There’s no better time to get some sports betting action in than the NFL playoffs. Wild Card Round bets abound on this weekend’s card. Whether it’s sides and totals or player props, we have you covered here at FTN with our NFL betting models and NFL player props tool. But before we put some wagers it play, it’s important to know a thing or two about each of the six Wild Card Round games. 

 

Cleveland @ Houston

The Browns have been on a wild ride this season. Kevin Stefanski’s squad is the first team since the 1970 merger to play a playoff game without their Week 1 starting quarterback (Deshaun Watson), running back (Nick Chubb), left tackle (Jack Conklin) and right tackle (Jedrick Wills). A massive 27% of the Browns’ salary cap is currently on injured reserve, which is the highest among playoff teams. 

But Cleveland isn’t limping into the post season. It’s the exact opposite thanks to the unexpected play of Joe Flacco down the stretch. In five games from Week 13 to Week 17, Flacco led the NFL in passing yards (1,616) and passing touchdowns (13). Of course, he also led in interceptions with eight. Flacco’s magical run resulted in him being the first player in NFL history with 250-plus passing yards and 2-plus passing touchdowns in each of first five games with a franchise. Better yet, he’s been a postseason gamer. Flacco is tied with Tom Brady for the most road playoff wins (7) by a starting quarterback in NFL history.

We only have to go back three weeks to the last time these two teams faced each other. In that contest, Flacco racked up 368 yards and three touchdowns through the air. That was the same game Amari Cooper went bananas to the tune of 265 yards and two scores on 11 catches. Cooper missed the regular season finale with a heel issue but will play in this contest. And it wasn’t just Cooper — Flacco’s presence also ignited David Njoku. In Flacco’s five starts, Njoku posted a hefty 390 yards, with 230 of them coming after catch.

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On the other side of this matchup, DeMeco Ryans orchestrated a major turnaround for the Texans. Houston can become the first team since the 1981 New York Giants to win playoff game with 200-1 or longer preseason title odds. The wheels for this resurgence were set in motion when the Texans traded Deshaun Watson to Browns in 2022. It was a rough road to get to this season, but Houston struck gold in second overall pick C.J. Stroud. If Houston wins this week, Stroud will become the youngest starting quarterback to win a playoff game, breaking the record currently held by Michael Vick in 2002.

Stroud did not play in the previous meeting back in Week 16, so we have to take the Browns’ 36-22 with a grain of salt. The Texans are a significantly better team with him on the field. And like Flacco’s effect on Njoku, Stroud helped propel Nico Collins to one of the best receiving seasons in Texans history. Collins became the third player in Texans’ history with 1,200 receiving yards in a season. You may have heard of the other two: Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins.

For betting purposes, Cleveland is favored in playoff game for the first time since the 1994 Wild Card game versus Patriots. A young Bill Belichick was Browns’ head coach in that game. As I mentioned above, Flacco has had tremendous success in the post season. Not only has he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, but he’s also covered in seven straight playoff starts. That tied for the longest streak by a quarterback in the past 25 seasons. Flacco is 11-4 against the spread in his career as starter in playoffs.

Betting Records This Season

CLE: 10-6-1 ATS, Over is 10-6-1
HOU: 9-8 ATS, Under is 11-6

Projected Score 

CLE 23.4 – HOU 21.4

Jeff’s Game Pick 

Cleveland 

Best Bets

Joe Flacco Over 269.5 Passing Yards

(-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)

He’s topped 300 in each of his last four games, including 368 against the Texans three weeks ago. 

Amari Cooper 100+ Receiving Yards

(+195, DraftKings Sportsbook)

The heel is healed, and Cooper has gone over this mark in each of his last two games with Flacco under center.

Nico Collins Longest Reception Over 25.5 Yards

(-120, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Browns CB Martin Emerson allowed an average of 14.1 yards per catch with 13.2 air yards per target in his coverage. Those numbers bode well for Collins to pop a big play.

Miami @ Kansas City      

Is there anything better than a revenge game? Tyreek Hill is playing his first career game as a visitor at Arrowhead Stadium after being traded to the Miami Dolphins before the 2022 season. Hill is coming off his second straight 1,700-yard season, making him the first player in NFL history to top that threshold twice in a career. He also leads both the Chiefs (7) and Dolphins (9) franchises in career games with 150-plus receiving yards. What’s perhaps most striking about Hill’s performance is that he’s been better with Tua Tagovailoa than he was with Patrick Mahomes. With Tagovailoa, he averages 110.6 receiving yards per game and 15.1 yards per reception. That’s 20.6 more per game and 1.1 more per catch than he averaged with Mahomes.

While Hill has been white hot in Miami, the weather in this one will be frigid. In fact, it looks like it will be one of the coldest games in history. The forecast in Kansas City Saturday night is -2 degrees with 10-15 MPH winds and a 24% chance of snow. That’s a bit colder than the Dolphins are used to. Miami has lost 10 straight games with a kickoff temp below 40 degrees, the longest active streak in the NFL. Tagovailoa has lost all five of the coldest starts of career with a 57% completion rate, five passing touchdowns and seven interceptions in those games.

This will be Tagovailoa’s first career playoff start. The Dolphins made the playoffs last year, but he missed the Wild Card Round with a concussion. He managed to get through 2023 relatively unscathed and led the league in passing yards (4,624). He’s the first Miami quarterback to win the passing title since Dan Marino in 1992. We also saw a franchise-record 21 touchdowns from Raheem Mostert in 2023. That’s more end zone trips than he had in his first eight NFL seasons combined (20).

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On the other side, the Chiefs can join the 2011-18 Patriots (8) and 1991-96 Cowboys (6) as the only teams to win a playoff game in six straight seasons. The common denominator there for the Chiefs is, of course, Patrick Mahomes, who took over the starting duties six seasons ago. It’s been a magical run for the Chiefs in the Mahomes era with three Super Bowl appearances and two wins.

Mahomes has plenty of history on the line in this game. He can tie Tom Brady for the most playoff wins (12) before age 30. Mahomes can also join Brady as the only quarterbacks with 10-plus playoff wins at one stadium (Arrowhead). Mahomes and Andy Reid can become the third quarterback/head coaching duo to win 12-plus playoff games. The other two: Tom Brady/Bill Belichick and Terry Bradshaw/Chuck Noll.

Of course, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Chiefs in 2023. The team backslid on the offensive side of the ball, lacking much the firepower they’ve had over the last half decade. A big part of the problem is receivers just not catching passes. Chiefs wideouts finished with the most drops (28) and highest drop rate (12.0%) in the NFL. No other team had a wide receiver drop rate worse than 8.8% this year. Mahomes also has essentially no downfield threat. He had the worst TD-INT ratio (1-6) targeting wide receivers 10-plus yards downfield in the NFL this season.

There’s an old saying that “the Chiefs never cover.” That isn’t true, but there is at least some history working against Kansas City on that front. The Chiefs are just 2-5-1 against the spread in their last eight games as favorite. The spread for this one currently sits at KC -4.5. Of course, the Dolphins have struggled against good teams this season and are just 1-5 against the spread against playoff teams. 

Betting Records This Season

MIA: 10-7 ATS, Over is 9-8
KC: 9-7-1 ATS, Under is 12-5

Projected Score 

KC 25.2 – MIA 20.8

Jeff’s Game Pick 

Kansas City

Best Bets

Travis Kelce Anytime TD

(+115, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Sure, he hasn’t found pay dirt in any of his last six games, but Travis Kelce has scored a touchdown in six straight playoff games. That streak continues here.

Isiah Pacheco Over 64.5 Rushing Yards

(-114, FanDuel Sportsbook)

The bitter cold temperatures in this one suggests we’ll see plenty of the run game. Isiah Pacheco has topped this in three of his last five and is a good bet for 15-plus carries. 

Tua Tagovailoa to Throw an INT

(-118, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Cold weather is not Tagovailoa’s friend. He averages 1.4 interceptions per game in the five coldest games of his pro career.

Pittsburgh @ Buffalo

Old teammates meet as rivals in this one, as Mike Tomlin and Sean McDermott played college football together at William & Mary in 1993-94. Tomlin enters the postseason on the heels of yet another winning year as head coach of the Steelers. Of course, he’s going to have to try to win this one without all-world EDGE T.J. Watt. Winning isn’t something the Steelers have done much of without Watt — they’re just 1-10 in games he hasn’t played since his rookie season in 2017.

The team is also undergoing a big of a makeover at quarterback. Mason Rudolph assumed starting duties with Kenny Pickett banged up and Mitch Trubisky being Mitch Trubisky. He’s started every game since, winning all three and posting a 74.7% competition rate, 238.7 passing yards per game, three passing touchdowns and zero picks over that span. Despite Pickett being fully healthy, Rudolph will get the nod this week. He’s the first Steelers quarterback other than Ben Roethlisberger to start playoff game since Tommy Maddox in the 2002 season.

Rudolph’s presence has also galvanized his surrounding cast. George Pickens may not have been a factor in Week 18, but he topped 100 receiving in each of Rudolph’s first two starts. Perhaps more impressively, Najee Harris went from a plodder to a pounder with Rudolph at the helm. Harris notched a career-high eight rushing touchdowns this season, but four of them have come in his last three games. Harris is also coming off the first back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances of his career.

Buffalo has become a fixture of the postseason on Sean McDermott’s watch. The path there this season wasn’t easy. The Bills had to win five straight games to capture the AFC East title after starting the season a disappointing 6-6. Of course, it helps when you have a guy like Josh Allen under center. Allen led the league in total touchdowns this season (44), including 15 rushing touchdowns. That tied him for the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history (Jalen Hurts also scored 15 this season). 

Allen hasn’t quite had the post season success of some of his peers. It hasn’t been terrible, but he enters this game with a 4-4 postseason record. To his credit, Allen has filled up the box score in the playoffs, averaging 291.8 passing yards per game and 52.1 rushing yards per game in playoff career. 

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Stefon Diggs is coming off his fourth straight regular season with 100-plus catches. That’s quite an accomplishment, but he’s also failed to top 100 receiving yards in 11 straight games. That’s tied for the longest streak of career. Things don’t get any easier for him in this contest, as he’ll likely see shadow coverage from Steelers’ rookie phenom Joey Porter. He’s allowing just 45% of his targets to be caught and has seen an average of just 3.8 targets per game since assuming the starting job back in Week 8.

While this game won’t be quite as cold as the Saturday night game, temperatures are still expected to go below 20 degrees. However, it’s the wind that will be a bigger factor. Winds are forecasted to hit between 25-30 MPH. We saw a wind game for the Bills in Week 13 of the 2021 season against the Patriots. Wind was at 27 MPH at kickoff, and gusts reached over 40 MPH during the game. New England won that contest 14-10 despite Mac Jones attempting just three passes. Allen went 15/30 for 145 yards and one touchdown.

Despite the weather forecast, the Steelers are heavily favored here. The spread currently sits at just under double digits at BUF -9.5. Double-digit underdogs are 0-11 straight up all-time in the postseason. In fact, the largest upset we’ve seen in the post season was +9.5. That happened back in 2010 when the Seahawks upset the Saints. You might remember that one better as the Beast Quake game from Marshawn Lynch.

Betting Records This Season

PIT: 10-7 ATS, Over is 11-6
BUF: 7-10 ATS, Under is 11-6

Projected Score 

BUF 24.5 – PIT 15.8

Jeff’s Game Pick 

Buffalo

Best Bets

James Cook Over 63.5 Rushing Yards

(-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)

He’s only topped this in two of his last four games, but the windy conditions will favor the run this season. James Cook averaged a solid 4.7 yards per carry this season and figures to see 15-plus carries.

Najee Harris Anytime TD

(+215, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Ride the train. Harris has four rushing scores of his last three games. That’s tied for the most during that span with Kyren Williams.

Mason Rudolph Under 25.5 Passing Attempts

(-110, DraftKings Sportsbook)

While the Steelers figure to play from behind, it’s tough to get behind the passing game in this one. Look for the Steelers to take the air out of the ball and limit Mason Rudolph’s attempts.

Green Bay @ Dallas

History abounds this weekend, as Mike McCarthy faces a team he won a Super Bowl with back in the 2010 season. It hasn’t been a smooth ride for McCarthy and the Cowboys this season, but they have been utterly dominant at home. They enter this contest with a 16-game home win streak and average a league best 37.4 points per game at home this season.

A big reason for their success has been the explosive playmaking in the passing game. Dak Prescott led the league this season with 36 passing touchdowns. He’s the first Cowboys signal caller to ever lead the league in passing scores. It helps when you’re throwing to CeeDee Lamb, who led the league with 135 catches this season. Lamb has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last nine games. 

History is not in Green Bay’s favor, as a No. 7 seed has never won in the postseason since the league expanded the playoffs in 2020. But the Packers have been on a heater entering the postseason. Matt LaFleur’s squad has won six of their last eight after starting the season just 3-6. Over that span, we’ve seen the light click on for Jordan Love. In those eight games, Love posted and 18-1 TD-INT ratio. He also led the league with nine games of two-plus touchdowns and no interceptions along with finishing second to Prescott in passing scores with 32. All this in just his first season as a full-time starter.

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After nearly seven years of timeshares in the Packers’ backfield, Green Bay finally unleashed Aaron Jones. He’s topped 20 carries and 100 rushing yards in each of his last three games. He had zero games with over 75 rushing yards this season before the streak. We also saw a breakout season from rookie Jayden Reed. The speedster notched 793 receiving yards, which was the most from a Packers rookie since James Lofton in 1978.

The postseason hasn’t been kind to Dak Prescott, who is just 1-5 against the spread in the playoffs during his NFL career. Meanwhile, the Packers have had success when facing the Cowboys in AT&T Stadium. The Packers have won outright as the underdog in all four meetings against Dallas at AT&T. Green Bay has also won each of their last three games as an underdog this season.

Betting Records This Season

GB: 9-8 ATS, Over is 10-7
DAL: 10-7 ATS, Total is 8-8-1

Projected Score 

DAL 28.4 – GB 22.3

Jeff’s Game Pick 

Dallas

Best Bets

CeeDee Lamb 10+ Receptions

(+178, FanDuel Sportsbook)

He’s been a catch machine with double-digit catches in each of his last two games. He also figures to face plenty of Keisean Nixon in coverage. The Packers slot corner allowed an 82% catch rate in his coverage this season.

Aaron Jones Over 16.5 Rushing Attempts

(-125, DraftKings Sportsbook)

AJ Dillon is very iffy for this one, meaning we should continue to see tons of Jones. He’s averaging 21 rushing attempts per game over his last three.

Brandon Aubrey Over 7.5 Kicking Points

(-138, FanDuel Sportsbook)

This year’s breakout kicker has been a machine this season, piping field goals from distance with ease. Brandon Aubrey has only failed to top this line once over his last six games.

Los Angeles @ Detroit

This is the ultimate revenge game. Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff is the first matchup in postseason history between quarterbacks both facing their former teams. The Rams traded Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick for Stafford in 2021. It went on to work for them, as Sean McVay’s squad won the Super Bowl that season. However, the hangover was massive in 2022, and McVay nearly left the team. But they’re back on track and rolling into the playoffs having won seven of their last eight games.

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Stafford has been a huge part of their success down the stretch. He posted an NFL-high 15 passing touchdowns from Week 12 to Week 17. It helps when you have the likes of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua at your disposal. Nacua is coming off a magical regular season where he posted the most receptions (105) and receiving yards (1,486) by rookie in NFL history. 

But it isn’t just Nacua who surprised this season. Kyren Williams went from an unheralded backup to a three-down force of nature. He enters the postseason with seven straight games with 100-plus scrimmage yards. That’s the longest streak by Rams player since Steven Jackson in 2009. He’s also the first player to finish top-three in rushing yards despite missing 4-plus games since Bull Karcis for 1937 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Long-suffering Lions fans finally have reason for optimism. Dan Campbell and the Lions did the unthinkable and won the NFC North. Detroit is seeking their first playoff win since 1991 against the Cowboys. But this team isn’t necessarily sailing into the postseason, going 4-3 over their last seven games. Their defense is the likely culprit here, as the Lions have been the 29th-scoring defense since Week 7 (25.6 PPG) after ranking ninth over the first six weeks of the season (18.8).

There’s no shortage of talent on the Lions offense. Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs showed he was every bit worth a first-round pick, posting 1,261 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Fellow rookie Sam LaPorta destroyed the single-season receptions mark by a rookie tight end with 86. Meanwhile, Amon-Ra St. Brown racked up nine games with 100 receiving yards this season. That’s the third-most in Lions history behind Calvin Johnson (11 in 2012) and Herman Moore (10 in 1995).

For Detroit, this is just the fourth playoff game where the Lions are the favorite since the 1970 merger. Unfortunately, they’ve lost the three previous games outright. Their last game as a favorite game in the 1995 Wild Card Round where they lost to the Eagles by 21 points. The Rams enter this game having covered in six of their last seven games. McVay is 3-1 against the spread in road playoff games over his five postseason appearances.

Betting Records This Season

LAR: 9-7-1 ATS, Total is 8-8-1
DET: 12-5 ATS, Over is 11-6

Projected Score 

DET 26.5 – LAR 25.1

Jeff’s Game Pick 

Los Angeles

Best Bets

Puka Nacua Over 76.5 Receiving Yards

(-115, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Nacua should see a shadow from Cameron Sutton, who gave up 14.8 yards per catch and a generous 67% catch rate in his coverage. The Lions have also surrendered 100-plus receiving yards to a receiver in four of their last six games.

Kyren Williams Over 19.5 Rushing Attempts

(+105, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Sean McVay loves himself a bell cow back, and Williams has become just that for the Rams this season. He’s topped 20 carries in six of his last seven games and figures to see another massive workload on the ground. Getting plus odds here is a bonus.

Rams Moneyline

(+140, FanDuel Sportsbook)

There’s usually at least one upset on Wild Card weekend. This one has the best chance of being that game this year. The Rams are surging at the right time and have the firepower to exploit a Lions defense that has allowed 20-plus points in nine of their last 11 games.

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay

After plowing their way through the first half of the season, the Eagles are in an all-out nosedive entering the playoffs. Philly is the sixth team in NFL history to make the playoffs after losing five of their final six regular season games. None of the previous five won multiple playoff games. The team is also dealing with a potentially significant injury, as A.J. Brown suffered a knee injury in the regular season finale and looks to be very much up in the air for this one. 

These two teams met way back in Week 3 when the Eagles won 25-11 on Monday Night Football. But that might as well be a lifetime ago, as these squads headed in very different directions down the stretch. Tampa was essentially the exact opposite of the Eagles over the final six games, going 5-1 over that span.

Jalen Hurts may have regressed as a passer this season, but he remains extremely lethal as a runner. His 15 rushing touchdowns this season are tied for the most by quarterback in a season in NFL history. But it can’t all just be on Hurts. The Eagles really need Brown to suit up for this contest. He’s coming off a massive 1,456 receiving yards and 106 catches in the regular season. Both Brown and DeVonta Smith get to face a Bucs perimeter corner duo of Carlton Davis and Jamel Deal, who have combined to allow 10 touchdowns on the season.

Tampa is making their fourth straight playoff appearance, but this is the first one over that stretch without Tom Brady under center. Things looked bleak at the start of the season, but credit where credit is due to Baker Mayfield. He’s revitalized his career and posted 4,044 passing yards and 28 scores in the regular season.

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Mayfield’s presence has also helped Mike Evans stave off Father Time for at least one more season. Evans posted his 10th straight season with 1,000-plus receiving yards, the second longest streak in NFL history. It hasn’t been as good for Chris Godwin, who managed just two touchdowns this season. Though Godwin gets the more favorable coverage draw in this game. Darius Slay is expected to travel with Evans, leaving Godwin to face the human turnstile also known as James Bradberry. He allowed a massive nine receiving scores in the regular season.

The Eagles are a road favorite in this one and did cover as 5-point favorites in Tampa back in Week 3. However, this Eagles team has failed to cover six straight games. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield is 2-0 against the spread in his career during the playoffs. Both of those covers came with the Browns in 2020.

Betting Records This Season

PHI: 7-8-2 ATS, Over is 10-7
TB: 11-6 ATS, Under is 11-6

Projected Score 

PHI 24.3 – TB 20.5

Jeff’s Game Pick 

Philadelphia

Best Bets

Jalen Hurts Anytime TD

(-120, FanDuel Sportsbook)

He posted 15 rushing scores in the regular season and found paydirt in 11-of-17 games played. If you think he can score twice, FanDuel has him at +550 for two-plus touchdowns.

Rachaad White Over 91.5 Rushing & Receiving Yards

(-114, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Expect the Bucs to lean on Rachaad White heavily in this one. He’s topped 20 touches in five of his last six games and has gone over this line in nine of his last 12 games.

Chris Godwin Anytime TD

(+245, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Godwin figures to see James Bradberry for most of the game with Darius Slay on Mike Evans. Bradberry tied for the league lead with nine touchdowns allowed.