Super Wildcard Weekend Picks – 1/15/22

Bengals vs Raiders picks:

Josh’s Picks

Joe Burrow 2+ TDs and Bengals to win +130

First things first I love the Bengals outright.  The Raiders got into the playoffs in the most miracle of ways last week with everything falling into place and capping it off with a last second field goal.  Insert: “The Minneapolis Miracle Theorem”.  When a team wins in a miracle way one week, it’s nearly impossible to replicate that emotion the next, especially in the playoffs.  Aside from that, Joe Burrow has played 6 win or go home games in his career (The last two weeks that Burrow played and his 4 big college games).  Burrow went 6-0 and threw 27 touchdowns with 0 interceptions… This guy is big time.  Bengals -5.5 skeeves me out, I love this player parlay, I think it’s a +130 ML.

Tee Higgins Anytime TD scorer +135

A follow up from the last bet, the Bengals love going to their big physical receivers in the red zone.  I predict the Raiders to try and take Jamarr Chase out of the game, especially in the red zone, and Tee Higgins has really come into his own late in the season, definitely worth the +135.

Drew’s Pick:

Raiders @ Bengals (-5.5)

Playoffs are all about who’s hot and who’s not.

With that being said let’s visit our 10-7 Las Vegas Raiders, who are winners of four straight and on a roll heading into Wild Card Weekend. 

Here are the Raiders last six games with the quarterbacks they faced:

Lost 17-15 at home to Washington Football Team (Heinecke)

Blown out 48-9 by Chiefs (Pat Mahomes)

Last second FG win over Browns (Nick Mullens)

17-13 win over Broncos (Drew Lock)

23-20 win over Colts (Carson Wentz)

35-32 OT win over Chargers (Justin Herbert) 

The Raiders aren’t as hot as the narrative says. They have bounced back from a lot of adversity, but at the hands of weaker opponents. Their four game winning streak is built on teams getting ready for the draft, with quarterbacks that will mostly be looking for a new job next season. This week they will not be so lucky.

Vegas is facing Joe Burrow and the Bengals, a team that they kept pace with in a November 21st matchup, until Cincinnati blew open the game with 19 fourth quarter points. They did it mostly behind Joe Mixon, who rushed all over the 19th ranked rushing defense in the league for 123 yards and 2 TD’s. 

I expect a similar game script on Saturday afternoon. The Raiders pass rush is their best unit and Zac Taylor would be wise to deploy Mixon as a counter. The less dropbacks Burrow has, the better. Once they’ve established the run, Cincinnati can use play-action to get Chase, Higgins, and Boyd involved against a lighter secondary. 

On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have ridden Josh Jacobs to the playoffs (94 ypg over the last four games) and the Bengals are a mismatch. They have the 5th ranked rush defense in the league and that’s in a division that features Lamar Jackson, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and Najee Harris. Standout cornerback Chidobe Awuzie can shadow Hunter Renfrow, and with the loss of Henry Ruggs, the Raiders lack a big play threat.

The final defense Raiders bettors give is the return of Darren Waller. This is a moot point. Waller has easily had the worst season of his career and has only looked worse since returning from injury. Derek Carr is only able to move the ball through pass interference calls and Renfrow’s route running. The Bengals should take care of business and get their first playoff victory since 1991. 

Bet on Joey B and the spread in the opening game of Wild Card Weekend. 

Patriots vs Bills Picks

Josh’s Picks

Bills to win 1-13 +140

I feel like a coward because something about the -4 just freaks me out, but I still gotta go with the Bills here.  I am not buying into this cold weather narrative.  The bottom line is this: Mac Jones has looked downright terrible in the last few weeks, regardless of how much Belichick tries to scheme.  The Bills are straight-up the better team, especially on offense, and I think this game simply comes down to Josh Allen.  FADE THE COLD NARRATIVE.  I am wary of the Pats being well rounded and Belichick, so take the Bills to win 1-13, it’s great odds and I can’t forecast a Bills blowout.

Mac Jones Longest Pass U 31.5

To my last point, Mac Jones has dinked and dunked his way to a potential rookie of the year.  I do like Mac Jones and believe in him long term, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him complete a pass over 30 yards (aside from against the Cowboys) and the Bills have one of, if not THE best safety tandem in the league.  This seems like a pretty safe and fun bet for me.

Max’s Pick: Bills -5.5

Eagles vs Bucs Picks

Josh’s Picks

EAGLES +8.5/EAGLES ML

Eagles +8.5 is unequivocally the bet of the playoffs.  The Bucs are faltering, the Birds are rising, and this Eagles rushing attack is going to outduel the Bucs “#1 run defense”.  The Bucs have a pretty skewed run defense, as they’ve played many weak rushing teams late in the year.  On top of that, the Bucs d-line should be no problem for the Eagles offensive line, aside from Vita Vea of course.  These teams met earlier in the season and the Bucs dominated, but these teams are both COMPLETELY DIFFERENT since then.  Bucs are without AB and Godwin as we all know, but some of their key defensive players are banged up and questionable for this game, and who knows how healthy Leonard Fournette will be.  Obviously Tom Brady is scary… But I believe the elements should play a major factor (25 MPH winds).  This game is one turnover away from being flipped on its head.  The Birds steal one in Tampa this weekend.

Max’s Pick: Eagles +8.5

49ers vs Cowboys

Josh’s Pick: I have no freaking idea and will not be betting this game.  Go 49ers!

Max’s Pick: Over 51

Steelers vs Chiefs

Josh’s Pick: Depends on how bored I am… Hate this spot tbh, but gun to my head? Steelers +12.5 because the Chiefs treat NOT covering like it’s their job.

Max’s Pick: Chiefs -12.5

Cardinals vs Rams

Josh’s Pick: Over 49.5/Rams -3.5

The narrative surrounding this game is just extremely negative.  “Two frauds going against each other” in the form of their QBs and coaches.  Say what you want about McVay and Kingsbury, I still love both these quarterbacks.  I AM A MATT STAFFORD BELIEVER!  There is no reason the Rams shouldn’t be able to dot up the Cardinals with all their talent on offense, setting the tone for a high scoring affair.  The Rams defense is legit, but they have Eric Weddle starting at safety… They are flawed and Kyler Murray is fast as hell.  He dropped off a bit this season, but the Cardinals have plenty of speed to play catch up and put some points on the Rams.  Ultimately, I think the Rams are just too talented, but both of these teams will put up points in bunches.

Max’s Pick: Rams -3.5

Parlays/Teasers

Drew’s Play of the weekend: 

The PA Teaser: Eagles +16.5 @ Buccaneers, Steelers +20.5 @ Chiefs, (-105 odds)

 This NFL season has been, to say the least, unpredictable.

 From a fan’s perspective, games like the Jaguars eliminating the Colts from the playoffs week 18 have defined an entertaining regular season. From a gambler’s perspective, underdogs have gone 130-122-3 (51.6%) ATS, forcing bettors to double check before they rock chalk.

 Which brings us to Wild Card Weekend. When looking at the slate, it’s easy to convince yourself to take favorites. After all, they’re the better seeds, better records, typically better players. But in a playoff field overflowing with parity, I’m teasing the two biggest underdogs and parlaying them together for the great state of Pennsylvania.

 Let’s start with the 1 p.m. matchup that pits defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. This is a rematch of a 28-22 Buccaneers victory in October. The game was much less competitive than the score indicates, as Tampa Bay held control from kickoff and the contest was all but decided by the third quarter.

 Still, the 7-point underdog Eagles battled back to score two late TD’s and cover for Philly bettors everywhere. The game was abysmal, Jalen Hurts played poorly, but as the saying goes, “Good teams win, great teams cover.”

By this statement, the 21st century Philadelphia Eagles are a dynasty team as they have covered 10 of their last 11 underdog playoff games. They’ve built their reputation on dog masks and backup quarterbacks, and early in 2022 they face a familiar situation.

 Against a Bucs team who is decimated on offense with the losses of Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, the Philadelphia defense can improve on their performance in the last matchup. Since that game, the Eagles are 7-3 with a loss in meaningless week 18. Offensively, the number 1 rushing attack in the league can control the ball, hold it from Brady, and keep the game close enough to cover the teased line.

 According to captain Fletcher Cox, “We are a different team now. We found our identity as the season went on.”

 The evening game is a matchup between the defending AFC champion Chiefs, and the anti-tie Pittsburgh Steelers.

 Quarterback Ben Rothlisberger is reportedly considering retirement after this year and he is on the record stating “We don’t have a chance, so let’s just go out there and have fun.”

 Well I for one hope to have fun AND cover.

 We know the Kansas City Chiefs and their offense that makes the greatest defenses look vulnerable. The defense with Chris Jones and Frank Clark up front is formidable enough to hold up their end of the bargain. But what if I told you that this juggernaut is not a money maker ATS?

 While Mahomes, Kelce, and company have laid claim to the 2020’s as their era, they are notoriously bad at covering spreads. The Chiefs are 8-18 all time ATS. Since 2017, they are 5-4 ATS, with three of those covers coming in the 2019 Super Bowl run season. This year, they are an unreliable 8-9 ATS.

 I don’t have enough confidence in the Steelers offense to bet on a competitive game, or even that they’ll cover 12.5 points. However, I gladly will bet on a Steelers defense that is #1 in sacks to contain and suppress Mahomes. I also see the strong Pittsburgh red zone defense trading in a few of the Chiefs TD’s from last time into FG’s. +20.5 in a playoff game? Sign me up for a backdoor cover or even a sweat–free game.

 The lesson here is not to look at matchups from a “pick the better team” angle. Gambling is about taking the team that can cover a wide spread and 2021 has been the year of the underdog cover. Both Pennsylvania squads are in a good position to challenge the winners of their respective conferences, especially with numbers of +16.5 and +20.5. 

Josh’s Parlay: Bills ML/Bengals ML +115

 

Photo: The Daily Gazette

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