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 NFL odds 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.
Let’s take a look at the Wild Card Weekend odds across various sportsbooks as of 2 PM ET on January 14 and then make a pick/prediction, starting with the games on Saturday.
Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (-5)
This line opened at 6.5 and has steadily moved downward. When these teams last met in Week 11, the Bengals demolished the Raiders 32-13 in Las Vegas.
The Bengals are well-rested, having sat their starters in Week 18. Meanwhile, the Raiders not only played in the final game of the regular season on Sunday night, but they played 70 minutes of football.
Given the previous meeting, the talent on these two teams, and the quarterback disparity, it seems like the Bengals should roll. Nevertheless, I just can’t shake the feeling the Raiders will hang around in this one.
Joe Burrow and Derek Carr are each making their first career playoff starts. I trust Burrow more in the big spot, but I think the Bengals win by about 3-4 points.
Raiders vs. Bengals Prediction: Bengals 24, Raiders 20
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-4)
The Patriots won the first meeting between these two teams in the infamous Wind Bowl that saw Mac Jones attempt all of 3 passes. It was much different the second time around in normal weather. Josh Allen threw for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns.
That’s more of what I expect here. The Patriots have done quite well to make it to the postseason in Jones’ rookie year. Bill Belichick deserves a ton of credit for having this team competitive. However, the Bills are just the far superior team. They should win comfortably.
Patriots vs. Bills Prediction: Bills 27, Patriots 17
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 2 PM ET on Monday, January 14. (As always, best of luck.)
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5)
The Eagles covered the spread the first time these teams met in Week 6 in a 28-22 loss. Although the game appeared close, it really wasn’t. The Bucs led 28-7 before two late touchdowns from the Eagles made the final score represent a closer game than reality.
Tom Brady will go into this game without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, which is a problem for the passing attack. Although he gets Leonard Fournette back, I think the loss of Godwin and AB will prove fatal to the Bucs’ chances of returning to the Super Bowl.
With that said, they are still going to win this week. Jalen Hurts could backdoor a cover once again, but in the playoffs, I expect the Bucs to keep their foot on the pedal a little longer.
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Eagles 14
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
This is easily the toughest game of the week to predict. I like both of these teams and think the winner of this game can make a serious run at dethroning the Packers. It’s unfortunate they have to play each other in the first round.
Cowboys teams of the past 15 years would easily lose this game. It’s just been their M.O. However, this team has felt different all season. The Cowboys boast one of the best defenses in the league with two legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidates in Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons.
Although the Cowboys’ game against the Eagles last week was largely meaningless (the win did end up bumping them up from the No. 4 to the No. 3 seed), head coach Mike McCarthy wanted to get Dak Prescott and the passing game back into a rhythm. I think it worked.
The 49ers had a huge win against the Rams on the road to steal the Saints’ playoff spot. Jimmy Garoppolo has a ton of playoff experience, starting in a Super Bowl just two years ago. I think the Cowboys win this game, but it’s a true pick ’em, and the value is on the 49ers getting the field goal.
49ers vs. Cowboys Prediction: Cowboys 26, 49ers 24
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5)
I don’t know how high the sportsbooks can make this line. The Steelers have no business being in the playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger can’t do anything except check the ball down to Najee Harris or throw short passes to Diontae Johnson.
These teams played in Week 16. The Chiefs led 36-3 before a meaningless late Johnson touchdown made it 36-10.
This is just a mismatch of epic proportions. Patrick Mahomes is going to be able to do whatever he wants. The Steelers have absolutely no chance at winning this game. Can they put more of a fight than last time? Definitely, I’d be surprised if they didn’t.
Mike Tomlin deserves credit for finding a way to get this team into the playoffs. However, the offensive game plans have seemingly been self-destructive. The team is intent upon pounding Najee Harris into the backs of offensive linemen before Big Ben throws a 1-yard checkdown on third-and-2. Unless the Steelers come out throwing and with a plan to keep up with Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce, it’ll only be a matter of time before the Chiefs pull away.
Steelers vs. Chiefs Prediction: Chiefs 31, Steelers 13
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 (-3.5)
While I like the Cowboys and 49ers to make a run, this game features two teams I think are total frauds. Kyler Murray still makes too many bad decisions trying to avoid sacks that result in drive-killing sacks. Matthew Stafford makes too many bad decisions that result in touchdown passes to the wrong team.
These teams split their season series, with the road team winning each time. The Cardinals opened the year with seven straight wins. They closed the season losing four of their last five and five of their last seven. Murray hasn’t rushed for a touchdown since Week 13 and only has one game with multiple touchdown passes since then.
On the other side, the Rams closed the season winning five of their last six, but the loss came in Week 18 that cost them the No. 3 seed. It almost cost the division had the Cardinals not lost to the Seahawks.
This game feels like a total coin flip. It’s surprising to see the Rams laying more than a field goal. They dropped a home game to the 49ers last week, where players were visibly surprised at the amount of 49ers fans. The Rams have a weak home-field advantage and a quarterback with a reputation of losing in the playoffs. I don’t give either team much of a chance to win next week, but I like the Cardinals to at least make it to another game.
Cardinals vs. Rams Prediction: Cardinals 30, Rams 27