It was a thrilling final round of NFL action but there’s no time for rest as we launch straight into what should be a fantastic playoffs series! Usually there are only four games on in wildcard weekend but the playoffs schedule has been revamped this season to add an extra two teams into the mix, meaning two extra games to look forward to!
We give a brief rundown of each game and give our best bets below.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday 8.40am (AEDT)
The Seahawks won their last four and six of their last seven games to finish the season after a rough stretch in the middle. After covering the spread in their first four games of the year, they went just 4-8 against the spread for the rest of the season. They lost straight up and ATS to the Rams on the road in Week 8 but bounced back in Week 16, claiming a 20-9 win to put the icing on the NFC West division. They start as four point favourites here but we like the Rams at that line. Los Angeles’ defence should really step up in the playoffs and they are coming off a strong performance in which they kept the Cardinals to just seven points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team
Sunday 12.15pm (AEDT)
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers probably can’t believe their luck. They had an up and down season and won their last four games of the year to secure a playoff spot. Their first game of the post-season will come against the Washington Football Team, who were able to secure the NFC East division with just a 7-9 record. Granted, Washington have pulled off some miraculous wins this season, but they are without doubt the weakest team in this postseason and the Buccs will be thanking the scheduling gods for this one. Tom Brady and co. start as 8.5 point favourites, and they should win, but this is a tough high for us, especially in a playoff game. Washignton lost 9 games this season, the first four of which came by over 8.5 points, the last five were by an average losing margin of just 3.8 points. They play solid defence and should cover here.
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints
Monday 8.40am (AEDT)
The final game in the NFC sees the Saints hosting the Bears on Monday morning. The Saints have been one of the strongest teams in the competition this season and finished the year with a 12-4 record and a 9-6-1 record against the spread. They beat the Bears by just three points in their only matchup back in Week 7 in a game that saw 49 total points posted. The line for this one starts at just 47.5, which seems low given the Saints are one of the highest scoting teams in the competition. The over hit in three of their last four games and they still put up 33 points in the game that went under. Back this one to go over in scoring friendly conditions under the dome.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills
Sunday 5.05am (AEDT)
The Bills might be the hottest team in all of football at the moment. They finished the season with a 13-3 record and won 9 of their last 10 games to storm home in the AFC East. They had a league best 11-5 record against the spread and covered the spread in their last eight games straight. They were the second highest scoring team in the competition this season, putting up 31.3 points per game and finished the season putting up 48, 38 and 56 points in their last three games. The Colts were 11-5 on the season but finished with just an 8-8 record against the spread. Tough to pick a result with the Colts getting 6.5 points, but one thing this game should have is points. Combined, the Colts and Bills games resulted in a 19-11-2 record in favour of the over.
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
Monday 5.05am (AEDT)
The Ravens finished the year with an 11-5 record and were one of the best teams against the spread at 10-5-1, particularly due to their ability to beat up on bad teams. For the majority of the year, when they have won straight up they have covered and when they have lost, they have failed to cover. They will start as 3 point favourites on the road on Monday morning and we tend to like them at that line. They have had one of the best rush defences this season, allowing just 108.8 rushing yards per game and 18.9 points per game. They should be able to stem the flow of star running back Derrick Henry, who the Titans have relied on so much this season. There is no doubt they’ll be hunting revenge after being upset by the Titans in the playoffs last season. Back them to return the favour here.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Monday 12.15pm (AEDT)
The Steelers won their first 11 games of the season but then lst their way towards the end of the season. They finished the year losing four of their last five games including a Week 17 loss to their divisional rivals and opponents this week, the Cleveland Browns. Granted, they didn’t have their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or some other starters playing in Week 17, but their form to end the season was certainly worrying. They’ll start as 6 point favourites at home, which seems about right. Despite their woes at the end of the season, they were still a dominant team at home. They went 7-1 straight up at Heinz Field at 5-3 against the spread. With their starters getting some valuable rest last week, we expect them to cover here.
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