NFL Betting Value Picks for Wild Card Playoffs

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 2, 2015 7:14 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 2, 2015 7:14 PM UTC

The 2014 NFL Playoffs are here and here are our best value plays for the Wild Card Round, with one selection for each of the four games this weekend!


Although we have reached perhaps the most exciting betting period of the year in North America with the arrival of the 2014 NFL Playoffs, we are actually saddened by the end of the regular season as we has a dream year finishing over the magical 60 percent mark over 127 decisions at 77-50-2, 60.6%, +26.83 units as documented in the Sportsbook Review Forum! Nonetheless, the Playoffs now present more opportunities to benefit from our NFL picks.

In Week 17 games that had a playoff impact, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals to win the AFC North and drop Cincinnati to a five-seed as a wild card, the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North and drop Detroit to a wild card spot as a six-seed, the Seattle Seahawks (NFC West) and Carolina Panthers (NFC South) both won to win their respective divisions and the Baltimore Ravens claimed the last AFC wild card spot.

So now we are ready to move on to the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs this weekend and we are here with one selection for every game. We have three sides, two of which go against out normal nature by being favorites, as well as one total that is an ‘under’. As has become our custom, all of these NFL odds coming from Pinnacle Sports.

Saturday, January 3rd
Carolina Panthers -6½ (-113) over Arizona Cardinals (4:35 ET):
If you would have said about a month ago that the Panthers would be favored by almost a touchdown over the Cardinals in the wild card playoffs, some people may have been measuring you for a strait jacket! After all, Arizona had the best record in the NFC for quite a while this season while the Panthers were struggling to win games, once sitting at 3-8-1 following a seven-game winless streak. And yet this game opened up with Carolina favored by -4½ points and has since unfortunately been bet up to -6½. We say “unfortunately” because we still like the Panthers as long as this line does not climb above 7. That is because the switch went on for Carolina after that 3-8-1 start as the Panthers played as well as any team in football while winning their last four games by an average winning margin of +17.0 points, finally resembling the team that won the NFC South at 12-4 last season with Cam Newton the healthiest he has been all year, the running game finally clicking and the defense playing at its best when it has mattered most. And unlike last season, the Panthers’ 7-8-1 record was good enough to win the division this year, making them the first repeat NFC South Champions since the NFL expanded to eight divisions! Now Arizona is also excellent defensively, so the question here becomes which offense does a better job of solving the opponents’ great defense. And that is where we think Carolina has a huge edge as the Cardinals have sputtered offensively under their third string quarterback Ryan Lindley and we just do not see them generating much offense at all here.

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Pittsburgh Steelers -3 (-123) over Baltimore Ravens (8:15 ET): These teams seemed to be going in opposite directions at the end of the year with the Steelers playing their best football of the season and the Ravens sputtering, but Pittsburgh probably lost one of the best running backs in football in Le’Veon Bell to a hyperextended knee while wrapping up the NFC North by defeating the Bengals 27-17 in the season finale last week. The Steelers are holding out hope that he can play in this game, but he must be considered extremely doubtful at this point. However, that may be having the effect of actually giving us good line value on Pittsburgh at only -3 at home, as Bell or no Bell quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should again have success attacking the Baltimore secondary like he did the last time these teams met right here in the Steel City, when he completed 25-of-37 passes for 340 yards with an amazing six touchdown passes! The Ravens are rather fortunate to make the playoffs after finishing 1-4 ATS the last five games, and Baltimore owes a giant thank you to the Kansas City Chiefs for knocking off the San Diego Chargers in the finale last week, allowing the Ravens to control their own destiny. And even there, they were losing at home to the lowly Cleveland Browns with Connor Shaw at quarterback until midway through the fourth quarter before scoring two touchdowns in the last seven minutes for the 20-10 triumph. And while the injury to Bell is getting all of the notoriety, the injury to Baltimore left tackle Eugene Monroe could prove more important with the Steelers having nine sacks the last two weeks.

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Sunday, December 28th
Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts ‘under’ 49 (-105) (1:05 ET):
This is a rematch from the regular season when the Colts shut out the Bengals 27-0 right here at the same venue at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. Now this contest should be considerably closer, but we really do not think it will be much higher scoring. For starters, wide receiver A.J. Green is doubtful for Cincinnati with a concussion, but even if he does somehow go, the Bengals would probably be better served by taking this game out of the hands of their struggling quarterback Andy Dalton and running the ball early and often with Jeremy Hill against an 18th ranked Colts’ rushing defense that allowed an ugly 135.3 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks. That is a luxury Cincinnati did not take advantage of the first time these teams met when Hill and Giovani Bernard were splitting the carries fairly equally. Hill has since established himself as the lead back, finishing with 1124 rushing yards despite starting only eight games while averaging a potent 5.1 yards per carry. And effective running by Hill would also serve the dual purpose of keeping the great Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck on the sideline. Now, Luck is Luck, which is why we are hesitant about actually backing the Cincinnati side here, but another reason to like the ‘under’ is Luck has been forcing more passes since running back Ahmad Bradshaw was lost for the season, thus nullifying whatever rushing game Indianapolis had, and the Cincinnati secondary is tied for third in the NFL with its 20 interceptions.

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Detroit Lions +6½ (-103) over Dallas Cowboys (4:40 ET): You didn’t think we would have a play on all four games this weekend and not take a single underdog, did you? Yes, the Cowboys could have their best team in quite a long while thanks to Demarco Murray leading the NFL in rushing while staying healthy for the first time in his career to give Dallas a very dangerous and very balanced offense. But we still feel that the Cowboys are overvalued as usual in this spot, giving nearly a touchdown to a Detroit team that finished second in the NFL in total defense behind only the reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks allowing just 300.9 yards per game, and the Lions led the NFL in rushing defense surrendering a mere 69.3 yards per game on the ground on a scant 3.2 yards per carry! That means that Detroit is capable of slowing down Murray and making Dallas more one-dimensional again like in past seasons, and we have seen many times how Tony Romo has reacted when asked to carry the offense in pressure situations, Granted the Lions have not been as potent offensively as in past years due to some offensive line issues, but that may not be as much a concern as usual here with Dallas only 28th in the NFL with just 28 sacks.

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