NFL Picks: Game-by-Game O/U Predictions for Wild Card Weekend

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 10:15 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016 10:15 PM UTC

It’s the NFL Wild Card and we bring you our postseason, game-by-game NFL picks for the totals. Find out where we’re going OVER and UNDER with our NFL picks for each and every game.

NFL Week 17 Recap Total Picks
At the close of week 17, we finished with an 8-8 mark with our OVER and UNDER NFL Picks, rounding out the season on a 133-122-2 mark for our total predictions. Complimenting that number is a 148-108-0 mark with our SU picks and a 131-119-6 mark for our ATS picks. A winning season all in all.

We keep the ball rolling into the postseason. Here we bring you a primer for each and every game, complete with NFL picks against the total.

Before we get started, it’s worth noting three of the four games feature road favorites on the NFL odds board, with only the Packers and Redskins flirting with a pick’em line. As well, consensus betting leans towards those road favorites across the board according to the action coming down the wire at early doors with the Packers and Redskins game (once again, the odd one out) showing an almost even split.


Chiefs vs. Texans
With the Chiefs riding into the wild-card round on a ten-game winning streak, it’s not surprising they emerge as the clear-cut favorites in straight up betting and against the spread. As it is, the Chiefs are the 3-point road favorites at most sportsbooks while at others they’re up to 3.5-points (Pinnacle). Yet, the Texans ride into the wild-card round on good form too, a 7-2 SU mark in their last nine games that includes a 3-game winning streak down the stretch of the regular season. As such, there’s a sense the Texans could be quite competitive in this game. In fact, home field advantage, which the Texans have, amounts to 3-points as a general rule in NFL betting. That means this game is essentially a pick’em between the pair (Texans +3 + -3 HFA = 0).

This competitiveness is nowhere more so evinced than in total odds that are trading at the 40-point total across sports betting exchanges. Consider the quarterback carousel in Houston, playing four different quarterbacks on the season, three generously down the stretch – Brian Hoyer, TJ. Yates and Brandon Weeden – it’s been the constancy of their defense that has provided the backbone to this positive run of form. In their last nine games, the start of which marks the point of their turnaround, they’ve conceded just 12.7-points per game. If we’re to take out the two losses – a 30-21 loss to Buffalo and a 27-6 loss to New England – their defense has allowed a measly 8.14 points per game in winning efforts.

Much of the same can be said of the Chiefs, who have averaged 25.3 points scored and conceded 17.9 points, but, during their 10-game winning streak, have averaged 27.8-points scored per game – five of those saw them go above 30-points – and conceded just 12.8 points per game. The story behind their impressive turnaround is the elevated play on the defensive side of the ball as well rather than the improvements and consistency of their offense.

This leads many to consider this game to be a hard knocks defensive battle. Consider consensus bets are on the UNDER 40 and the NFL line has come down from an opening 41-point total. Indeed, the defenses of both teams are sure to be the major talking point of this game. However, we’re of an opinion to go with the OVER 40 with our NFL picks. Both sides are 8-7-1 in O/U betting in the regular season and the Chiefs are 5-2-1 in O/U betting on the road.

NFL Picks: OVER 39 (-105) Heritage

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Steelers vs. Bengals
The Steelers and Bengals collide in a highly-anticipated AFC wild-card showdown in primetime viewing. Paying lip service to the Steelers offense behind Big Ben mainly, odds makers roll out a rather high total for this game across sports betting platforms. There are slight discrepancies from sportsbook to sportsbook as the total ranges anywhere from a high of 46.5 to a low of 45.5-points, so NFL bettors should shop around for the best line available before making their OVER-UNDER NFL picks.

The Steelers boast a 6-10 OVER record for the season, which, at first glance, goes against preconceived notions about their lightning offense. However, in a 6-2 SU finish in their last 8 games of the season, the offense did put up some heady numbers, averaging 31.9 points per game. Over that run of form, they also went 5-3 in O/U betting.

The Bengals aren’t too far off with their season’s OVER record of 7-9, but in their last eight games of the season they only went 2-6 in O/U betting, including their last three games which cashed on the UNDER. That Andy Dalton was side lined in those is significant because it appears that AJ McCarron is going to lead the Bengals into the wild-card round (pay close attention to that if it changes over the course of the week). With McCarron, the Bengals’ offense is far less explosive – he’s not cracked 200 yards in his three straight starts to close the season for Ciincy – and has four TDs in those three games. As well, in those starts the Bengals have averaged 21.7 points scored and conceded 16.7points. Not exactly heady numbers.

Perhaps the best indication of what to expect in this game is week 14’s 33-20 win by the Steelers in Cincy. AJ McCarron went into relief duty in that losing effort, going for 280 yards in that game, with two TDs and two INT. The backup saw most of the action on that day and was able to find space against an often suspect Steelers secondary. It follows that he could have a good day on the stat sheet when they resume hostilities this weekend.

Yet, there’s a caveat here that is inescapable to the avid NFL bettor: it’s a playoff game. A whole different ball game, something the unheralded backup is yet to experience in its full capacity with the pressure of the occasion and high expectations of the franchise, team and fans all riding on his inexperienced shoulders. Of course, he may well fancy himself as the next Tom Brady -- said as much – but until such wild self-prophecy is proven it’s merely a deluded optimism.

Putting all these different facts and realities together, we’re of a mind to lean towards the UNDER on our NFL picks simply because the Bengals might struggle to put up points with an unproven quarterback leading them into the playoffs despite all the talent and weapons at his disposal. On the other hand, the pressure of the occasion can lead to mistakes by McCarron that could prove costly, which has us toying with the OVER instead. We already know the Steelers can light up the board when they find their rhythm. Some additional help from McCarron with interceptions or pick-6s could just push the total higher and in favor of the Steelers. It remains to be seen what happens on Saturday Night, but we’re going with the latter after all.

NFL Picks: OVER 45 (-105) Bookmaker

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Seahawks vs. Vikings
The Seahawks and Vikings collide in an NFC showdown trading on a low 40-point total. That’s a lot to do with the Vikings one has to assume, seeing as they are 4-12 in O/U betting this season while the Seahawks are 7-9 in O/U betting. In week 13, the Seahawks descended on Minnesota to hand them a 38-7 beat down that cracked the closing 43-point total only just. That commanding win came in the midst of a stellar push down the stretch by the Seahawks, winning six of their last seven games and outscoring opponents 224-to-98 for a plus 126 differential. That’s a difference of 18-points per game. With the news that Marshawn Lynch is gearing up for the weekend, it’s only going to add another lethal dimension to the Seahawks’ offense.

On the bright side, the Vikings closed the season on a three-game winning streak that was arguably their best run of form with comprehensive wins over the Bears, Giants and Packers, outscoring the triplet 107-to-47 for a plus 60 differential or an almost 20-point differential per game.

Seahawks bring a ton of experience into the playoffs, backed by championship credentials. The Vikings will be led into the playoffs by second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who is making his postseason debut. There’s a lot to like about the hosts and they’ve played exceptionally well in the regular season, but this could be a case of biting off more than they can chew. The Seahawks have incredible momentum right now and they closed the season with an exclamation point, beating the very dangerous and talented Arizona Cardinals 36-6. We have to go with the OVER here as the Seahawks can run away with this one handily.

NFL Picks: OVER 39.5 (-105) Heritage

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Packers vs. Redskins
The Washington Redskins come into the NFL playoffs this season as the surprise package of the entire field. Few had them down in their NFL playoff brackets when the season started, save for a few diehard fans maybe. Tale told, they capitalised on a rather dysfunctional NFC East but also did their part to earn their spot amongst the best in the league. The jury remains out whether they are legitimate contenders or simply a fortuitous fallout from the NFC East.

The Packers, meanwhile, took a dramatic nosedive down the stretch, winning just four of their last ten games to finish the season with a 10-6 SU mark. Most notably, they lost their last two games and rather badly – a 38-8 defeat in Arizona followed by a 20-13 loss to Minnesota, which cost them the NFC North title. The common denominator in those losses – or for that matter of their previous losses – is the stunted offense and suspect secondary.

In spite of those question marks, odds makers rolled out a rather high total for this game of 47 points at early doors. That total has come down at most sports betting exchanges with some now sporting a 45-point total while others have come down to a low of 44.5-points. That’s quite the dramatic drop; the biggest drop of the entire wild-card slate thus far where total NFL odd are concerned.

Kirk Cousins has been a bit of a touchdown machine in the month of December, which is surprising to say the least. One would have thought we’d be talking about Aaron Rodgers in such glowing terms, setting up for a right shootout in the nation’s capital. Alas, the Packers offense has struggled mightily and it’s really up in the air whether those struggles will rear their ugly head in the postseason or we’ll see the Aaron Rodgers we’re all more familiar with from season’s past.

The Redskins have averaged over 30-points in their last four games but they’ve also conceded in almost equal proportion, which could be a blessing in disguise for the Packers’ struggling offense to find its rhythm in the postseason. Washington’s defense is simply not up to snuff conceding 23.25 points during the course of the last four games.

NFL Picks: OVER 44.5 (-110) BetCRIS

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