Maybe you’ve already got your picks in for wild-card weekend, but by focusing only on point spreads, moneylines or fantasy, you’re robbing yourself of potential opportunities to make money on over/unders.
Regular-season record: 33-30-2
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT BUFFALO BILLS (52)
The Colts have averaged 30.8 points per game the last four weeks. Their defense is strong, but the Bills have scored 38-plus points in three consecutive outings, and neither D ranks better than 10th in points allowed.
There’s a chance Philip Rivers and/or Josh Allen struggle under the intense playoff spotlight, but that could lead to points via turnovers and shorter fields as both defenses have plenty of playmakers. This number isn’t low, but I’m still on the over.
LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (43)
These two combined for just 29 points when they met two weeks ago. The Rams have the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL, and the Seahawks have surrendered just 12.5 points per game the last four weeks.
That red-hot unit might also get to go up against a backup quarterback (or Jared Goff at less than 100 percent) and it’s not as though Russell Wilson has been lighting it up lately either. The last three meetings between these division rivals have contained 40 or fewer points, and that should again be the case Saturday.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (45.5)
I understand that there’s a fear that 43-year-old Tom Brady could struggle on slightly short rest against a fierce Washington defensive front, but it’s odd this total is nearly a handful of points south of the 50 plateau.
Tampa Bay has averaged 40.7 points per game the last three weeks and Washington is still usually good for at least 20 with Alex Smith at quarterback. That should be the case Saturday night, and Tampa’s defense can create points in the event that the WFT implodes. The over looks like a pretty safe bet here.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT TENNESSEE TITANS (55)
The two teams combined for 54 in their regular-season meeting but only 40 in last year’s playoffs. Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson remains a question mark in big games and Tennessee’s offense runs so heavily through running back Derrick Henry that it could result in a faster game that doesn’t contain enough quick scores to hit such a high number.
That said, both teams have been routinely hitting the 40 mark so often of late that you couldn’t be faulted for hitting the over and cheering for touchdowns. This is a tough call and an over/under I’d avoid, but I’m still siding with the under based on a lack of trust in Jackson and Ryan Tannehill in this spot.
CHICAGO BEARS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (48)
Some may have an inflated view of the Chicago offense based on a hot streak against weak competition in December, but the Saints have allowed 16 or fewer points in six of their last nine games and possess a top-five scoring defense.
No way I’m betting on a big game from Mitchell Trubisky in this situation, but the Saints also have a lot of offensive questions with Drew Brees easing back in and both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara up in the air. I don’t know if they’re hitting the 30 plateau against a talented defense so let’s hit the under.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (47.5)
I’d avoid this one just because we don’t know what to expect from the wild-card Browns in their first playoff experience since the Jurassic period. Baker Mayfield could light up a familiar and shorthanded defense, or a D that remains terrifying could light up Mayfield in a prime-time road playoff game.
Ultimately, it’s still hard to trust the Steelers offense based on how unreliable it was during the second half of the season. This total would likely be a fair bit lower if not for Pittsburgh’s big second half against the Colts in Week 16, but there’s a decent chance that was an aberration so I’ll lean toward the under.