And then there were 14 — as in playoff teams left standing in pursuit of a Super Bowl championship. Here's an in-depth look at the opening round of the 2022 playoffs through a betting lens. We've included free ATS betting picks for NFL wildcard round so read on if you want to beat the best Canada sportsbooks at their own game!
Against The Spread: Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
|Las Vegas spread (+6)||1.91||1.91|
|Cincinnati spread (-6)||1.91||1.91|
Somehow, someway Las Vegas made the playoffs. They survived countless off-field dramas and won the final four games to cash their ticket, but they're here. However, the run of luck stops on Saturday because the Bengals should cover the spread versus the Raiders.
And yes, while Las Vegas did show a lot of resiliency to get to this point, it's also been on the good side of luck. Here are the quarterbacks they faced down the stretch — Nick Mullens (fill-in for Baker Mayfield), Drew Lock (also a backup to Teddy Bridgewater), a sick Carson Wentz (COVID), and Justin Herbert. The only one worth a lick of the four is Herbert. The rest? A fluky streak.
We don't need to tell you, Joe Burrow is no fluke for Cincinnati. He delivered three straight wins to lock up the NFC North before resting in Week 18. In that three-game period, here's the second-year signal-callers stat line — 1,128 passing yards, 9 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Burrow, like Herbert just did, should slice-and-dice this so-so Raiders defence.
It's also worth noting these two teams met only two months ago. Also played in Cincinnati, the Bengals rolled to a 19-point victory in the November game, despite Burrow not eclipsing 150 passing yards. Burrow is playing with infinitely more confidence right now, which leads us to believe he should help lead his team to a similar one-sided outcome.
Against The Spread: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Philadelphia spread (+8.5)||1.91||1.91|
|Tampa Bay spread (-8.5)||1.91||1.91|
Oddsmakers have given this matchup the second-most lopsided NFL playoff betting line (only the Chiefs-Steelers is worse). While we're not ones to jump on near-double-digit spreads, we couldn't help ourselves with this one.
You see, the Eagles are pretenders, not contenders. Not unlike Las Vegas, Philly beat up a bunch of bad teams to "earn" this matchup against the defending NFL champions. Its lone win against an opponent with a winning record this year was the 9-8 Saints, which played third-string Trevor Siemian that game. That's it. Wins against the likes of Washington (twice), NY Giants, NY Jets, Detroit, Denver, Carolina, and Atlanta do nothing to convince us the Eagles can compete come Sunday's game.
This is also a rematch of a regular-season meeting. In October, Tampa waltzed to a 28-22 victory on the road. We say "waltzed" because the game was nowhere near as competitive as the final score suggests. The Bucs were up 28-7 in the middle of the third quarter before Jalen Hurts tacked on a couple of garbage-time touchdowns, which is his M.O.
Being as it's the playoffs and it's a home game, we expect Tampa to tighten up and play a complete 60-minute game. With the far better roster, that should equal a win by nine points or more, effectively covering the spread. Bet on the champs during its first Super Bowl title defence game in the postseason!
Over/Under 50 Points: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angels Rams
|Over 50 Points||1.91||1.91|
|Under 50 Points||1.91||1.91|
For the first time, there's an NFL playoff game on Monday night! In this Rams-Cards inter-division battle, we like the over/under bet more so than the spread or moneyline. The fact that the line is only at 50 points is interesting to us.
We say only because the two previous times these two rivals met this season, both games scored past that mark — 57 points in game one (won by Arizona) then 53 points in game two (won by LA). A novice bettor might see that and think, "oh, I need to follow the trend and hit the over." But no, that's the wrong mindset in this one.
In the playoffs, scoring usually goes down for two reasons — rosters are depleted at this point in the year (more so this year due to COVID outbreaks) and playoff football is more about running the ball and less about passing. A byproduct of that is more slugfests, which we expect playing out here. Give us the under cause we're hammering that one home!
How To Bet On NFL Playoffs?
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