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NFL Wild Card Weekend Game by Game Guide: Matchups, Stats and Trends, Injury Report and Odds

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NFL Wild Card Weekend Game by Game Guide: Matchups, Stats and Trends, Injury Report and Odds
Khalil Mack #52 of the Chicago Bears on November 29, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

With a jampacked weekend of NFL action, marking the wildcard round of the 2020 NFL playoffs, keeping track of every matchup is going to be key towards a fruitful betting experience.

This comprehensive betting guide is your all access pass to up-to-date information, betting trends, news, injury reports and much, much, more. Basically, all the information that could impact how to bet the wildcard round with your NFL picks is here, courtesy of SBR.

So, without too much preamble, let’s get cracking by setting the stage for six stunning matchups between this season’s top contenders, a first-round playoff slate that spreads over two days, between Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills

Saturday, January 09, 2021 – 01:05 PM EST at Bills Stadium

The Indianapolis Colts got help from the Buffalo Bills with a victory over Miami earlier in the day before they clinched a playoff berth behind a 28-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts only narrowly missed out on the AFC South title – the Titans ultimately clinched it by the seat of their pants in a 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans – instead, they settled on the seventh seed. However, after missing out on the 2019 playoffs and going into week 17 outside of the AFC frame and looking in, the Colts will be delighted to have squeaked through in the end.

Separately, Philip Rivers can take some consolation in getting his personal validation too. After the Los Angeles Chargers parted ways with him, there were quite a few dissenting voices that suggested he was well past his sell-by-date. A has-been that should consider hanging up his cleats, instead of signing with a new team. Well, Rivers finished the regular season ninth overall amongst his peers with 3.952 passing yards, along with a modest tally of 20 TDs to 13 INTs. He also finished with a 98.1 passer rating.

Making the playoffs is rewarding, but when the resulting matchup yields the Buffalo Bills – only the hottest offense in the AFC – it’s debatable. In fact, it’s ironically fitting that the Colts and Bills collide in the wildcard round on Saturday. The Colts owe their postseason in part to the Bills. Had the Bills not beaten the Dolphins, the Colts’ victory over the Jaguars might have been in vain because the Ravens, Browns and Titans all won on Sunday. Thus, it seems fitting that their fate should be decided in Buffalo.

Third-year quarterback, Josh Allen, is playing at such a high level that he’s insinuated himself into the MVP conversation in recent weeks, albeit an underdog to the presumptive favorite Aaron Rodgers. Allen is amongst the top 5 quarterbacks this season with 4.300 passing yards, 34 TDs, and 9 INTs, all while amassing a 106.4 passer rating. He’s also rushed for 8 scores this season, highlighting his dual multi-dimensional capabilities.

The Bills come into the postseason riding a six-game winning streak, which includes a 6-0-0 ATS record. Overall, the Bills are 11-5-0 ATS on the season –the league’s best record in ATS betting trends – and a 7.9 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 10 of Buffalo’s 16 games.

The Colts have won four of their last five games, six of their last eight games – a run of form that includes a 4-4-0 ATS mark. Overall, the Colts are a modest 8-8-0 ATS on the season, a run of form that includes a 5.6 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 9 of Indianapolis’ 16 games.

Bookies went to press with Buffalo predictably installed as the firm home faves, ranging anywhere from -6.5 to -7 depending on the corresponding online sportsbook. As well, the total for this game opened at 52 points, which is the second-highest opening total of the wildcard weekend after the Titans and Ravens game.

Super Bowl LV Odds:

Indianapolis Colts: +3999 with BookMaker
Buffalo Bills: +743 with BookMaker

Key Injuries:

IND: T W. Holden (ankle), CB Ya-Sin (concussion), and RB J. Wilkins (illness) are out Saturday;  DT D. Buckner (ankle). RB J. Taylor (shoulder), CB T. Carrie (ankle), and QB P. Rivers (toe) are probable Saturday.

BUF: WR S. Diggs (oblique), WR I. McKenzie (ankle), TE R. Gilliam (knee), WR C. Beasley (leg), and CB S. Neal (head).

TV Network: CBS
Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, CBS
Opening Line: Bills -7 (-110) with BookMaker
Fans in Stadium: Yes (Up to 6,772 fans)
Full Game Preview: Colts vs. Bills Picks

Los Angeles Rams
Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks

Saturday, January 09, 2021 - 04:40 PM EST at Lumen Field

An NFC West showdown between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks features on Saturday’s wildcard betting menu, a tilt between formidable foes and rivals that have had their fair share of ups and downs this season. The Seahawks enter the postseason having won their first division title since 2016, while the Rams squeak through at the expense of the Arizona Cardinals in a must-win game.

The Rams briefly played a part in the NFC West conversation, but losses to the Jets and Seahawks played them out of the conversation. Then an injury to Jared Goff in week 16, which forced him out of the season’s finale, put Los Angeles in a precarious position facing a win-and-in game. All told, the Rams defied the NFL odds to advance into the playoffs with an 18-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals, all while fielding backup quarterback John Wolford, who was making his NFL debut.

It’s fair to say, the Rams did get some help from an unfortunate twist of fate: Kyler Murray went down with an injury early in the game, and although he returned in the fourth quarter in a desperate attempt to salvage his side’s season, it was a futile cause. The Rams defense was too good, doing most of the heavy lifting to carry the Rams into the postseason.

The Seattle Seahawks had their work cut out for them against a determined San Francisco 49ers outfit playing for pride only, but they persevered in the end with a come-from-behind 26-23 victory on the road. Having clinched the NFC West title in week 16, the Seahawks knew they were January-bound already. Week 17 was all for seeding – a Seahawks win and both a Packers and Saints loss would have given Seattle the No.1 seed. That didn’t happen. The Packers clinched the top spot in the NFC with a 35-16 win over the Chicago Bears, while the Saints clinched the second seed with a 33-7 win over the Carolina Panthers.

The Seahawks got off to a bright start in 2020 – a 5-0 SU start propelled almost entirely by Russell Wilson and the O-line that saw the stalwart signal-caller headline the MVP race in the first-half of the season too. As Wilson’s form wobbled during the midseason though, so too did the MVP talk fade into the background.

Nevertheless, the Seahawks did manage to perk up at the right time, in part because of a much improved defense that took some of the pressure off Wilson. The Seahawks won six of their last seven games, a run of form that includes a four-game winning streak down the stretch. Overall, the Seahawks are 8-8-0 ATS on the season with a 5.5 winning margin on average, and the total has gone UNDER in 9 of Seattle’s 16 games.

Jared Goff’s status remains questionable for Saturday’s pivotal game with the Seahawks. Even if Goff returns, his recent decline in form is a worry – the Rams went 3-3-0 SU and ATS down the stretch, most notably losing to the Jets was one of the season’s worst looks for Sean McVay’s side.

The Rams split the series with the Seahawks. They won the first contest 23-16 earlier this season, but lost 20-9 in the crucial divisional decider in week 16. Overall, the Rams are 9-7-0 ATS on the season, which includes a 4.8 winning margin on average. The total has gone UNDER in 12 of LA Rams’ 16 games

Early NFL betting sites reveal a conspicuous lean towards the Seattle Seahawks, which is understandable all things being considered. The total opened on 43 points, but already several sportsbooks are showing 42.5 points.

Super Bowl LV Odds:

Los Angeles Rams: +4800 with BookMaker
Seattle Seahawks: +1106 with BookMaker

Key Injuries

LAR: QB J. Goff (thumb), T D. Edwards (ankle), and LB M. Kiser (knee) are questionable Saturday; DL M. Brockers (illness) is out indefinitely; T A, Whitworth (knee) and RB C  Akers (ankle) are probable Sunday.

SEA: G M. Iupati (neck), S J. Adams (shoulder), TE G. Olsen (foot) and RB C. Hyde (illness) are probable Saturday; DT J.Read (oblique), RC C. Carson (foot), T D. Brown (knee), CB S. Griffin (hamstring) DT B. Mone (ankle) are questionable Saturday.

TV Network: FOX
Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, FOX
Opening Line: Seahawks -4.5 (-110) with BookMaker
Fans in Stadium: No (until further notice)
Full Game Preview: Rams vs. Seahawks Picks

The Bucs are still trying to win their division
Antonio Brown #81 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates with Tom Brady #12. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Football Team

Saturday, January 09, 2021 - 08:15 PM EST at FedEx Field

Tom Brady and Co. are headed to the nation’s capital to take on the newly-minted NFC East champions, the Washington Football Team, in the first round of the playoffs. The Buccaneers had to wait with the rest of us until the close of Sunday night football to learn which team they’ll be facing: the NY Giants, who defied NFL betting expectations by beating the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the day, or Washington, who needed a win over the already eliminated Philadelphia Eagles to clinch the division and ensuing playoff spot. The latter proved to be the winner, accomplishing the feat with a 20-14 win over the already-eliminated Philadelphia Eagles.

First is first: Tampa Bay took care of its own business by steamrolling the Atlanta Falcons 44-27 on Sunday. The Bucs clinched their playoff spot – first appearance in over a decade – behind a 47-7 victory over the Detroit Lions. However, they didn’t miss a beat, capitalizing on one final opportunity to move up a seed in the NFC standings with a win over the Falcons in week 17. By avoiding a collision course with the Green Bay Packers in the first round, Tampa’s chance of reaching the divisional round for the first time since 2002 – the year Tampa Bay won its Super Bowl – are much improved. So too are their Super Bowl LV odds.

Washington is the quintessential Cinderella story of the 2020 NFL playoffs, embodying human triumph against the odds. The triumphant renaissance of a head coach and quarterback respectively overcoming personal challenges in 2020 to become the unlikely NFC East champions. In his first year as Washington’s head coach, Rivera was diagnosed with cancer, but he continued working despite having to undergo intensive treatment. At the same time, seasoned veteran Alex Smith completed his NFL comeback when he took his first snaps in almost two-years, due to a horrendous leg injury that nearly ended his career. If that’s not compelling, what is?

Washington started the season slowly, with both Dwayne Haskins Jr. and then Kyle Allen leading the offense. Eventually, the team turned to Alex Smith in week 9, after which they never looked back. Smith’s experience, knowledge and steady hand, along with a formidable defense, gives Washington a punter’s chance, even if the NFL lines suggest otherwise

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 9-7-0 ATS on the season, which includes an 8.6 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 9 of Tampa Bay’s 16 games. Washington is 10-6-0 ATS on the season and the total has gone UNDER in 11 of Washington’s 16 games.

Not surprisingly, Washington opens as the 7-point home underdogs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the total is tipped at a modest 46.5 with multiple sports betting sites.

Super Bowl LV Odds:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +894 with BookMaker
Washington Football Team: +8000 with BookMaker

Key Injuries

TB: CB C. Davis (groin), RB L, McCoy (undisclosed), WR M. Evans (knee) are probable Saturday; LB J. Pierre-Paul (knee) is questionable Saturday, LB D. White (illness) and DL S. McLendon (illness) are out indefinitely.

WAS: G B. Scherff (shoulder), CB K. Fuller (knee), WR T. McLaurin (ankle), RB A Gibson (toe), LB K. Pierre-Louis (ankle), and QB A. Smith (Calf) are probably Saturday.

TV Network: NBC
Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, NBC
Opening Line: Buccaneers -8 (-110) with BookMaker
Fans in Stadium: No (until further notice)
Full Game Preview: Buccaneers vs. Washington Picks

Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens on November 15, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images/AFP

Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans

Sunday, January 10, 2021 - 01:05 PM EST at Nissan Stadium

The reprisal of hostilities between the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans has to be one of the most anticipated playoff showdowns of 2020. The Titans orchestrated one of the biggest upsets of the 2019 playoffs when they beat the then No.1 seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12 in the divisional round. They then extended their winning form at the expense of the Ravens with a 30-24 win on November 22. With a 2-0 SU record in the last two meetings, the Titans must fancy their chances, even if the odds are stacking up against them across the NFL odds board.

The 2020 NFL playoffs presents Tennessee with several advantages, one of which is that they’re set to collide in first round of the playoffs as hosts to the Ravens, who will be travelling to Nashville as the visiting lower seed in the AFC standings. Quite the opposite to being the 2019 sixth seed playing on the road throughout the playoffs.

Baltimore got off to a less than stellar start, but they enter the postseason on a wave of momentum after rattling off five straight wins down the stretch. Although the Ravens had one of the easier NFL schedules in the second half of the season, it shouldn’t take away from the fact that they’ve found form at the right time. The Ravens deposited convincing wins over Dallas, Cleveland, Jacksonville, NY Giants, and Cincinnati, all the while averaging 37.2 points per game. Lamar Jackson appears to have tapped into his MVP-winning caliber play in recent weeks, which augurs well for the Ravens ahead of the playoffs.

The Titans are flush off (yet another) come-from-behind win over the Houston Texans, a 41-38 victory that served up the AFC South crown in the final minutes of the game. Derrick Henry had another monster game, capping a stellar season by cracking an NFL milestone and surpassing 2,000 rushing yards. He finished with 2,023 yards on the season.

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Henry is clearly instrumental on the Titans offense, spearheading the ground game almost singlehandedly. Ryan Tannehill is doing his bit as well, playing at a superior level and showcasing his agility and mobility in the passing and ground game equally. Tannehill is 15th overall with 3,819 passing yards, but his 33 to 7, touchdown to interception ratio and 106.5 passer-rating have him in the top five.

Both the Ravens and Titans are built towards dominance in the rushing game: Ravens average 191.3 yards per game and Titans average 168.1 yards. The Titans offense is the third best in the league with an average 396.4 yards per game while the Titans defense is fifth worst in the league with 398.3 yards per game allowed. Overall, the Titans are 7-9-0 ATS on the season with a 3.2 winning margin on average. They’ve won five of their last seven contests, while the total has gone OVER in 12 of Tennessee’s 16 games. Indeed, the Titans boast the league’s highest OVER record in the regular season.

The Ravens offense is 18th in the league with 363.1 yards per game, which is a significant step back from 2019 when they finished second overall with 407.6 yards per game. The defense is fourth best in the league with 300.6 yards per game allowed. Overall, the Ravens are 10-6-0 ATS on the season with 10.3 winning margin on average. They’re riding a five-game winning streak into the playoffs, while the total has gone UNDER in 9 of Baltimore’s 16 games.

Initial NFL lines are skewed heavily towards the Baltimore for this game with the Ravens laying 3.5 points. Arguably, it’s as much a symptom of perception as it is recent form. That said, at issue is the quality of opponent the Ravens have beaten. In the broad spectrum of the season, the Ravens are merely 3-4 SU against teams with a winning record, two of which came against Cleveland and one against the Colts.

Super Bowl LV Odds:

Baltimore Ravens: +1174 with BookMaker
Tennessee Titans: +2379 with BookMaker

Key Injuries

BAL: CB J. Smith (shoulder),  CB M. Humphrey (shoulder), G D. Fluker (knee), DE C. Campbell (calf), DE Y. Ngakoue (thigh), G P.Mekari (back), and WR W, Snead IV (ankle) are day-to-day.

TEN: TE G. Swain (wrist), C B. Jones (hamstring), LB D Bates (hip), LB D. Robertson (hamstring), CB A. Jackson (knee), T D. Kelly (knee), WR A. Brown (knee), RB D. Evans (shoulder), and G R. Saffold III (ankle) are day-to-day.

TV Network:
Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV
Opening Line: Ravens -3.5 (-110) with BookMaker
Fans in Stadium: Yes (21% of capacity)
Full Game Preview: Ravens vs. Titans Picks

New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees #9 hands the ball to Alvin Kamara #41. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images/AFP

Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints

Sunday, January 10, 2021 - 04:40 PM EST at Mercedes-Benz Superdome

The Chicago Bears are coming off a lopsided loss to the Green Bay Packers, but they nonetheless managed to squeeze into the playoffs. Thanks in part to Arizona’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, which sent the Bears in their stead into the postseason as the seventh seed. The New Orleans Saints, meanwhile, continued their fine form, closing the season with a stellar 33-7 win over the Carolina Panthers, despite going into the game significantly shorthanded. Alvin Kamara tested positive for COVID-19 last week, forcing the entire running back crops to go into isolation due to the league’s strict health protocols.

The Saints were eyeing the No.1 seed on Sunday, but things didn’t go to plan despite their winning effort. They didn’t get the help needed in the form of a Bears win over the Packers. Instead, Green Bay routed the Chicago Bears in a 35-16 win, thus clinching the top seed and bye in the NFC. On the bright side, the Saints clinched the No.2 seed, gaining a key advantage for the playoffs by ensuring a couple of home games at the very least in lieu of a bye week.

It’s not without some irony that New Orleans is now set to take on the Chicago Bears in the wildcard round on Sunday. On paper, this is a mismatch that plays right into New Orleans’ favor. The Bears suffered a remarkable mid-season nosedive that threatened their playoff aspirations. As well, the futures of head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace.

And yet, in a bizarre turn of events that few would have predicted, brought on by an unfortunate injury to Nick Foles, which paved the way for return of embattled Mitch Trubisky, a turnaround occurred. Trubisky took his second lease on life as an NFL starter by the horns, leading Chicago’s resurgence in the NFC mainly by resuscitating a comatose offense beyond recognition. Whether that is all down to Trubisky getting with it, or Matt Nagy passing the play-calling to the offensive coordinator is up for debate.

Having said that, Trubisky and the Chicago O-line struggled against the Packers in Sunday’s loss at Soldier Field. Notably missing were the big numbers Chicago was able to put up against Houston, Minnesota, and Jacksonville. Trubisky struggled to make any inroads against the Packers, which doesn’t bode well for a date against a Saints defense that may be coasting under the radar. The Saints defense ranks 11th in the league and 13th in points allowed (21.3).

The Chicago Bears are 8-8-0 ATS on the season with a 0.1 margin of victory. The Bears won three of their last four games, while the total has gone OVER in 8 of Chicago’s 16 games.

The New Orleans Saints are 9-7-0 ATS on the season with a 9,1 winning margin on average. They’re riding the momentum a two-game winning streak into the playoffs, and the total has gone OVER in 10 of New Orleans’ 16 games. The Saints claim the third-longest winning streak in 2020 at 9 wins in a row – only the Chiefs (10 wins) and Steelers (11 wins) enjoyed a better run of form.

Whether the Saints running corps is cleared to play will be something NFL bettors should keenly follow in the coming days. As it were, sportsbooks are supremely confident in New Orleans, opening the NFC South champions as the biggest faves in the wildcard round. The Saints are tipped at -9.5 with multiple sports betting sites.

Super Bowl LV Odds:

New Orleans Saints: +642 with BookMaker
Chicago Bears: +10500 with BookMaker

Key Injuries

CHI: LB J. Woods (toe), CB D. Shelley (knee), WR A. Robinson II (hamstring), S D. Bush (foot), CB B. Skrine (concussion), and WR D. Mooney (ankle) are day-to-day.

NO: WR M. Thomas (ankle), QB T. Hill (concussion), S M. Williams (ankle), DB J. Cray (shoulder), WR D. Harris (stinger), and TE J. Hill (hand) are day-to-day; RB A. Kamara (illness), and DB D. Swearinger (illness) are out indefinitely.

TV Network: Prime Video & Nickelodeon
Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, Prime Video
Opening Line: Saints -9.5 (-110) with BookMaker
Fans in Stadium: Yes (Up to 3.000 fans)
Full Game Preview: Bears vs. Saints Picks

Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield - Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, January 10, 2021 - 08:15 PM EST at Heinz Field

After the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers brought the curtain down on their respective seasons with a showdown in week 17, they’re set to reprise the rivalry in the wildcard round of the playoffs. The coveted primetime, Sunday Night Football slot that the NFL typically awards to the most riveting contest on the weekend’s bill of fare.

The Browns clinched a spot in the playoffs on the back of a narrow 24-22 win over the Steelers; however, they did so with backup quarterback Mason Rudolph leading the Steelers offense. Big Ben and several key starters rested up for the playoffs, a decision Mike Tomlin made with a view towards the playoffs. In his mind, setting up the Steelers in the best possible way with adequate rest was paramount, given Pittsburgh’s bye week was effectively erased when a few games were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks within opposing camps.

The Browns were faced with a win-and-in situation after carelessly dropping the ball in a Week 16 loss to the hapless NY Jets. Baker Mayfield rose to the challenge, leading the Browns into the postseason for the first time in forever, but it wasn’t smooth sailing against the dogged Steelers. Considering it was a mix of A and B teams on the field, the two-point margin might suggest the Steelers at full strength are massively superior. Heck, Cleveland closed as the 10.5-point home chalk but wildly missed the cover for those NFL bettors that shaded the Browns on week 17 NFL picks.

The Cleveland Browns are merely 6-10-0 ATS on the season with a 0.7 losing margin. They’ve won two of their last four games, six of their last eight. The total has gone OVER in 9 of Cleveland’s 16 games

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 10-6-0 ATS on the season while the total has gone 7-7-2 in OVER and UNDER betting. The Steelers started the season with the longest winning streak, going 11-0 SU on the season before finishing with a 1-4 SU record in their last five games. Oddsmakers have gone to press with the Steelers tipped as the home faves, laying -3.5 to the Cleveland Browns.

Super Bowl LV Odds:

Cleveland Browns: +5000 with BookMaker
Pittsburgh Steelers: +2120 with BookMaker

Key Injuries

CLE: S R. Harrison Jr. (illness), T K. Lamm (illness), C J. Tretter (knee), G W. Teller (ankle), CB M Stewart Jr. (calf), DT S. Richardson (neck), T J. Conklin (knee), are WR D. Peoples-Jones (concussion) questionable Sunday; WR K Hodge (illness), G J. Bitonio (illness), CB K Johnson (illness), CB D. Ward (illness), LB M. Smith (illness), and TE H. Bryant (illness) are out indefinitely.

PIT: LB V. Williams (quadricep), CB S. Nelson (knee), K C. Boswell (groin), DE T.Alualu (ankle) are probable Sunday;  DE I. Buggs (illness), WR J. Smith-Schuster (knee), LB R. Spillane (knee), and T M. Feller (pectoral) are questionable Sunday.

TV Network: NBC
Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, NBC
Opening Line: Steelers -3.5 (110)
Fans in Stadium: No (only friends and family)
Full Game Preview: Browns vs. Steelers Picks