Road to 272 Bets - NFL Wild Card Picks for Every Game

BetSided's Iain MacMillan breaks down his best bet for every single game for Super Wild Card Weekend

Nov 5, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany, ;  Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) lines up against
Nov 5, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany, ; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) lines up against / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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The Road to 272 Bets is complete! There were 272 regular season games in the NFL this season and I bet on a side or total for all 272 of them. I finished the year with a record for 140-129-3 for +3.96 units. We didn't make a huge profit, but my favorite thing to say when it comes to sports betting is if you're not losing, you're winning.

So, the NFL regular season is over, but surprise! I'm back for the NFL Playoffs.

Throughout the postseason, I'm going to break down my best bet for every single game, just like I did in the regular season. So, let's not waste anymore time. Let's dive into my best bets for all six NFL games in the Wild Card Round.

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NFL Wild Card Weekend Best Bets for Every Game

Browns vs. Texans prediction

To me, the biggest story in this game and the deciding factor in backing the Texans is how the Browns have performed on the road this season. They aren't just slightly worse when playing the road, they're arguably just a bad football team on the road.

For example, their Net Yards per Play falls from +1.1 when playing at home down to -0.7 on the road, a difference of 1.8 Net Yards per Play. That's the biggest difference in home vs. away splits in that specific stat in the NFL.

If we dive into that any further, we see it's their defense, which is the best in the NFL, completely fall apart on the road. They go from allowing just 3.7 yards per play at home all the way to 5.5 yards per play on the road. That's a bottom 10 mark in the NFL in terms of opponent yards per play.

We should also note that as good as this defense has been, the Browns rank dead last in the NFL in Red Zone defense, allowing teams to score a touchdown on 71.43% of red zone trips against them.

Yes, the Browns beat up on the Texans on the road in Week 16, but we can throw that game out the window with CJ Stroud not being active for it.

This also may be an unpopular take but I'm not as high on Joe Flacco as other people are. Amongst all quarterbacks who took at least 200 snaps this season, Flacco ranks 26th in EPA + CPOE (completion percentage over expected). Let's also remember that despite throwing for plenty of yards and winning games, he has eight interceptions in five starts. That may come back to haunt him in the playoffs.

With all of those factors combined, I'll take the points with the Texans at home.

Pick: Texans +2.5 (+100)

Dolphins vs. Chiefs prediction

There is a lot of talk that the Chiefs are the obvious bet here due to the Dolphins being "frauds", but as the fraud expert, I disagree. Have they struggled to get wins against good teams this season? Absolutely, but I don't think they're being severely outplayed in those games.

If you want an example we don't have to look much further than the previous meeting between these two teams. The Chiefs beat the Dolphins in Germany earlier this season, but the Dolphins gained more yards per play in that matchup, 5.0 to 4.8. Unfortunately, for them, a special teams touchdown was the difference, which was the exact same difference maker in their Week 18 loss to the Bills.

Frauds are teams with good records and bad metrics. Frauds are NOT teams with great metrics that lose close games due to a play or two going against them.

Everyone likes to talk about the Dolphins' dynamic passing attack, and for good reason, but not enough people recognize how good they are at running the football. They lead the NFL in yards per carry (5.1) and rank fifth in both Rush EPA and Rush Success Rate. They gained a blistering 5.6 yards per carry against the Chiefs in their regular season meeting.

That could be the key to success for them this weekend. As good as the Chiefs' defense is, they struggle to stop the run. They're 24th in opponent yards per carry (4.5), 28th in opponent Rush EPA, and 17th in opponent rush success rate.

I don't care the weather is supposed to be cold in Kansas City on Saturday night, that's already been baked into the line. There's one side that has better metrics, an arguable stylistic advantage, and also getting more than a field goal worth of points. Give me that side 10 times out of 10.

Pick: Dolphins +3.5 (-110)

Steelers vs. Bills prediction

Don't be blinded by the few impressive wins the Steelers had down the stretch. Let's remember who they beat in these games. They took down two of the worst defensive teams in the NFL in the Bengals and Seahawks and then beat a Ravens team that was resting a good portion of their starters.

Let's look at this Steelers team as a whole. They enter the postseason ranking last amongst all playoff teams in Net Yards per Play, ranking 26th in the NFL. Only the Cardinals, Bengals, Broncos, Panthers, Commanders, and Giants rank worse.

They will also be missing their biggest difference maker on defense, T.J. Watt, who might be the most impactful defensive player in the league.

They also have been the luckiest team in the NFL, if you believe in those metrics.

Now, they take on a Bills team who has been one of the hottest teams in the NFL in the second half of the season. Their defense, which was horrible to start the year, ranks fifth amongst all teams in opponent EPA dating back to Week 10.

Congratulations to the Steelers for making the playoffs, but they're completely outmatched in this spot and they're in for a rude awakening on Sunday afternoon.

Pick: Bills -10 (-105)

Packers vs. Cowboys prediction

In my opinion, this is the toughest game to handicap. The Cowboys are set as 7.5-point favorites which is exactly where the spread should be set and I don't see value betting on either side. That's why I'm looking to the total instead and I'm going to bet the OVER in this NFC showdown.

The weakness for both sides are their defenses. The Packers are 20th in opponent yards per play (5.4), 23rd in opponent EPA per play, and 26th in opponent success rate. They've been even worse in the second half of the season, ranking 25th in opponent EPA and 27th in opponent success rate since Week 10.

The Cowboys, while certainly having a better defense than the Packers, aren't as good on that side of the ball as you might think. They're 22nd in the NFL in opponent success rate which means if you take away their big impact plays, like defensive touchdowns, they may have some underlying issues.

We all know how good the Cowboys offense is, you don't need me to list all the metrics in which they rank in the top five in the NFL. What you might not know is how good the Packers offense has been.

At the end of the regular season, the Packers rank fifth in the league in EPA per Play with only the 49ers, Cowboys, Bills, and Dolphins ranking higher. They're also eighth in yards per play (5.6) and success rate.

So, we have two top 10, arguably top 5, offenses going to war in the Wild Card Round. Let's sit back and root for points.

Pick: OVER 50.5 (-110)

Rams vs. Lions prediction

Nothing would be more "Lions" then hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1993 only to have your old quarterback, Matt Stafford, come back to Detroit to beat you and break the hearts of every fan in Detroit.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what I think is going to happen. The Lions are stumbling into the playoffs, having a Net Yards per Play of -0.7 in their last three games. Their defense has also been bad all year. Entering the postseason, they rank 26th in opponent yards per play, which is the worst mark amongst all playoff teams.

More importantly, their secondary has been horrific. They're 30th in opponent yards per pass attempt and 25th in both opponent dropback EPA and opponent dropback success rate. That's bad news considering they now need to face a Rams air attack that features Stafford, Cooper Kupper, and Puka Nacua.

Let's also give some major props to the Rams for being the hottest team in the NFL since their BYE Week. They're 7-1 since Week 11 and in that stretch they've ranked fourth in EPA per Play, fifth in success rate, 17th in opponent EPA per play, and 10th in opponent success rate.

If there is one wild card team that we could all see going on a run to the Super Bowl, it has to be the Rams, who their only loss during this hot streak was an overtime loss to arguably the best team in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens.

The Lions have a lot of things going well for them and winning the NFC North was huge step in the right direction for them, but they're about to face a red-hot team that is a stylistic nightmare for their defense.

Keep your points, I'll take the Rams to win outright.

Pick: Rams +155

Eagles vs. Buccaneers prediction

There's no question the Eagles are the more talented team in this matchup and even with stumbling down the stretch, they largely have better metrics than the Buccaneers. At the same time, it's hard to look past this complete implosion by them and it's hard to imagine what their locker room culture is like after this horrific stretch of play.

So, instead of backing a side, I'm going to take the OVER because the one thing I do know about this matchup is that both offenses are far better than their defenses.

The Eagles defense has been the biggest cause for their issues. They have fallen all the way down to 29th in opponent EPA per Play with only the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Commanders ranking worse. Most notably, it's been their secondary that has been especially bad, allowing teams to throw the ball all over the field against them.

That should bode well for the Buccaneers offense, as 71.64% of their offensive yards gained this season has come through the air, the fourth highest mark in the NFL.

Despite their woes, the Eagles offense can still be explosive and they have enough talent to overwhelm the Buccaneers' defense, which has been average at best this season. In their previous meeting, the Eagles gained a blistering 6.1 yards per play against them. If they can do the same on Monday night, I have no doubt they'll put points on the board.

I'm going to fade both defenses in this game and root for points in the final game of Super Wild Card Weekend.

Pick: OVER 44 (-105)


Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

You can check out all of Iain's bets here!