We could very well be looking at the Steelers hosting the Dolphins and the Texans hosting the Chiefs in the AFC Wild-Card round next weekend with the Giants traveling to Green Bay or Detroit and either the Redskins or Packers-Lions loser heading to Seattle in the NFC Wild-Card games. Let’s speculate before the talking heads ruin our own personal narratives.
Heading into Week 17, the four teams that would play on AFC Wild-Card weekend are the Steelers (AFC North champs) as the #3 Seed, the Texans (AFC South champs) as the #4 Seed, the Chiefs (Wild Card) as the #5 Seed, and the Dolphins (Wild Card) as the #6 Seed. It is possible for Kansas City to get a first-round bye, however, which would drop Oakland to most likely the #5 Seed. And Miami could still get the #5 Seed. But for our purposes, we will stick with current projected matchups.
With Pittsburgh (10-5 SU) hosting Cleveland (1-14) on Sunday (PIT -5½, 5Dimes), expect the Steelers to win and then host the #6 seed, currently Miami (10-5), which hosts #1 Seed New England (13-2) in Week 17 (NE -9½, BetOnline).
So, a Steelers-Dolphins date either Jan. 7 or 8 in the Steel City could be on the horizon and the hosts should open as between 4- to 6-point favorites if this is the reality.
And with Houston (9-6) at Tennessee on Sunday in a now meaningless AFC South matchup (TEN -3, BookMaker), the Texans will likely host #5 Seed Kansas City (11-4) -- by virtue of winning the AFC South despite a worse record -- in a game which could open around pick'em with expectations here of early sharp and public action on the Chiefs, who crushed the Texans in Houston in last year's Wild-Card round. And any team with rookie flash Tyreek Hill (6 TDs) is one you don’t want to play.
If all this evolves, beating Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers (+1150 to win Super Bowl, 5Dimes) at Heinz Field will be very hard for Miami, while fading Houston and new QB Tom Savage and backing Travis Kelce and Kansas City (+15 TO, #2 NFL) is the prescription -- but bet it early as the majority will want to get down on the Chiefs (11/1 to win Super Bowl, Heritage).
NFC Wild-Card Weekend Scenarios
Over in the NFC, things aren’t as clear in the Playoff Picture heading into Week 17, with projected #4 seed Green Bay (9-6) in Detroit to battle the current #6 seed Lions (9-6) for the NFC North title with the loser possibly getting a Wild-Card berth, while the #5 seed Giants (10-5) are in and would play the #4 Seed -- likely the NFC North champion -- with the Packers-Lions loser (and then #6 Seed) falling to 9-7 and either being eliminated or possibly having to head to Seattle to bang helmets with the #3 seed Seahawks (9-5-1) -- who are in San Francisco (SEA -9½, Heritage) -- on Jan. 7 or 8.
The #7 Seed Redskins (8-6-1) host the Giants (WASH -9, 5Dimes) in a big NFC East matchup on Sunday and could improve to 9-6-1 and edge out the Green Bay-Detroit loser as the #6 Seed, and the 9-point spread hints at Big Blue taking it easy in Week 17. We’ll see Sunday.
The betting angles from this distance in the NFC aren’t as strong, although should the Redskins stumble and Matthew Stafford and the Lions lose to the Packers and head to the Emerald City as a Wild Card, then it will be very hard to ignore Seattle’s home dominance (34-6 SU L40) and Stafford’s incredibly poor 1-24 SU L25 mark on the road vs. Teams With Winning Records and overall 5-42 SU Record (10.6%) lifetime against Teams That Finish With Winning Records heading into Sunday’s NFC North-deciding Week 17 shindig in Motown.
AFC WILD CARD LEANS: Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers
SUPER BOWL LI FUTURES VALUE PICK: Chiefs 11/1 (Heritage)
NFL OVERALL ATS PICKS RECORD: 81-64-3