Saturday NFL wildcard playoff picks, predictions and props
Six playoff games on NFL wildcard weekend present unprecedented betting options for the opening round of the postseason.
There is a little bit of everything on the table and nearly unlimited volume.
Field Level Media identified a few numbers of note entering the tournament with a breakdown of Saturday’s tripleheader:
Saturday, January 9
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at Buffalo Bills (13-3)
1:05 p.m. ET
Line: Bills -6.5 (-118)
Preview: Buffalo is one insane DeAndre Hopkins Hail Mary catch away from entering this game on a 10-game winning streak. Underrated? We think so. Of all the early lines released Sunday night, the Bills at home, with fans in the stands, was the eye-catcher.
Prediction: Bills 29, Colts 17
Player prop (via PointsBet): Colts RB Jonathan Taylor under 83.5 rushing yards, -115
Bills head coach Sean McDermott remains a major advocate of pressuring the quarterback, and the philosophy is prone to bringing the ball toward the Buffalo secondary. We like the Bills D/ST anytime TD bet a bit, too, for this same reason.
What’s this mean for Taylor?
If Colts quarterback Philip Rivers becomes flustered and Buffalo wins the takeaway battle, this game is over by halftime with a score that means Taylor’s time for running the ball has ended, too.
Los Angeles Rams (10-6) at Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
4:40 p.m. ET
Line: Seahawks -4
Preview: Jared Goff’s status could swing the line significantly, but the number is trending toward the Rams early in the week. It dropped again Tuesday, and the reason boils down to LA’s defense dominating the Seahawks. Russell Wilson was sacked 11 times and had two interceptions in two regular-season meetings. His 74.1 passer rating vs. LA was lower than against any other 2020 opponent. Even so, will the Rams be able to move the ball?
A rookie quarterback — John Wolford — playing at Seattle in the playoffs essentially hands the Seahawks the play script from Sean McVay’s mitts — run right, run left, run middle — and a slow start would be a very slippery slope for the Rams to navigate.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Rams 20
Player prop (via PointsBet): Russell Wilson anytime TD, +450.
There is nothing to save for next week, and that whatever-it-takes mentality will be evident in Wilson’s approach. Wilson has 25 touchdowns and two interceptions at home this season, but his history against All-Pro DT Aaron Donald indicates he could be on the move more than usual. Wilson had 69 rushing yards, averaged 6.3 yards per carry and one of his two rushing TDs against the Rams in 2020.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) at Washington Football Team (7-9)
8:15 p.m. ET
Line: Tampa Bay -8.5
Preview: Tom Brady has the Buccaneers back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and Saturday night will be his latest opportunity to beat an NFC East team in the postseason (he’s 0-3). At 43, Brady pilots a dangerous offense. He’s also a statue in the pocket with limited to zero mobility, which is leading some to speculate this could be the upset special of wildcard weekend. While the Washington Football Team defensive line is completely loaded, including rookie Chase Young, the secondary isn’t.
If Brady is willing to revert to the take-what’s-given approach early in the game, we like Tampa to roll by double digits.
If not … Ron Rivera was the head coach of the last seven-win playoff team, and his 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers upset the Arizona Cardinals. Rivera is 2-0 against Arians in the postseason. The Panthers also drubbed the Cardinals, 49-15, in the NFC championship game before losing Super Bowl 50 to the Broncos.
Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Washington 16
Player prop (via PointsBet): WFT WR Terry McLaurin over 75 receiving yards, -106
With Washington in comeback mode, McLaurin won’t be pressed at the line and a 5-100 type of line is entirely within reach.
–Field Level Media