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NFL Prop Bets Preview - Wild-Card Round Picks and Predictions


It was a hectic Week 17 that saw playoff hopes gained and lost. The Ravens and Colts clinched the final two spots in the AFC while the Eagles clinched the final spot in the NFC as the Vikings choked away their season. There are many new teams to this year's playoffs as opposed to last year. In the AFC, we have the Texans, Ravens, Chargers, and Colts. The NFC newcomers are the Bears, Cowboys, and Seahawks.

In this column, I will be breaking down all four games of Wild-Card Weekend including several prop bets for each whether it's a player prop or game prop. Prop odds I used were on FanDuel Spoortsbook, Sportsbook.ag, and sportsinteraction.com.

These props are not only recommended bets but can also help you gauge a player while making your DFS lineups.

Editor's Note: All you early birds can get a full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our Draft Kit, In-Season tools and over 150 days of Premium DFS. Sign Up Now!

 

Colts +1 @ Texans - Saturday - 4:30 PM ET

All season long, I've consistently said the Texans are vastly overrated and an average team. Their best wins came against the Colts and Cowboys. Those wins came back in Weeks 4 and 5. Week 4 saw Frank Reich go for it on fourth down from his own territory with less than a minute left in overtime. A week later, Jason Garrett bypassed going for it on fourth-and-inches from Houston territory in overtime and punted instead. Houston came down and score thanks to DeAndre Hopkins. Those are literally their two best wins.

The stats agree with me also. They rank 17th in yards per play, 20th in third-down conversion percentage, and 28th in red zone touchdown scoring percentage. Their defense is good ranking ninth in opponent yards per play and then you add the 25 combined sacks from J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney and you have a defense that can keep you in games. However, the Colts gave up the least amount of sacks in the regular season and ranked 12th in allowing Andrew Luck to get hit.

These teams played a month ago where the Colts won 24-21. But Luck had a game. He was only sacked twice and threw for 399 yards and had 9.7 yards per attempt. Houston ranked 17th in opponent yards per pass attempt and was a yard worse at home, than on the road. Furthermore, they were 28th in opponent passing yards per game. Knowing that Houston was third in rushing defense, I expect the Colts to let Luck win this one for them.

Recommended Prop Bets: Andrew Luck OVER 287.5 Passing Yards (-120), Andrew Luck OVER 25.5 Pass Completions (-120), Colts OVER 23.5 points (-141)

Prediction: Colts 27 - Texans 17

 

Seahawks +2 @ Cowboys - Saturday - 8:00 PM ET

Both of these teams like to run the ball and both do it effectively. Dallas is 10th behind the NFL's leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliot. Seattle is first and runs it the most in football, 52% of the time. Both are top-ten in times of possession. Both have above average defenses with solid pass rushes. Both have elusive quarterbacks. Get the point already? These teams are very similar in how they operate. But of course, there are some major differences that will decide this one.

The Cowboys rank 27th in getting off the field on third down. That's not a stat to be bad in when facing Russell Wilson who can evade tacklers and stick that ball out to move the chains. Another major key in this one will be the ability to score touchdowns in the red zone. The Seahawks rank eighth while the Cowboys are 29th. Both teams are top-ten in opponent red zone touchdown scoring. The final key to this game is turnovers. Seattle is number one in turnover differential. The Cowboys are 12th. And just another fun stat I like to check is DVOA. Haven't heard of it? Here's a short version, "It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation." The Cowboys are the lowest-rated playoff team at 21st just ahead of Jackonsville and behind the Falcons, Browns, Packers, and Titans. Seattle is 12th.

This will be a tightly-contested close game that'll come down to the end. Wilson has been in many more big games than Prescott has and knows what it takes to win. Ask yourself this, who would you rather put your hard-earned money on, Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott?

Recommended Prop Bets: Ezekiel Elliot OVER 20 Rush Attempts (-120), Russell Wilson OVER 22.5 Rushing Yards (-120)

Prediction: Seahawks 20 - Cowboys 16

 

Chargers +3 @ Ravens - Sunday - 1:00 PM ET

The team who's tied for the best record in the AFC will have to travel east to raucous Baltimore for an early 1 p.m. start. But that doesn't faze the Chargers. They've already beaten the Bills and Browns at 1 p.m. Eastern time. The Chargers are also tied for the best road record in football with the Saints at 7-1. That's probably because they don't have much of a home crowd so are used to playing in front of opposing fans. While their road record is stout, it takes them time to get going. San Diego is fifth in first-half scoring, but over their last three, are 30th with 5.7 points. In that same span, the Ravens have averaged 12.2 first-half points per game. But the second half tells a different story. For the last three games, the Chargers are averaging 15 points while the Ravens are averaging 10.7 points.

Baltimore is going to run the ball a majority of the time behind Lamar Jackson. Their last three games has seen them run the ball 63% of the time which is the main reason why they lead the league in time of possession. And all that time with the ball, means their defense is on the field less, which is a major bonus for the best statistical best defense in football (first in opponent yards per play and third in opponent third-down conversion percentage). But, they rank 26th in opponent red zone touchdown percentage. That'll be the difference in this game. The Chargers are 10th in that department and first in their last three games.

These teams played two weeks ago and you can be sure the Chargers are ready to slow down the Ravens rush attack. Jackson will need to throw the ball to beat the Chargers which is no easy task. They're ninth in pass defense. Phillip Rivers has been phenomenal this season coming through in the biggest moments. He led them to comeback wins in Pittsburgh — down 16 at halftime — and in Kansas City after trailing by 14 with eight to go.

Recommended Prop Bets: Ravens Halftime Result/ Chargers Fulltime Result (+675), Ravens -2.5 First Half (-115).

The reason why I like Ravens first half; "Since 2002, Pacific and Mountain Time Zone NFL teams have been outscored 202-56 in the first half of all 1 p.m. ET playoff games."

Prediction: Chargers 23 - Ravens 19

 

Eagles @ Bears -5.5 - Sunday - 4:30 PM ET

This is the best game of the weekend and it's fitting that it's the last one. You have the hottest quarterback in Nick Foles taking on the best defense in football from historic Soldier Field. Foles has reinvigorated this Eagles team. They've won three in a row and improbably made the playoffs. But when you look closer at Foles's states, you'll see he's thrown an interception in each of his last three games. Not a big deal? Well it is against the Bears because they feast on turnovers. They rank third in turnover differential while the Eagles are 25th. This game will come down to Foles because the Eagles are 28th in rushing while Chicago has the best rush defense. When you're forced to pass, the pass rushers like Khalil Mack get going and then the game can get out of hand.

Philly's secondary is not good ranking 30th in pass defense, but their defensive front is good. They rank seventh in rushing yards per game and can get to the quarterback ranking eighth in sacks. Mitchell Trubisky will need to make some plays, and that he will. Matt Nagy has put Trubisky in positions to succeed all season. He will get Swiss army knife Tarik Cohen going early with screens. Trubisky will also have success on the ground as he's rushed for 200 more yards at home than on the road.

The two biggest games the Bears have played in have been in prime-time. Week 11 against Minnesota and Week 14 against the Rams. The Bears defense clobbered both of those teams. They get up for these big games. You have to knock the defending champ out and the Bears defense will be up for the challenge.

Recommended Prop Bets: Nick Foles UNDER 252.2 Passing Yards (-120), Mitchell Trubisky OVER 24.5 Rushing Yards (-120)

Prediction: Bears 27 - Eagles 20

 

Best of luck and be sure to check in next week for my preview of the best weekend in football, the Divisional Round!

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