Early NFL bets for Wild Card Weekend
Six games kick off the NFL Playoffs this weekend, in what is now termed a “Super” Wild Card Weekend because the league added a seventh playoff team in each conference prior to last season. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will root for upsets and overtime games this week, as they enjoy the spoils of finishing as the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences.
Two games on Saturday, three games on Sunday and a Monday Night Football contest are what we have to handicap and dissect in hopes of finding winners.
Check out the latest NFL odds and NFL betting splits.
Here are three early lines I like for Wild Card Weekend (odds from DraftKings at time of post):
The Giants sent out a lot of backups and third-stringers in the game against the Eagles and still managed to come away with a cover thanks to a 13-point fourth quarter. That included an acrobatic touchdown catch by Kenny Golladay, which feels like a good omen going forward for the G-Men as they hit the road for the Twin Cities.
Playing with a skeleton crew on defense, the Giants really hung tough in the first half against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. Philadelphia had to settle for three first-half field goals and only cashed in one long touchdown drive. This has been a well-coached team all season long and one that has really minimized the mistakes of QB Daniel Jones. Going up against a mistake-prone quarterback in Kirk Cousins certainly gives the Giants more than a puncher’s chance in this one.
If we take Week 18 out of the equation, the Giants had a top-10 offense by EPA/play. The Vikings, meanwhile, ranked 19th, despite having a lot more talent on that side of the ball than the Giants. The Giants did have a bottom-five defense by EPA/play, as they were shredded by the run most of the season, but the Vikings had a bottom-five rush offense by Rush EPA. Also, Dalvin Cook was dinged in Week 18 and he’ll be less than 100% for this weekend’s game.
The Vikings were outgained by a half-yard per play for the first 17 weeks before getting Nathan Peterman and Tim Boyle in Week 18 to make things look a little better. I think the Giants are very live in this one.
Pick: Giants +3
The lights will get a little bit brighter for Brock Purdy this week in his first career playoff start, but we have no reason to believe that he’ll be overwhelmed by the moment. All Purdy has done to this point is rack up 10 touchdown passes in just 150 pass attempts and he’s taken tremendous care of the ball since becoming the starter with just two picks in in his last five games.
To say that San Francisco is rolling right now is an understatement. The 49ers have won 10 in a row and they’ve scored at least 31 points in seven of those 10 games, including each of the last three with Purdy at the helm. Since Week 8, they have both the best offense and best defense by EPA/play. This could very well be the best team in the NFL as the playoffs get started.
The Seahawks beat the Jets and Rams to finish 9-8 and got some help from the Lions in the final game of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs. They managed just 20 points in two meetings against the 49ers and were soundly outgained in both of those contests. The Seahawks haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 8 and don’t really look the part of a playoff team.
With a borderline bottom-five defense and an offense that ranks below league average in EPA/play, it’s hard to see the Seahawks keeping pace in this game.
Pick: 49ers -10