Back in August, the thought that the NFL could get through this most uncertain of seasons unscathed seemed impossible. However, 256 games later, we’ve made it to the postseason. The NFL wild card round is here, and there are some incredible matchups to look forward to. It’s headlined by the all AFC North clash between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Who comes out on top? Find out with our NFL Wild Card predictions against the spread this week.
NFL Wild Card Predictions against the spread
All spread lines are provided by DraftKings and were correct at the time of writing. They are, of course, subject to change the closer we get to kickoff.
Saturday, January 9th, 1:05 PM ET
Indianapolis Colts (+6.5) @ Buffalo Bills (-6.5)
The first game on NFL Wild Card Weekend sees the AFC East champion Buffalo Bills take on the AFC South runner-up Indianapolis Colts. The two teams have met 70 times previously. Although the Colts comfortably beat the Bills last time the two teams met, it is the Bills who hold a 37-32-1 winning record in the head to head series.
It seems somewhat ironic that the Bills beating the Miami Dolphins has allowed the Colts to make the playoffs. Obviously, Indianapolis had to do their part and beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, but without the Bills winning, the Colts wouldn’t have made it. Unfortunately for them, the Bills will also be the team to end their playoff run.
Although the strong Indianapolis running game could prosper against the Bills rush defense, it’s difficult to imagine that the Colts can tame Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense. Even Matt Barkley looked outstanding against the Dolphins, who had previously been one of the better defenses in the NFL.
Predictions against the spread for this week’s NFL matchup: The Bills win and cover the spread.
Final score prediction: Indianapolis Colts 28 Buffalo Bills 35
Saturday, January 9th, 4:40 PM ET
Los Angeles Rams (+4.5) @ Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)
The NFC West rivals have split the season series for the past two years. This year, they get a series decider as the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks host the Los Angeles Rams on NFL Wild Card Weekend. Despite losing 20-9 in Week 16, can the Rams get a surprise result over their bitter divisional rivals?
They’ve been a genuine Jekyll and Hyde team in 2020. Defensively they’ve been strong all season with Aaron Donald at their heart. They’ve allowed the least passing yards per game in the NFL and the third least rushing yards per game. However, offensively they’ve been very hit and miss behind much-maligned quarterback Jared Goff.
With homefield advantage and Russell Wilson as a game-winning difference-maker, the Seattle Seahawks should advance to the divisional round with a narrow win. After a terrible start, the Seahawks defense has held teams below 20 points in five of the last six games. I don’t believe the Rams offense has enough to buck that trend.
Predictions against the spread for this NFC West clash on NFL Wild Card Weekend: Seattle wins and covers the spread.
Final score prediction: Los Angeles Rams 18 Seattle Seahawks 23
Saturday, January 9th, 8:15 PM ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) @ Washington Football Team (+7.5)
One of the NFL’s most potent offenses meets one of its stingiest defenses as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to take on the Washington Football Team. The NFC East has been the laughing stock of the NFL this season. Will they have the last laugh with a surprise Washington win on Wild Card Weekend?
The answer, unfortunately, will be no. Although the Washington defense has the capability to hold Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense to a low scoring affair, their ability to go toe to toe on offense is sadly lacking. As beautiful as the Alex Smith comeback story is, he hasn’t got enough to get it done.
Even if Washington leans on the ground game behind Antonio Gibson, the Buccaneers have allowed the fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL this season. They’ve also allowed the least rushing touchdowns in the league.
Predictions against the spread for this week’s NFL Wild Card showdown: Tampa Bay wins and covers the spread.
Final score prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 Washington Football Team 18
Sunday, January 10th, 1:05 PM ET
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) @ Tennessee Titans (+3.5)
If you believe you need to establish the run to succeed offensively in the NFL, the Wild Card round has thrown together an instant classic for you to enjoy on Sunday afternoon. Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens backfield committee face a Derrick Henry led Tennessee Titans in a battle of the league’s two most potent rushing offenses. For those who are about to run the rock, we salute you!
Who will prevail on Sunday? The Titans have won the last two times the teams have battled it out and surprised the Ravens in the postseason just a year ago. Homefield advantage could be a difference-maker. However, the Ravens won in Tennessee the last time they traveled there.
Although Henry renders most defensive analysis useless, the Ravens do have a defensive edge in this game. Baltimore has a top-10 unit against the run, whereas the Titans have struggled to contain anyone, anyhow, as evidenced by the close-fought game against the Houston Texans that got them to this point.
Predictions against the spread for this NFL Wild Card matchup: The Ravens win and cover the spread.
Final score prediction: Baltimore Ravens 33 Tennessee Titans 28
Sunday, January 10th, 4:40 PM ET
Chicago Bears (+9.5) @ New Orleans Saints (-9.5)
Despite a shellacking by the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears secured a place in the postseason as the Arizona Cardinals fell to the Los Angeles Rams. Their reward for a rollercoaster season is a trip to Louisiana to take on the New Orleans Saints.
Sadly for Bears fans, the rollercoaster stops here for Mitchell Trubisky and co. The Bears have lost their last six games against the Saints, including the overtime loss at Soldier Field earlier this year. You have to go back to 2005 to find a Chicago win in Louisiana.
Although the Bears’ defense has been impressive this season, they will struggle to hold a Saints offense that has scored at least 20 points in every game. Even with Taysom Hill at quarterback New Orleans managed to find a way to score points. They also have one of the best defensive units in the NFL, holding teams under 10 points in four games this season.
Predictions against the spread for this week’s NFL Wild Card game: The Saints win but narrowly fail to cover the spread.
Final score prediction: Chicago Bears 18 New Orleans Saints 27
Sunday, January 10th, 8:15 PM ET
Cleveland Browns (+4.0) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.0)
The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers meet for the third time this season in what should be the most hotly anticipated clash of Wild Card weekend. After holding out in a nerve-wracking season finale, can the Browns sneak past the Steelers? Will Ben Roethlisberger return to the team, and to form, and keep Pittsburgh in the playoffs?
It feels like a long time since the Steelers were imperiously marching their way to an unbeaten season. They’ve lost four of their last five. While it feels like a trap to bet against them based on those performances, there is no doubt that they’re not as convincing as their record suggests.
The Browns, meanwhile, can be exceptional and infuriating on any given Sunday. Baker Mayfield fluctuates between brilliant and banal from week to week. However, Nick Chubb has been consistently superb throughout. He opened the scoring in the season finale with a 47-yard touchdown run, and he can be the hero for the Browns next Sunday.
Predictions against the spread for this week’s AFC North rematch on NFL wild card weekend: The Browns win and cover the spread.
Final score prediction: Cleveland Browns 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 24
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a contributor for Pro Football Network, focusing on NFL Draft, general NFL, and NFL fantasy football. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.