NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions: Expect Lots of Upsets

The Raiders have a shot at upsetting the Bengals in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs.
The Raiders have a shot at upsetting the Bengals in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs. / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Wild Card Weekend is here, and now that there are six total games with the extended playoffs, you can all but guarantee that there will be a few upsets.

In fact, underdogs have historically done well on Wild Card Weekend. In fact, underdogs have covered the spread at a 55% rate (108-89-4) during the wild card round, dating back to 2003.

They've done especially well in recent years, and are even 10-12 straight up over the past five seasons.

So that begs the question, which underdogs will pull off the upset this time around? There are three that I'll be betting on to pull it off.

Let's dive into them, with all odds listed via WynnBET.

NFL Wild Card Weekend Upset Picks

  • Raiders +195 vs. Bengals
  • Eagles +300 vs. Buccaneers
  • 49ers +135 vs. Cowboys

Raiders +195 vs. Bengals

Despite their Week 11 result against the Bengals, I think the Raiders are being undervalued in this spot. The Raiders' defense, believe it or not, was a much stronger unit than the Bengals' this NFL season. Heading into the post season, the Raiders rank ninth in opponent yards per play, while the Bengals rank 21st.

The Raiders also rank sixth in opponent yards per pass attempt, allowing opponents to gain 6.3 yards per pass. That's going to prove to be key in slowing down Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati explosive offense. Meanwhile, the Bengals defense is 21st in opponent yards per pass attempt, allowing an average of 6.7.

The two offenses are comparable, ranking seventh and 10th in offensive yards per play. I think the difference maker in this game are the defenses, and the Raiders hold the significant advantage.

Eagles +300 vs. Buccaneers

The Eagles have quietly been one of the better teams in the second half of the NFL season, and I'm going to back them in this spot against the Buccaneers.

Philadelphia runs the ball on 51.16% of plays, which is the highest mark in the NFL. They also average 4.9 yards per carry, which is the fourth-highest mark in the league. They can find success on the ground against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks 15th in opponent yards per carry. The Bucs' have also allowed 4.9 yards per carry over the last three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Eagles defense matches up well with the Buccaneers offense. We all know that the Bucs are a pass-first offense, but the Eagles rank 10th in the NFL in opponent yards per pass attempt. Even more noteworthy, they're second in the league in opponent yards per completion.

49ers +130 vs. Cowboys

You may not believe it, but the San Francisco 49ers had the top offense in the NFL this season in terms of yards per play, gaining an average of 6.1. The Cowboys are close behind them, ranking third in that statistics averaging 6.0. The big difference between these two teams are their defenses.

The 49ers' defense is sixth in opponent yards per play, giving up an average of 5.1, while the Cowboys defense ranks 20th, giving up an average of 5.5. The most important aspect of this game is how effective the San Francisco rushing attack will be against the Dallas defense.

The 49ers run the ball on 47.71% of plays, which is the fourth highest mark in the league. Now they face a Dallas defense that ranks 23rd in opponent yards per carry, giving up an average of 4.5.

The Cowboys roster may be more flashy and sexy, but the playoffs are about being able to play hard-nosed, ugly football and the 49ers hold a significant advantage in that category.

I think San Francisco pulls off the upset in this spot.