NFL wild-card betting angles: Beware of big underdogs

VSiN’s NFL experts dig into some betting angles on Sunday’s NFL playoff games:

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-10, 47.5)

Tuley: Regular VSiN readers probably are assuming I’m taking the Bears — and not just because I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and have a daughter named after Walter Payton, but also because they’re the biggest ’dogs on the board. However, though most others are passing on the Bears because of a lack of faith in Mitchell Trubisky, the thing that keeps me off them is that the better defense is actually on New Orleans’ side — which adds to the lack of faith in Trubisky.

I think the Bears’ defense will also step up and give Chicago its best chance, which is why I think the best play is on the Under. If this line weren’t quite so high, I’d recommend a teaser on the Saints, but I don’t like -3.5 and I’m not crazy about paying extra juice to buy seven points to get it under a field goal.

Baltimore Ravens (-3, 53.5) at Tennessee Titans

Hill: About a month ago, I gave out Ravens +1400 to win the AFC on “My Guys in the Desert,” and I bet it at that number as well. Though I feel even better about that ticket now, this line seems a tick high, especially at such a key number.

These teams have met twice in the past year. The Titans shocked the Ravens as double-digit underdogs last January in one of the biggest playoff upsets of all time. They played again in the regular season, and the Titans won, 30-24, in overtime as 6-point ’dogs. Both games were at Baltimore, while Sunday’s game will be at Tennessee.

Establishing the lead will be crucial — neither team plays as well as a drop-back passing team, both excel off play action. I’d make a large wager that whoever wins the coin toss will take the ball first to try to make the other team play from behind.

The Ravens are playing incredibly well and lead the league in point differential, but they have feasted on the underbelly of the league recently. Blowing out the Jaguars, Bengals and Giants does not justify this high of a line over a Titans team that has had their number. Take the points in what could be another classic and maybe the best game of the weekend.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5, 47.5)

Tuley: When I originally submitted my plays for the VSiN NFL Best Bets page in Point Spread Weekly, I included Browns-Steelers Over 46.5, then the total was bet to 47 and even 47.5 on Tuesday, and I changed it to Bears-Saints Under 47. My trust in the Over also took a hit when it was announced Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski will miss the game after a positive COVID-19 test. I expect this game to be more like the Steelers’ 38-7 rout on Oct. 18 and less like the Browns’ 24-22 win this past Sunday, in which Pittsburgh nearly rallied to win despite being shorthanded. I’m not laying the points, but I’m including the Steelers in teasers, as they just have to win the game.

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