NFL Betting, DFS Angles for Every Wild-Card Game

NFL Betting, DFS Angles for Every Wild-Card Game

The regular season is over. No more Browns, no more slew of garbage backup quarterbacks, no more Browns, no more Jimmy G dominating, but most importantly, no more Browns. I guess that can only mean one thing …

The playoffs are here, and we have four wild-card games on tap this weekend. Let’s take an in-depth look at each matchup. — Mark Gallant

All info is as of Sunday morning. For live spreads and bet percentages, check out this page. Follow the latest injury info on our industry-leading news feed. To get access to our premium tools, subscribe here.


BILLS AT JAGUARS (-8.5)  |  O/U: 40

Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET | CBS

Injury watch: RB LeSean McCoy (ankle, questionable) will reportedly gut it out and suit up Sunday after getting carted off the field in Week 17. Even if he’s ultimately able to play, McCoy will likely be limited. But QB Tyrod Taylor will at least have WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee, not listed), T Jordan Mills (ankle, questionable), and TE Charles Clay (knee, not listed) to take on the Jaguars’ league-best secondary. Jacksonville’s WR room remains in a constant state of flux, as Marqise Lee (ankle, questionable) is reportedly expected to play, likely pushing Keelan Cole to the bench. The rest of the Jaguars banged-up offense, namely TE Marcedes Lewis (ankle, not listed) and LT Cam Robinson (abdomen, not listed), will play, as well. They’ll face off against a healthy Bills defense that could be on the field a bunch if McCoy is unable to go. — Ian Hartitz

Did you know? McCoy was responsible for 33% of the Bills offense, second-most in the NFL behind Gurley. His loss would be felt even more considering the Bills’ lack of depth at RB (Mike Tolbert). Without McCoy 100%, it’s hard to envision Buffalo taking advantage of the Jaguars’ biggest defensive weakness: They rank 26th in rush defense DVOA. — Stuckey

Weather report: Our weather data (available with a subscription) forecasts 12 mph winds at kickoff. That would favor the Jags, who can lean on their 12th-ranked rushing offense in DVOA against the NFL’s second-worst rushing D. The wind factor is another negative for the Bills offense if McCoy isn’t his usual self: They’ll be forced to throw in adverse passing conditions with subpar receivers against the league’s best pass defense. Expect Tyrod Taylor to be under siege early and often with the Bills’ 31st-ranked O-line in adjusted sack rate facing the Jags’ No. 1 pass-rush. — Scott T. Miller and Stuckey

DFS edge: Fournette quietly has carved out a decent-sized receiving role in addition to his goal-line back status, as his average of four targets per game since the Jaguars’ Week 8 bye is more than the likes of LeSean McCoy, Kareem Hunt, and Mark Ingram. He’s one of just four backs with at least seven games of 20-plus carries this season and couldn’t have asked for a better matchup to make his playoff debut. Overall, Fournette is the highest-rated back in the Levitan, Bales, and SportsGeek models in large part thanks to his matchup against a Bills defense that has allowed a slate-high 1.7 DraftKings points above salary-based expectation to running backs over the past 12 months. They’ve allowed an additional nine points and 64.2 rushing yards per game since trading defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars prior to Week 8. — Ian Hartitz

What the metrics say: In a game that I expect to be low-scoring, red zone offense will be huge. The Jaguars have a big advantage there, scoring TDs on 64% of trips inside the 20 (second overall), compared to 52.3% for the Bills (21st). — Stuckey

Trend to know: In the past 15 seasons, 11 teams have played a home playoff game coming off a losing streak of two or more games, like the Jaguars will on Sunday. Those teams are 8-3 SU and ATS, and they have won and covered four in a row and six of their past seven dating back to the 2010 playoffs. —Evan Abrams

Pass or play? I played the under at 39.5. The Jags will win this game in the trenches, but I’m not sure I want to lay more than a touchdown in the playoffs with Blake Bortles, who threw two TDs and five INTs in the Jags’ final two games. This should be a slugfest, especially with windy conditions expected. — Stuckey


PANTHERS AT SAINTS (-6.5)  |  O/U: 47.5

Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET | FOX

Did you know: The Saints beat the Panthers twice during the regular season, and since 1990, 16 teams have defeated the same opponent twice straight up in the same season and then subsequently faced them again in the playoffs. Those teams are 11-5 SU and 8-7-1 ATS. — Evan Abrams

What the metrics say, Pt. 1: The Panthers’ biggest weapon defense is their pass-rush, which ranks third in adjusted sack rate. They’ll face off against a Carolina O-line adept at keeping Drew Brees upright (No. 2 in adjusted sack rate allowed).

DFS edge: Death, taxes, Michael Thomas dominating the Panthers. Overall, the Saints WR has converted 27 career targets against Carolina into a 22-303-3 line, repeatedly roasting corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley, PFF’s No. 102 and No. 88 overall cornerbacks this season. Thomas has continued to practice in a limited fashion due to a nagging hamstring issue, but it didn’t affect his playing time last week, as he played on 91% of the snaps and earned a 27% target share. Thomas leads the Saints’ fourth-ranked scoring offense in both targets inside the 10-yard line and balls thrown 20-plus yards downfield. This incredibly fantasy-friendly workload has Thomas sitting atop both our Levitan and Bales Pro Models. — Ian Hartitz

The ref storyline: The total for Saints-Panthers sits at 47.5, the second-highest in the Wild Card round. A majority of bets and dollars are on the over, which could burn bettors. Ref Tony Corrente is the least profitable Over official in our database, going 64-87-2 (42.4%). In high total games (46 or more points), the Over is 22-36 (37.9%) when Corrente is on the field. — John Ewing

What the metrics say, Pt. 2: One major concern for the Saints? They struggle on third down on both sides of the ball: 19th on offense and 27th on defense. Those figures are troubling against a Carolina team that ranks in the top half of the league in both categories (seventh on offense and 13th on defense). — Stuckey

Injury watch: The Saints’ banged-up defense tentatively expects to welcome back DE Trey Hendrickson (ankle, questionable) from his three-game absence, while the offense should have LT Terron Armstead (thigh, questionable), TE Josh Hill (shoulder, not listed), G Senio Kelemete (knee, not listed) and WR Michael Thomas (hamstring, not listed) for Round 3 against the Panthers. Carolina’s offense is also healthy, with RB Jonathan Stewart (back, not listed), G Trai Turner (concussion, questionable), LT Matt Kalil (illness, questionable), and WR Devin Funchess (shoulder, questionable) all expected to suit up. S Kurt Coleman (ankle, not listed) missed Week 17’s matchup against the Falcons, but announced his intentions to play Sunday by simply explaining, “It’s the playoffs.” — Ian Hartitz

Pass or play? I’m passing on the spread in this game, but I did hit a Jags/Saints ML parlay. New Orleans has the better coach and quarterback, and don’t sleep on the Saints’ D-line. Their ability to get pressure with a standard pass-rush is the most underrated aspect of their team. With shutdown corners on the outside, they can devote an extra defender to spy Cam Newton in the run game. — Stuckey


TITANS AT CHIEFS (-8.5)  |  O/U: 44.5

Saturday, 4:20 p.m. ET | ESPN

Betting market: Despite the move from -7 to -8.5, there’s not much to talk about in terms of sharp or public action. One interesting angle here: KC is a big parlay/teaser play, so this game could set up the entire weekend for the books/public. — PJ Walsh

What the metrics say: The Titans are a total fraud. They’re one of only two playoff teams with a negative point differential — and they played one of the easiest schedules in the league. But the Titans actually match up fairly well with KC. Their rush defense (fourth overall in yards per game and yards per carry allowed) can contain the Chiefs’ ground game. And Tennessee should be able to run on KC’s 32nd-ranked rush defense in DVOA. —Stuckey

Injury watch: RB DeMarco Murray (knee) has already been ruled out, meaning we’ll get Round 2 of the Derrick Henry Show vs. the Chiefs’ putrid rush defense (see above). Still, Henry could be forced to run without starting G Quinton Spain (back, questionable). Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ backup RB stable is far from healthy, as both RB Akeem Hunt (ankle, out) and RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas (leg, out) were placed on IR following Week 17. CB Phillip Gaines (elbow, out) joins them, but the Chiefs’ defense at least tentatively expects to have contributors DL Jarvis Jenkins (knee, questionable) and DE Tamba Hali (knee, questionable). The Chiefs’ offense will welcome back RB Charcandrick West (flu, not listed), while WR Albert Wilson (hamstring, questionable) is expected to play through his questionable tag and will look to ball out against the Titans’ 24th-ranked defense in pass DVOA. — Ian Hartitz

Did you know? According to our weather data, winds of 10 mph are expected at kickoff, along with 28-degree temps. Marcus Mariota has played just two games in temperatures below freezing during his college and pro career. He won and covered both contests. One came last week vs. the Jags. The other? Last December, when Mariota trailed by 10 points entering the fourth quarter and led the Titans back to victory on the road in … Arrowhead. — Evan Abrams

Sneaky storylines: The Chiefs struggle in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on just 42% of their drives inside the 20. That ranks 29th in the NFL, and it’s the worst mark among all playoff teams. KC also ranks 29th with 65.2 penalty yards per game, while the Titans are much more disciplined (49.1, fifth overall). — Stuckey

Trends to know: The Chiefs have covered just one of their past 11 playoff games, and, perhaps more relevant to this matchup, Andy Reid is 1-6 straight-up and against the spread in his past seven postseason tilts. — Evan Abrams

DFS edge: Alex Smith, 2017’s QB4 in average DraftKings PPG, scored 25-plus DraftKings points in five games, an incredible feat considering Smith passed that threshold on just three occasions in 2014-16. He’s set up well against the Titans’ 24th-ranked defense in pass DVOA. Smith is especially appealing on FanDuel, where he is the highest-rated quarterback in the Levitan and CSURAM88 Models, although he is projected to be the highest-owned QB across the industry. — Ian Hartitz

Pass or play? I played Titans +8.5. This feels like a 3-4 point Chiefs win. The under is also worth a strong look, especially since you can count on Reid botching the time management at the end of a half to cost his team points. KC’s ability to take care of the ball (league-best 11 turnovers all season) will be the difference; Tennessee had a minus-4 turnover differential this season, worst among all playoff teams. — Stuckey


FALCONS AT RAMS (-5.5)  |  O/U: 48

Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET | NBC

Betting market: This line opened Rams -4.5, moved up to -6.5, bumped back down to -5.5 on Thursday evening. Such a big move across a key number (-6) indicates this could be sharp money. With the ticket count almost exactly 50-50, it will be interesting to see if the public takes more of a side as the game gets closer. — PJ Walsh

Injury watch: The Falcons will have to make do without LG Andy Levitre (triceps, IR), but RB Devonta Freeman (knee, not listed on final report), WR Julio Jones (rib/ankle, not listed), C Alex Mack (calf, not listed), TE Levine Toilolo (knee, not listed) and WR Taylor Gabriel (hamstring, not listed) are all good to go. The Rams’ decision to rest starters in Week 17 appears to have paid off, as they don’t have a single starter on offense or defense with an injury designation. — Ian Hartitz

What the metrics say: Expect a big day out of the Falcons’ RB duo: The Rams rank 30th in yards per carry allowed (4.7). LA has been much better against the pass (third in pass DVOA), but they lost Kayvon Webster for the year a few weeks ago and haven’t really been tested since by a productive passing attack. I have questions. — Stuckey

Trend to know: The Rams lead the league in scoring (29.9 points per game). In the past 15 years, teams that have scored 28 PPG or more are 24-33 ATS (42.1%) in the playoffs. Also keep this in mind for the Patriots, Eagles, and Saints, who all eclipsed 28 PPG this season. — John Ewing

DFS edge: Todd Gurley’s ascension as a receiver can’t be overstated. He converted 84 targets in 2015-16 into a 64-515-0 line, but exploded for a 64-788-6 line on 87 looks this season. This would make Gurley the PPR WR25 before taking into consideration his rushing production. A receiving floor this high is unfair when coupled with Gurley’s plethora of fantasy-friendly opportunities on the ground, as he’s converted a league-high 18 carries inside the 5-yard line into a league-high nine touchdowns from that distance. Throw in 15 rushes of 15-plus yards (tied for fourth among all backs), and we have a three-down machine who was cooked up by the fantasy gods. Gurley carries this week’s highest projected ceiling, floor, and projected Plus/Minus among all skill position players in our Pro Models. — Ian Hartitz

The ref storyline: Is Ed Hochuli a dog or cat person? Well, underdogs are 89-66-4 (57.4%) ATS under his watch, and big dogs, teams getting 6 or more points, have gone 36-19-2 (65.5%) ATS when Biceps Ed oversees a game. — John Ewing

Did you know? Since 1990, nine teams have broken playoff droughts of 10-plus years: Two are the Rams and Bills this season, and the seven other teams were all eliminated in either the wild card or divisional round of the playoffs. The past four teams to break a lengthy playoff drought — the 2016 Raiders (13 yrs), 2005 Bengals (14 yrs), 2011 Lions (11 yrs), and 1999 Seahawks (10 yrs) — all lost and failed to cover their first playoff game. —Evan Abrams

Pass or play? I played Falcons +6. This line is way too high. My numbers make the Falcons around -3 on a neutral field, meaning they’d be a PK in a normal road environment. But remember: LA has one of the least-impactful home-field advantages in football, and the Rams are missing their stud kicker, Greg Zuerlein. With the Falcons’ excellent red zone defense (fifth overall), we’ll be seeing plenty of Zuerlein’s backup, Sam Ficken, who has already missed an extra point and a 35-yarder in his two games this season. I’ll take the more experienced team that’s coming into the playoffs with momentum and advantages in some key advanced metrics. — Stuckey

Photo via Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

1 Comment
  • Tony DeMarco
    01/07/2018 at 2:52 pm

    To Evan Abram: In the third meetings between teams, is there any strong O/U trend? My thought would be to the under, based on familiarity. Thanks.

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