Posted January 03, 2014

NFL wild-card weekend betting odds, lines and analysis

Between The Lines
(Al Behrman/AP)

Andy Dalton is still looking for his first playoff victory as the Bengals play hosts to the Chargers. (Al Behrman/AP)

The first round of the NFL playoffs is here. Time to place your bets.

Which games should you pick and which should you avoid? Joe Fortenbaugh and Tom Mantzouranis break down everything you need to know entering this weekend’s NFL action.

Best Bet

Joe Fortenbaugh: Bengals -7 vs. Chargers.  San Diego is a gritty football team with a first-year head coach in Mike McCoy who squeezed every ounce of talent imaginable out of a roster that was predicted back in August to come nowhere near the postseason.  But this is a bad matchup for the Bolts, who fell 17-10 at home to this same Cincinnati squad back on December 1.  The Bengals were the league’s best home team during the regular season, going 8-0 both straight-up and against the spread at Paul Brown Stadium while winning by an average of 17.6 points per game.  Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton is the big question mark as it relates to the Bengals’ Super Bowl chances, but you couldn’t ask for a better first-round matchup for the third-year quarterback than this one, as the Chargers rank 23rd in the NFL in total defense (366.5 yds/gm).  Be advised that this is an early start time for a San Diego team that will be making its fifth trip across the country this season.  In addition, note that the Bolts are just 1-5 ATS over their last six games on turf, while Cincinnati is 10-1 ATS over their last 11 games played on an artificial surface.

MORE COVERAGE: Playoff Power Rankings | Wild-Card Picks | More betting analysis 

Tom Mantzouranis: 49ers -2.5 at Packers. I clearly see this game differently from my esteemed colleague. While I understand the concerns about the weather (and it’s a little puzzling that the 49ers are admittedly practicing in 60-degree temps instead of trying to acclimate to the cold early), I don’t think it matters much because, even with the addition of Eddie Lacy, the 49ers are more of a cold-weather team, stylistically, than the Packers are. Not only do they have a running game that can equal the Packers’ and a defense that far surpasses Green Bay’s (and with Clay Matthews out, that becomes even more of a mismatch), but they have Anquan Boldin, who we learned last year knows how to play a little playoff football. He’s built for postseason play, and with the bitter cold and whipping winds at Lambeau, the 49ers will be better off having his reliable hands and ability to catch tough balls in the short range (as well as absorb the hits that come with those receptions). The 49ers like to play very physically, especially in January, and I can’t see the Packers withstanding that for 60 minutes. Oh, in two career starts against the Packers, Kaepernick has a passer rating or 112.5 and 203 rushing yards.

NFL Wild-Card Weekend Betting Odds

Matchup Date & Time Line Over/Under
Kansas City at Indianapolis 01/04 4:35 p.m. ET Indianapolis -1.5 46
New Orleans at Philadelphia 01/04 8:10 p.m. ET Philadelphia -2.5 53.5
San Diego at Cincinnati 01/05 1:05 p.m. ET Cincinnati -7 47
San Francisco at Green Bay 01/05 4:40 p.m. ET San Francisco -2.5 46.5

(Odds courtesy of COVERS.com)

Stay Away From

Fortenbaugh: 49ers -2.5 at Packers.  San Francisco is the better football team and has won and covered in each of their last three meetings against the Packers dating back to Week 1 of the 2012 season.  But I’m not interested in laying points on a northern California road team that will be headed into sub-zero temperatures to face one of the league’s premier quarterbacks.  I’m also not exactly champing at the bit to back a Clay Matthews-less Green Bay defense that has surrendered 26 or more points in nine of their last ten outings.

Mantzouranis: Eagles -2.5 vs. Saints. But, but, the Saints never win on the road, so this is an easy one, right? Eh. There are real concerns about New Orleans’ ability to play outside of the Superdome, but they’ve become a narrative with a life of its own. In reality, the Saints beat the Bears in Chicago this year, and played very good games on the road against the Patriots and Panthers, losing each on a last-minute touchdown drive. And despite the improvement of the Eagles’ defense, there are still matchup advantages for Drew Brees to exploit. Add that to Nick Foles’ first taste of postseason play, and this game’s a lot more of a toss-up than it appears.

Best Of The Rest

Fortenbaugh: Colts -1.5 vs. Chiefs. Kansas City dropped five of their final seven contests to close out the regular season and now heads to Indianapolis on Saturday for the team’s first dome game of the season.  The Colts are 13-3 straight-up and 12-4 ATS at home since drafting Andrew Luck back in 2012, with a 2013 Lucas Oil Stadium resume that includes victories over Super Bowl favorites Seattle and Denver.

Eagles -2.5 vs. Saints. Philadelphia’s Week 15 embarrassment at Minnesota re-focused an organization that was getting a bit too high off their own press clippings and paved the way for a 54-11 throttling of the Chicago Bears (Week 16) and 24-22 win-and-in victory at Dallas last Sunday.  The Eagles have now won seven of their last eight contests, while New Orleans is 1-4 ATS over their last five road playoff games and 0-6 ATS over their last six road outings overall.  Note that the Saints are -37 in point differential and -6 in turnover differential away from the Superdome this season.

Mantzouranis: Bengals -7 vs. Chargers. If you believe in the whole team of destiny thing, it’s hard to argue with all the good fortune that befell the Chargers last week, allowing them to make it to this game in the first place. But I don’t believe in destiny, and the truth is the Bengals have been dominant at home this year, having scored an average of 41.6 points in their last five games at Paul Brown.

Colts -1.5 vs. Chiefs. The Chiefs have not beaten a good team since downing the Eagles on 9/19. Since then, their wins have come against teams with a collective record of 33-79. I mean, you can only beat the teams the league schedules against you, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same result when the big boys show up. The Colts, meanwhile, seem to have righted the ship after a mid-season slump, and they’ve got wins over the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos — by any estimation, the three best teams in the league right now — as well as one over this very same Chiefs team just a few short weeks ago.

16 comments
Jack52
Jack52

I think the Colts have been playing their best ball in the past few games and the Chiefs having playing their worst. So I would favour the Colts by 2 tds in Indy. As for the rest Brees can never be counted out and the Eagles have also been at their best, Eagles -1. The cheese-heads will dominate the Niners if Rodgers plays and the opposite will occur without Rodgers. The Bengals are clearly the top of the AFC teams this week but Rivers has been known to get very hot. I'll go with Chargers and Rivers can help continue Manning's one and done record. The road to the Superbowl will go through Foxboro.

anon76
anon76

Not that I think the Chargers have even a 50% chance of winning, but I don't see that Cincinnati's 17.6 pt winning differential at home means that much.  A couple of weeks ago the Broncos were 7-0 at home with a 20.4 pt avg. margin of victory, and they had also beat the Chargers in convincing fashion at Qualcomm.  Didn't matter that much when they played the game- the Chargers O has a style of play that covers their defensive weakness.  The same blueprint also allowed the Chargers to manhandle the Colts back when the Colts were a stronger offensive and defensive team.


Don't let the week 17 performance fool you.  The Chargers are literally four 4th quarter plays away from being a 13-3 team, and they've already beaten better teams than the Bengals this year.

amberspear29
amberspear29

The niners by 10 and the chargers by 4 thats how I see it and betting on it..

manniefaces
manniefaces

@anon76Cincinnati is another team at home. 8-0 and look at who they beat and how. It matters. On the road they are a less than 50% shot but tomorrow they roll.

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

@Richard--Ramirez 3 TDs is not enough, might even be 4. Lambeau will be empty by the 3rd qtr except for the die hard 49ers fans rooting on their squad.

tbbully
tbbully

@Richard--Ramirez That is a very stupid comment...Niners will not come in to GB and beat the Pack...wont happen

riley8
riley8

@btcvsolo How have they been exposed?  Teams SHOULD play better at home.  The Saints lost 2 games on the road to quality teams that they should have won (Pats, Panthers).  If they win those 2 games they would be 13-3 with a 5-3 record on the road.  Exposed?  Brilliant analysis on your part.  

tbbully
tbbully

@UBERTAXTHERICH The only thing on the Whiners minds will be trying to figure out how to stay WARM...not play football...they are going to have it handed to them


anon76
anon76

The Broncos at home were a better team than the Bengals at home. You can see how that worked out for both of them.