The 2021 NFL playoffs have arrived, and there is wall-to-wall action with now six games being played on wild-card weekend. Between the Saturday and Sunday tripleheaders starting at 1:05 p.m. ET, there are more spreads and point totals through which to navigate when making picks.
The Seahawks are the slightest favorites, by a field goal in their rubber match against the Rams in Seattle. The Ravens are the only AFC road favorites In Nashville, despite losing twice to the Titans in the past year.
With the 7-9 Washington Football Team and 8-8 Bears making the NFC playoffs, it’s no surprise they are the two biggest underdogs, Washington at home against the Buccaneers and the Bears on the road at the Saints.
For the most part, injuries are not an issue. The Rams are hoping Jared Goff will return from his fractured thumb, while Washington is leaning on Alex Smith to stay healthy after returning in Week 17. The Steelers, who rested Ben Roethlisberger in last week’s battle with the Browns, have suggested they might have a few QB wrinkles prepared for Josh Dobbs.
The biggest storyline concerns the Browns, who have had a COVID-19 outbreak, affecting multiple players and head coach Kevin Stefanski, who be replaced in his leading and play-calling capacities by special teams coach Mike Priefer and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. That situation has caused the line to lean bigger toward to the Steelers.
For more expert NFL predictions, check out Sporting News’ picks straight up and against the spread for the wild-card playoff games.
NFL odds for wild-card playoff games
Below are the latest NFL wild-card playoff game odds, including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for every game, according to the DraftKings sportsbook:
Last updated: Saturday, Jan. 9
NFL wild-card game point spreads
NFL wild-card game money lines
NFL wild-card game over/unders
NFL best bets for wild-card games
1. Colts at Bills OVER 51
The Colts have a good zone defense, built upon bending without breaking. That will help contain the big plays from the Bills, but Josh Allen has their offense sizzling going into the playoffs. The Bills are vulnerable in the right spots defensively, against the run and vs. the tight end, to think the Colts can keep it around a touchdown with some consistent scoring of their own. This is the second-highest total of the week, but it’s not quite high enough as both teams tend to go over in their games.
2. Rams at Seahawks UNDER 42
When they met in the regular season and split their NFC West games, the Rams won 23-16 in Los Angeles and the Seahawks won 20-9 in Seattle. The Rams may need to further adjust to a grinding offense, while Russell Wilson won’t be lighting it up against that pass rush and secondary. The 39 and 29 totals from before suggest getting to 40 total will be a struggle.
3. Washington +8 vs. Buccaneers
There’s something about that number being above a touchdown and extra point that screams Washington at least getting a backdoor cover. The Bucs aren’t the same team on the road and can get into ugly defensive-leaning games, as we saw with the prime-time loss at the Bears and the prime-time win at the Giants. The under is tempting, too, but that seems to be tougher to trust.
4. Saints +10 vs. Bears and OVER 47.5
The Saints’ defense has sprung more leaks of late and the Bears’ defense is overrated with some key injuries. The Saints won the regular-season matchup, 26-23, in overtime in Chicago. The Bears cannot cover the tight end and are getting smashed by the running game, and both Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray will be well rested for New Orleans. The Bears tend to do some second-half garbage damage and the Saints can allow it by having a big enough lead.
5. Steelers +6 vs. Browns and UNDER 47.5
The Steelers’ offense will be firing aggressively against a Browns’ limited pass defense with a rested Ben Roethlisberger. They won’t have much success running per usual, but the matchups across the board at wide receiver and tight end favor them well. Defensively, they can take care of the Browns scoring enough to catch up by containing the run and getting pressure in Baker Mayfield’s face and from the edges. Mayfield will be thrown off by the play-calling adjustment and the Steelers will be moviated to slam down their division rivals back at Heinz Field.
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