Broadway Best Bets is a weekly NFL betting article selecting our preferred NFL lines to gamble on each week. Note: Sports gambling advice is intended for recreational purposes only. All odds and lines are from William Hill US Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.
It’s Wild Card Weekend in the NFL, and there are two days worth of games for everyone to enjoy. The new playoff format has given fans two more games to watch this weekend. The NFL is dubbing it “Super Wild Card” weekend, and it’s going to prove to be one of the most exciting playoff weekends the NFL has ever seen.
Let’s dive into the games from a betting perspective.
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Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (-6.5)
Total Points: o/u 51
Kickoff: 12:05 p.m. CT
The Pick: Over 51 (-105)
The Buffalo Bills are on a six-game winning streak and in those games have averaged 38.2 points scored (!), going over 30 in four of those six games. They also ended the regular season as the second-best scoring offense with 31.3 ppg on the year.
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts are 4-2 in their last six games, and have allowed an average of 25.7 ppg to opposing offenses. Those offenses included the Jaguars, Steelers, and Raiders, all subpar units compared to the Bills. The Colts offense is scoring 29.2 ppg in those last six.
The Colts are 6-2 when it comes to hitting the Over on the road, while the Bills are 5-3 to the Over at home. The biggest thing people will talk about is Philip Rivers in the cold.
It’s going to be 36 degrees and partly cloudy at kick off, and while the cold could affect Rivers, he isn’t really needed as Jonathan Taylor has burst onto the scene.
The Bills are the 17th-ranked defense in rushing yard, and they are sixth-worst when it comes to allowing rushing TDs. The Colts defense hasn’t had an interception in the last 3 games and have allowed an average of 316 passing yards — plus they got gashed by a pitiful Steelers attack.
Player to Watch: Keep an eye on Stefon Diggs’ status as he is questionable heading into this game.
Colts Player Prop: Jonathan Taylor over 77.5 rushing yards (-112)
Bills Player Prop: Josh Allen longest rush over 11.5 rushing yards (-112)
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-3)
Total Points: o/u 42.5
Kickoff: 3:40 p.m. CT
The Pick: Seattle ML (-170)
This game is a mess from the get go. The over/under is set at 42, which, in all honesty the way these two teams are playing right now, is a toss up even though it seems very low.
Seattle’s defense has crumbled. Russel Wilson went from MVP candidate to complete NFC afterthought. D.K. Metcalf has only scored once in the last six games, and he’s about to face off against all-world Jalen Ramsey.
Then you have the point spread of SEA -3… When two teams play each other over the years as often as these two, you never know what’s truly going to happen, but the winning team in this matchup has won by more than three points each of the last three meetings. They’ve split the season series each of the last two years.
Jared Goff has a broken finger, and he just had surgery. Even if he does play, does a hampered Jared Goff instill you with confidence? That is why I am taking the easy money(line) of Seattle Seahawks at -170 (on William Hill US).
That combination of odds and the pick itself presents the best value.
Line Movement to Watch: The point spread. -2.5 or lower in favor of Seattle is good value.
Seahawks Player Prop: Chris Carson anytime touchdown (+125)
Rams Player Prop: Cooper Kupp over 52.5 receiving yards (-112)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8) at Washington Football Team
Total Points: o/u 44.5
Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. CT
The Pick: Winning Margin: Tampa Bay by 1-13 points (+140)
The typical betting philosophy is bet the team you have the most faith in. However, the Washington Football Team has that exact kind of defense that has caused Tom Brady problems all of his life.
This defense, combined with the story of Alex Smith presumably behind center – combined with the inspiration of Ron Rivera – should not be overlooked. It is the reason they are hosting a home playoff game.
Then you look at the Tampa Bay defense facing nothing of real note on the Washington offense. This going to be a downright slugfest. The value pick is choosing the team you have faith in, but choosing them to narrowly win.
The Football Team is going to send tons of pressure from all angles to keep an aging Tom Brady skittish, but ultimately this is a three-phase game, and Tampa Bay is light years better on offense, while the two teams are very close on defense.
This is why the value lies in the winning margin. It is an often overlooked section of the bets because the public is so focused on nailing the spreads and other common wagers. However, if a bettor is inclined to bet +8 or even -8 in this game (at -110 juice), they should look at taking a safer bet with better odds, such as Tampa Bay to win by 1-13 points.
Note: If your book doesn’t offer such a wide margin of victory prop, you could look to bet two smaller winning margins at longer odds. The line above is available on FanDuel’s sports book.
Line Movement to watch: If the over/under moves higher go under.
Football Team Player Prop: J.D. McKissic over 54.5 rushing/receiving yards (-112)
Buccaneers Player Prop: Rob Gronkowski over 3.5 receptions (+120)
How Betting Lines Work
A quick reminder for anyone unfamiliar with betting lines. “Favorites” are listed next to a negative number, which represents how many points they must win by to “cover the spread.” Titans -2.5, for example, means that Tennessee must beat the Broncos by 3 points or more for bettors to win. Gamblers can also bet on the game’s “total,” betting on whether or not the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a pre-selected number of points.
“ML” or “moneyline” is not against the spread, just picking the winner of the game. Many people refer to the moneyline as “straight up,” but this can be confusing, because if you’re ever at a betting window in Vegas, a “straight bet” means you are betting on the point spread. Instead of saying “straight up,” you’d want to say “moneyline” when you mean to pick the winner of the game regardless of the point spread to avoid any possible confusion.