The NFL regular season is behind us and now the path to Super Bowl LVII begins with all eyes on State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on the second Sunday in February. Over the next three weekends the NFL will whittle down from 14 playoff teams to two Super Bowl contestants.
The playoffs begin this weekend with six games, spread out over three days for Wild Card Weekend. Four of the six home teams are favorites this weekend, with the two Florida teams Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, as underdogs.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)
The first game of the weekend could be the biggest mismatch in the NFC. Seattle was the last team in, and they needed help as Detroit beat Green Bay in the last game of the regular season. Their reward is a trip to face NFC West rival, San Francisco, quite possibly the hottest team in the NFL.
The 49ers beat Seattle twice this season, 27-7 at home in Week 2 and 21-13 on the road in Week 15. San Francisco has won 10 in a row and despite a rookie third-string quarterback in Brock Purdy, they are thriving. A lights-out defense and multiple playmakers like Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle lead the Niners to a cover.
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars (+1)
The Jaguars are one of the two home underdogs, as they won the AFC South on Saturday with a late defensive touchdown. The Chargers have been up and down all season, mostly because of key injuries, but they have won four of their last five to make the playoffs.
Jacksonville has won five in a row, and they throttled the Chargers 38-10 on the road back in September. Don’t be surprised if Trevor Lawrence and his young crew pull off the upset and move on.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-9.5)
No offense to the Miami Dolphins, but they have no chance in this game. The atmosphere in Buffalo is going to be insane, the temperature is going to be in the low 20’s with snow possible, and if Damar Hamlin makes an appearance to inspire the Bills, this one will get out of hand early.
Buffalo could become America’s team this month. Look for a big cover against a team they split with in the regular season.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Another regular season rematch as the Giants head to Minnesota. The Vikings needed a last-second 61-yard field goal to beat New York on Dec. 17. The Giants put 445 yards on the Minnesota defense that has allowed at least 24 points in four of the last five games.
Minnesota is 11-0 in one-score games, but they have a horrible playoff history, even at home. Take the points with the visiting Giants.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5)
Another division rivalry with a third game of the season in the playoffs. The Ravens won at home in October 19-17, while the Bengals won at home last week 27-16 to clinch the division. Joe Burrow and company are ready to prove last year wasn’t a fluke, and their path back to the Super Bowl starts with a team they know very well.
Betting on this game all revolves around the health of Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson. If he is playing, the line will likely come down, and if not, the Bengals roll.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5)
Tampa Bay started the season with a win in Dallas, 19-3 as Dak Prescott was injured. The Cowboys are limping into the playoffs with a loss to Washington, and Prescott has thrown 15 interceptions on the season, despite missing five games.
When it all comes down to it are you betting against Tom Brady, at home, in the playoffs? No chance. Take the points and the Bucs against a Cowboys team that has plenty left to prove.
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