Six games are scheduled for NFL Wild-Card Weekend, and the early favorites could have some trouble if trends from the regular season continue in the playoffs.
Road underdogs had one of the most successful years in two decades, thanks in part to near-empty stadiums due to the pandemic. Half of the home teams are laying at least six points in the first round.
Here are picks against the spread for every NFL wild-card game, as well as the latest odds. Betting lines are courtesy of OddsShark.
Indianapolis Colts (+7) at Buffalo Bills
Buffalo has been blowing out every opponent, winning six straight games by least double digits and an average of 20 points. Josh Allen is putting up MVP-caliber numbers, even against elite defenses. Against the Rams, Steelers and Dolphins—all of whom have a top-6 scoring defense—Allen and the Bills averaged 37 points per game. Philip Rivers can’t keep pace with Allen in Buffalo.
Prediction ATS: Buffalo
Los Angeles Rams (+3.5) at Seattle Seahawks
This could be the lowest-scoring game on Wild-Card Weekend. The Rams don’t know if John Wolford or Jared Goff coming off thumb surgery will be under center. Los Angeles appears to be most equipped to slow down Seattle’s offense, holding the Seahawks to 20 points or fewer in three straight games. The Rams might struggle to move the ball, but their No.1 ranked defense will keep this close.
Prediction ATS: Los Angeles
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5) at Washington Football Team
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense won’t have the same kind of success in Washington that they did to end the season. The Bucs went 0-4 against the best defenses on their schedule (Rams, Saints and Bears). Washington ranks second in total defense and has the kind of pass rush that can make Brady uncomfortable. Washington last lost a game by more than a touchdown in Week 5. It’s just hard to see Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke beating Brady outright.
Prediction ATS: Washington
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Tennessee Titans
The Ravens are favored on the road because they ended the regular season with five straight wins and the Titans’ defense can’t seem to stop anyone. Except for Baltimore, that is. The Titans blew out the Ravens 28-12 in last year’s playoffs. Tennessee beat Baltimore again in Week 11, limiting Lamar Jackson to 186 passing yards in a 30-24 overtime victory. The Titans have the better quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, a much better receiving corps and one of the league’s few game-changing running backs in Derrick Henry.
Prediction ATS: Tennessee
Chicago Bears (+10) at New Orleans Saints
This line might be a little too high considering New Orleans’ recent playoff failures. The Saints were upset by the Vikings on Wild-Card Weekend 2020. Drew Brees has looked his age in his last three postseason games, during which New Orleans hasn’t scored more than 23 points. The Saints needed overtime to beat the Bears 26-23 in Week 8. Mitchell Trubisky is at least playing better than Nick Foles was as the starter, and he gives Chicago a chance to keep this one close.
Prediction ATS: Chicago
Cleveland Browns (+6) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The point spread was near a field goal until Browns coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19. Cleveland will be without its head coach, a few assistant coaches and a starting offensive lineman. That might be too much for the Browns to overcome against a Steelers’ defense that ranks first in sacks and opponents’ passer rating. Cleveland beat Pittsburgh in the season finale as Ben Roethlisberger and other starters rested, but the Steelers blew out the Browns 38-7 in their other meeting.
Prediction ATS: Pittsburgh
NFL Wild-Card Playoff Odds, ATS Picks: Road Dogs Ready To Howl? The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ International Business Times.