Skip to main content

NFL Betting: What We Learned from the Wild Card Round

by January 11, 2021

Through the NFL playoffs, we will be taking a look back at what exactly happened from a betting standpoint in the previous round. What was the consensus favorite bet, what hit, and why? Hopefully, this will give us a better idea of how to bet on these games leading up to the Super Bowl.

Compare odds from all major sportsbooks for the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs >>

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills Betting Results

WILD CARD RESULT SPREAD O/U MONEY EXPERTS (SPREAD) EXPERTS (O/U) EXPERTS (ML)
11-5 (9-8 ATS)
24
+6.5
-107
o50.5
-110
+270
13-3 (11-6 ATS)
27
-6.5
-113
u50.5
-110
-345

This game came down to the wire as the Colts have been one of the best teams in the league at putting together comeback wins this season. This was an upset for bettors who had been cashing in on the Bills covering the spread in each of the last eight games. Their 11-5 ATS regular-season record was also the best in the league.

The Colts had every chance to win this game and actually put together one of the most historic losses in NFL history. They became the first team in NFL playoff history to lose after turning the ball over zero times and accumulating 450 or more yards of offense, per CBS Sports. Not only did the Colts accumulate more total yards than the Bills, but they were also more efficient at moving the chains as well, converting nine-of-17 third downs while the Bills converted just two-of-nine. The problem is, they didn’t put points on the board, and the Bills did with Josh Allen having a historic day of his own.

The Bills ended the regular season scorching, but I think this game showed us that they are really going to have to fight their way through the playoffs. The Colts were incredibly strong for a seventh seed team, but the Bills league-average defense will need to step it up and create some turnovers going forward if they want a chance at the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Betting Results

WILD CARD RESULT SPREAD O/U MONEY EXPERTS (SPREAD) EXPERTS (O/U) EXPERTS (ML)
10-6 (10-7 ATS)
30
+3.5
-105
o42
-110
+150
12-4 (8-9 ATS)
20
-3.5
-115
u42
-110
-180

The Rams pulled off a big upset on Saturday as they were the second-biggest underdog to win straight-up from a consensus-favorite standpoint in the Wild Card Round. Many expected the worst when former AAF star John Wolford was forced to make a start again with Jared Goff being just 12 days removed from thumb surgery. Wolford actually started pretty hot, but an injury of his own forced him from the game early and left the Rams with no choice but to put Goff in at less than 100%. The Rams avoided the passing game as much as possible and leaned on rookie Cam Akers who lit up the Seahawks front for 176 yards from scrimmage and a rushing TD.

Russell Wilson struggled to stay on his feet with his leaky O-Line. He took five sacks in the game and was hit 10 times in total. He threw for under 200 yards in the game but still connected with wideout DK Metcalf for two TDs.

We learned from this going forward in the playoffs that the Rams defense is still strong enough to keep them in games and consider them a solid bet ATS. They have now covered in back-to-back games. The early line opened with them at +7 against the Packers for the divisional round. The under had hit in each of the last four games for the Rams before this meeting.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team Betting Results

WILD CARD RESULT SPREAD O/U MONEY EXPERTS (SPREAD) EXPERTS (O/U) EXPERTS (ML)
11-5 (9-8 ATS)
31
-10
-109
o44.5
-115
-500
7-9 (9-7-1 ATS)
23
+10
-112
u44.5
-105
+375

The Bucs entered Wild Card Weekend as the second-biggest favorites from a moneyline standpoint and did not disappoint. They put up over 500 yards of total offense. Tom Brady threw for 381 yards against one of the league’s top passing defenses, while Leonard Fournette ran for 93 yards. If the Bucs can finally get their running game going for the playoff stretch, their offense will be hard to stop. Tampa’s defense allowed over 300 passing yards to XFL backup QB Taylor Heinicke in the game, but their run defense remained strong, allowing just 86 rushing yards.

This marks the fifth win in a row for the Bucs, who finished the regular season strong. Something to consider with them going forward, however, is that they have struggled against playoff-caliber competition all season. They lost to the Chiefs, Rams, and Bears this season and lost both matchups against the Saints who they will now face in the Divisional Round. They looked as strong as ever in the Wild Card Round, but they were completely blown out by the Saints in their last meeting, 38-3.

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans Betting Results

WILD CARD RESULT SPREAD O/U MONEY EXPERTS (SPREAD) EXPERTS (O/U) EXPERTS (ML)
11-5 (11-5-1 ATS)
20
-3.5
-105
o53.5
-110
-183
11-5 (7-10 ATS)
13
+3.5
-115
u53.5
-110
+150

The Ravens finally got their redemption against the Titans. They started the game in a 10-point deficit in the first quarter, but they stormed back and only allowed the Titans to score three more points the rest of the way. The Ravens defense notably held King Henry to 40 rushing yards on 18 attempts, which was easily his worst output of what was a historic season. Lamar Jackson put together a trademark performance, throwing for fewer than 200 yards with no passing TDs but running for 136 yards and a TD on the ground. The Ravens defense held the Titans to just 209 total yards of offense, which was the worst offensive output for the Titans all season. The Ravens defense has now held each of their last four opponents to fewer than 300 yards of total offense, but they also faced some weak competition at the end of the season.

We learned from this matchup that the Ravens might finally be in a place on both offense and defense to make it deeper into the playoffs. They have won their last six games straight-up and covered the spread in each of their last seven. The under has now hit in three-straight games for them. The early consensus line opened with the Ravens as +2.5-point underdogs against the Bills, which looks like a solid bet. The Ravens have only been underdogs twice this season and covered both times.

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints Betting Results

WILD CARD RESULT SPREAD O/U MONEY EXPERTS (SPREAD) EXPERTS (O/U) EXPERTS (ML)
8-8 (8-9 ATS)
9
+11
-110
o48
-110
+450
12-4 (10-7 ATS)
21
-11
-110
u48
-110
-625

There weren’t many surprises in this game. The Saints entered the weekend as the biggest moneyline favorites and the consensus favorite to win straight-up and ATS, and they did just that. The Saints simply played better on both sides of the ball. Drew Brees put together a solid-yet-unspectacular game throwing for 265 yards with two TDs. He threw no INTs and took no sacks while getting hit just five times. However, the Saints’ defense was the biggest factor here, as they held the Bears to just 239 yards of offense and allowed them to convert just one-of-10 third downs. The Saint also dominated the time of possession.

The biggest takeaway for me in this game was that, despite a solid win, the Saints’ offense wasn’t incredibly explosive. We have seen them perform better this season, like their 52-point outburst against the Vikings on Christmas, but that required a historic day from Alvin Kamara to make it happen. This game also showed us that their defense is still capable of completely shutting down teams. They’ve held each of their last two opponents to single digits and covered the spread in each of their last three. Considering they opened as just three-point favorites for the Divisional Round against the Bucs, a team they stomped 38-3 in their last meeting, they look like a decent bet ATS again.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Results

WILD CARD RESULT SPREAD O/U MONEY EXPERTS (SPREAD) EXPERTS (O/U) EXPERTS (ML)
11-5 (7-10 ATS)
48
+5
-110
o47.5
-110
+225
12-4 (10-7 ATS)
37
-5
-110
u47.5
-110
-240

Wild Card Weekend saved their best for last as things did, in fact, get super wild in Pittsburgh. The Browns jumped out to an unanswered 28-point lead in the first quarter before the Steelers decided to start playing football. The teams exchanged blows all evening, and when the dust settled, the Browns came away with one of the biggest upsets of the weekend. Just three experts had pegged the Browns to win straight-up based on our expert consensus, and the total of 85 points was easily the highest of the weekend. Losing back-to-back games against the Browns pretty much sums up the Steelers season, who have looked out of sorts for the better part of the back half of the regular season.

We learned from this matchup that the Browns are capable of putting up a lot of points on the board, but their defense is also susceptible to getting gashed themselves. They allowed over 500 yards of total offense to the Steelers in this one. That’s the second time this season they’ve allowed over 500 yards to an opponent this season. They have also allowed a boatload of points to playoff-caliber teams this season. They allowed 47 points to the Ravens in Week 14 and 35 points to the Titans in Week 13. That could be a disaster in the Divisional Round going up against a Chiefs team that just had a week of rest. The Browns opened as 10-point underdogs in that contest and haven’t been particularly strong ATS this season. The total of 55.5 for their matchup against the Chiefs is also the highest set total for the week.

Join the BettingPros Discord Chat for Live Betting Advice >>


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RadioPublic | Breaker | Castbox | Pocket Casts

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.

John Ferguson is a featured writer and editor at BettingPros. For more from John, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyFerguson.

NFL