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NFL Wild Card Playoff Picks & Predictions For Every Game: Throwback Weekend

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 11 mins

NFL Wild Card Playoff Picks & Predictions For Every Game: Throwback Weekend

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The NFL Wild Card playoff weekend has a throwback feel. Five of the six games are rematches from earlier this NFL betting season. The Patriots and Bills will play each other for the third time since the start of December Saturday night on the frozen tundra of Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

The Cowboys and 49ers are the only two teams playing in the Wild Card round that have not met previously during the 2021-22 season. The history of the NFL in the 1980s and 1990s is loaded with postseason showdowns between those two contenders. When Dwight Clark made “The Catch” against the Cowboys at Candlestick Park in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, one of the fans on hand was a young boy from the Bay Area named Tom Brady.

The playoffs begin Saturday with the Bengals playing host to the Raiders. The third installment of this season’s Patriots-Bills trilogy kicks off Saturday night.

RELATED: NFL Player Props For Most Passing, Rushing & Receiving Over Postseason

Three games are scheduled for Sunday. First, the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Brady face the last team to beat him in a Super Bowl – the Philadelphia Eagles. The late Sunday afternoon contest has the 49ers visiting the Cowboys. The Chiefs play host to the Steelers Sunday night.

Monday, the three-day NFL Wild Card Weekend “EXTRAVAFESTASAVEATHON” concludes with an NFC West clash. The division champion Rams play host to their divisional foe Arizona Monday night. Those two teams – like the Patriots and Bills – split their matchups earlier in the season.

The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans get the weekend off to rest, heal and relax having earned the top seed in their respective conferences.

All those rematches make for a steep challenge when making NFL picks. Despite that, we’re on to our Wild Card Weekend picks.

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Saturday, Jan. 15

Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:35 p.m. (NBC)

Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase have been tearing through defenses all season. They’ll get a nationwide audience at home to showcase their offensive talents on Saturday. The Bengals rested their starters in Week 18 and were without stalwart running back Joe Mixon because of COVID-19 protocols. Mixon is expected back Saturday.

The Cats are rested and ready for the Raiders. While the Bengals were curled up in a ball or sprawled out on the couch taking it easy, the Raiders took it down to last possible second of the regular season – Week 18 at the end of overtime – to clinch a playoff spot. This turnout is too much for the Raiders, who have enjoyed a terrific run in overcoming multiple challenges on and off the field.

Best Bet: Bengals -5.5 (-110) at SugarHouse

Check out: Raiders vs Bengals odds, injury report, betting lines and more.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m. (CBS)

These two teams split their games in Week 13 and in Week 16. The Patriots won in Western New York in early December, running the ball 46 times in a 14-10 game that was played in weather conditions befitting the Iditarod. The Bills struck back on Dec. 26, knocking out the Patriots on Boxing Day with an impressive 33-21 decision over Bill Belichick & Company. Much has been made about the weather forecast for this weekend, which features temperatures in the single digits at kickoff. But the wind is not expected to impact this Patriots-Bills matchup nearly as much as it did 6 weeks ago.

The Patriots could be without cornerback Jalen Mills, who was put in COVID-19 protocols this week. Otherwise, both teams are healthy. Rookie QB Mac Jones over-performed in getting New England to the playoffs, but this challenge might be a bit too much. Meanwhile, the Patriots defense needs to find an answer to stopping the opposition on critical third downs.

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Best Bet: Over 44 Points (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook ➜

Check out: Bills vs Patriots odds, injury report, betting lines and more.

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RELATED: Buffalo Bills NFL Playoff & Super Bowl Futures Outlook

Sunday, Jan. 16

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)

The Buccaneers won at Philadelphia 28-22 on a Thursday night. Tampa Bay led 28-7 in the third quarter before Philadelphia made the game close. Since that game, the Buccaneers have lost wide receivers Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin. But the Buccaneers are otherwise (nearly) fully healthy in time for this game. Both Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette are expected back close to full-strength. Linebacker Shaq Barrett was taken out of COVID-19 protocols this week, as well.

The Eagles played their best ball late in the season, while the Buccaneers hit a few rough spots. Still, Tampa Bay went 13-4, locked up the No. 2 seed and saw its 44-year-old QB lead the NFL in passing, completions and TD passes. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Doug Pederson and Nick Foles won’t be walking through the door at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven home games. The Eagles have struggled against top-tier teams. Philly is 1-4 ATS and 0-5 straight up when getting three or more points, losing by an average of 13.8 ppg.

Best Bet: Buccaneers -8.5 (-110) at BetMGM ➜

Check out: Eagles vs Buccaneers odds, injury report, betting lines and more.

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San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:40 p.m. (CBS & Nickelodeon)

This game is the main event on the Wild Card weekend card. It is expected to be the most competitive and will be played in climate-controlled conditions that will allow both teams to be at their best. The Cowboys and 49ers used their starters in Week 18 and were rewarded with victories and momentum.

The Cowboys overhauled their defense this offseason. The end result – at least thus far – was an NFC East title and this home playoff game. The 49ers are committed to the run and the Cowboys’ defense will be ready to stop it. Both teams can run when needed, but the 49ers are more committed to doing so. Jimmy Garoppolo is still dealing with a right thumb injury, but he delivered when it mattered in Week 18. Dallas holds an overall edge in most of the key matchups, especially in the defensive secondary.

Best Bet: Cowboys -3 (-115) at BetMGM ➜

Check out: 49ers vs Cowboys odds, injury report, betting lines and more.

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Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:15 p.m. (NBC)

Kansas City won its eighth-straight AFC West title this year and is aiming for its third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. The Steelers needed a somewhat-stunning overtime win at Baltimore and the Raiders’ last-second win over the Chargers in Week 18 just to reach the postseason. Ben Roethlisberger could be playing in his final NFL game.

The Chiefs slammed the Steelers 36-10 in Week 16. But don’t expect much sentimentality from the Chiefs’ defense, which could well pitch a shutout or something close to it. The Steelers will need to generate points on defense to have shot in this one. Meanwhile, Kansas City will continue to perfect and fine-tune its diverse offense. Thanks for the memories, Ben.

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Best Bet: Over 46.5 Points (-110) at FanDuel ➜

Check out: 49ers vs Cowboys odds, injury report, betting lines and more.

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Monday, Jan. 17

Arizona Cardinals at LA Rams, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)

This games features two teams that spent most of the season battling each other for the lead in the NFC West, and as it turns out, home field in this playoff game. Both Matthew Stafford and Kyler Murray played terribly in their respective losses to each other, with the losing team turning the ball over twice. The Cardinals have played well on the road. Their Week 4 win over the Rams came at SoFi Stadium. The Cardinals tied for the best road record ATS in the NFL at 8-1, much to the delight of Arizona sports betting fans.

Kliff Kingsbury said this week he expects Murray to play “the best game of his career” against the Rams Monday night. He might be right. But will that be enough? To the surprise of no one, turnovers will be the difference here.

Best Bet: Cardinals +4.5 Points (-110) at BetMGM ➜

Check out: Caridnals vs Rams odds, injury report, betting lines and more.

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2021 Record

Week 18: 9-7

Regular Season (Bye In Week 17): 138-102-1 (57.2%)

About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.
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