NFL Wild Card best bets
Welcome to Wild Card weekend of the 2022 NFL playoffs.
Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for more picks as we get closer to kickoff.
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Thursday night. Go to VSiN.com for Betting Splits for each game and live odds across the NFL market.
8:15 p.m. ET
Dave Tuley: We grabbed the Buccaneers +3 on Sunday night as Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, and we can’t resist taking him as a home underdog, especially against a Dallas team that we don’t trust.
The Buccaneers’ defense is No. 9 in yards allowed per game – and we keep thinking back to the way it dominated in the 19-3 season-opening road win over the Cowboys and a healthy Dak Prescott – and has continually kept them in games to give Brady a chance at late-game heroics. Besides, the Brady-to-Mike Evans combo came through with 3 TD passes in the Week 17 division-clinching win versus the Panthers, so hopefully that’s a good sign that a late rally won’t be needed.
Marc Lawrence of playbook.com and a contestant in my VSiN colleague Matt Youmans’ “Circa Friday Night Invitational” also adds that “playing against any away team in the wild-card round that is coming off a loss of 14 or more points” is 14-1 ATS (93%) since 1980.
We fully expect the Bucs to pull the minor upset, though we wouldn't blame those that missed the +3 to just tease them up through the key numbers of 3 and 7 to +8.5.
Picks: Buccaneers +2.5 or better, +125 on the money line, plus teasers
Adam Burke: The other leg of the world’s most obvious playoff teaser is to take Tampa Bay up to +8.5 against Dallas. Pair it with the Jaguars to get two home underdogs through the key numbers of 3 and 7 and you’ve got a pretty strong wager from a positive expectation standpoint. Dallas is and has been the better team throughout the season, though neither team comes into the playoffs on a high note.
The one thing that has always bothered Tom Brady throughout his career is pressure up the middle. Unless the Cowboys are consistently able to get that, the GOAT should be able to at least keep his team in the game, if not win it outright on Monday night. The Cowboys caught a respite in the last two games facing Josh Dobbs and Sam Howell, but the Eagles and Jaguars picked them apart in Weeks 15 and 16.
The Bucs struggled a bit against the pass later in the year, but they were sixth in Rush Success Rate against from Week 12 through the end of the regular season. We know that the Cowboys want to run the ball and have needed to do so, given the play of Dak Prescott. It’s just hard to see a scenario in which Dallas wins in a blowout, and we’re getting over a touchdown with Brady at home.
Pick: Buccaneers +8.5 / Jaguars +8.5 teaser
Danny Burke: We get a rematch of a game that ended 19-3, to open the regular season. Now, I don’t necessarily expect it to be that low-scoring this time around, but I do believe points will be coming at a premium. I’m taking a look at that to especially occur in the beginning stages of this game.
According to DVOA, the Bucs have the number one-ranked first-half defense, compared to the Cowboys' 22nd-ranked first-half offense. Conversely, Dallas has the 15th-ranked first-half defense and Tampa Bay has the 14th-ranked offense. Todd Bowles’ defense holds opponents to just 9.2 first-half points per game, and his offense averages just 8.6 throughout the first two quarters.
The only time we really see constant momentum out of Tom Brady’s offense is late in the game during a two-minute drill. The Bucs have also been incredibly inefficient in setting up the run game, and it won’t magically get better against one of the better defenses in the league. So I expect a slow start, per usual, out of Byron Leftwich’s offense.
As for their opponent, well, Dak Prescott has not been inducing any confidence in anyone as of late, especially when he went 14-37 for 128 yards with just one touchdown and one interception, against the Washington Commanders, in his final game of the regular season. And Tampa Bay’s defense has been an undervalued asset of their team this year. The Bucs' defensive group, while statistically regressing from years past, has been the most impactful and the reason they have hung in games that they probably shouldn’t have been in. This will be an ugly, grind-it-out type of game and I think the best way to attack that from a betting perspective is in the first half.
Pick: First Half UNDER 22.5 (-110)