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NFL Wild Card Weekend best bets and top player props

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Giants and Vikings are an NFL wildcard best bet
Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) celebrates in front of New York Giants cornerback Nick McCloud (44) after kicking 61-yard field on the final play of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 27-24.
AP Photo/Abbie Parr

The NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with Wild Card Weekend, which is now a six-game, three-day extravaganza thanks to the additional playoff team in each conference. Below we’ll walk you through some of our best bets for spreads, totals, and even player props to make your weekend of football even more exciting. 

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Wildcard Weekend Best Bets

Spreads

Chargers (-1) over Jaguars

The Chargers are one of the more complete teams in the NFL, but they have a bad habit of beating themselves. That’s one of the main reasons that you can find these odds down at -1 since the Chargers are definitely the more talented team in this matchup. 

Jacksonville is a great story and has a strong passing game behind an evolving Trevor Lawrence, but that might not be an asset against this Los Angeles defense. Since their Week 8 bye, the Chargers have improved tremendously as a defense, especially in their secondary, ranking 2nd in pass DVOA. They also got pass rusher Joey Bosa back two weeks ago, which should make life harder for Lawrence in the pocket. 

The Jaguars are also a poor defense against the pass, which is not good against a pass-happy Chargers team led by Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Austin Ekeler. Mike Williams is expected to practice this week, which would make him likely to play, so it’s hard to bet against the Chargers at home. 

WHERE TO BET: You can get -1 at BetMGM (-110)

 

Bucs (+2.5) over Cowboys

You’re also not going to feel comfortable betting against Tom Brady in the playoffs, especially since he is 7-0 straight up in seven starts against the Dallas Cowboys. In those seven games, he’s thrown for 277.8 yards per game and 2.14 TDs per game.

We’re also seeing a more familiar version of Brady lately, throwing for more than 280 yards in four of his last five games. In Week 17, when the Bucs starters played the whole game, Brady completed 34-of-45 passes for 432 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Mike Evans 10 times for 207 yards and three scores.

That could be a problem for a Dallas defense that is going the wrong way. Even though they still rank high in season-long metrics, they’ve allowed 27.2 points per game over the final five weeks of the regular season and struggled in three straight weeks against offenses led by Gardner Minshew, Joshua Dobbs, and rookie Sam Howell in his NFL debut.

Those guys are not Tom Brady, and the Cowboys feel like a likely pick to get tripped up early in the NFL playoffs. 

WHERE TO BET: DraftKings (+110)

 

Game Totals

Minnesota/New York UNDER 48.5 points

These two teams played on Christmas Eve with the Vikings winning 27-24, which obviously is more than the 48.5 total points here. However, at the start of the fourth quarter, that game was 13-10 so we shouldn’t overreact to one quarter of offensive prowess. 

We know the Giants are going to want to control the clock and run the ball with Saquon Barkley. Keeping this low scoring is their only chance to pull out a victory. We also know that the Giants have been playing better defense in the final month of the season, ranking 9th in expected points allowed per play. Their defense should be able to get pressure on Kirk Cousins, which could muddy up this game and keep it under the total. 

WHERE TO BET: DraftKings (-110)

 

Baltimore/Cincinnati OVER 41.5 points

These two teams also just played last week in a game that finished with 39 total points. However, the larger context is important, just as with the Giants game. The Bengals were up 27-13 at the end of the third quarter and had scored 24 points in the first half, so they really slowed down last week. I don’t expect them to do the same in the playoffs. 

The Ravens were also starting Anthony Brown at quarterback and opted not to play Mark Andrews, so their offense was nowhere close to full strength. While Lamar Jackson “faces an uphill battle” to play, Tyler Huntley should be back under center for Baltimore in the worst-case scenario, which will make their offense better than what we saw in Week 18. 

Cincinnati can put up points in a hurry, ranking in the top five in the NFL in expected points added per play, so I think this total is factoring in the Baltimore quarterback questions a little too heavily. 

WHERE TO BET: BetMGM (-110)

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Player Props

George Kittle OVER 41.5 Receiving Yards

Kittle appears to be a favorite of rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, registering a target per route run over 20% in the five games Purdy has started. While Deebo Samuel will be back, that shouldn’t impact how much Purdy trusts Kittle and if it rains during this game, as it’s projected to, Kittle could become even more of a safety valve. 

Considering Seattle also runs a zone defense, which Kittle does better against, and ranks 27th in the NFL in DVOA against tight ends, this is setting up to be a strong afternoon for the 49ers’ star tight end.

WHERE TO BET: FanDuel Sportsbook (-114)

 

Christian Kirk longest reception OVER 22.5 yards

I don’t usually bet longest reception props, but there are a lot of things that line up for this one to be a best bet.

For starters, I mentioned above that I think the Chargers will be ahead in this game, so even though their pass defense has been better of late, Jacksonville should throw often and it will only take one good throw to hit this prop.

Second, Kirk has beaten this prop in 12 of his 17 games this season, and the Chargers allow 11.9 yards per completion, which ranks 30th in the NFL. Kirk averages 13.2 yards per reception this year and had 16.5 yards per catch last week in what was essentially a playoff game against the Titans. If we expect him to be used similarly this week in a game his team should be trailing, there is a decent chance to hit this. 

WHERE TO BET: BetMGM (-105)

 

Dawson Knox anytime touchdown scorer 

Anytime touchdown bets should be played more for fun because the odds are never truly in your favor, but Knox stands a solid chance to get into the end zone this weekend. The Dolphins ranked 25th in the NFL in pass defense DVOA this season and ranked 30th in DVOA versus tight ends. 

After scoring last week against the Patriots, Knox now has four consecutive games with a touchdown and is the team’s second-most targeted player in the red zone over that span, trailing only Stefon Diggs. If we expect Buffalo to move the ball against Miami and get into the red zone then there’s a good chance Knox will get a few looks from Josh Allen. 

WHERE TO BET: Fanduel Sportsbook (+220)

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Dawson Knox is an wildcard weekend NFL best bet
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) celebrates with wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Orchard Park. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

 

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