Wild Card Weekend is Chance to Bash the Bookie

Titans Mariota

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, January 4, 2018 8:37 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 8:37 PM UTC

The NFL playoffs are upon us so we can still keep cashing our picks. Let's analyze the wild-card round and make some money!

NFL: Wild Card Round

How fitting an end to the regular season was Week 17 in terms of our roller-coaster year of NFL picks? It was perfectly illustrative of the big-unit plays cashing while the smaller plays melted away and siphoned all those units off of our overall record. Last week our top play, the Colts, covered the number with a 22-13 win over the Texans for four units. However, the Ravens and Raiders stole a combined four units from our coffers. When the dust settled I was 1-2 ATS but lost only 0.4 units.

I believe the postseason will treat us right as we slowly claw our way back into the black. Fewer choices mean fewer distractions, and a go-big-or-go-home attitude prevails when making these predictions. Let's check out the NFL odds and forget about the small stuff while we focus solely on the sharpest plays on the slate for Saturday and Sunday. Let's go!

NFL Saturday: Titans vs. Chiefs

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Free NFL Pick: Titans +9 (3 units)Best Line Offered: BetOnlineFree NFL Pick: Under 45 (4 units)Best Line Offered: Intertops

The squares will be betting the Chiefs, as is their penchant for all things chalky, which will doom them once again. Kansas City has had a rather mercurial season. They began by upsetting the Patriots on New England's home turf and reeling off four more consecutive wins and covers. But the Chiefs then dropped six of their next seven, both SU and ATS. They rebounded with four wins and ATS covers to wrap up the regular season.

However, on Saturday, K.C. will be playing a team that has flown under the radar. Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota was playing hurt throughout much of the season, but he is running again and appears to be in decent shape heading into this meeting at Arrowhead. Despite the fact the Titans have gone 3-3 SU over their last six, they have covered in five of those six games.

Tennessee owns the best run-stop defense (fourth) that K.C. has seen in a long time. Expect the Titans to stonewall Kareem Hunt and send the dogs after Alex Smith so he can't connect on the short stuff over the middle. Tennessee has a game plan that is slow and methodical. That means they stay close with their running game and Mariota's ability to improvise. Kansas City is not going to light up the scoreboard on Tennessee as it will be below freezing at game time and the ground games will take precedence over the passing attacks. This will be a low-scoring and closely contested affair, so let's grab all those delicious points being handed to the Titans and go low in this one.

NFL Sunday: Bills vs. Jaguars

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Free NFL Pick: Bills +9 (3 units)Best Line Offered: BetOnlineFree NFL Pick: Under 39½ (4 units)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

The Jags have a terrific pass defense, ranked No. 1 in the NFL in holding the opposition to just 170 passing yards per contest, and No. 2 in points allowed. But they're not terrific against the run as they rank 21st in that category, allowing more than 116 rushing yards per game.

If Bills RB Shady McCoy suits up it will be a huge boon to the underdogs. Jags QB Blake Bortles is not exactly Mr. Clutch, whereas Bills QB Tyrod Taylor's ability to take the edge will work in his favor because it means he will not be relegated to passing from within the pocket and trying in vain to score against the top passing defense.

This is a good spot for Buffalo with a ton of points. Take the dog and go low.


NFL Sunday: Panthers vs. Saints

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Free NFL Pick: Saints -6½ (5 units)Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

The Saints are my top play of the weekend and a maximum five-unit wager. As anyone who reads this column knows, a five-unit max play happens about as often as LaVar Ball is rendered speechless.

The Saints are 6-0 ATS over their last six meetings against the Panthers and defeated them by double digits in both games this season. The problem for the Cats is they play zone defense, which doesn't work well against top-tiered quarterbacks. Saints QB Drew Brees is too good, and the New Orleans defense has improved by leaps and bounds this season.

The Saints are for real, and the Panthers are just a steppingstone to what could be an NFC title.

The Woodman’s Corner (12-5 ATS, +6.5 units)

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Free NFL Pick: Titans +9Best Line Offered: BetOnline

The Woodman wrapped up a stellar 2017 NFL campaign with a dud in the Rams' +3½ over the 49ers. As good as the Woodman is at handicapping, Jimmy Garoppolo is even better at looking good. But it's time to move on to the playoff round and rebound with another ATS cover. In the "great minds think alike" department, the Woodman is following me -- or is it the other way around -- with a pick on the visiting Titans over the Chiefs on Saturday.

Swinger’s 2017 NFL record: 22-26-2 ATS (-2.65 units)

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