NFL Wild Card lines are now up at RealBet and I think there is some opportunity for some smart football bets. The Wild Card games have to be handicapped like NFL playoff games, and as such there is more volatility and surprises which can benefit the bettor.
One thing that seems to be true to me over the years is that the NFL Wild Card lines are a bit more “elastic”. What I mean by that is that with all of the emotion and do-or-die drama of a single elimination game teams often play beyond their potentials- or conversely implode and crash. The latter often is a result of injuries and late season fatigue. Momentum, however undefinable, is key from this moment forward. Let’s take a look at Saturday’s games.
NFL Wild Card Lines – Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans play unlikely homefield hosts against the Oakland Raiders Saturday afternoon in what should be a messy AFC Wild Card game. With Derek Carr out for the season, Matt McGloin with an injured shoulder after Week 17, rookie Connor Cook will helm the Cinderella Oakland Raiders into the playoffs. So in other words the Raiders are screwed despite having beat Texas earlier in the year. Carr was not only an excellent QB but also the team leader- both roles will be tough to replace by game time. The Raiders are only +165 on the Money Line which is awful so please avoid unless you are convinced they will triumph.
The Texans will see the return of Brock Osweiler who has done a serviceable sophomore job but was benched to get his “focus” back. I expect him to be a bit shaky but playing at home against a depleted Oakland squad should get him back in form. The Texans are -4 favorites on the point spread and take this all day long! This should be your lock bet of the day as Oakland will really struggle to score points. This is a perfect example of how late season pointspreads on NFL Wild Card lines can be made vulnerable through injury. The Under 36.5 could be a good bet as well given that we shouldn’t see a ton of throwing offense here.
NFC Wild Card Odds – Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Detroit Lions roll into Seattle Seahawks’ territory in the NFC Wild Card battle. The Lions had a surprisingly solid year as the team begins to coalesce around Matthew Stafford although I don’t expect them to win this game. The Lions are +8 dogs and are +310 on the Money Line so the bookmakers agree here.
The Seahawks are maybe settling into a higher level of play? It is so hard to tell with this team which makes betting them when they are big favorites a bit nerve wracking. The Over/Under is 43 which might be an NFL Wild Card line that is a little soft. I wonder if Seattle’s excellent D shuts down the Lions and this ends up being 37 or 38? However with Safety Earl Thomas out Seattle is more vulnerable. As much as I hate to do it, I think hammering Seattle on the -380 moneyline is the safe bet here- but make sure you are feeling really comfortable in your gut with the Hawks. And check out the Seahawks Lions prop bets which might offer a little more value.
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