2019 NFL Wild Card Weekend
After a wild, unpredictable and overall great National Football League regular season, the NFL playoffs are ready to go. Starting on Saturday with an AFC South divisional showdown, this weekend’s slate of games are filled with excitement and great betting opportunities. Check out our picks, since we have all the NFL scores from the regular season.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
After winning a huge “win and in” game against the Tennessee Titans, the Indianapolis Colts continue their season with another game against an AFC South rivalry. The Colts and Houston Texans split their two meetings this season, with the road team winning each game.
The difference maker in this game is the offensive line. Deshaun Watson was sacked over 60 times in 2018, the most any quarterback has been sacked in the last 12 years. The Colts have one of the top offences in the NFL this season, ranking second in passing touchdowns, third in number of plays run and fifth in scoring. The Texans will need to score by passing in this game. While Deshaun Watson is an excellent young quarterback, sacks and turnovers are more costly in the postseason. Bet on the Colts and Andrew Luck to control the game clock and tempo to win.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts (+120) to Win
Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys
After missing the postseason last year, the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys return to the playoffs. The Seahawks have entered a new era but look like they could make some noise in the postseason. While the Cowboys have a better defence, the Seahawks have the quarterback and coaching edge in this bout.
Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have been the most successful NFC quarterback-coach duo since 2012 (Wilson’s rookie season). They have eight playoff wins are second behind only Tom Brady during the same time. In addition, the two have never lost together in their first playoff game in the six years they made the postseason (Seattle did miss the playoffs in 2017).
Jason Garrett, in his eight-and-a-half years as the Cowboys’ head coach, has only one win, with his one win coming on a controversial no-catch call against the Detroit Lions in 2014.
This Dallas team has talent (especially on defence), but the Seahawks can match most of what the Cowboys can throw at them. In what should be a tight game, trusting Russell Wilson over Dak Prescott is the better betting decision.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks (+120) to Win
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Only two weeks after playing, the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers are set for a rematch on Sunday. While the Ravens won in Los Angeles, due to a mixture of stifling defence and a menacing ground attack, the Chargers are worth the points on Sunday.
The Ravens running game has been stellar since promoting Lamar Jackson. With him, in the last seven games, the Ravens have topped 159 rushing yards in every game, and gone over the 200-yard mark five times. This team has a similar feel to it as the 2012 Seattle Seahawks (Wilson’s rookie season). Both teams had a top scoring defence in the NFL and averaged over 150 rushing yards per game.
That Seahawks team won their first playoff game. Of course, that was against the Washington Redskins and an injured RGIII. Baltimore faces a much tougher test against the Los Angeles Chargers, who are arguably the most complete team in the AFC.
The Chargers have a top-eight offence and defence this season, and despite some hiccups in his last two games, an MVP candidate in quarterback Phillip Rivers. The return of Joey Bosa has helped the front-seven get to the quarterback more effectively, while also holding teams to 3.8 yards per rush or less in four of the last six games (compared to only three times in the first ten games)
What is holding us back on picking the Chargers straight up is the health of running back Melvin Gordon. The Chargers need Gordon to keep their offence balanced. When playing this year, Gordon has been one of the best running backs in the league. His health will be a question mark all week, so until his injury news is final, take the Chargers and the points on Sunday.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers +2.5 (-110)
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears
Wrapping up Wild Card weekend is a showdown between two of the NFL’s oldest franchises. The Chicago Bears return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, while the Philadelphia Eagles will try to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots in 2004-05.
The Bears are clear favourites in this game, with the defence and home-field advantage being the two most significant factors in the 5.5-point opening line on this game.
The Bears’ defence is an immovable wall at home, holding teams to only 67.1 rushing yards and 17.5 points. Their pass-rush is more effective in the confines of Soldier Field, with 28 sacks.
As great as the Eagles are (being the reigning Super Bowl champions and all), there are more question marks for this team entering the playoffs than last year. Their passing defence on the road is laughable, giving up over 300 yards per game. While the Bears are not a heavy passing attack, teams like the Cowboys and Titans had field days against the Eagles, even though they run more reserved offences like the Bears. Take the Bears and the points on Sunday.
Pick: Chicago Bears -5.5 (-110)
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