Who to Bet on Entering Wildcard Weekend: Early Leans

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We look at the opening lines and decide who to bet on before the lines change!

San Francisco 49ers -9.5 (-110) vs Seattle Seahawks

I hope Seahawks fans show their gratitude to the Lions, because if not for them Seattle would be prepping for April’s NFL draft right now. I would have much rather preferred to see Detroit get a shot at the Niners, given how exciting they were to watch all season (I feel like I’m the Captain of the Lions bandwagon) or even Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for that matter (because he’s still Aaron freakin Rodgers), although I think we have enough of a sample size as to how Green Bay fares against San Francisco in the playoffs… Here we are, though, with a divisional matchup between two teams that couldn’t be further apart right now.

Seattle has lost 5 of their last 8 games (congrats on beating the Rams twice), and scored a combined total of 20 points in their two losses to the Niners this season. I know it’s difficult for any NFL team to beat an opponent 3 times in a season, let alone cover such a big spread, but the Seahawks can’t stop the run, which is a problem when you’re facing a team that excels at running the football. The return of Elijah Mitchell from injury is just another weapon in the Niners massive offensive arsenal, and Mr. Irrelevant seems to be pretty adept at putting his team in positions to succeed by protecting the football and getting it into his playmakers hands. I think this line gets back over 10 points before kickoff, so I’m locking it in now, but it’s also important to keep in mind that double-digit favorites are 11-3 in the playoffs since 2010.

Oh yeah, San Francisco’s defense isn’t too shabby either.

Jacksonville Jags +2 (-110) vs LA Chargers

I went back and forth on this pick, because there’s no denying that LA is the vastly superior team on paper in regards to talent, but I just don’t think Brandon Staley is a good head coach. I’m going to disregard the beat down the Jags gave the Chargers on the road during week 3, because quarterback Justin Herbert was coming off a rib injury against the Chiefs the previous week, and honestly probably shouldn’t have even been playing in that game, plus it’s not like LA actually has any semblance of a home field advantage regardless.

I don’t know what was going through Staley’s head when he made the decision to play his starters for the majority of their loss to the Broncos last weekend, in a meaningless game, but the result was Mike Williams suffering an injury to his back, leaving his availability for this week’s game in question. If Williams is unable to take the field, it will be a massive blow to the Chargers offense, and I’m sure there are at least some players in that locker room who blame Staley for that, even if they won’t admit it. When asked about his decision to play his starters for so long, in a meaningless game (can’t stress that part enough) his response was “they’re not easy decisions, and in hindsight, it’s perfect for everybody on the outside, but these games are not easy to manage”. So there you have it, the Chargers head coach considers managing games difficult for him…

Say what you want about how Doug Pederson’s tenure with the Eagles ended, but I’ll take the coach with a Super Bowl ring, who has never told reporters that doing the job he’s paid to do is too hard for him in what I expect to be a close game.

Buffalo Bills -13 (-110) vs Miami Dolphins

It pains me to write this, but the Bills are going to boat race the Dolphins this weekend. This line has already moved 4 points today, as it becomes more apparent that Skylar Thompson will start under center for Miami, but remember that double-digit favorites are 11-3 in the playoffs since 2010, and that includes 9-0 playing at home. I so badly wish that Tua was healthy and able to take the field, after proving only a month ago that he can hold his own up in Buffalo in the cold, but that’s not the case, so here we are…

Throw in the fact that Damar Hamlin will likely be present in the stadium for this game, and it adds up to Bills Mafia on steroids. Hey, at least the Dolphins made the playoffs, right?!?!

Tampa Bay Bucs +3 (-110) vs Dallas Cowboys

Throwing out Tampa’s week 1 victory against the Cowboys in Dallas, I still can’t shake the feeling that Brady finds a way to win this game, so I’ll gladly take a field goal here. The Cowboys are 1-4 playing on a grass field this season, and choking in the postseason is pretty much their bread and butter. Brady and Mike Evans looked pretty in sync during their time on the field together against the Falcons last weekend, while Dallas looked like trash in their loss to the Commanders, in a game where they seemingly still had something to play for. I just don’t think Dak Prescott is anything more than an average quarterback, and until he actually proves me wrong, I’ll continue to boycott every product he endorses.

If the Cowboys do indeed lose this game, I’m putting my money on Sean Payton being their head coach next season.