For the first time since 1970, NFL Wild Card Weekend Features rematches in all six games. From Tom Brady and the Bucks renew their acquaintance in Tampa against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to tag team rivals Cincinnati and Baltimore meet in Queen CityEach of the six wild card matches is full of history and afterstories, and the team in NBC Sports Edge Have you set Wild Card Weekend picks and predictions heading into the upcoming event.
As sports bettors zoom in on each game and look for advantages they can take advantage of in the betting window they need to identify and eliminate stale stats. For example, a team’s record in the regular season proved to matter little in the opening round of the postseason. Over the past 14 seasons, the teams that have played one more game in the regular season have been 25-26 SU and 21-29-1 ATS with teams sharing the same record on nine occasions.
Related: 2023 NFL Wild Card Weekend schedule
Most people agree that coaches and players are important. First-time playoff coaches have been far more successful than rookie signal callers. In the past four years, starting coaches have gone 8-3 SU and ATS (72.7%) when facing a more experienced coach. Since 2004, first-year quarterbacks in their first playoff game have performed poorly, going 17-40 SU and 17-39-1 ATS (30.4%) when facing an opposing signal caller with a playoff experience.
Take and do whatever you want with these stats. Know that NBC Sports’ NFL team has crunched past those numbers to find their favorite plays for every game this weekend in everything from sides and totals to player props. The group includes Jay Croucher (JD) and von Dalziel (@tweet), and Lawrence Jackson (@LordDontLose). Tail (or fade) as you see fit.
Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers -9.5 (Over/Under 43)
Note: 49ers rating 4y All time with 32 playoff wins compiled over 27 years of playoff appearances – 26 in the NFL and one in the AAFC.
Crusher: DK Metcalf under 61.5 yards
Metcalfe had 55 and 35 receiving yards in his two games against the Niners in the regular season. In the latter game, Metcalf was covered by Charvarius Ward, the Niners’ strongest cornerback. Expect Ward to get the Metcalf job again and the Seahawks to target Tyler Lockett more often, who will be covered by the weaker Decommore Lenoir.
Dalziel: Seahawks +10
During the entire history of the NFL, only 14 times have teams defeated the same opponent three times in a single season. The 49ers will try to do exactly that against the Seahawks here.
Seattle scored just 7 and 13 points in two games against San Francisco, but neither situation was an ideal time to shore up the Seahawks. The Seahawks faced the 49ers in Week 2 after a one-point victory over Russell Wilson and the Broncos on Monday Night Football. The second meeting came after the loss on Sunday in Week 14 before the 49ers played Thursday Night Football (a shortened week) in Week 15. The Seahawks would be better prepared this time and rookie quarterbacks (such as Brock Purdy) would often struggle in the early game. The first, as mentioned earlier.
Related: What to know about Super Bowl 2023: Date, location, halftime performance info, and more
Jackson: Kenneth Walker 16.5+ rushing attempts (-105)
Kenneth Walker’s 16.5 o/u (-105) on rush attempts might be a trap, but I’m taking the bait. He averaged 26 catches in his last three games as the Seahawks made a concerted effort to run the ball to take some pressure off Geno Smith. Interestingly, the last time Walker had under 16.5 carries (12) was against the 49ers in Week 15. The Seahawks were 9.5-point dogs, but even in the two-point loss against the Chiefs in Week 16, Walker had 26 carries.
Note: This is the only Wild Card game in 2023 between two 4,000-yard passers in Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert.
Crusher: Austin Eckler over 36.5 yards
No team allows more receiving yards to run in than the Jags. Jags rush defense has been stellar this season (6y best in Rush EPA allowed) and their pass defense was horrible. Expect the Chargers to target Ekeler on the passing game. In the first meeting between these two teams, Ekeler was targeted 8 times for 48 yards.
Dalziel: Justin Herbert 37.5+ pass attempts (-120)
Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert are both making their career debuts. I trust Herbert a lot more in this niche, and given Herbert’s resume in NBC Sports Primetime games, I love the chances he lights up in his first playoff game.
Herbert is second in the NFL with 4,739 rushing yards and 279 or more rushing yards in nine of 17 games this season and 37 or more pass attempts in 11 games. I expect a lot of passes from Herbert, so he returns passes at 37.5. I tend to over 280.5 yards.
Jackson: Travis Etienne OVER 76.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
Etienne has averaged over 77 rushing yards over the last four games, including 17 against the Elite Titans defense. The Chargers have given up 100 or more rushing yards to three of the last four running backs they have faced. Zack Moss couldn’t do it because Nick Foles was too busy giving the Chargers the ball. Run this Chargers team until proven otherwise.
Related: How to watch LA Chargers vs Jacksonville Jaguars: TV/Live info for Saturday’s NFL Wild Card game
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills -9.5 (Over/Under 46.5)
Note: Buffalo has won 10 of their last 11 games at Orchard Park against Miami. Watch this spread. If it doubles, remember this: In the last 13 games featuring a difference of 10 or more points, the underdog won only once.
Crusher: James Cook over 36.5 rushing yards
Over the past two weeks, Buffalo’s running game has leaned more on James Cook, with Cook outpacing Devin Singletary. 36.5 is pretty low for a potential RB1 on the 13-point favorite.
Dalzell: Game overall under 43.5 (-110)
Tua Tagovailoa is out for this game and now the margin has gone from -9.5 to -13.5 in Buffalo’s favour. With Skyler Thompson at quarterback, plus Tyrek Hill and Jaylen Waddell dealing with injuries, I don’t see Miami scoring more than two goals here, so I’ll run the game under.
Jackson: Josh Allen under 33.5 passing attempts (-105)
In two games against the Dolphins this season, Josh Allen has attempted 103 passes. With the Bills being the 13.5 favorite it doesn’t look like he’ll ever need to do it again which is why I like him to pass under 33.5 pass attempts. Injuries have devastated the Dolphins, the biggest being Tua Tagovailoa, who won’t be there to trade shots with Allen.
Related: RotoPat classifies the postseason field
New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings -3 (Over/Under 48.5)
Note: The Vikings led the NFL in 4y Scored a quarter this season and averaged 9.9 points in the Final 15. The Giants are ranked 5thy An average of 7.4 points in 4y every week.
Crusher: The Game has an overall score of less than 48.0
Star Vikings tackle Brian O’Neill, starting center Garrett Bradbury is swinging and the Vikings run has been horrible lately. The Giants defense is the healthiest all season, with Adoree Jackson heading in the right direction for running backs, and suddenly the defensive line is a serious force, with Kayvon Thibodeaux 100% integrated along with Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and Azeez Ojulari. Everything indicates that the scoring game is lower than the previous one.
Dalziel: Minnesota Vikings -3 (-110)
This seems like one of the more challenging games to beat on the list, but given that the Giants are 2-5-1 in ML in their last eight games and they’re clearly not playing their best brand of soccer and deserve to fade away.
New York is 1-4 in ML in their last five road games, beating only Washington. As a favorite, Minnesota has gone 12-0 in ML this season compared to 1-4 as an underdog. I would take the Vikings as a favorite and return for the most dynamic offense at home in the Dome.
Related: Dalzell Dish – Super Wild Card Bets and Props
Jackson: Daniel Jones over 241.5 yards (-120)
Daniel Jones’ passing yardage record is set at 241.5 (-120) and I’m looking for him to surpass that. Sure, he’s thrown for less than 200 yards in three of his last four games, but you know which one of those games he’s been in? Against the Vikings, where Jones threw for 334 yards. Furthermore, the Vikings are giving up 29.6 points per game in their last five contests. While most of them ride Danny Dimes’ rushing gear, think differently.
Note: Joe Borough has aged 19-4 ATS in his last 23 games.
crusher: Samaje Perine over 16.5 rushing yards
Perine has surpassed that mark in 7 of his past 8 games, though Joe Mixon wasn’t around for 2 of those games. Perrin squealed over the line in both games against the Ravens (17 and 18 yards rushing). Cincinnati couldn’t run the ball at all against Baltimore last week (the run wasn’t more than 8 yards, 2.8 yards per carry overall), so look for them to use Perine more than expected as a change of pace.
Dalzell: Game overall under 41.5 (-110)
Lamar Jackson’s standing in this game makes a huge difference, and if he gets out, everyone’s on the Bengals, and rightfully so. Even if Jackson does play, there must be a major rust factor for a quarterback who hasn’t played in over a month. Take the Bengals if Jackson is out, or take Under if he’s in.
Jackson: Ja’Marr Chase 77.5+ receiving yards (-115)
Ja’Marr Chase Simply Balls Against Crows. I take the lead at 77.5 (-115) yards. Chase averages 115.5 yards receiving per game in his career against the Ravens. Even if you subtract his 201 rushing yards as a junior, he still averaged 87 yards in meetings against the Ravens.
Related: How to watch the Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals game: TV/Live info for Sunday’s NFL game
Dallas Cowboys -2.5 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Over/Under 45.5)
- Kickoff: Jan. 16 at 8:15 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN)
- Location: Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Florida
- Dallas Game History: 35-29 (8 Super Bowls – 5 wins)
- Tampa Bay Game Date: 11-10 (2 Super Bowl appearances – 2 wins)
- Series History: Dallas and Tampa Bay have met 21 times, including two playoff games. The Cowboys have won 15 of their 21 games including the playoff games. However, the Bucs have defeated Dallas in the season opener in each of the past two seasons.
Note: Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is a perfect 7-0 in his career against the Dallas Cowboys averaging 277.9 yards with 15 total TDs and 5 INTs.
Crusher: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2.5
Dallas’ pass defense has collapsed. Over the past five weeks, the Cowboys defense has been ranked 29thy In Dropback EPA. The Cowboys made Gardner Mincio look like Patrick Mahomes, and then the next week Mincio could do nothing against the Saints through the air. Against the Panthers, the Bucs showed they still had the cap to exploit and dominate a struggling secondary. Combine Dallas’ pass defense with Dak Prescott’s recent obsession with turnarounds and how intimidating he’s looked against the Chiefs, and it looks like the wrong team is favored in this game.
Dalziel: Pirate +3
Tom Brady and Bucks get the best possible draw as they take on the Cowboys. Brady teams are 7-0 all-time vs. Dallas, including a win in Week 1 this season. We have yet to witness Tampa Bay’s peak or play its best ball this year, while Dallas plays mediocre football now. Their last three games included losses to the Chiefs last week, a narrow win against Philly and a backup quarterback in Week 16 and an overtime loss to Jacksonville the week before. Nothing would be surprising about the Bucs winning this game outright.
Jackson: Buccaneers ML (+120)
Tom Brady is in the playoffs and there’s no one you can trust more in the postseason, even at 45. Taking the Buccaneers straight seems like a trap, but the Cowboys’ recent struggles are hard to ignore. Bok’s attack has been back on track in recent weeks and they are healthier on both sides of the ball than they have been in weeks.
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