NFL Wildcard Round Betting Predictions
Can the resurgent Miami Dolphins pull off the huge road upset over Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers with veteran backup Matt Moore under center? Will the Oakland Raiders be able to overcome the loss of gifted MVP-caliber quarterback Derek Carr in order to beat the ‘defense-first’ Houston Texans in their Lone Star State wild card clash?
With the start of the 2016 NFL betting postseason just days away, let me answer both of the aforementioned questions while offering up my quartet of potentially bankroll-boosting wild card playoff picks.
A Closer Look At The NFL Wildcard Round Betting Predictions
Oakland at Houston
When: Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 4:35 PM ET
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
NFL Odds: Houston -3
Analysis: It’s a damn shame that the Oakland Raiders (12-4 SU, 10-6 ATS) are having their fantastic 2016 season derailed by a costly injury to gifted quarterback Derek Carr, but the fact of the matter is that is exactly what’s happening to the AFC West runner-ups at the moment. After witnessing the Raiders go humbly into the night in their 24-6 regular season finale loss against Denver this past weekend, I’ve got to believe that another similar outcome is in store for the Oakland in their wild card matchup against the defensive-minded Houston Texans (9-7 SU, 6-9-1 ATS).
I know that Houston is far from a complete team and that the Texans clearly have issues scoring the ball, but there’s a reason why 59 percent of the betting public likes Houston to get it done in this wild card showdown and it’s because Bill O’Brien’s squad also owns one of the stingiest defenses in the league and can shut down even the most high-powered offenses.
Houston enters their wild card matchup ranked first in total defense, second against the pass and a respectable 11th in points allowed (20.5 ppg). While the Texans are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games and Oakland has gone 4-0 ATS in their last four games following an ATS loss, I like Houston to win outright and cover the spread by the slimmest of margins – even if quarterback Tom Savage is forced to sit this one out and the mediocre Brock Osweiler gets the start.
While Oakland put up a stellar 26.0 points per game to rank seventh in scoring during the regular season and went 6-2 in their eight road games, Houston was almost perfect at home in going 7-1 during the regular season. The Raiders have lost two of its last three road games and were absolutely mediocre across the board defensively while ranking 20th in points allowed (24.1 ppg). The Texans have posted a polar opposite 2-1 mark in their last three home dates, but the main reason I believe the Oakland Raiders are in big trouble and will lose this contest is because no NFL team is the same after losing an MVP caliber superstar signal-caller.
While the road team in this rivalry has gone 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, I’m thinking the Raiders won’t have an answer for Texans wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller and are now looking at a one-and-done playoff run instead of competing for the conference championship like they had hoped.
Pick: Houston 24 Oakland 17
Miami at Pittsburgh
When: Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 1:05 PM ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh PA
NFL Odds: Pittsburgh -10
Analysis: The Miami Dolphins (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS) have had a fine 2016 campaign in reaching the playoffs for the first time in a decade, but the AFC Super Bowl longshot hopefuls are in for an uphill battle against Ben Roethlisberger and the offensively-explosive Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) in their AFC Wild Card matchup on Sunday.
Still, there’s a reason why a whopping 63 percent of public bettors like Miami to cover the spread and it’s likely because the Dolphins have a really solid defense and already beat the Steelers once this season. Miami ranked a respectable 17th in scoring by putting up 22.7 points per game while finishing 18th in points allowed (23.8 ppg).
The Steelers finished the regular season ranked 11th in scoring by putting up 24.9 points per contest while finishing 10th in points allowed (20.4 ppg). While Pittsburgh has won seven straight while going 5-1-1 ATS along the way, the Steelers are also just 1-1-1 ATS over their last three games. Miami has won and covered the NFL betting line in each of their last two road games while going 4-1 SU and ATS over their last five road dates.
The Dolphins stunned the Steelers at Heinz Field 30-16 in Week 6 to cash in as a 7.5-point underdog and have won two straight over the Steelers dating back to 2013. More importantly, I think Miami will have some success against a Steelers defense that finished in the middle of the pack against the run (13th) and pass (16th).
Running back Jay Ajayi and wide receiver Jarvis Landry are both absolute monsters and should be able to help the Fins keep the final score well inside double digits. Miami is 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games and 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against their AFC conference counterparts. Pittsburgh is 1-3-1 ATS in their last five home games and 0-3-2 ATS in their last five playoff games. The Steelers win, but the ATS cover goes to Miami.
Pick: Pittsburgh 27 Miami 20