What would the odds have been for every matchup on Wild Card Weekend already occurring during the regular season? Not only have we seen all of these matchups already, but the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens just played each other in Week 18.
Several of my futures bets depended on the Jacksonville Jaguars winning in Week 18 (DUUUVAL!!!), and it looks like we might be wearing teal on back-to-back Saturday nights.
Here are the power rankings of my favorite point-spread picks for Wild Card Weekend (odds via our top-rated sportsbooks; Lines as of Monday, Jan. 9 at 7 a.m. ET).
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NFL ATS Picks Power Rankings for Wild Card Weekend
6. Bills -10.5 (-110 via FanDuel) vs. Dolphins
There's significant uncertainty around Tua Tagovailoa's ability to clear the concussion protocol. And even if he does, will the signal-caller be able to play against the Buffalo Bills? As far as I'm concerned, Tagovailoa's season is over, and the sportsbooks seem to agree after opening with the Bills as 10.5-point favorites.
I make the Bills 11.5-point favorites over the Dolphins with Skylar Thompson as Miami's starting quarterback. The Bills are already trading at -10.5, which is only a one-point difference that doesn't involve any key numbers. That's why they're ranked sixth.
We should see the Bills climb to -11.5 early in the week, which has already occurred at PointsBet.
5. Seahawks +10 (-105 via DraftKings) at 49ers
After the San Francisco 49ers won 10 consecutive games and covered against the Seattle Seahawks in their two previous meetings, I'm not surprised this spread is showing value for the club from the northwest.
I make the 49ers 8.5-point favorites over the Seahawks, but we can find them at +10 across the board. Currently, DraftKings is offering the best price with reduced juice of -105. But that also means a +10.5 could be available soon, increasing our edge significantly.
I expect this line to reach Seahawks +10.5 early in the week. That's when I would buy, as the number should move in favor of Seattle as kickoff approaches.
4. Bengals -6.5 (-110 via BetMGM) vs. Ravens
This spread is kind of funny, and I hold the same opinion as last week.
The Cincinnati Bengals opened as 6.5-point favorites over the Baltimore Ravens prior to Week 18, which was based on the expectation that Lamar Jackson might be back. But the number rose to Bengals -11.5 as soon as he was ruled out. Now it opened at Bengals -5.5 to reflect moderate optimism that Jackson will play, but it was immediately changed to Bengals -6.5.
It's unlikely Jackson returns in 2022-23, which is why John Harbaugh continues to avoid discussing him during press conferences. Buy the Bengals at -6.5 while the line is still trading below the key number of seven points. Once it becomes clear Jackson won't play, this line will climb right back up to Bengals -10.5 or -11.5.
3. Giants +3 (-110 via PointsBet) at Vikings
The narrative that the Minnesota Vikings are frauds has been overplayed throughout the past several weeks, even though it's true based on the metrics. New York Giants backers now aren't receiving as much value as they would have if the playoffs were earlier in the season.
I make the Vikings 2-point favorites over the Giants. That's just a one-point gap from the market. But it's a significant difference since the spread is currently trading at the key number of three points.
Take advantage of this Giants price through PointsBet immediately since we're seeing increased juice on their side of the spread at FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM. There's no doubt the sportsbooks don't want to move this line away from the key number of three points. But we might be tracking toward the Vikings trading at -2.5.
2. Buccaneers +3 (-110 via Caesars) vs. Cowboys
After eyeing this game for a while, I had fully intended to back the Tampa Bay Buccaneers based on what I thought the spread would look like. But the Dallas Cowboys ended up destroying some of my value on Sunday. There's no doubt that if the Cowboys hadn't looked awful against the Washington Commanders during Week 18, this spread would've opened at Cowboys -3.5 or -4.
Instead, the Buccaneers are currently trading at +3, which is just on the cusp of where we begin to lose our edge if the spread drops another half-point. Therefore, don't hesitate to bet on the Buccaneers early in the week, as getting the +3 is crucial to the value of this wager.
I make the Cowboys 2-point favorites over the Buccaneers. I'll pounce on Tampa as long as the spread remains at the key number of three. Besides my numbers slanting toward the Buccaneers, you just know Mike McCarthy will find a way to mess this up.
1. Jaguars +1.5 (-110 via Caesars) vs. Chargers
Brandon Staley went full Staley in Week 18, and you should never go full Staley. Even though his team was playing for nothing, he trotted out every starter. Then Mike Williams and Joey Bosa needed to leave the game, and the Chargers still lost to the Denver Broncos. Now after the Los Angeles Chargers' top players didn't get rest, the team faces a short week ahead of a clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.
The Jaguars played on Saturday night in Week 18. That gives them a significant advantage over the Chargers in terms of rest and momentum following their huge win over the Tennessee Titans to capture the AFC South title.
I think the wrong team is favored here. The market agrees, as the Jaguars opened at +2.5 before quickly being moved to +1.5. I have the Jaguars priced as 2-point favorites over the Chargers, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a shift before Saturday night.
NFL against-the-spread picks made 01/09/2023 at 7:00 a.m. ET.
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