Kent Tukeli | Sat 06/01/2018 - 14:27 EST

2018 NFL Wild Card Preview & Spread Predictions

2018 NFL Wild Card Preview & Spread Predictions

NFL Wild Card Point Spread Predictions

NFL Odds Courtesy of Sports Interaction

NFL Playoffs 100% Bonus Up to $200

Saturday, January 6th - NFL ATS Picks

Tennessee Titans (+380) at Kansas City Chiefs (-490)

4:35 PM EST Kickoff

The Titans backed into the playoffs with three wins in their last four games, earning a post season spot by defeating an unmotivated Jaguars squad with nothing to gain in week 17. Tennessee also enjoyed an easy schedule, helping boost their record to 9-7, which is middling for a playoff squad. A deeper look at the numbers reveal a team which was 19th in points scored and 17th in points allowed during the NFL regular season.

Kansas started the season on fire, winning five in a row, including victories against the Patriots, Eagles and division-rival Chargers. After a mid-season slump of six losses in seven games, the Chiefs ended their season with four consecutive wins, clinching their division in the process. Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt are elite offensive weapons, with the former earning the best passer rating in 2017, and the latter leading the NFL in rushing. Barring a massive meltdown, the Chiefs should ride home advantage to a dominant win.

Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -8.5

Atlanta Falcons (+190) at Los Angeles Rams (-230)

8:15 PM EST Kickoff

If the Falcons wanted to make up for the biggest Super Bowl letdown in NFL history, they didn’t make it easy on themselves this season. Atlanta clinched on the last day of 2017 with a win against the Panthers, and find themselves up against the most improved team in the NFL. Injuries will play a factor. Julio Jones plays through ankle and rib injuries, while Devonta Freeman will be running on an injured knee, limiting the Falcons best sources of yards.

Atlanta will need all the scoring they can muster against the best offense in the NFL, which averaged 29.9 PPG despite resting starters in week 17. Todd Gurley transformed into an unstoppable rusher who also receives at a high level, leading the NFL with 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 rushing and receiving TDs. Goff’s passer rating shot up to 100.5 this year after a rookie season with a 63.6 rating, throwing 23 more touchdowns than the year prior. 

The Falcons defense is much improved this year, but the Rams will prove to be too powerful on Saturday night.

Pick: Los Angeles Rams -5.5

Sunday, January 7th - NFL ATS Picks

Buffalo Bills (+305) at Jacksonville Jaguars (-395)

1:05 PM EST Kickoff

A miraculous 4th down TD pass by Andy Dalton sealed Baltimore’s fate, allowing Buffalo to sneak into the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Bills earned wins by playing it safe, taking few risks on offense while focusing on preventing big plays on defense. Since the AFC was weak, the Bills will compete in the postseason ranked 22nd in PPG and 18th in PPG allowed. The good luck is balanced with misfortune, as LeSean McCoy and Kelvin Benjamin hobble into the wild card round with lower body injuries.

They’ll be playing against the second-best defense in the NFL for PPG allowed and the fifth most productive offense. The Jaguars rode Leonard Fournette’s 1,040 yards and eight defensive touchdowns to top spot in the AFC South division, and Buffalo will have trouble surmounting this combination on Sunday afternoon. Jacksonville’s superb rushing defense will prevent McCoy and Taylor from gaining ground.

Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars -8.5

Carolina Panthers (+245) at New Orleans Saints (-305)

4:40 PM EST Kickoff

Potentially the best matchup on Wildcard Weekend, the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints already faced each other twice, with the Saints winning both games to claim the NFC South division title. Neither game was close, as New Orleans earned an average winning margin of 15.5 points. The Saints defense lost momentum over their last seven games, which suggests that this playoff matchup might be closer than the regular season.

New Orleans has the advantage because of their superior offense, which features Ingram, Kamara and Brees, all of whom enjoyed great seasons. However, Carolina should be respected because they made the playoffs despite a difficult schedule, beating the Patriots, Falcons and Vikings in key matchups. The Panthers will probably lose, but the game will likely be closer than a converted touchdown.

Pick: Carolina Panthers +7.0

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