NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks: Our Staff's Best Bets

The NFL playoffs are here! Check out our staff's favorite plays from Wild Card weekend!
Matt O'Leary |
Fri, January 14, 4:34 PM EST | 5 min read
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Raiders Derek Carr

NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks: Our Staff's Best Bets

Wild Card weekend is upon us! The NFL regular season has come to a close and now we have wall-to-wall football on Saturday, Sunday, and a Monday Night Football game too. It's a great-looking slate with a lot of projected close matchups.

Right now, the Bengals, Bills, Cowboys, and Rams are all favored by a touchdown or less with the only big numbers being the Buccaneers -8 and the Kansas City Chiefs -12.5. Who do we like this weekend? Check out our staff's favorites!

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Raiders +5 (-106)

The Raiders are not being given much of a chance to win this game despite entering with a ton of momentum. Las Vegas has seemingly been playing for their postseason lives for a month, and have won their last four games by a total of 12 points. The fact that they have found ways to win close games is intriguing, as is the fact that their defense has allowed less than 20 PPG during the winning streak. Las Vegas has the pass rush to disrupt Cincinnati’s elite passing game. And the Raiders have also found a running game of late, which will be key to taking the pressure of Derek Carr in his first playoff start.

-- Mike Spector (@MikeSpector01)

Raiders +5.5 (-110)

Las Vegas has been in playoff mode now the last couple of weeks, getting two very impressive victories over the Chargers and Colts. They are a scrappy team, who have dealt with a plethora of both on the field and off the field drama all season long, but continue to find a way to stay competitive each week. This team really looks like they are playing for their interim coach Bisaccia and that is a dangerous combination. The Bengals are a solid team and their offense put up some awesome numbers this season with young stars Burrow, Chase, Higgins, Mixon, and company doing work. But their defense is mediocre and I think it'll allow the Raiders to hang around in this game.

-- Albert Nguyen (@AnalyticsCapper)

Bills -4 (-120)

My favorite play for this weekend is going to be an AFC east affair between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills. These teams played each other twice during the regular season and split the meetings. The first matchup was won by the pats in Buffalo in a game that had winds so high Mac Jones threw the ball three times! The bills responded with a nice road win over the Patriots when the weather was more in control. The play I am turning to in this game will be the Bills -4. I love the bills in this spot at home after losing their first game at home. This is going to be an electric environment in Buffalo and will be a tough game for rookie QB Mac Jones to win. I am rolling with the more experienced QB in Josh Allen and the bills at home.

-- Matt McCuen (@DeadPresPicks)

Joe Mixon OVER 20.5 Receiving Yards (+100)

The NFL Playoffs are here! Let's just get the first game out of the way with a savory Joe Mixon prop bet. Joe Burrow will lean heavily on Ja'Marr Chase and Joe Mixon as he did in the final games of the season. The Bengals offense is unstoppable when Burrow gets Mixon involved in the receiving game. In his last 2 games of the season (Week 16 & 17), Joe Mixon totaled 13 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs in those games. Given this is Joe Burrow's first playoff game, there's no reason he won't utilize Joe Mixon through the air to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders. It's highly possible Mixon goes over 21 receiving yards on a single catch!

-- Nate Hamilton (@DomiNateFF)

0.5u Gabe Davis over 15.5 Longest Reception (-120)

Love this spot. Davis is 100% on yards over his last six games and 11 for 15 on longest reception for the season. No Jalen Mills for the Patriots, plus Diggs should see JC Jackson and get plenty of safety help. I’m expecting at least four targets for the young receiver, when seeing 4+ targets he’s six of seven on this line with his one miss being on the hook

-- Stuart Durst (@MonotoneFootbal)

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Rob Gronkowski to Score (+130)

You know I had to kick off the NFL playoffs with an anytime touchdown bet! Touchdowns haven't been hard to come by against the Eagles, who have been the fourth-worst red zone defense in the league. They rank as the worst in the NFL, allowing 10.1% of Tight End targets to result in a touchdown. They allowed a league-high 14 touchdowns to tight ends during the regular season. Gronk has seen eight-plus targets in seven of his last eight games and has managed a "deep catch" in four straight contests. The Eagles allowed the highest completion percentage in the NFL this season (69.4%).

We know Tom Brady throws the ball to the players that he trusts. With the season-ending injury to Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown's departure, and now emerging wide receiver Cyril Grayson is also out this week, Brady is left to lean heavily on Mike Evans and Gronkowski. Evans, however, draws a difficult matchup in Darius Slay, so this leads me to believe that Gronk will be even more active this Sunday. Back in Week 6, when these two teams met, we cashed big on an OJ Howard touchdown. Gronk missed that game, but Howard, Godwin, and Brown combined for 24 targets in that one. Both of these teams have different looks to them compared to back in October, but one thing is for sure, there will be plenty of looks coming Gronks way on Sunday! Gronk has collected 89 receptions for 1,273 yards and 14 touchdowns with Brady in the playoffs. I'm expecting this future hall of fame duo to show up and how out once again in the Wild Card round.

-- Tom Viera (@Tom_Viera)

Zach Ertz o5.5 receptions (+110)

Zach Ertz has become Kyler Murray’s new favorite target in the absence of DeAndre Hopkins down the stretch. The midseason acquisition ranked 2nd among all tight ends in both targets and receptions in the final month of the season. Ertz has hit this over in 5 straight games without Hopkins. He’s averaging 7.2 receptions and 10.4 targets per game in these five games, and is clearly Kyler’s first look most of the time.

The Rams allowed the 6th most Pass Attempts and the 10th most targets to tight ends this season. The passing volume should be there for Arizona, and plenty of it should be coming Ertz’s way. Additionally, Los Angeles will be without starting safety Jordan Fuller (Injured Reserve) and could potentially be without safety Taylor Rapp (concussion protocol). Either way, their tight end coverage takes a massive hit without these two and should create plenty of positive matchups for Ertz.

-- Gray Gutfreund (@PropBetGuru)

Patriots +7.5, Cardinals +7.5, 49ers +7.5 (+247)

Using a three-leg parlay as a best bet is usually a little cocky for my taste but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. There are three games, each with fairly low spreads, that I don't have much confidence in picking with their original number. So instead, what I did was jack up the underdogs a little bit to give me some insurance. The best part, there's probably a world where all three of these teams could win outright as underdogs but I'm not willing to go that nuts for this.

The Patriots and the Bills are playing a game in single-digit temperatures on Saturday night. Do you think either of those teams are going to put up a ton of points? With those two defenses, it should, keyword being should, be a low-scoring, slow-paced, close game. Just crossing my fingers we don't get a Mac Jones implosion because it's a little chilly outside.

As for the Cardinals and Rams game, both of these teams have been fairly fraudulent down the stretch. I don't trust either of them. What I do know though is that it should be a high-scoring close game and I could see either team winning this one. If the Rams win by more than a touchdown that would be shocking for me. Kliff and Kyler have to at least keep it a one-score game right?

Lastly, the 49ers. Would anyone be shocked if Dallas went one and done in the playoffs? I mean they make a habit of it just about every single year. The 49ers have come on strong and even if they can't outright win the game, it should be a one-score game. The Cowboys can't stop the run and all the 49ers do is run the ball well. All of these games project to be close. 

-- Matt O’Leary (@MattOLearyNY)

Matt O'Leary
@MattOLearyNY

OddsChecker sports writer Matt O'Leary brings experience sports betting advice to the OC staff. You may recognize Matt from his popular New York Jets youtube channel, but his vast knowledge of sports and betting goes well past the boundaries of New York.

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