NFL Wild Card Predictions and Picks Against the Spread
Welcome to The Big Lead's Weekly Predictions and Picks ATS, playoff edition. Liam McKeone and Kyle Koster are grateful for your patronage through a rough season that saw them finish at 124-137. A sophomore slump. Happens to all the greats. But the postseason promises a fresh start.
Here are our Super Wild Card Weekend predictions and picks against the spread.
SEAHAWKS (+10) over 49ERS
That's a mighty big spread Vegas has got there. It makes sense, for sure. Seattle lost its first two matchups with San Francisco this year by a combined 28 points. Geno Smith has turned back into a pumpkin over the last five weeks after opening the year as a top-10 quarterback. The Seahawks needed an overtime field goal to squeak past Baker Mayfield and then a win from the Lions to even qualify for the postseason. But weird things happen in playoff football. Ten points is a lot to give to a Niners team with an untested rookie back there. And the last five or so years have belonged to Seattle in terms of their divisional rivarly. San Fran will pull it out but Brock Purdy is going to have an ugly introduction to playoff football. Niners 21, Seahawks 17
CHARGERS (-1) over JAGUARS
A line so narrow it may as well be a pick-em. The Jaguars will host a playoff game for the first time in five years but the fact that they were unable to pass the ball against one of the NFL's worst-ranked pass defenses in Week 18 is a touch concerning. There would be more faith here if Trevor Lawrence came in breathing fire in the way he did every other game for the second half of the year. The Chargers are not a perfect team and Brandon Staley might've cost himself Mike Williams by insisting his starters play against the Broncos. Yet it feels like Justin Herbert was made for playoff football, for inexplicable conversions when his team needs them most, for highwire acts in the red zone. He's going to deliver in his debut. Chargers 37, Jaguars 30
BILLS (-10.5) over DOLPHINS
It is both a blessing and a boon to do our picks this early in the week. This line is based off the assumption that the Dolphins will start either Teddy Bridgewater or Skylar Thompson, in which case it is definitely too low. But if Tua Tagovailoa is declared ready to go later in the week, the line will drop. Regardless of what happens with the QB situation, Miami is so banged-up defensively that it's hard to believe they'll be able to stop Josh Allen enough times for the offense to keep up. There will (probably) be no snow as an equalizing factor. Mike McDaniel might still have a trick or two up his sleeve but the injuries are just too much. Bills 34, Dolphins 13
VIKINGS (-3) over GIANTS
The Big Lead was the only somewhat reputable publication to predict that the Minnesota Vikings would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. We may be the only somewhat reputable publication predicting that they'll get there at this point, even though they have a home game against a limited team and can, at any time, throw the ball at the best wide receiver in football. The safest bet in this entire post may be that the public is going to fall all over itself to bet New York and the upset. And honestly, the whole point differential and Kirk Cousins-ness of it all makes it perfectly understandable. But here's the thing: The Vikings have a knack for winning close games. Daniel Jones has never been in a spotlight like this. This is a gift of a line. Three points at home with the season at stake? There is no reason to be afraid. We promise. Vikings 27, Giants 17
BENGALS (-6.5) over RAVENS
The Lamar Jackson question has not been answered. Joe Burrow, on the other hand, has answered every one of them over the past two years quite emphatically. Baltimore's recipe for success here is to turn back the clock and get a vintage defensive effort while winning the turnover battle. It's possible that that could happen, but why would you want to put yourself in a situation where that's the only hope? You don't need the aggravation! Not on the weekend. Bengals 23, Ravens 14
BUCCANEERS (+3) over COWBOYS
Dallas has a Dak Prescott problem and Tampa Bay's defense understands it must return to its Super Bowl-winning form. Unless Tom Brady decides to defy all expectations and make a lot of people feel very silly. Which could happen. In fact, while we're not willing to go quite that far, we're banking on one more playoff win for Touchdown Tom to savor. Buccaneers 20, Cowboys 17