The final three games on NFL wild-card weekend present unprecedented betting options for the opening round of the postseason.
Field Level Media identified a few numbers of note entering the tournament with a breakdown of Sunday’s tripleheader:
Sunday, January 10
Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at Tennessee Titans (11-5)
1:05 p.m. ET
Line: Ravens -3
Preview: The Ravens are rolling with five wins in a row, fully rebounded from a 30-24 overtime loss to the Titans in November. Tennessee handled Baltimore easily last January, ending Baltimore’s bid for a Super Bowl run behind league MVP Lamar Jackson.
The Titans aren’t perfect, but home underdogs? What might contribute to oddsmakers’ thinking is the short circuiting of Tennessee’s defense the past two weeks.
While Derrick Henry rolled to 250 rushing yards last week, Tennessee was scorched for 38 points by the Texans one week after the Packers slapped 40 on the Titans.
Enter the Ravens, who have scored 34 points or more in four of the past five games.
Prediction: Titans 29, Ravens 27
Player prop: Ravens TE Mark Andrews anytime TD, -140
Andrews is the dependable red-zone target for Jackson and had 7-96-1 against the Titans in the Nov. 22 game.
Chicago Bears (8-8) at New Orleans Saints (12-4)
4:40 p.m. ET
Line: Saints -9.5
Preview: Chicago stumbled into the playoffs, reaching the wild-card round after a Week 17 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Bears pushed the Saints to overtime in a home game last month and have a defense capable of putting a scare in the Saints.
The Saints are hopeful they’ll be at full strength with RB Alvin Kamara (COVID-19) and WR Michael Thomas (ankle) likely to be available Sunday.
As the No. 2 seed, New Orleans is the clear favorite. But the Saints have also thrown out enough clunkers (vs. Eagles, Raiders) to indicate this won’t be a Sunday stroll.
Prediction: Saints 30, Bears 23
Player prop: Saints QB Drew Brees over 280.5 passing yards
Sean Payton doesn’t get enough credit for his commitment to the ground game. Playoff losses, including the wild-card loss to the Minnesota Vikings last January, leave his scripts open to question. Brees knows this Bears’ defense well, including completing 75 percent of his passes with two touchdowns in the Nov. 1 overtime win.
Cleveland Browns (11-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
8:15 p.m. ET
Line: Steelers -6
Preview: Two massive losses for the Browns, head coach Kevin Stefanski and guard Joel Bitonio, hit before midweek due to COVID-19. They’ll be felt early and often.
Bitonio has one of the best pass-blocking win rates in the NFL this season, and that’s massive facing the Steelers’ 3-4 defense. Stefanski won’t be in the building Sunday night, and the impact on continuity of the offense and QB Baker Mayfield is profound.
Are the Steelers flawless? Nowhere near. They are rested, and relatively healthy, and at home in a matchup Ben Roethlisberger has won repeatedly.
Prediction: Steelers 29, Browns 20
Player prop: Nick Chubb over 70.5 rushing yards
Sidelined by a knee injury for the first meeting, Chubb averaged 7.7 yards per carry against the Steelers last week and hasn’t topped 20 carries since Nov. 22. Chubb is likely to get the ball early and often.
–Field Level Media