NFL Wild Card odds, picks and predictions
The season flew by so fast. Hard to believe its Wild Card weekend already, but the most exciting day in football is here.
Last season I went 7-1 in the first two weekends of playoff action and we hope to continue that playoff success. For the first time I can remember, three of the four games in weekend one feature road teams as favorites (Kansas City, Seattle, Pittsburgh).
The fourth game (Green Bay @ Washington) was even until a late surge that pushed it to (-1) in Washington’s favor. Its going to be a very wild weekend!
Here are my picks for playoff action.
Kansas City (-3) @ Houston – O/U (40)
The Kansas Chiefs are arguably the hottest team in football. They are relatively healthy but Center Mitch Morse has been ruled out. Minor set back for a team that has given up only 13 points per game in their last ten. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is quietly having his best year as a pro and the defense has been a force.
Both teams are similar as Alex Smith (20 TD’s, 8 INT’s) and Texans QB Brian Hoyer (19 TD’s, 7 INT’s) lead offenses that are missing their star running backs and their defenses are ranked in the top five in most categories.
But I believe the Chiefs have more playmakers and should make more big plays than the Texans. In this slugfest, I envision scores being tough to come by for the offenses. I do think there will be some long drives and also a turnover or two or more and the Chiefs come out on top and the UNDER bet.
Chiefs 20 Texans 13
Seattle (-5) @ Minnesota – O/U (39.5)
Seattle makes the playoffs as the sixth seed but don’t let that mislead you. Five weeks ago, the Seahawks murdered the Vikings in Minnesota. Since then, the Seahawks have allowed only 11 points per game. They have also caused 11 turnovers in the last six games. This is not a favorable draw for the NFC North champs (Vikings).
In fairness to the Vikings, they are rolling high on a three game winning streak of their own and they do feature a top-tier defense in the NFC.They are coming off a huge win against the Green Bay Packers that gave the Vikings their first NFC North title since 2009.
The Vikings could win this game. They really could. The game these two teams played five weeks ago could motivate the Vikings. But really this is a middle of the pack offense even with a dominant Adrian Peterson. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is playing some terrific football right now and I think they continue to trend.
Seahawks 27 Vikings 14
Pittsburgh (-3) @ Cincinnati – O/U (45.5)
I don’t like to dwell on historical outcomes between teams over long stretches of time. A lot of times it doesn’t matter that much. But for this series, its worth mentioning that the Pittsburgh Steelers are 13-2 SU in their last 15 games in Cincy. They have had a knack for winning at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals will be starting a back up quarterback in A.J.McCarron that will have the distinction of being the first player since 1979 to start a playoff game with such limited experience to begin with.
Pittsburgh beat Cincy a few weeks ago and when its division rivalries, the games mean more to both squads so that loss may sting the Bengals a bit but this one is going to come down to the Bengals #2-ranked AFC defense (17 ppg) and the high-powered Steelers offense that has thrown the ball 74% of the time this season.
The Steelers offense struggled late in the season but that was primarily due to play calling and pushing the envelope. In the playoffs I expect them to keep it more simple and make the right calls to get enough points on the board to make it difficult for the Bengals offense to keep up.
Steelers 24 Bengals 17
Green Bay @ Washington (-1) – O/U (45)
At the start of the season, if you would have told me Washington would be favored to beat Green Bay in a playoff game, I would have laughed hysterically. I’m laughing now but truly this is one of the season’s surprises. The Redskins are in the dance.
The line has fluctuated a bit between (-1) going both ways but the Redskins have not lost a playoff game as a favorite since 1984, going 6-0 in that span. History lessons. But this team, for whatever reason, has been quietly able to win despite locker room controversies and distractions throughout the season.
Green Bay has struggled after starting the season 6-0 and Coach Mike McCarthy gave up play calling duties after last season. The offense, coupled with some key injuries, has had serious issues most of the year. I would like to think that they have the best QB n the game and can win this one on the road but they have not proven it in recent weeks. The Redskins are hot and the building will be full of energy, I think they get their first playoff win in ten years. Can’t believe I’m saying that. Wow!
Redskins 23 Packers 20
Record overall (season) SU: 131-94
Record overall for Picks of the Week (season) ATS: 20-14
*All point spreads provided by VegasInsider.com and are accurate as of Jan. 8th, 2016. Point spreads may change between the time of this publication and when the game is actually played. Please gamble responsibly. If you need help, please call the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
Tayrance Allen covers the NFL for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @Twigganomics
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