NFL Wild Card Weekend 2018 Sportsbook Odds, Picks
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, all four wildcard matchups have spreads set at least a touchdown. Presumably, bookies don’t believe the weekend will be as wild as the name suggests. Upon further inspection, we agree with that notion. Here’s our weekend betting guide, with odds courtesy of Bovada sportsbook!
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7)
Both these division foes enter with matching 11-5 records, but the caveat is the Saints swept the regular season series with 34-13 and 31-21 triumphs. This matchup will test the long-held belief that it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season.
A deep dive into the matchups reveal a number of keys to victory. For Carolina, they can’t beat themselves. It’s sound easy enough, but the Panthers committed six turnovers during both previous meetings. Takeaways has been the Saints’ secret ingredient all season long, as they rank ninth in the NFL with 25.
Expect a heavy dose of running from both teams. Carolina and New Orleans rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in total yards on the ground. The Saints deploy a thunder-and-lightning attack of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara — who became the first pair of teammates to top 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same season. The Panthers have a Kamara clone themselves in Christian McCaffrey, but were actually led in rushing by Cam Newton.
We expect New Orleans to run away from this one for one major reason: the friendly confines of the Super Dome. The Saints went 7-1 at home during the regular season — winning by an average margin of 13.9 points on their turf.
Pick: Saints (-7)
Over/under 48.5 points: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams
ATL avoided the dreaded Super Bowl hangover, but now trek to face a team firing on all cylinders in Los Angeles. The Rams have award front-runners across the board — Sean McVay for head coach of the year, Todd Gurley for MVP, and Jared Goff for most improved (if that was a real award).
One thing is for certain: expect points to fly off the board on Saturday night. The only way the Falcons are going to pull off the upset is if they score. Atlanta is a perfect 10-0 (all of their wins) when they score at least 20 points.
Offensive success for the Falcons will likely come via running the ball. The Rams are giving up 112.4 rush yards per game, which is fifth worst in the NFL. Both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman — both of whom average 4.0 yards per rush or more — should feast.
As for the Rams? They lead the league in scoring at 29.9 points per contest and should fare well inside a city that’ll host its first playoff football game in decades.
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9)
It’s honestly a miracle that the Bills ended their 17-year playoff drought. This team offloaded talent after talent in clear tank mode, benched their starting quarterback midseason, but still ended up in the postseason after a late-game collapse from the Ravens.
However, they’ll need another miracle to cover nine points against their former head coach Doug Marrone. Aside from maybe quarterback, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the clear advantage at each position — and by a longshot. Taylor, probably playing in his last game for the Bills, will have an uphill battle against the Jags high-flying defense. They ranked second in yards allowed (286.1), points (16.8), and sacks (3.44) per game.
While Taylor is the better thrower than Blake Bortles, Jags will likely keep the ball out of Bortles hand as much as possible in favor for Leonard Fournette, who tallied 1,040 yards rushing in 2017.
Pick: Jaguars (-9)
Over/under 44.5 points: Tenessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
There’s no question about it the Chiefs are a top-5 NFL offense. Rookie third-round pick Kareem Hunt won the rushing title and Alex Smith had the best quarterback rating in the NFL. Even with that, and playing at home, the total on this one is a modest 44.5.
That might be a testament to the Titans, who limped into the postseason after losing three of their last four. Marcus Mariota threw more interceptions than touchdowns this season, while running back DeMarco Murray disappointed fantasy football owners across the country.
The Chiefs offense — which has scored at least 26 points in five straight games — should be able to shoulder the burden of offense in this one.
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