NFL Wild Card Lines and Betting Picks
NFL Week 17 has come and gone, leaving only 12 of 32 teams standing to bring in the New Year and the 2020 NFL playoffs. The season closed with fireworks on Sunday Night Football as the San Francisco 49ers were just an inch away from being a Wild Card team instead of the NFC’s top seed. That leaves the Seahawks starting the playoffs on the road in Philadelphia this weekend as one of two NFC Wild Card teams. The big story in the AFC was the Patriots losing the second seed as a result of an unlikely upset to the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins marched into Foxborough as 16-point underdogs and a 4-11 team. They walked out with their fifth win of the season, leaving Kansas City with a bye, and setting up a possible Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes AFC Championship if things go according to plan.
While Mahomes, Jackson, Jimmy Garoppolo and Aaron Rodgers rest, hungry Wild Card visitors like the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings lurk into enemy territory in hopes of knocking off two all-time greats, highlighting an exciting weekend of Wild Card betting ahead at US sportsbooks. Here’s an early look at all four of this weekend’s Wild Card Round lines and betting picks.
We’ll make these brief, but be sure to check back later in the week for in-depth Wild Card betting previews with updated injury reports, more against-the-spread and point total picks, plus our favorite player props for the 2019-20 Wild Card Round.
2020 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Round Lines
Use RotoGrinders’ NFL odds tool to look at NFL Wild Card Round betting lines across US sportsbooks.
- Bills at Texans -3, O/U 42.5
- Titans at Patriots -4.5, O/U 43.5
- Vikings at Saints -8, O/U 48
- Seahawks at Eagles +1.5, O/U 46
*All odds referenced herein are from FanDuel Sportsbook and accurate as of Monday afternoon.
2020 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Round Lines and Betting Picks
Bills at Texans -3, O/U 42.5
Both teams will have fresh legs after Week 16 gave them little to play for in the final week of the season. The main question here is what Texans team can we expect to show up? Is it the Texans that beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead and knocked down the Patriots in Houston? Or is it the Texans that were blown out by the Ravens 7-41 and lost at home by two touchdowns to the Broncos in Drew Lock ‘s second career start?
Similar questions surround the Buffalo Bills, who enter the playoffs with their best record since 1999. In fact, it’s only the second time Bills Mafia has made the playoffs in the last 20 years.
Among point differentials of AFC playoff teams, the Bills are next to last at +55. The Texans actually have a -7 point differential, which is reason for trepidation on behalf of NFL bettors.
Wild Card Betting Pick: Texans -3
Titans at Patriots -4.5 O/U 43.5
Might the Patriots dynasty indeed be coming to an end? It appears so, following an embarrassing Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. If you think that was flukey and that there’s little to be concerned about, think again.
The Patriots offense has had issues since the beginning of the season, and their mid-season trade for Mohammed Sanu hasn’t exactly alleviated any of their problems.
While the Patriots are stuck trying to figure things out, the Tennessee Titans seem to have put the pieces together. The Titans started the season a dismal 2-4 before benching Marcus Mariota. Since turning to Ryan Tannehill, the Titans are 7-3 and the former Dolphins quarterback leads the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating. Where is Brady? 19th (88.0).
Tannehill isn’t even the scariest part of the offense. Derrick Henry is running like a horse through defenses, leading the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards (102.7 per game) and 16 touchdowns on a league-high 303 carries. Helping keep defenses honest is rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown. Mounting a true Rookie of the Year campaign, Brown caught for over 1,000 yards on 84 targets. His 20.2 yards per reception is behind only Mike Williams ‘ 20.4. In fact, Brown is the only receiver in NFL history to have 1,000+ receiving yards on less than 94 targets.
Should I know better than to bet against Brady and Belichick in the playoffs by now? Probably so. That won’t stop me from fading the Patriots until either Brady is sitting on the couch or until I’m bust.
Wild Card Betting Pick: Titans +4.5
Vikings at Saints -8, O/U 48
This is one of the more challenging games to pick. Running back Dalvin Cook, the engine of the Vikings’ offense, has been stalled with a shoulder injury over the last few weeks. After losing to the Packers in Week 16, the Vikings were set in their Wild Card spot, letting them rest their workhorse for the second week in a row. If the Monday night matchup with the Packers showed anything, it’s that they’ll need him to keep up with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.
Minnesota only had seven touchdowns against the Packers in Minneapolis, showing signs of the stagnant offense that suited up in purple earlier in the season. Less concerning is their most recent loss to the Bears. As alluded to above, the Vikings sat their starters in preparation for the playoffs.
The expectation is that Cook will be ready to go on Saturday. Cook said as much addressing the media on Monday, so I don’t think there’s any real reason to sit back on this one if you’re leaning towards the Vikings.
Of course, the way the Saints have been playing, you may have no interest in the Vikings at all. I wouldn’t blame you.
The Saints have scored at least 34 points in six of their last seven games, and the Brees-Thomas connection is sure to light up the porous Vikings pass defense that is allowing 47.17% success on pass plays, per GridironIQ. Only three defenses allowed a higher success rate on passing plays in 2019, making Thomas an obvious DFS play.
The Vikings have their hands full, but this is a large spread. I’m predicting the Vikings to get a backdoor cover in the Superdome.
Wild Card Betting Pick: Vikings +8
Seahawks at Eagles +1.5, O/U 46
I was hoping these two would avoid playing each other in the Wild Card Round, as they’re the two teams I’m most bearish on. Both teams have had to deal with their fair share of injuries throughout the season. Their bad luck continued in Week 17.
The Eagles lost Miles Sanders before clinching the NFC East title on Sunday. Listing the NFL rookie rushing leader as day-to-day, the Eagles are hopeful that Sanders will be ready to go for the playoffs. Less hopeful are the Seattle Seahawks, who lost linebacker Mychal Kendricks against the 49ers Sunday night. Kendricks is believed to have torn his ACL, but will have an MRI to confirm. Regardless, it’s a massive loss for an already depleted Seattle squad.
Like the AFC matchup between the Bills and Texans, this game features the lowest point differentials among playoff teams in the conference. Remarkably, the Seahawks finished the season 11-5 despite only outscoring their opponents by a mere 7 points. The Eagles made the playoffs with +31 point differential thanks to playing in arguably the worst division in the NFL.
I’m hesitant to back a team as banged up as the Eagles, and there’s merit to waiting for more information on players like Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Zach Ertz. But for me, this pick boils down to coaching.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll routinely makes sub-optimal decisions, while Doug Pederson is sharper than most NFL coaches when it comes to game-planning, fourth-down attempts, and two-point conversions. Rather than exploit a porous secondary in Philadelphia, Carroll will stubbornly try to run it through one of the best run-stopping defenses in the NFL . Give me the points and the better coach.
Wild Card Betting Pick: Eagles +1.5
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images