The NFL Playoffs finally kick off this weekend with a massive slate of six games in the Wild Card Round! We'll be bringing you a preview and betting tips for all six games across the two conferences this week, starting with the AFC betting tips courtesy of Ben Bridge below!
Sunday 16th January, 8.30am (AEDT)
The 10-7 Las Vegas Raiders travel to Ohio to take on the freshly crowned AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals. The Raiders make their first playoff appearance since 2016 and are looking for their first playoff win since 2002. The Bengals are looking for their first playoff win since 1990, with 6 straight playoff losses during the Andy Dalton era. Both starting Quarterbacks will be making their first playoff start.
These two teams met less than two months ago in Sin City, where the Bengals ran away with a 32-13 victory. The game was far closer than the final score, however the Bengals were never truly in trouble in the game and ran away with it in the 4th quarter.
The Bengals should be well rested, leaving several of their starters, including Quarterback Joe Burrow, on the sidelines last week against the Browns, whilst the Raiders are coming off an Overtime performance on Sunday Night Football in what was possibly the game of the season against the Chargers.
There are no serious injury concerns for either team, whilst the weather looks to be cold but relatively low winds. I trust Burrow and his offensive weapons to cover and win against a tired Raiders team.
Sunday 16th January, 12.15pm (AEDT)
AFC East foes square off for a 3rd time in 7 weeks as the Mac Jones led New England Patriots travel to frigid New Era Field in Buffalo to take on Josh Allen and the AFC Champion Buffalo Bills.
The pair split the regular season matches, in games that could only be described as polar opposites. In Week 13, the Patriots travelled to Buffalo and were met with horrific conditions, with freezing cold temperatures and gale force winds. Bill Belichick coached a masterclass, allowing his rookie Quarterback Jones to throw only 3 forward passes all game, whilst the team rushed for 222 yards to sneak home 14-10. The teams met 3 weeks later, where Josh Allen threw for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns, as the Bills exacted revenge at Gillette Stadium, cruising home 33-21.
The weather is expected to be around -14 degrees at kick-off, however crucially for the Bills, the winds seen in their Week 13 matchup are not expected, which should assist the Bills passing offense.
The Patriots defence and coaching are their strengths, and I get the feeling that Belichick will scheme this matchup to be tight. Considering the Bills closed -3 in Week 13 at home and are now laying 4 points, I must take the Patriots +4, with this game to come down to a field goal either way.
Monday 17th January, 12.15pm (AEDT)
Woof. This matchup makes me wish the Raiders and Chargers just played out a draw last week, which would have ended the Steelers season. Instead, the Steelers yet again make the playoffs with their statue-esque Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is trying to go on one last run with his beloved Steelers. Unfortunately, they must travel to Arrowhead Stadium and take on Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs.
The Chiefs have had an up and down year, with their offense in particular failing to live up to the expectations placed upon them given recent seasons. However, one time this season when they looked utterly unstoppable was against the Steelers in Week 16, with the Chiefs prevailing 36-10, after leading 30-0.
Not a lot to say for this one. The Steelers, in my opinion, aren’t a playoff team and the Chiefs will use this as a tune up for the Divisional Round, where they will take on the Bills or Patriots. There are slight injury concerns over superstars Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, however I suspect both will suit up and be ready to go, helping the Chiefs cover the spread at a canter.
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