Wild Card Weekend NFL Picks: Game-by-Game ML Odds Predictions

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 9:34 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016 9:34 PM GMT

The NFL playoff picture emerged on the heels of a wild week 17 and bookies went to press with NFL lines across the board. Let’s breakdown the money line odds for all four wild card games and serve up NFL picks.

Week 17 Recap
The NFL Playoffs finally took shape in a wild week 17, filled with upsets and surprises. Most notably, the Jets are out and the Steelers are in. Not least of all the Vikings actually won the NFC North title – although earning a matchup with the Seahawks in the wildcard round as a result is akin to drawing the short straw. [Insert dramatic shiver]. In other words, it’s debatable whether the Vikings were winners or whether the Packers earning a date with the Redskins were the true winners of week 17 NFL betting…

In any event, on the heels of Sunday’s riveting round of action, we finished with a 9-7 record on our game-by-game SU Money line picks in the final week of the regular season. On the season as a whole, we therefore finish with a nice 148-108-0 record on our SU picks.

 

We Continue the Ball Rolling Into the Playoffs…
We continue with our game-by-game picks in the postseason, beginning with the wild card round this weekend and the four sensational matchups before us. Here’s a primer on each and every game, complete with our choice NFL picks.

 

Chiefs vs. Texans
At the most basic level, this is a matchup between an 11-5 SU team riding a frightening 10-game winning streak into the playoffs and a solid 9-7 SU team riding a three-game winning streak into the playoffs. Instinctively, though, the Chiefs appear to be the better team in the eyes of odds makers, experts and pundits alike. As well, Alex Smith is considered to have more upside than Brian Hoyer. Hence, Kansas City are trading as the road chalk – one of three road chalks in the wildcard round – and the public is sweet on them with their NFL picks.

Things aren’t always as they seem and the playoffs are an entirely different ball game. The Texans go into the postseason seeded higher than the Chiefs – they are the fourth seed while the Chiefs are the fifth seed, a consequence of the divisional makeup of the AFC but one that has no impact on the NFL betting outlook. In straight up betting markets, the Chiefs are trading as the -170 faves at The Greek or higher at other sportsbooks. Yet, despite preconceived notions about these two teams and the Texans lacking an elite quarterback to rival Alex Smith, they more than make up in other matchups – from elite players such as J.J. Watt and a formidable defense to rival that of Kansas and the illusive DeAndre Hopkins to rival Jeremy Maclin. Those aspects amount to a punters chance for Houston to keep this a close game, if not mastermind the upset in the wildcard round.

The Texans are coming off a 30-6 thrashing of the Jaguars with J.J Watt back at full strength and without his cast. He was a nightmare on the Texans defense, and there’s no player quite the game-changer that he is and that underscores our NFL pick. The Texans are at home and they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, while the Chiefs will be feeling the pressure of expectations set by their impressive run down the stretch to make the playoffs. What’s more, the onus is on them to open the playoffs in Houston on Saturday, ahead of the big-matchup between the Steelers and Bengals. Anything can happen, even the improbable Houston win.

NFL Picks: Texans +160 at Bookmaker, BetCRIS and JustBet

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Steelers vs. Bengals
The popcorn game of the day is the clash between the Steelers and Bengals, fuelled by a heated AFC North divisional rivalry. The Bengals won the divisional title but enter this game as the home underdogs, largely down to the uncertainty surrounding Andy Dalton and the likelihood backup AJ McCarron will be leading the Bengals in the postseason. No official announcement has been made regarding the starter, but bets are pouring in for this game regardless.

The Steelers snuck into the playoffs in week 17, dumping the Jets from the sixth seed spot with a win over the Browns and a Jets loss to the Bills. The Bengals, meanwhile, failed to clinch a first round bye despite defeating the Ravens at home in week 17 – they have Peyton Manning to thank for that as the veteran starter came off the bench to lead the Broncos in a come-from-behind win to take the AFC top seed.

By and large, the Steelers appear to be the popular NFL pick in this game across the board and we’re of a mind to agree. Several reasons are behind this NFL betting trend, from Big Ben and the Steelers offense which is one of the most formidable when it lights up – heck, they beat the Bengals 33-20 three weeks ago in Cincy so it’s not a stretch to imagine a similar result this time around – to the question marks that hang over Andy Dalton and whether he’ll be cleared to play on Saturday’s late start. Speaking of which, that brings up a whole other dilemma of primetime Andy Dalton and whether he’ll rear up his ugly head. To put it bluntly, he’s not very good, if you’re wondering. Oh, neither is playoff Andy Dalton either.

NFL Picks: Steelers -130 Pinnacle

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Seahawks vs. Vikings
Congratulations Vikings nation: you’re the NFC North champ! Whooopeee! Your reward –nothing to fret over at all – is only a date with the Seattle Seahawks, two-time running NFC Champions, 2014 Super Bowl champions and the 2015 Super Bowl runners-up. Oh, and preseason favorites to win the Super Bowl 50 as well.

To say this isn’t going to be a stroll in the park is an understatement. Why, just a few weeks ago the Seahawks laid the Vikings to waste in Minnesota 38-7. It’s not often results replicate themselves, the Vikings will be keen to put in a much better account this time around and they’ve shown good form down the stretch to suggest they could be more competitive this time around. However, consider it’s the playoffs and second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s first foray into the postseason against only the established standard in the NFL these past few seasons. NFL bettors simply must share in the realism of Minnesota’s limited chances here.  

NFL Picks: Seahawks -225 Pinnacle

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Packers vs. Redskins
The Packers may be NFC North losers but they must feel like winners in the postseason with a matchup against Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins in the wildcard round. Odds makers aren’t of similar mind because they’ve gone and priced the hosts as the favorites to win straight up. The advantage is rather minimal on the NFL odds board, rendering it a moot point in our books. Still, it leaves NFL bettors with the Packer trading at rather attractive NFL odds for the road win in the nation’s capital, which is a win-win for us.

So Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have struggled down the stretch while Kirk Cousins and Redskins have rounded out into form and go into the playoffs with momentum. Playoff experience is with the Packers and not the Redskins, and that counts surely. It's interesting to note that the public is on the Redskins in this game, a mass jumping off the bandwagon that has us rather surprised. We're fading the public here and taking the Packers on our NFL picks.

NFL Picks: Packers +104 Pinnacle

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