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NFL Wild Card Picks & Predictions
Who will win NFL Wild Card games?
By Angelo Montilla
Here are some betting options to consider, with odds courtesy of Bet365.com.
Aaron Rodgers saved his best football for last and it’s paid off handsomely for the Green Bay Packers — winners of six straight games heading into wildcard weekend. The Packers will look to their impressive streak intact when they host Eli Manning and the New York Giants in a NFC wildcard playoff on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
It’s hard to bet against Aaron Rodgers right now as the quarterback and single-handedly carried this Packers team from a non-playoff club to a legitimate Super Bowl contender once again. The Packers enter Sunday’s match against the Giants as -210 favorites on home field, where they’ve only lost two games this season. The Giants, finished second in ultra-competitive NFC East division with an 11-5 record, go to Wisconsin as appealing +175 underdogs.
The head-to-head summary between these two NFC rivals over the last 10 meetings has been split right down the middle, with the Packers and Giants each winning five games apiece during that span.
The game will come down to the wire so don’t expect the Packers to cover -4.5 being offered by Bet365.com. The popular online sportsbook has also set the total points projection at 44.5, but don’t expect this to be a high-scoring affair.
Pick: Green Bay Packers (-210) and the Under (44.5)
Pittsburgh’s Big 3 are well rested and ready to make a serious run at a Super Bowl crown beginning Sunday when the Steelers host the Miami Dolphins and an AFC wildcard clash at Heinz Field.
Winners of seven straight games, the Steelers enter the highly anticipated matchup as convincing -455 favorites. The team’s trio of stars — quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown — return to action after sitting out the final game of the regular season to rest for a Super Bowl push.
The No. 3 Steelers topped the AFC North Division at 11-5, propelled by the play of Brown, who finished fifth in receiving yards (1,284) in 2016. Brown also recorded 12 touchdowns, which ranked tied for second in the NFL along with Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers.
Money continues to keep pouring in on the Steelers, which has caused the line to jump from an opening -7.5 to -10 for Pittsburgh. While it seems like a boatload of points, expect the game to open up for the Steelers, who have defeated the Dolphins six times over their 10 previous meetings.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (-455) and cover -10
The Seattle Seahawks made winning the NFC West division look rather easy. Getting through the opening round of the NFL playoffs won’t be as straightforward for the Seahawks, who host a hungry Detroit Lions club looking for its first post-season victory in more than 25 years.
The Seahawks enter the NFC wildcard showdown as -370 favorites on home field, where they’ve only lost one time this season. That doesn’t bode well for the Lions — +280 underdogs who have a losing record away from Ford Field.
The game will come down to quarterback efficiency and which of the two will turn the ball over less. For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson is coming off an average season, throwing for more than 4,200 yards and 21 touchdowns, but had 11 interceptions in the process. Matthew Stafford had similar numbers — passing for more than 4,300 yards with 24 TDs and 10 pick offs.
Betting the over/under? Bet365 has set the total points projection at 42.5 — a mark these clubs should be able to surpass in what could turn into a shootout.
Several sportsbooks have Seattle 8-point favorites, but expect a tighter game with the Seahawks pulling out a hard-fought victory.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks (-370) and the Over (42.5)
Oakland’s Super Bowl aspirations were dashed when starting quarterback Derek Carr suffered a season-ending leg injury. After slipping to second in the AFC West division, the Raiders will now be forced to travel to Houston on Saturday where they’ll take on the Texans in an AFC wildcard clash.
The Texans, which have had quarterback issues of their own, enter Saturday’s contest as -182 favorites. Defense has been the biggest strength for the Texans, who allowed the fewest yards against and ranked 11th in points against per game this season.
Oakland will hand the ball off to rookie pivot Connor Cook, who got some playing time in the club’s final game the regular season, completing 14 of 21 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Sportsbooks are predicting a low-scoring affair with Carr out of the lineup and the Texans having trouble putting up points. Bet365 has set the total points projection at 36.5, but Cook will rise to the occasion and get the job done for the Raiders.
Pick: Oakland Raiders (+160) and the Over (36.5)
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