Contrarian Corner: NFL Wild Card Weekend Best Bets for Each Game

After last week's 5-0 BetSided picks, Todd Moser looks to go a perfect 6-0 with his side and total playoff selections.

Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce
Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce / David Eulitt/GettyImages

The 2023 NFL regular season is in the book, and it’s now time to move onto the playoffs. 

I’m happy to report my first BetSided picks went a perfect 5-0 last week, so congrats to all who tailed. 

We finished the year going 11-5 for the week and 147-125 overall to climb to just over 54%.  Our pick five contest finished 3-2 for the week and 51-39 overall (57%), but alas, no pool money was won.

When the playoff lines and totals came out, I immediately grabbed what I thought were some favorable sides.  The contrarian in me will always first look to the underdogs especially during this first week of the playoffs. 

Of the six games on the slate, I’m only playing one favorite.

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NFL Wild Card Weekend Playoff Picks

Browns vs. Texans Prediction

The first thing that caught my eye in this game was the total.  I cannot see these teams going up and down the field in a scoring fest. 45 points seems like a lot. 

If I had to pick a side, I’d take the underdog but I’m playing the total.

Jim Schwartz’s defense (Cleveland):

  • No. 1 in the league in fewest yards allowed.
  • First in passing yards allowed which is Houston’s strength.
  • The Browns were 13th in scoring defense.

The Texans’ defense:

  • Ranked 14th in yards allowed.
  • Sixth in rushing yards allowed.
  • 11th in scoring defense.

Pick: UNDER 45 (-110)

Dolphins vs. Chiefs Prediction

Miami is my home team who I’ve been covering all year. I went 10-7 ATS (59%) in their games including last week’s recommended play on Buffalo. 

This week is more of the same for the Dolphins. Too many injuries on defense and a sputtering offense against teams with winning records. 

Miami had all but sewed up the AFC East until Buffalo finally wrestled away the title last week.  The Fins finished up the season 2-3 and have zero momentum.  The Chiefs cruised to another AFC West title with little competition. 

But the defending Super Bowl champs haven’t exactly looked like their old selves this year.  They scored over 30 points in only three games; however, their defense has been stalwart.

The two teams played in Germany in Week 8 where Kansas City hung on for a 21-14 win. 

Miami was a lot healthier then and could still only score 14 points, all in the second half.  I don’t see much changing. 

The Fins are a miserable 1-5 vs. teams with winning records and winless against those teams on the road.  In what is supposed to be one of the coldest NFL games ever, I think the Fish get frozen solid.

Pick: 2-way parlay: CHIEFS -2.5 and UNDER 44 (+200)

Steelers vs. Bills Prediction

The line has come down to +10 for the underdog Steelers.  The under pickers can now forget it as the weather forecast has been digested, and the initial total has dropped by almost a touchdown.  So, we are passing on the total. 

As for the side, here’s my contrarian "makes no sense" thinking on this game.  Buffalo had an all-out emotional win at Miami to capture the AFC East. 

The Bills are now a heavy favorite against an unimposing Pittsburgh team who lost its best defender in TJ Watt and whose offense doesn’t scare anyone. 

I think the Bills will be flat thinking this is an easy win.

The Steelers came from out of the hunt at 7-7 to capturing a wild card berth at 10-7 thanks to the stumbling Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s some serious momentum. Sure, Buffalo has won five in a row and also came from the brink of elimination, but I think complacency will temper that momentum.

For the Steelers to cover, I think Josh Allen can out-turnover Mason Rudolph. 

If the Steelers lose the turnover battle, I fear there is little hope of a cover. 

Pick: STEELERS +10 (-110)

Packers vs. Cowboys Prediction

Similarly to the Houston-Cleveland matchup, the first thing that stood out for me in this game was the total. 

This game has the feel of a Texas shootout. Dallas at home this year?

  • Except for the Lions game, the Cowboys have scored at least 30 points in every home game.
  • They are number one in the league averaging 30 points a game overall. 
  • They are ranked third in passing yards.

Pick: Cowboys team total OVER 29.5 (-110)

Rams vs. Lions Prediction

This game has another shootout feel. In a unique match-up, Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff face their former teams. 

  • The Lions scored over 30 points in five of eight home games. 
  • The Stafford-led Rams scored over 30 in four of their last six games (Stafford sat last game).
  • The Lions were fifth in league scoring at 28 points per game.
  • The Rams were eighth in the league with a 24-point average.

Pick: Over 50.5 (-130)

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Prediction

The Philadelphia Eagles seem dead in the water, don’t they? 

From a high and mighty 10-1 record, they limped home 1-5 to finish up at 11-6 seemingly with no answers. 

In stark contrast, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won five of their last six to capture the NFC South title.  I definitely like the underdog Bucs to perhaps win this game outright, but once again, I’m playing the total.

  • In their last 10 games, the Bucs scored 27 points or more only once.
  • In their last six games, the Eagles failed to score 20 points four times.
  • Tampa’s defense ranks seventh in scoring defense averaging 19 points allowed.
  • Philly’s defense is a disastrous 30th in scoring defense; however, Tampa’s offense is only ranked 13th in scoring and 23rd in yards per game.

Pick: Under 45.5 (-135)

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.