We’ve made it to the NFL postseason!
After 17 weeks of football, the top 12 teams now enter the postseason gauntlet with one goal in mind – conquering all comers en route to the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, gamblers enter these final weeks of football with a slightly different mindset, hoping to make the most of their last bets of the year before being forced to bet on the fickle nature of basketball and eventually hitting rock bottom throwing money down on baseball in the dog days of summer.
But never fear! There’s still plenty of bets to be had. After a successful season of gambling in which we went an impressive 129-118-9 against the spread while picking every game on the slate, a mark that put us ahead of six of the eight “experts” at CBS Sports, we’re back for the postseason to extend our profits even further.
Below we’re picking our best bets of the Wild Card weekend – including every game against the spread as well as two prop bets for each game of the weekend.
Since there are less games to bet, we’ll be tracking our gambling a bit differently this time around, making fictional bets with fictional dollars rather than simply making picks. Please take note that these are fictional picks – I do not advocate that you put down $US880 this weekend unless you are extremely flush with cash. The dollar amounts are meant to serve as both an indicator of my confidence and what I’d be willing to risk on a given outcome if I was suddenly wealthy enough to gamble to my heart’s desire.
With that established, let’s get to the gambling!
All lines come courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook.
Tennessee Titans (+8.5) at Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday, 4:20 p.m. ET)
The bet: Chiefs -8.5 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: I haven’t believed in the Titans all season, and although they were able to put together four solid enough quarters against the Jaguars last week to make it to the postseason, I don’t see them putting together any sort of shocking playoff run.
The Chiefs have run hot and cold all year, but they have enough weapons to take care of the Titans, and as much as we’ve seen him blunder a time management situation to end a half, Andy Reid should have his team well prepared.
Over/Under 76.5 rushing yards for Kareem Hunt
The bet: Over 76.5 yards ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: I see the Chiefs jumping to a lead in this one and Kareem Hunt having a day as Kansas City looks to control the battle for time of possession. Hunt has had totals of 91, 155, and 116 rushing yards in his past three home games, and I expect him to put on another show for the fans at Arrowhead this weekend.
Over/Under 19.5 total completions for Marcus Mariota
The bet: Over 19.5 completions ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: The Titans dynamic rushing offence led by Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray has made it so that Marcus Mariota does not have to be a focal point of a Tennessee win. But in losses, Mariota throws, and more throws leads to more receptions – Mariota has gotten to 20 completions in three of the Titans past four losses, and since I have the Tennessee losing this one, I like this bet a lot.
Atlanta Falcons (+6) at Los Angeles Rams (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
The bet: Falcons +6 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: The Rams have been one of the most remarkable stories of the season, and while I love the job that Sean McVay has done with the franchise, it is a roster full of young players, and I do believe that postseason experience matters.
Sure, there is a chance that the Falcons can’t find their offence and the Rams roll them as they have many teams over the course of this season. But I like Atlanta to put up a fight, and I think six points is a lot to give to a defending NFC Champion that has only lost two games this season by more than a touchdown.
Over/Under 1.5 touchdown passes thrown for Matt Ryan
The bet: Over 1.5 touchdown passes ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: In his past five playoff games, Matt Ryan has thrown two touchdowns just once – the other four games, he threw three or more.
Over/Under 87.5 rushing yards for Todd Gurley
The bet: Over 87.5 rushing yards ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: Todd Gurley was so hot in the final weeks of the season that he made a late push as an MVP candidate. He’s cleared 100 yards rushing in six games this year, and has consistently been the most dependable aspect of the Rams offensive attack. Should Los Angeles get rattled early and need to settle in, Gurley is the guy they will go to.
Buffalo Bills (+8.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET)
The bet: Bills +8.5 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: I’m betting with my heart rather than my senses here, so feel free to skip this one or at the very least lower your bet amount, but I just can’t pick against the Bills in this spot. LeSean McCoy still might be able to go for Buffalo, and if he can, he’ll be the most dynamic offensive player on either team.
I don’t have much to back it up besides my gut, but the Bills have been away from the playoffs for so long I think they find a way to keep it close.
Over/Under 77.5 rushing yards for Leonard Fournette
The bet: Under 77.5 rushing yards ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: Leonard Fournette has failed to clear 70 yards rushing in four of the Jaguars’ past five games. But more importantly, I expect the Bills to stack the box in this one and force Blake Bortles to beat them, further stifling Fournette’s numbers.
Over/Under 27.5 rushing yards for Tyrod Taylor
The bet: Over 27.5 rushing yards ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: LeSean McCoy is still listed as questionable, and even if he plays he may not be 100% on the field. The Bills will need to get clever in order to pick up first downs. Between a few design run plays and a few more broken pass plays in which the Jaguars defence is covering the Bills receivers like a blanket, I see Tyrod Taylor scampering for at least 30 yards in this one.
Carolina Panthers (+7) at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET)
The bet: Panthers +7 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: The Panthers already lost twice to the Saints this year, both times by more than a touchdown. While the numbers don’t totally back up the oft-told theory of “it’s tough to beat a team three times in one year,” that doesn’t stop me from somewhat believing in the logic of it.
More than that, I just like Carolina to find a way to keep things close here. They’re playing a division rival that they know well, and even if they’re losing a backdoor cover for pride could be in play late. There were too many points on the board to go the other way.
Over/Under 269.5 passing yards for Drew Brees
The bet: Under 269.5 passing yards ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: Drew Brees failed to hit 270 in both of the Saints’ games against the Panthers so far this year, and since they have won both of those games, I don’t see New Orleans changing up their game plan much. The Saints offence has been defined (surprisingly!) by their rushing game all year, and I don’t think that changes just because we’ve made it to the postseason.
Over/Under 4 total sacks for both teams
The bet: Over 4 sacks ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: This is a bet on Luke Kuechly more than anything, but it’s worth noting that in the games these teams have played so far this year, there were four sacks and five sacks. Both quarterbacks drop back enough to get to this number.
And there you have it! Once again, we have $US880 worth of fictional money in play this week. Next week we’ll check how we did, and see if I’ve driven us fictionally bankrupt heading into the divisional round.
Best of luck out there.
Now check out where every team stands as they gear up for a run at the Super Bowl
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