Super Wild Card Weekend betting previews and picks
The 2022 NFL Playoffs begin with Super Wild Card Weekend and six playoff games starting Saturday, Jan. 15 and continuing with a Monday night match-up on Jan. 17. The online sportsbooks are adjusting the odds, and we'll provide the best lines and totals available from the leading online sportsbooks. Check out the bonus offers and reduced juice sportsbooks as you get in the game during the NFL Playoffs.
Our 2021 NFL season was a special one, finishing Week 18 with a 3-0 ATS sweep and two more outright underdog winners. Our weekly NFL underdog picks finished the season 28-12 ATS with 21 outright underdog winners - a 70.0% win rate and huge profits for bettors who followed along.
It's important to note that the NFL Playoffs are a tougher challenge and the lines are even sharper and much tighter at the top online sportsbooks. Pro bettors will tell you the playoffs are extremely difficult, and they will look for opportunities in the prop market and live betting. No reason to force bets, and betting more is usually not a prudent play. There are exceptions and some games may pop to provide a better wagering opportunity pre-flop or ahead of the game. I'm reducing my betting this round and you might consider half unit wagers or even less instead of full units and adjust your pre-game bets accordingly.
You're now getting the top teams in the playoffs (well, the Steelers are in so there are exceptions). I handicap the games and try to count on defensive strength while also recognizing that in the playoffs, all systems are go and all hands are on deck with teams turning to their star players for more production.
Thus, when evaluating prop bets, it may be more favorable to look over the total on yards, carries, receptions, etc. while recognizing the weather conditions and injury situations. While the sportsbooks may shade some of the prop totals to the over and some of the defenses may be stronger, there is still more 'over' considerations on props during the playoffs than the regular season. The risk is that your player gets injured during the game and your bets may be lost with an early injury.
Saturday, Jan. 15
Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) - 4:30 p.m ET on NBC
Line: Bengals -5, Total 48.5 at BetOnline
The Bengals won the regular season match-up in Las Vegas 32-13. That was back-to-back home losses for the Raiders following a blowout loss to the Chiefs. That score was misleading as a pair of fourth quarter turnovers by the Raiders allowed the Bengals to break away from a 16-13 lead. Cincinnati had less than 300 yards offense and just 4.1 yards per play while relying heavily on Joe Mixon and the running game. The Raiders enter on a 4-game winning streak with each game essentially a playoff type game to get in. I bet the Bengals and will likely bet Cincinnati in the 2nd half as well. The Bengals offense has faced the second easiest schedule of defenses and pass defenses, and easiest run defenses. The Raiders defense faced a top-5 schedule of offenses. Other than the two blowout losses to the Chiefs, the Raiders have done well getting pressure ranking 8th in pass rush win rate and the league's No. 1 edge rusher in win rate of Maxx Crosby, who had his highest pass rush win rate against the Bengals. Despite a league-low 12% blitz rate, the Raiders get pressure, and the Bengals rank 30th in pass block win rate and allowed a league-high 51 sacks. But Joe Burrow has still produced better under pressure than Derek Carr, who has carried the Raiders through much adversity this season and has not been as productive in colder weather - Carr is 0-5 as a Raider when the temperature is below 35 degrees and never scoring more than 17 points. It will be less than 30 degrees at kickoff in Cincinnati.
So who wins? I prefer a higher-scoring Bengals win, if both offenses produce, but believe the Raiders have been through a real grind in recent weeks especially last Sunday night in an overtime win over the Chargers to make the playoffs. One other note is the Bengals offensive coordinator is Brian Callahan, who was Derek Carr's QB coach in 2018 and can pass along info of interest to the Bengals defense and coordinator. Early money on the Raiders when the line opened -6.5, but the situation on a short week for the Raiders and the Bengals rested and ready and having not left the state of Ohio since before Christmas has us on the striped cats to end the Raiders season.
Pick: Bengals and Opinion Over
New England Patriots (10-7) at Buffalo Bills (11-6) - 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS
Line: Bills -4, Total 44 at reduced juice Heritage Sports
The rubber match between these division rivals, and I expect it to be more like the first meeting in Buffalo when the Patriots prevailed 14-10 and rookie QB Mac Jones passed the ball just 3 times for 19 yards. It will be cold below 10 degrees and winds 10-15 MPH. I still don't have enough confidence in Bills QB Josh Allen to make accurate and timely passes consistently. I agree with an under the total play including first half under, and these are the the top-2 scoring defenses in the league allowing 17-18 points per game. Yes, they have played softer schedules and especially the Patriots. Additional stats include the Bills out-gaining opponents by 129 yards per game at home, and Buffalo had better stats against six playoff teams (+325 yards). The Bills have won four straight games after losing in overtime at Tampa Bay. The Patriots have lost 3-of-4 entering the playoffs and were out-yarded by 406 net yards against five playoff teams this season.
Pick: Under and Opinion Bills
Sunday, Jan. 16
Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) - 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX
Line: Buccaneers -8.5, Total 45.5 at GT Bets
The Eagles should be fresher after sitting their starters in last week’s loss to Dallas. Philly may seem a bit undervalued, and boasting the league's top rushing attack at 160 yards per game is a positive profile. So is the Eagles NFL co-leading 32.4 rushing attempts per game. But the Bucs allow a league-low 21.5 rushing attempts per game and a NFC-low 92.5 rushing yards per game. Philadelphia started the season 2-5 but rallied to make the playoffs. None of their seven wins down the stretch came against winning teams and four of them were against backup quarterbacks. Not in any of my dreams or in live, real time action can I feel confident enough to bet my money on QB Jalen Hurts and the Eagles on the road against a strong defense in Hurts' first playoff game appearance. Take a look at the Eagles schedule and results this season and you'll see whenever they faced a quality quarterback, they allowed at least 27 points. That includes a 28-22 home loss to Tampa Bay in mid-October as a 7-point underdog. Hurtz passed for 115 yards, rushed for 44 of the Eagles 100 rushing yards and he had an interception. Brady passed for nearly 300 yards against the Eagles. While the Bucs have not been as sharp against some sub-par teams down the stretch and are missing some key performers, note they will won seven of their final eight games with six of those by 7 points or more. I still prefer the defending champs and teased them as well.
Lean: Buccaneers and Tease Tampa Bay to -2 or 2.5
San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at Dallas Cowboys (12-5) - 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Line: Cowboys -3, Total 50.5 at BookMaker
Like the Bengals and Raiders match-up, these two teams are in the playoffs after missing out last season. The 49ers overcame more injuries to make the postseason party, and they too have an 'all-in' effort and emotional comeback victory on the road against the Rams to get into the playoffs. Both teams can turn to strength in the running games and defense, and each averages 27.5 to 29.5 rushing attempts per game. Deebo Samuel has been an unstoppable weapon for the 49ers since Week 10 as a runner and receiver, and led the league with 11 touchdowns since then. Dallas and QB Dak Prescott has solid offensive weapons and the Cowboys led the league with 407 yards and 32.1 points per game. Still, stronger strength of schedule has been a good indicator of success in this playoff round, and the 49ers played in the superior division and had a +1.0 yards per play differential to the Cowboys +0.5. The Cowboys were 10-2 SU and 11-1 ATS versus NFC teams, but the 'Boys also led the league in most penalties taken per game (7.5) and penalty yards (75).
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) - 8:15 p.m. ET on NBC
Line: Chiefs -12.5, Total 46 at BetUS
No big 'Dog this week and Big Ben's final game is likely another blowout loss, as was the case when the Chiefs dominated the Steelers at Arrowhead the day after Christmas, 36-10. Sure the Steelers had 3 turnovers and top defender and sack leader T.J. Watt was very limited that game with cracked ribs. But look at the Steelers last four road games against competent and very capable quarterbacks (No, the Ravens QB was not capable or at all competent last week including a pick in the end zone that would have ended the Steelers season). Road losses to the Chiefs, Vikings, Bengals and Chargers with the Steelers allowing at least 36 points in each contest. Pittsburgh's offense has been awful under Big Ben, and averaged just 4.0 yards per play their last two games and 4.3 against the Chiefs in defeat. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is 27-1 in his last 30 games in Nov., Dec. and Jan., and if you're looking for an alternate bet or first quarter option, know the Chiefs average a league-best 7.6 points in the first quarter and the Steelers a league-worst 2.2. Yep, there is a tax and line inflation betting on the Chiefs. But don't buy Pittsburgh coach Tomlim's BS or arrogance. Get right with coach Reid, even with his dumbfounding comments this week that "the Steelers are playing like a number one seed right now." That's ridiculous, and so are the Steelers making the playoffs. This should be another blowout and an early knockout.
Monday, Jan. 17
Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (12-5) - 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
Line: Rams -4, Total 49.5 at MyBookie
The Cardinals were the last team to remain undefeated with a 7-0 start before nearly stealing the game against Green Bay late. But Arizona is just 1-4 SU and ATS over the last month with a -36 point differential. Contrary call and lean towards the underdog. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray had more than 300 total yards passing and rushing in the Cardinals early season win over the Rams on the road, and better than 440 combined yards in defeat in his second game back from injury against the Rams a month ago. He'll have to be the man to minimize mistakes and make big plays again for the Cardinals to advance against a Rams team that's been winning mostly one score contests the past month until last week's blown 17-0 lead and game to the Niners.
Lean: Cardinals and Over
Check back Sunday and Monday for additional updates, analysis and information you can bet on.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and he crushed it in the 2021 NFL season going 28-12 ATS (70.0%) on his underdog picks. FairwayJay chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay