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NFL Picks Against the Spread 2016: Wild Card Playoff Games

Here are my suggestions when trying to beat the odds.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Before the first round of the 2016 NFL playoff schedule kicks off, I thought we'd have some fun by looking at the spreads for this week's round of Wild Card games. Here are my suggestions when trying to beat the odds. You can find all of today's NFL betting lines and more at the SB Nation odds page. Click here for a complete schedule of this weekend's games.

I finished the regular season with a record of 112-114-7 after going 9-6-1 last week. So I'm at just below a .500 record. It's better than my 104-124-6 finish from the 2014 season. I did a pretty good job in the playoffs last year, so let's see if I can do that again this time around.


Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Houston Texans: Both of these teams started off slow. The Texans were at 2-5 before going 7-2 in their final nine games. More impressively, the Chiefs were 1-5 before rattling off 10 straight wins to end the season. Kansas City is the better team. They're more well-rounded. According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs rank sixth on offense, sixth on defense, and seventh in special teams. The Texans, meanwhile, are more defense reliant. Houston's offense ranks 24th and their special teams rank dead last at 32nd. I'd rather bet on Alex Smith than Brian Hoyer. I think Andy Reid gets this done. Pick: Chiefs -3

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals: I'll never be able to get over how Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the playoffs and still has a job. I know the Bengals win a lot of games under his leadership, but I'm genuinely curious to see how many playoff games he can lose and not get fired. The bad news for Lewis is his team isn't favored here despite being at home. AJ McCarron will start at quarterback due to Andy Dalton still suffering from a thumb injury. Outside of a three point road loss to a division rival in Week 16, it's hard not to like how the Steelers have played recently. They're averaging 32 points per game in their last eight. Cincinnati might not be able to match Pittsburgh's production. Pick: Steelers -3

Seattle Seahawks (-6) at Minnesota Vikings: These two teams met in Minnesota earlier this season and the game wasn't even close. The Seahawks routed the Vikings by a final score of 38 to 7. The result of that game doesn't guarantee a similar result this time around, but it's hard not to feel good about Seattle. Pete Carroll's team finished ranked No. 1 overall in DVOA. They put a hurting on the Cardinals in Week 17. It's just a matter of figuring out whether the Vikings will cover or not here. It's tempting to take the points, but I'm not going to do it. Pick: Seahawks -6

Green Bay Packers (-1) at Washington Redskins: Here's a take for you ... the Packers might be the worst team in the playoffs. They would be 3-6 in their last nine games if not for a Hail Mary touchdown to beat the Lions. You know something isn't right with the Packers when they get swept by their NFC North rivals in games at Lambeau. Making matters worse for the Packers is that they're seriously banged up. A total of 18 players were listed on the injury report this week, and only two were full participants. The whole starting offensive line is dealing with injury issues. Washington is actually going to win a playoff game with Kirk Cousins. You like that, Eagles fans? No, you don't. Pick: Washington +1

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