The NFL Playoffs are finally here! The NFL Wild Card Round starts on Saturday and runs through Monday night, giving fans six do-or-die games this weekend. It’s time to look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for this NFL Wild Card Round.
The first round of the NFL Playoffs brings some incredible matchups, including three divisional slugfests in the NFC West (Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers), AFC East (Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills), and AFC North (Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals). The other three games are inter-divisional rematches that run back games from Week 1 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19, Dallas Cowboys 3), Week 3 (Jacksonville Jaguars 38, Los Angeles Chargers 10), and Week 16 (Minnesota Viking 27, New York Giants 24).
Previous NFL Picks & Predictions: Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 |Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8
So, without further ado, here are the NFL picks, predictions, and odds for the NFL Wild Card Round.
Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the NFL odds.
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)
Full Seahawks-49ers betting preview
The Seahawks went 3-5 down the stretch and backed into the playoffs when the Green Bay Packers choked away their opportunity to get in. On the flip side, with 2022 Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy under center and trade-deadline acquisition Christian McCaffrey in the fold, the 49ers are the hottest team in the NFL right now, winning their last 10 games in a row.
The last time these two NFC West foes met, back in Week 15, the 49ers won the game comfortably, 21-13. The Niners also won back in Week 2, 27-7, but that was a lifetime (and two quarterbacks) ago.
Of the three divisional matchups, this is the only one where the teams didn’t split the season series. While conventional wisdom suggests it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, that’s actually inaccurate. In playoff scenarios where one team can sweep the season series, the 2-0 team is 14-9 overall.
Let’s make it 15-9 with a 49ers win and a cover on Saturday.
Prediction: 49ers 34-20
Update: After falling behind at halftime, the 49ers cruised to a 41-23 win with a big second half.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Full Chargers-Jaguars betting preview
This game is a battle between two of the best young quarterbacks (and hair) in the NFL right now. However, while most will see this game as the Justin Herbert vs. Trevor Lawrence show, determining the winner will come down to overall talent, coaching, and regular-season performance.
The Jaguars won their division which — in fairness — was a lot easier than the AFC West, but that means the Chargers have to come six hours across the country to play this game. The Jaguars’ offensive weapons are probably better overall, too, especially if Mike Williams doesn’t play. And the Chargers have the edge on defense, but just slightly.
The biggest mismatch is in coaching, with the Super Bowl-winning Doug Pederson holding a major advantage over the often-head-scratching Brandon Staley. That’s the biggest reason this game is the upset alert of the weekend.
Prediction: Jaguars 21-20
Update: The Jaguars came back from a 27-0 deficit to stun the Chargers, 31-30.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-13.5)
Full Dolphins-Bills betting preview
The Dolphins beat the Bills in the sweltering heat of Week 3, while the Bills repaid the favor in snowy Week 15. The NFL Wild Card rubber match will be sunny and cold (around 30 degrees), but the weather is not why the Bills will win.
Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion problems are sad, and Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins, and the NFL should get some credit for holding him out at the likely cost of losing this game. With rookie seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson under center, the Dolphins don’t have much of a chance.
The Bills too often let lesser teams hang around in games. However, against an AFC East rival at home in the playoffs, they should make light work of the banged-up away side.
Prediction: Bills 35-10
New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings (-3)
In Week 16, on Christmas Eve, it took a 61-yard field goal at the buzzer for the Vikings to beat the Giants. That’s why Vegas has a 13-4 home team favored by just three over a 9-7-1 road squad.
Conventional wisdom says that, especially in the playoffs, you shouldn’t pick the underdog unless you think there’s a chance they can win. The Giants proved all season that they can win games close, late, and against more talented teams.
This game seems like the biggest toss-up of the weekend, and in that case, I’ll take the points.
Prediction: Giants 24-23
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (-9.5)
Just like the Bills-Dolphins game, this is a very different-looking contest with one team not having their starting quarterback. Unlike the Dolphins, the Ravens at least are likely to have their second-stringer, although Tyler Huntley is dealing with a shoulder injury.
The Bengals lost to the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens by two in Week 5 but beat Huntley and company by 11 last week.
Joe Burrow could be in trouble this postseason with his offensive line injuries. The Ravens won’t be the team to exploit that, though. The Bengals should again beat their AFC North rivals by double digits.
Prediction: Bengals 27-13
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If Cowboys-Buccaneers is, in fact, a field goal game like the line suggests, you have to give Tom Brady and the Buccaneers the edge. However, at this point in the season, the Cowboys are the better team and should win this game by at least a touchdown.
As up and down as Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have been this season, they haven’t lost two in a row yet and have responded well after their notable clunkers. That includes a strong Week 2 win over the Bengals after the Buccaneers beat them 19-3 in the opener.
Brady might have one (or 12) more years left in him, but this will be his last game with the Buccaneers. The Cowboys take this comfortably and move on as we wrap up our NFL Wild Card Round picks and predictions.
Prediction: Cowboys 23-12
Establish the Pass Podcast NFL Wild Card Playoff Predictions
|SEA @ SF||49ers||49ers|
|LAC @ JAX||Jaguars||Chargers|
|MIA @ BUF||Bills||Bills|
|NYG @ MIN||Vikings||Giants|
|BAL @ CIN||Bengals||Bengals|
|DAL @ TB||Bucs||Cowboys|
|Reg. Season Record||177-92||172-97|