Betting the NFL’s Prime Time Wild Card Matchups

Betting the NFL’s Prime Time Wild Card Matchups

The NFL decided to expand the Wild Card Round of the playoffs to six teams this season. This sets up a three-game schedule for both Saturday, Jan 9 and Sunday, Jan. 10.

This schedule includes a pair of prime-time matchups each night. Here are my top betting plays, breaking down all the stats, facts, and betting trend for each showdown.

NFL Wild Card Saturday Night Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team

The best US sportsbook has opened Tampa Bay as an 8 ½-point road favorite for Saturday night at FedEx Field. The total for this NFC clash is set at 45 ½ points.

Tampa Bay went 11-5 straight-up to earn the top wild card berth in the NFC in the regular season. Expectations have been running high all season long with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady under center.

One key injury concern for Saturday night’s game is Mike Evans as one of Brady’s top passing targets. He remains questionable with a knee injury.

The other concern is a Tampa Bay defense that was ranked 22nd in the league for points allowed (22.2) during the regular season. The Buccaneers compensated for this weakness by scoring an average of 30.8 points per game.

Washington won the NFC East Division title at 7-9 SU (8-7-1 against the spread) by winning five of its last seven games. The return of Alex Smith at quarterback provided the late-season boost to the offense.

I am not sure Tampa Bay can cover the 8 ½-point spread on the road. However, each of these teams should score enough points to take the total OVER 45 ½ points.

NFL Wild Card Sunday Night Football

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

The current spread at the best US Sportsbooks favors Pittsburgh by 4 ½-point at home. The betting line for the total is set at 46 ½ points.

The Browns were 10-point favorites for last Sunday’s home game against the Steelers.

They pulled out a 24-22 win with Pittsburgh resting most of its key starters. The prospect of winning this week’s instant rematch on the road is not all that positive. However, anything can happen in a bitter division rivalry.

The main concern with Pittsburgh is the sluggish play of veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the entire offense. After racing out to an 11-0 SU start, the Steelers have lost four of their last five games.

Big Ben sat out last week’s loss. However, his offense averaged just 16.3 PPG in the other three losses.

The first time these two teams met this season was on Oct. 18 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers rolled to a 38-7 victory as three-point favorites.

Pittsburgh has won seven of the last 10 meetings SU with one tie. It is 4-1 ATS in its last five games against the Browns. Despite these positive trends, current form is a more important measure in this game. Cleveland may not be able to win on the road SU this Saturday night. Yet, I am betting that the Browns will keep the game closer than 4 ½ points.

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Betting the NFL’s Prime Time Wild Card Matchups
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