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NFL Playoffs - Wildcard Weekend

NFL Playoffs - Wildcard Weekend

The six matchups for the NFL playoffs are set for next weekend, the Green Bay Packers (NFC) and Tennessee Titans (AFC) are the two teams with byes.

Wild card weekend will feature games on Saturday, Jan 15; Sunday, Jan 16 and Monday Jan 17. The divisional round will take place over Jan 22-23 and include four matches who will determine the teams for the conference championships on Jan 30.

The road to Super Bowl LVI has begun, and will take place on Sunday Feb 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

The odds below are a snapshot of the line on Monday and are subject to change.

AFC playoff bracket

(1) Tennessee Titans vs BYE

After losing running back Derrick Henry to a foot injury in week 8 when they started the season 6-2, the Titans buckled down and managed to go 6-3 the rest of the way albeit with a kinder second half schedule. They find themselves with their best Super Bowl shot in decades thanks to a bye in the first round and home field advantage throughout. Mike Vrabel has made his case for NFL coach of the year. A deep run is on the cards and Henry has more time to recover from his foot injury. They’ll host a divisional round game on Jan 22 or 23, against the lowest seed remaining after the wild card round. That could be the Bengals, Raiders, Patriots or Steelers. 

(5) Las Vegas Raiders @ (4) Cincinnati Bengals

Saturday 4.30pm ET on NBC

Raiders (+6.5) -110 +230 O (49)
Bengals (-6.5) -110 -270 U (49)

Preview: The Bengals beat the Raiders by 19 points on the road in week 11 and both teams are looking to snap long postseason droughts. The Raiders haven’t won a playoff game since the 2002 season, while the Bengals have lost seven straight playoff games since their last win in 1990. These are two in-form teams who have played very well down the stretch, how well will Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia deal with the playoff pressure? After losing defensive tackle Darius Philon on Sunday night to injury, can the Raiders limit the explosive Joe Burrow? Over the course of the season, the Raiders defense ranked no.22 in opponent QBR in the NFL.

(6) New England Patriots @ (3) Buffalo Bills

Saturday 8.15pm ET on CBS

Patriots (+4.5) -110 +185 O (43.5)
Bills (-4.5) -110 -215 U (43.5)

Preview:The two divisional rivals meet for the third time this season, having split their regular season games one apiece. The Patriots won on a wet and windy night in Buffalo after rookie quarterback Mac Jones threw three times, while the Bills got revenge on the road in week 16. The Patriots will try to control the ground game, however if the Bills offensive line can protect Josh Allen and let him shine it could be a long night for the Patriots who have lost three of four games coming into the playoffs.

(7) Pittsburgh Steelers @ (2) Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday 8.15pm ET on NBC

Steelers (+12.5) -110 +525 O (46.5)
Chiefs (-12.5) -110 -750 U (46.5)

Preview: Has anyone in the AFC played better than the Chiefs since they started 3-4? They went 9-1 including an eight game winning streak to finish the regular season, their only loss broken by the AFC North champions the Bengals on the final play of the game in week 17. In week 16 the Steelers trailed 30-0 midway through the third quarter on the way to a 36-10 loss. Pittsburgh will truly need some help from defensive playmakers such as T.J Watt (finished with 22.5 sacks on the year, tying an NFL record) and Minkah Fitzpatrick if they have any hope of slowing down the Chiefs. The Steelers winning three of their last four games against playoff competitive teams gives some hope they in turn can be competitive against the best of the AFC.

NFC playoff bracket

(1) Green Bay Packers vs BYE

The Packers are Super Bowl LVI favorites and by the time the divisional championship round comes, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have had multiple weeks to rest his troubling broken toe that he played with over the last two months of the season. Rodgers is the front runner for NFL MVP and this might be his best chance for a second Super Bowl for more than a decade. Lambeau Field has been a fortress for head coach Matt LaFleur, going 8-0 this year, 22-2 over three years, and there is hope that they could have one to three of their best players back: left tackle David Bakhtiari, linebacker Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander. They'll host a divisional round game on Jan 22 or 23, against the lowest seed remaining after the wild card round. That could be the Rams, Cardinals, 49ers or Eagles.

(7) Philadelphia Eagles @ (2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday 1pm ET on Fox

Eagles (+9) -110 +340 O (49)
Bucs (-9) -110 -420 U (49)

Preview: The supporting cast to Tom Brady has changed significantly over the last couple of weeks, with WR Chris Godwin (knee), WR Antonio Brown (released) unavailable and RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and LB Lavonte David (foot) on injured reserve. Even wideout Mike Evans has played limited snaps because of a hamstring injury. This should mean that Brady will have to lean on tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is fit for the playoffs, against an Eagles team that gave an NFL-high 107 receptions and 14 touchdowns to tight ends during the regular season. The Eagles turned themselves into one of the NFL’s premier running teams after starting the season 2-5. The ground-and-pound attack was ultimately successful as they finished the yeAR 7-3, however they didn’t beat a single team with a winning record along the way. They aren’t battle tested, last year’s champs the Buccaneers, despite their injuries, are. 

(6) San Francisco 49ers @ (3) Dallas Cowboys

Sunday 4.30pm ET on CBS

49ers (+3) -110 +140 O (49.5)
Cowboys (-3) -110 -160 U (49.5)

Preview: The last time we saw the 49ers in the playoffs, they had the KC Chiefs on the ropes in Super Bowl LIV. A lot has changed since then for the 49ers but they won eight of their final 10 games, beating three playoff teams in the process. Their comeback against the Rams on Sunday night and the strong play of WR/RB Deebo Samuels and QB Jimmy Garoppolo will give them plenty of encouragement against a highly talented, yet inconsistent Dallas Cowboys team. On the other hand, the 49ers haven’t defeated the Cowboys since 2014 and it's not too hard to imagine the Cowboys stellar pass rush and big play defense harassing Garoppolo into takeaways and mistakes. Quarterback Dak Prescott for the Cowboys is also playing some of his best football lately, with 13 TD’s against zero interceptions this month. This will be an exciting game to watch. 

(5) Arizona Cardinals @ (4) Los Angeles Rams

Monday 8.15pm ET on ESPN, ABC

Cardinals (+4.5) -110 +180 O (50.5)
Rams (-4.5) -110 -210 U (50.5)

Preview: The Cardinals finished the season 8-1 on the road, winning at the Titans, Rams, 49ers and Cowboys in the process. As such the Rams - or anyone else - will not be looking forward to hosting the Cardinals on Monday Night Football this weekend. However, after starting 7-0 on the season and in pole position for the no.1 seed, Arizona stumbled into the playoffs finishing the year 4-6 and merely in a wild card spot. With quarterback Kyler Murray healthy and defensive end J.J. Watt on the mend they definitely have a shot at a deep playoff run but they need to find some form. The Rams won a hotly contested NFC West and any team facing the Rams will have to deal with the top passing duo in the NFL this year, quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp who connected for 139 completions, third most in NFL history. On the other hand, Stafford has never won a playoff game and has had six games this season where he has committed at least two turnovers. Indeed, his interception sealed the Rams loss this Sunday against the 49ers.

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