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2015 NFL picks against the spread: Wild Card Weekend and betting trends

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My picks for the first round of the playoffs.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs are here. It is Wild Card Weekend And there are only four games on the docket. Here is how I would put my bets against the Vegas spread...if I were to wager. All trends are courtesy Oddsshark.com

Cardinals at Panthers (-6.5): Carolina enters the postseason having won four straight games to come away with the NFC South title. They also did so without playing great competition, Arizona stumbled to the finish line, but with stiff competition. Arizona matches up well against Carolina's spread run game, but Arizona's offense has not yet put up 20 points in a game since Carson Palmer went down. This is surely gong to be an ugly game. It should be a nailbiter. Cardinals +6.5.

Trends:

This matchup features teams that have never lost in Wild Card action. Arizona is 3-0 ATS, winning twice as road underdogs (at Dallas in 1999 and Green Bay in 2010) and once as home chalk against Atlanta in 2009.
Arizona crushed Carolina 33-13 at Carolina in 2009 (as 10-point dogs) in the only playoff meeting.

  • Cardinals 2-0 SU & ATS last 2 meetings with Panthers (both at home)
  • Cardinals 5-1 ATS last 6 playoff games (4-2 SU)
  • Cardinals 8-3-1 ATS last 12 road games (7-5 SU)
  • Cardinals 11-4 ATS last 15 games
  • Cardinals 2-12 SU last 14 road games vs. NFC South (5-9 ATS)
  • Panthers 0-3 SU & ATS last 3 playoff games
  • Panthers 1-3 ATS in last 4 home games

Ravens at Steelers (-3): This is a classic rivalry. Pittsburgh's offense has been rolling, but Le'Veon Bell is out for the game. That is a big blow. Both teams have great runs in the wild card round. Since both are pretty even, I will go with the home team. Steelers -3.

Trends:

Baltimore won all four road games on Wild Card weekend since 1983, twice as underdogs (at New England in 2010 and Miami in 2002), twice as favorites (at Miami is 2009 and KC in 2011). Overall, the Ravens ride a 7-1 ATS run in eight Wild Card games since 1995. Pittsburgh has lost two straight Wild Card games (2012 at Denver and 2008 home to Jacksonville). However, these AFC North rivals have met four times in the playoffs with the Steelers winning and covering all four at home.

  • Ravens 5-0 ATS last 5 playoff games (4-1 SU)
  • Ravens 1-6 SU & ATS last 7 road games vs. AFC North
  • Ravens 1-4 ATS last 5 meetings with Steelers (2-3 SU)
  • Steelers 7-0 SU last 7 divisional home games (6-1 ATS)
  • Steelers 5-0 ATS last 5 home playoff games (4-1 SU)
  • Steelers 5-1 SU & ATS last 6 home games

Bengals at Colts (-3.5): Andrew Luck is at home. Cincy is likely without A.J. Green. And, if you have followed the league over the last several years, there are things you can't count on -- Andy Dalton or Marvin Lewis winning in the postseason. Colts -3.5.

Trends:

The Bengals have lost all four Wild Card games since 2006, including the past two seasons at Houston.
The Colts have also lost three straight recent Wild Card games to the Ravens, Jets and Chargers. They are 7-3 ATS in home playoff games since 2000. A weird pattern in those home games is that the Colts cover twice, then fail to cover once, repeat. It's the start of a fourth cycle of that pattern and, if it continues, then the Colts will cover here.

  • Bengals 0-6 SU & ATS last 6 playoff games
  • Bengals 2-8 SU last 10 meetings with Colts (4-6 ATS)
  • Bengals 4-1 SU last 5 road games (3-2 ATS)
  • Colts 9-2-1 ATS last 12 home games (10-2 SU)
  • Colts 8-2 SU & ATS last 10 home games vs. AFC North
  • Colts 1-4 SU & ATS last 5 playoff games

Lions at Cowboys (-7): We have two unproven postseason teams. Tony Romo hasn't been there since he bobbled that snap. The Lions have historically been inept. This features a Cowboys juggernaut offense and a very stout Detroit defense. Detroit has the weapons on offense as well, and the Cowboys aren't that great defensively. Even though Detroit has been very good defensively, this has the making of a shootout. Dallas has been able to score on anyone. Lions +7.

Trends:

Detroit has never won a Wild Card game since 1983 and has failed to cover their past five games on the road. Their most recent loss was at New Orleans in 2012.

Dallas has covered two in a row but overall has lost four of its past five Wild Card matchups.
The only playoff meeting between these teams was Jan. 5, 1992 where the host Lions ripped the Cowboys 38-6.

  • Lions 0-7 SU last 7 playoff games (0-6-1 ATS)
  • Lions 2-8 ATS last 10 road games (3-7 SU)
  • Lions 3-6 ATS last 9 meetings with Cowboys (4-5 SU)
  • Cowboys 0-4 ATS last 4 home games vs. NFC North (1-3 SU)
  • Cowboys 1-7 SU last 8 playoff games (2-6 ATS)