This is it! Finally, the NFL Playoffs are here and after all the crazy results that took place during Week 18, we can only hope that Super Wild Card Weekend is just as good.
Unfortunately for our handicapping adventures, crazy results often mean unexpected outcomes and hence our first 0-3 run (8-7 ATS season) last Saturday and Sunday, so let’s get into the NFL odds to put that slump behind us!
This time around we’ll go ahead and deliver a pick for all three days of this round, as we’ll be treated to one last Monday Night Football extravaganza for the season.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday, January 15, 2022 – 04:30 PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium
The Raiders come into this matchup with a 6-2 record ATS in their last eight games as a road underdog, most notably delivering an upset to the Colts, back in Week 17, despite the eight-point chalk.
The line for this game came out just a few hours after Vegas managed to secure a playoff spot after beating the Chargers in a thriller of a game that went into OT, late Sunday night.
The oddsmakers set the Bengals as a -6 to -6.5 favorite and that lasted about a day after the initial action came heavy on the Raiders dropping it to the current -5 spread.
Now, you might be asking yourself, why would anyone back the Raiders against the Bengals, especially after losing to them 32-13 in Week 11, at home?
Well, that is a valid question if you only look at the final score but if you were to check the tape, the first thing you would notice is that with less than 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, the Bengals only led by three. Then Cincy capitalized on a Derek Carr interception.
What's even more interesting is the fact that the only reason why the game, up to that point, was so close was that the Bengals kicker, rookie Evan McPherson, scored three 50+ yard field goals prior to the Raiders making it a one-possession game early in the 4th quarter.
Fast-forward almost two months and now Las Vegas heads to Cincinnati riding a four-game winning streak thanks to their defense and the truth of the matter is that this is another favorable matchup for that unit.
Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are the main reason why the Raiders is the team that blitz the fewest (12%), this season. They should be able to generate enough pressure against a very bad offensive line that seems to hate compact schemes and probably the reason why Joe Burrow is one of the most sacked QB's in the league.
Having said all that, my suggestion is to take the under 49. I do agree with my colleague Scott Kacsmar as I believe that this game will be a close one and the Raiders have a good chance of covering, which bodes well for our play.
Both teams have a great defensive unit, and while it is true that Burrow loves to spread out the offense, he might not be too comfortable in the pocket against this front seven.
On the other hand, I don't like the Raiders to score a lot of points. They will move the ball on this Bengals team, especially if they attack the middle of the field with Darren Waller, who should be back healthy for this game...I just don't know if they'll be able to get into the red zone as much.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, January 16, 2022 – 04:30 PM EST at AT&T Stadium
Jimmy Garoppolo struggles with turnovers and having a torn ligament in the thumb of your throwing hand can't be helpful against a Cowboys defense that leads the league in takeaways.
Yet Garoppolo managed to throw for over 300 yards in 23 completions out of 32 attempts against the Rams defense last week and delivered a comeback victory after trailing 17-0.
Am I setting my hopes on the Niners' QB for this one? Not at all, but if I tell you that Garoppolo managed that feat without Trent Williams (only the best LT in the business), it does sound more impressive. What's even better, Williams might be back in the O-line for this game.
Still, we don't know if he'll play or not, or whether Jimmy G will turn the ball over or be able to play a mistake-free game. What we do know is that this 49ers offense stacks well against this defense.
If San Fran is able to establish the run and play with a lead, Dallas could be in trouble as they can't defend the ground attack very well. On the other side of the ball, the Niners pass rush is one of the best in the NFL while the Cowboys' O-line has been rather inconsistent.
So, am I taking the Niners? Not really. I do think they have a better coach in Kyle Shanahan, as Mike McCarthy has proven time and time again his ineptitude. Also, road teams are 15-3 ATS in the Wild Card Weekend during the last four seasons.
Despite that, I feel the Cowboys have the better talent all around and I feel like the most likely scenario is Dallas winning by three, so I'm going with the under, again.
I agree with my colleague, Rainman, who expects San Francisco to run the ball to keep Dak Prescott and Co. off the field, resulting in a lower-scoring game than expected.
NFL Pick: Under 51 (-110) at Bovada
Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
Monday, January 17, 2022, 08:15 PM EST at SoFi Stadium
Recent (and not so recent) bias has the public thinking of these two teams as exciting, explosive, offensive squads. That was true, once upon, but recently both of them are suffering from inconsistent play from their QB's.
Lately, Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford have played under par which is why I think these two offenses are overvalued...and if you're thinking that I'm looking at another total going under, well, you are correct!
Last week I got cooked on the under between the 49ers and the Rams but that was thanks to a late pick from our buddy Stafford, late in the fourth quarter.
That, plus another six picks in the two weeks prior to last Sunday, will force Sean McVay to steer towards the same offense he used to run with Jared Goff in town. And that's without taking into account the conservative approach he tends to take in playoff matchups.
On the other hand, the Cardinals attack has been less effective since losing WR DeAndre Hopkins a couple of weeks ago. This has forced Murray to depend more on his playmaking abilities with his legs rather than his arm.
The problem for Arizona is that if the Rams are able to force him to play in the pocket, the Cardinals could be toast. Just like Seattle did to them last week.
Another player who's been missing for the Red Birds is J.J. Watt who could be back for this game after suffering an injury at the start of the season. This would only help our cause with the under here for our last NFL pick.
Also, take into consideration that these two teams are playing for the third time this season and the last time they met (Week 14) the total barely went over, thanks to a late score in garbage time.
Besides that, remind yourself that this is the NFL Playoffs. It's a "win or go home" scenario, so expect a more conservative approach from every team in every sense. Maybe that is why the under is 26-11-1 during the Wild Card round in the past nine seasons!
NFL Pick: Under 49.5 (-110) at Bovada
- Jobu's Record: 3-2
The Guru was not pleased with the way that Chargers head coach Brandon Staley literally lost the game for his team after Justin Herbert went 6-6 on fourth downs and threw for over 100 yards in those attempts to send the game into OT and give Jobu hopes of a backdoor cover.
This week, the Guru is backing his old friend, Bill Belichick, as it will be cold in Buffalo this Saturday, and hopefully very windy.
NFL Pick: Patriots +4 (-110) at Bovada
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.