The Prop Masters: NFL Super Wild Card Weekend
The NFL playoffs have arrived.
After a successful regular season, The TSN EDGE staff is back with its best bets column for NFL Super Wild Card Weekend.
As is the case with the actual league, we are expanding our playoff field with an additional two picks for you to consider.
With so many eyes on so few games, it’s that much more difficult to find value that hasn’t already been scooped up by now.
However, we went to work hoping that, just like during the regular season, we can provide our readers with an edge.
Here are some of our best bets for NFL Super Wild Card Weekend.
Domenic Padula: Damien Harris Over 55.5 Rushing Yards
I gave this pick out as one of three that were featured in my Morning Coffee column this week, and it’s definitely my best bet for Super Wild Card Weekend.
New England Patriots’ running back Damien Harris averaged 107 rushing yards on 14 carries in two games against the Buffalo Bills this season.
He’ll need to hit only 53 per cent of that average production to go over the total against the Bills on Saturday night.
While there has been a lot of talk about Mac Jones’ outlook as a rookie quarterback in a playoff game, the reality is that Bill Belichick has done everything he can to protect his young quarterback all season, and I think that will be the case again this weekend.
New England will undoubtedly miss left tackle Isaiah Wynn, but I still think we see plenty of 22-personnel from the Patriots with an extra lineman on the field as they look to hit the Bills’ defence where it is most vulnerable, with a power rushing attack that gives them their best chance at pulling off the upset.
Harris to go over 55.5 rushing yards is my best bet for Wild Card Weekend.
Chris Amberley: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Under 46.5
Twenty-five of the last 36 Wild Card games that took place outdoors fell short of the total, and the Steelers-Chiefs game has a strong chance to underwhelm as well.
Sixty-seven per cent of the bets on the total are backing the over right now, but 63 per cent of the money is on the under. That indicates sharps are thinking this game falls short of 46.5 points.
Let’s face it.
Ben Roethlisberger is cooked.
He’s averaging 4.5 yards per pass attempt over his past four games and you’re not going to put up a ton of points trying to dink and dunk your way down the field versus KC. Believe it or not, the 4-13 Houston Texans led for more offensive snaps during the regular season than Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have also been extremely slow starters recently, averaging just 3.1 points in the first half over their past seven outings. During that stretch, Big Ben has thrown only one first half TD.
On the other side of the ball, this isn’t the same explosive Chiefs offence we’re used to seeing. Patrick Mahomes set career-lows in passer rating and yards per attempt this season, while throwing a career-worst 13 interceptions.
To make matters worse for KC, its offensive line and Tyreek Hill are hobbled, while the Steelers excel at rushing the passer. Led by sack king T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh ranks third in the NFL in pass rush win rate.
It’s hard to imagine the Steelers pulling off the upset, but 46.5 points feels way too high.
Luke Bellus: Arizona Cardinals +4 vs. Los Angeles Rams
NFL Super Wild Card Weekend wraps up Monday night with the Arizona Cardinals travelling to Los Angeles to play the Rams as four-point underdogs.
It’s a game I think they can win.
The Cardinals were lights out on the road this season, winning eight of nine away from home.
Against the spread they were a perfect 6-0 this season on the road as underdogs, and they now visit SoFi Stadium and face a Rams team that struggled to cover the spread down the stretch.
Since November, Los Angeles has covered in just four of their nine games, with a large reason being the play of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford, after a great start to the season, has really struggled to limit the turnovers.
After turning the ball over just four times in the opening eight weeks of the season, Stafford was intercepted 13 times in his final nine games and added two fumbles.
He’s now set to face a Cardinals defence that has forced a turnover in three of their last four games.
When you combine their elite play on the road this season and Stafford’s lack of ball security, all signs point me to Arizona getting the better of their NFC West rival and advancing to the Divisional round.
On Monday night, I’m taking the Cardinals +4.
Eric Cohen: Buffalo Bills -4 vs. New England Patriots
It’s hard to believe this is actually the first playoff meeting between these two long-time rivals in the Super Bowl era.
While the Patriots won in Buffalo during a wild windstorm earlier this season, I expect different conditions and a different result on Saturday night, similar to their last meeting. It will be cold, but not nearly as windy, which means Mac Jones will have to throw the ball more than three times in this game. Miraculously, the Patriots handed the ball off 46 times and managed to win in their initial meeting.
Since that win in Buffalo, the Patriots have lost three of their last four games. Jones appeared to regress, throwing five interceptions in those three losses.
On the other hand, Buffalo won its final four games after the home loss to New England. They avenged that loss with a 33-21 victory in New England. Josh Allen had one of his best performances this season in that game, throwing for 314 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
During Buffalo’s four-game winning streak, they also got a decent contribution at running back. Devin Singletary, who was a non-factor for most of the season, had five touchdowns in the those four games, and rushed for more than 80 yards in three of them.
The Bills will enter this game with a ton of momentum, especially on defence. The Patriots didn’t get to 300 offensive yards in either game versus Buffalo this year. The Bills had the top-ranked defence in the NFL this season and allowed more than 300 yards of offence in just five games this season.
Meanwhile, rookie Jones will make his first career playoff start and likely won’t be able to keep up with Allen. I feel comfortable taking the Bills to cover this number and advance.
Evan Render: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Over 49.5
One of the biggest gambling advantages of the matchups from this Super Wild Card Weekend is all but one are rematches from the regular season. We’ve got some previous results to go off of, which is the case for this contest.
If Part 3 of Cardinals vs. Rams is anything like the first two parts, we can expect a lot of points. The first two matchups finished with 37-20 and 30-23 scores. Perhaps the first career NFL playoff game for Kyler Murray might provide some jitters? I wouldn’t count on it.
When Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals and Sean McVay’s Rams face off, it’s usually high scoring. The over is 4-1 dating back to 2019, and three of those games were with Jared Goff at the helm for L.A. Unlike other games in cold climates like Cincinnati or Buffalo this weekend, weather will play absolutely zero factor at So-FI stadium, where L.A. is averaging 27 points per game over their past three games.
If Matthew Stafford can limit the turnovers, which is always a big if, expect the Rams to live up to their end of the bargain. Contrary to popular belief, Stafford’s offences have actually fared well enough in his three career playoff games. Those Lions teams put up 20 or more points in two of three, all of which were on the road. This is his first career home playoff game, with more talent on his offensive side than ever before.
Arizona will likely need a minimum of three touchdowns on the board, which shouldn’t be a problem considering they averaged just over 28 points a game away from home this season.
The points should pile up from both high-flying offences with enough talent from either passing attack to score a minimum of 50 points combined. Expect a good old-fashioned NFC West shootout in L.A. on Monday night.