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NFL capsules for wild-card weekend

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Kirk Cousins and the Vikings are big underdogs in New Orleans.
© Imagn

(141) BUFFALO BILLS at (142) HOUSTON TEXANS

 

This AFC wild-card clash is the first of two Saturday games and kicks off at 4:35 p.m. ET. Buffalo (10-6) enters as the top wild card and fifth seed, while Houston (10-6) won the AFC South and is the fourth seed. The Bills were kind to bettors this season, going 9-6-1 ATS, including 6-1-1 ATS on the road. Buffalo averaged 19.16 PPG in the regular season and gave up only 16.19 PPG on defense. The Texans went 7-8-1 ATS and just 2-6 ATS at home. Houston averaged 23.62 PPG on offense and gave up 24.06 PPG on defense. Both teams are coming off Week 17 home losses in which they rested key starters, including their starting quarterbacks. The Bills fell to the Jets 13-6 as 1-point dogs, and the Texans were crushed by the Titans 35-14 as 10-point dogs. 

 

The Texans opened as 3-point home favorites. Two-thirds of bets are grabbing the points with Buffalo. This lopsided support has caused books to juice up the Bills plus-3 and even drop the line to 2.5 at some books. Buffalo has value as a road dog with a low total. Playoff dogs have gone 95-76 ATS (55.6%) since 2003. Playoff dogs plus-3 or less are 31-22 ATS (58.5%). Pros have also leaned on the Over, pushing up the total from 41.5 to 42.5. This game will be played at NRG Stadium with its retractable roof. The Over is 29-13 (69%) in dome or closed-roof stadium playoff games. However, both teams have been profitable to the Under this season, with Buffalo 12-4 to the Under and Houston 9-7. Also, wild-card-round Unders are 40-24 (62.5%) since 2003. 

 

 

(143) TENNESSEE TITANS at (144) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

 

This prime-time playoff showdown kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday, meaning it will be the most heavily bet game of the day. The Titans (9-7) enter this game as the second wild card and sixth seed. Tennessee had to win its Week 17 game against the Texans — which they did 35-14 as 10-point favorites — to sneak into the playoffs. The Titans went 9-7 ATS in the regular season (5-3 ATS away), averaging 25.12 PPG on offense and allowing 20.69 PPG on defense. The Patriots (12-4) enter as the third seed after winning the AFC East for a record 11th straight year. However, New England just suffered an epic letdown in Week 17, losing to the Dolphins at home 27-24 as a 17-point favorite. The loss squandered an opportunity for a first-round bye and forced the Pats to play on wild-card weekend. New England went 9-7 ATS in the regular season, averaging 26.25 PPG on offense and allowing only 14.06 PPG on defense.

 

The Patriots opened as 5-point or 5.5-point favorites, depending on the sportsbook. The public is relatively split but is leaning toward Tennessee and the points. Sharps, however, appear to be clearly on the Titans, as the line has dropped to 4.5. Playoff dogs have gone 95-76 ATS (55.6%) since 2003. When the line moves in their favor (think 5.5 to 4.5), playoff dogs improve to 36-12 ATS (75%). Brady and Belichick are 27-10 straight up (73%) in the playoffs since 2003 but just 19-18 ATS (52.4%). The total hasn't budged off 43.5. The forecast calls for low 40s and 8-10-mph winds. Wild-card-round Unders are 40-24 (62.5%) since 2003. The Under went 9-7 in Patriots games this season, but the Over went 10-6 in Titans games. 

 

 

(145) MINNESOTA VIKINGS at (146) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

 

This early 1:05 p.m. ET matchup is the first of two NFC playoff showdowns Sunday. The Vikings (10-6) enter as the second wild card and sixth seed. Minnesota enters the playoffs on a bit of a downturn after losing its  last two, both at home — 23-10 to the Packers as 4.5-point favorites and 21-19 to the Bears as 5-point dogs, although they rested their starters in Week 17. The Vikings went 9-7 ATS in the regular season (4-4 ATS away), averaging 25.44 PPG on offense and allowing 18.94 PPG on defense. The Saints (13-3) enter the playoffs riding a three-game winning streak, crushing the Panthers 42-10 as 14-point favorites in Week 17. New Orleans was kind to bettors this season (11-5 ATS), averaging 28.62 PPG on offense and allowing 21.31 PPG on defense.

 

The Saints opened as 8-point home favorites, the highest spread of any wild-card-weekend game. The public is all over New Orleans as more than two-thirds of bets are laying the points. Despite this lopsided support, the line has remained frozen at 8 or even dipped to 7.5, signaling sharp liability on road dog Minnesota. Playoff dogs have gone 95-76 ATS (55.6%) since 2003. If the line stays the same or moves in their favor, they improve to 56-41 ATS (57.7%). The total has ticked up from 47.5 to 48.5. Wild-card-round Unders are 40-24 (62.5%) since 2003. However, playoff Overs in domes or retractable-roof stadiums are 29-13 (69%). Both teams went 9-7 to the Over this season. This is a revenge game for the Saints, who lost to the Vikings on the “Minnesota Miracle” last-second Stefon Diggs touchdown in last year’s playoffs. 

 

 

(147) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at (148) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

 

This is the final game of wild-card weekend, kicking off at 4:40 p.m. ET Sunday. The Seahawks (11-5) enter as the top NFC wild card seed and fifth seed. Seattle stumbled down the stretch and is riding a two-game skid, falling to the Cardinals 27-13 as 8-point favorites and the 49ers 26-21 as 3.5-point dogs. The Seahawks went 7-8-1 ATS during the regular season but 5-2-1 ATS on the road, averaging 25.31 PPG on offense and allowing 24.88 PPG on defense. The Eagles enter this game as the fourth seed and NFC East champs. Philadelphia is peaking at the right time and has won four straight, most recently crushing the Giants 34-17 in Week 17 a 3.5-point favorite and clinching a playoff berth. The Eagles went 7-9 ATS (3-5 ATS at home), averaging 24.06 PPG on offense and allowing 22.12 PPG on defense.

 

The Seahawks opened as short 1-point road favorites, depending on the sportsbook. More than three of four bets are laying the points with Seattle, making the Seahawks the most popular public play of wild-card weekend. This lopsided support has pushed the line to 1.5. It even hit 2 or 2.5 at some books before sharp buyback hit Philly and dropped it back to 1.5. The Eagles have value as contrarian home dogs with an inflated line. Playoff dogs have gone 95-76 ATS (55.6%) since 2003. The total hasn’t budged off 46. Wild-card-round Unders are 40-24 (62.5%) since 2003. The forecast calls for high 30s and 11-13-mph winds. The Under is 8-8 in Eagles games this season, and the Over is 8-7-1 in Seahawks games. 

 

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