound to be an upset or two in the first round of action.
The problem when it comes to NFL betting isn’t just finding out who it could be, but admitting that one may not even exist. The playoffs, as we’ve come to learn, are a totally different beast, and should be treated as such. Home field advantage means more, good defenses become great defenses and elite defenses are nearly impossible to score on.
The stars can come out to play, but more often then not finesse players and teams are shutdown in the face of a tough matchup. Will that be the case again this weekend? Let’s find out as we break down all four Wild Card games and come away with our first round picks:
Chiefs (-3.5) @ Texans
It’s never easy to beat the same team multiple times in the same year – let alone on the road. That’s precisely what the Chiefs will set out to do this weekend, though, as they’ll take on the Texans in Houston. This looks like a brutal matchup from both ends, as the Texans and Chiefs boast very strong defenses.
All signs point to Kansas City being the victor in a defensive battle, as they have more talent and are a more balanced offense. Travis Kelce shredded the Texans in week one and could do so again, while KC also has to worry about speedy receiver Jeremy Maclin and Kansas City’s two solid running backs. If the Chiefs can get to the erratic Brian Hoyer or even stifle DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans would be in serious trouble.
Pick: Chiefs 16, Texans 13
Steelers (-3) @ Bengals
This is a very tough game to gauge, specifically because it’s a division battle and these two sides are meeting for the third time this year. Cincinnati seems to be at a disadvantage even though they’re at home, as Andy Dalton is likely out (thumb). That puts backup A.J. McCarron in a tough spot and he didn’t handle the Steelers (two picks) all that well the last time they faced off. I’m not sure we should love Dalton’s chances in the event he starts, either, as he has a rough history in the playoffs and also against Pittstburgh specifically.
The Steelers are hurting, themselves, as they could be without starting running back DeAngelo Williams, while a shaky secondary could end up giving up yardage and points through the air.
This should be more of a pick’em game, but judging by Cincinnat’s quarterback situation, it’s tough to not love the Steeler’s spot this week. I expect a close game, but the Steelers should pull it out.
Pick: Steelers 20, Bengals 17
Seahawks (-5) @ Vikings
The first time these two teams met in Minnesota it wasn’t remotely close, as the Seahawks abused Minnesota in every win and really exposed them for what they probably actually are: a one-dimensional team.
The Vikings badly need Adrian Peterson to go nuts and carry the team in this one, but that’s tough to hope for against the league’s top run defense. Seattle has grown stingy against the pass, too, and against a guy like Teddy Bridgewater that has only had one gem performance all year, I can’t see the Vikings getting past this matchup.
Add the likely return of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson’s hot run to the mix, and Seattle is escaping with ease.
Pick: Seahawks 31, Vikings 13
Packers (-1) @ Redskins
This might be the toughest game to call of all four, as the Packers have been extremely average for the last 10 weeks, but still are tough to gauge. The same goes for the Redskins, who are a very solid 6-2 at home, but it’s still tough to have much faith in Kirk Cousins or Washington’s shaky pass defense.
Is Cousins for real and do the Redskins continue their strong home stand? Or does Aaron Rodgers finally break out of his slump and will the Packers into the next round? I doubt either of these teams are moving on past round two, but Green Bay, despite all of their flaws, still seem to be just enough better than a middling Redskins team.
Pick: Packers 26, Redskins 20
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