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Early NFL Picks, Predictions Wild Card Round: Can the Patriots, Steelers, Eagles, or 49ers spring an upset?

What are our early picks and predictions for NFL Wild Card Weekend? Where might we see some upsets and which favorites should cruise through?

Wild Card Weekend means we have just six games to make NFL betting picks and predictions for. However, rather than be sad the NFL regular season is over, there is excitement around some potentially fantastic matchups to open the NFL playoffs. Let’s examine the lines and see where we might find an upset or two this week.

NFL picks and predictions for Wild Card Weekend | NFL lines and odds

With the NFL Wild Card Weekend schedule set, how do the sportsbooks size up the six matchups? Do they have any surprise results in mind, or are all six home teams listed as favorites? If that is the case, which teams might be primed to cause an upset? Anything can happen on the opening week of the playoffs as we trek towards Super Bowl 56.

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Let’s take a look at the Wild Card Weekend picks, predictions, and NFL odds across various sportsbooks as of 8 AM ET on January 10, starting with the games on Saturday.

Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5)

This line feels spot-on between the Bengals and Raiders. Cincinnati is at least a field goal better than Las Vegas, and then you have home-field advantage on top of that. The Bengals will also be largely rested after taking a somewhat measured approach in Week 18. Cincinnati is a talented team, but they are inexperienced in many areas of the roster. It’s a big home playoff game — the emotion of it could be too much.

However, the Raiders are a tough team to judge every single week. We saw the run game get rolling against the Chargers, and if that side of their offense works, they will be tough for the Bengals. It feels like either the Raiders or Steelers will pull an upset, and if you had to pick, the smart money would be on the Raiders.

Raiders vs. Bengals Prediction: Raiders 27, Bengals 24

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-4.5)

What an atmosphere this will be in Buffalo for a prime-time Saturday game against a division rival.

These two split the season games 1-1, and the impact of the weather was telling. In calmer conditions, the Bills offense largely did what it wanted against New England’s defense, moving the ball with relative ease. In contrast, the Patriots had the edge when the weather dictated the game.

As of Monday morning, the long forecast for Buffalo is a cold-weather game with the potential of middling winds and some snow. If adverse weather descends on Orchard Park, it is easy to like the Patriots given Bill Belichick’s experience. However, if this ends up being a cold but clean game weather-wise, the edge is with Josh Allen and the Bills.

Patriots vs. Bills Prediction: Bills 27, Patriots 24

Wild Card Sunday: Free NFL picks and predictions

Let’s take a look at the current NFL lines and odds for Sunday of Wild Card Weekend as things stand at 8 AM ET on Monday, January 10. (As always, best of luck.)

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5)

Injuries could be extremely telling in this NFC Wild Card matchup. The Buccaneers had a scare in Week 18 with Mike Evans but appear to have avoided major injury woes this week. If they can get some of their key defensive pieces back (and potentially Leonard Fournette on offense), they should win with relative ease.

The game script for the Eagles likely involves keeping things tight with a productive ground game. The Buccaneers run defense has struggled in recent weeks. They have allowed five 100-yard rushing games in the last seven weeks, and the Eagles need to make that happen again.

This game feels like it has two potential scripts:

  1. The Eagles keep it close through three quarters, and it comes down to Tom Brady against Philadelphia’s defense in the last two minutes.
  2. The Buccaneers get up by 10 or more points in the first quarter and end up winning by 20 or more.

Either way, the Buccaneers winning feels like the right play, but the Eagles should be able to keep it close after resting a lot of key players in Week 18.

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Eagles 20

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys (-3)

In a matchup that will send a lot of 49ers and Cowboys fans down memory lane to the 1980s, this is a fascinating battle.

The 49ers channel their offense through the ground game — the Cowboys have been susceptible to that type of attack. Dallas has allowed a 23rd-worst 4.5 yards per rush attempt and 100 or more rushing yards in 11 of their last 12 games.

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Meanwhile, the 49ers have been solid on defense in recent weeks. They have not allowed over 300 total yards since Week 14 and have held their last five opponents under 25 points. If they can hold the Cowboys to 24 or less, they have a real shot to win. The Cowboys’ offense looked great in Week 18, but don’t be fooled — they have not fixed their issues. The 49ers have a great shot to make the Divisional Round in this matchup.

49ers vs. Cowboys Prediction: 49ers 27, Cowboys 23

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5)

We saw this game in Week 16 and it was not pretty. Only losing by 26 points in that matchup somewhat flattered the Steelers, and that should be the case again. The Chiefs are not perfect right now, but this is an odd game to have picked as the Sunday Night Football offering.

Quite frankly, this line being under two touchdowns is generous. There is every chance it moves during the week, and even if it gets above two touchdowns, the Chiefs might still be the play. Try not to get too excited Steelers fans, as the chances of a fairy tale ending for Ben Roethlisberger are slim in this matchup.

Steelers vs. Chiefs Prediction: Chiefs 33, Steelers 16

Monday Night Football: Wild Card Weekend picks and predictions

What should we expect as we round out Wild Card Weekend with a first-ever Monday Night Football game? Let’s examine the lines and odds and make our final pick and prediction of NFL Wild Card Weekend.

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)

Divisional rematches in the playoffs can elicit the eye roll from other fan bases, but this year the NFL might have landed two that are genuinely exciting. While the Bills and Patriots should be an arm wrestle, this one could be a track meet. The two matchups between these teams have yielded a combined 110 points, and there’s no reason to think this won’t be equally as thrilling.

Both teams are coming in off a loss, and their defenses were — for the most part — victimized in Week 18. This should be an offensive blitzkrieg that comes down to which QB makes the fewer mistakes. Both Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford have been prone to mistakes this season, so all eyes will be on them. In this type of matchup, give me the underdog, especially if they are getting more than 3 points in an essentially neutral-site game.

Cardinals vs. Rams Prediction: Cardinals 30, Rams 27

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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