Dan Favale | Thu 05/01/2017 - 10:50 EST

NFL Wild Card predictions

Who to back in the NFL wild card games

By Dan Favale

Pat yourself on the back, because you've made it. The NFL's Wild Card Weekend is finally here, and we've got your picks for all four of the scheduled games. Our lines come from the folks over at TopBet, and as per usual, they should be double-checked before you place your wager, as NFL game odds tend to move throughout the week. 

Houston Texans (-4) vs. Oakland Raiders (+4)

Over/Under: 36.5

As far as NFL playoff games go, this one may border on unwatchable.

The Oakland Raiders will be without star quarterback Derek Carr, who is done for the year as he recovers from surgery on a broken fibula. That doesn't bode well for a Raiders squad that is so obviously dependent upon their offense to win.

This is an even less ideal scenario when you consider how good the Houston Texans' defense has been. They wrapped the regular season 11th in points allowed per game, and should have no problem solving an offense that, despite housing a slew of playmakers outside quarterback, mustered only six points against a quality Denver Broncos defense in Week 17.

Fortunately for the Raiders, their offensive line is fantastic, and they have the ground game necessary to go tit-for-tat with the Texans' sorry offense. And Houston didn't exactly rack up victories by more than four points during the regular season.

Still, with home-field advantage and a quality defense squaring off against a contingent that's missing its most important player, it's tough to pick against the Texans here.

The Pick: Texans (-4), under

 

Seattle Seahawks (-8) vs. Detroit Lions (+8)

Lines

Over/Under: 43

Don't be so quick to write off the Detroit Lions in this one.

Yes, the Seattle Seahawks remain scary at home. But their offense finished the regular season ranking 18th in points scored per game. The Lions, meanwhile, were a strong 13th in points allowed per week.

Seattle's third-place defense will no doubt cause problems for Detroit's 20th-ranked offense, but that only means this game should be more slug fest than shootout. And that, in turn, doesn't favor a small spread.

Even if the game does become a shootout, if you had to pick one quarterback more likely to pop, it would be Matthew Stafford of the Lions, who isn't as banged up as the Seahawks' Russell Wilson.

The Pick: Detroit Lions (+8), under

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) vs. Miami Dolphins (+10)

Over/Under: 46

Most playoff games that don't involve the New England Patriots aren't typically pegged for blowouts. This matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins, though, is an exception.

The Dolphins ranked in the bottom half of the league in both offensive and defensive output during the regular season. They now travel to face a Steelers outfit that finished in the top 10 of production on both sides of the ball.

This game shouldn't be all that close. The Steelers should win it single-handedly. The only question is whether these two teams will combine for more than 46 points.

And because the Steelers have scored 24 or more points by themselves over each of the last eight weeks and are now facing a cruddy defense on their own turf, we're going to say the score will top 46.

The Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (-10), over

 

Green Bay Packers (-4.5) vs. New York Giants (+4.5)

Over/Under: 44.5

Giants

This is, by far, the best matchup of the weekend.

The New York Giants' defense, which ranked second in points allowed per game during the regular season, is being pitted against the Green Bay Packers' offense, which ended the year fourth in points scored per week. This is a game of strength on strength, meaning the winner will likely be the squad that overachieves on its weakest side of the ball.

And that compels us to ask: Are the Giants more likely to detonate on offense, or are the Packers more likely to lock down on defense?

It's tempting to roll with the Packers here, if only because they get to play at Lambeau Field. But their secondary is banged up, and it's bad. Green Bay closed the regular season 29th in passing touchdowns allowed and 31st in total yards allowed through the air.

The Giants' at times anemic offense, on the other hand, has a ton of playmakers. Eli Manning has traditionally been clutch during the postseason, and wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the three best receivers in the game.

Even if the Packers win, which still feels like the most likely outcome, this is one of those games that should come down to the final two minutes or so.

The Pick: New York Giants (+4.5), under

Results / FixturesNFL

Category : Sports Betting News

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