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Betting Against the Spread: NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks and Odds

It's playoff time in the NFL and you wouldn't know it by some of the quarterbacks that are playing on Wild Card Weekend. We'll detail it, but let’s just say that not every team playing is exactly set at signal-caller and leave it at that.

 

Fortunately, the Sunday slate is shaping up to be more appealing and entertaining than Saturday’s doubleheader. It's been a tough year for me picking games, but that's going to change in the postseason.

 

Oakland Raiders (12-4) at Houston Texans (9-7), 4:35 p.m. ET (Sat.)

Just like everyone drew it up, expected and hoped for, it's going to be Connor Cook against Brock Osweiler as the quarterbacks in a game that actually matters. Things were going great for Oakland before the awful injury to Derek Carr that caused the Raiders’ offense to struggle. The team barely showed up in Denver and now must play its fourth road game over the last five weeks. That's got to be a factor in this one as Oakland's defense just isn't that good. Houston is nothing great either though as the Texans have lost four of their last seven. Osweiler gets the starting nod once again after being benched for Tom Savage. Houston has struggled to run it the last three weeks, managing just 210 rushing yards over that span. The good thing is that the defense has been stout when it mattered. The Texans held Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati to 47 points during a three-game winning streak in December. These two teams played in Mexico City back on Nov. 21 with Oakland winning 27-20 in a game that should have been closer if not for a bad whistle by the refs on a DeAndre Hopkins touchdown. This game will not feature as many points and Houston appears to have the advantage, playing at home and not having to face Carr again. Houston has covered 14 of its last 20 at NRG Stadium as a favorite. SELECTION: Houston 24-13

 

Detroit Lions (9-7) at Seattle Seahawks (10-5), 8:15 p.m. ET (Sat.)

The quarterback play upgrades in this one as Seattle hosts Detroit. The Lions limped down the stretch, losing three straight as the defense struggled to slow down Dallas and Green Bay after running into a hot Giants squad. Detroit has played four of its last six away from home so that could be a factor in this one. The Lions can't run it well and will have to find ways to beat the Legion of Boom, which is without All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have held three of their last five opponents to fewer than 200 passing yards, but Thomas’ absence has been evident at times. Seattle has alternated wins and losses over the last seven weeks, so it’s tough to get a handle on this team. One key is that Russell Wilson is healthier, which has made a difference on offense. It’s hard to bet against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in front of the 12s. And don’t forget the last time these two teams played in Seattle was in 2015 when Calvin Johnson fumbled it out of the back of the end zone and the controversy that ensued. Detroit has gone under in 17 of its last 23 games. SELECTION: Seattle 24-16

 

Miami Dolphins (10-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5), 1:05 p.m. ET (Sun.)

The Dolphins are one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs having won six of their last eight games. They are also on a road kick with this being the third of their last four away from Miami. Matt Moore will be under center for an injured Ryan Tannehill, and that could be a problem for the Dolphins’ offense. Pittsburgh will probably stack the box to slow down Jay Ajayi, which means that the WRs will have to step up. Miami’s defense also will need to play better after giving up 66 points to Buffalo and New England the last two games. Pittsburgh is at home for the third straight week and is looking to extend its winning streak to eight in a row. Ben Roethlisberger is a much better quarterback at home and the Steelers have legitimate weapons at both RB (Le’Veon Bell) and WR (Antonio Brown). The Dolphins have gone over in 12 of their games this season including 10 against the rest of the AFC. Pittsburgh is 9-5-1 ATS as a favorite this season. The Steelers have been a home favorite of 7.5 to 10 points just twice the last three seasons and have covered both times. SELECTION: Pittsburgh 27-20

 

New York Giants (11-5) at Green Bay Packers (10-6), 4:40 p.m. ET (Sun.)

The best game of the weekend will most likely be the coldest as the Packers host the Giants. Green Bay has won six straight since being written off for dead. Aaron Rodgers has been stellar and the offense has just one turnover during the winning streak. The defense also has done its part, limiting opponents to 18.7 points per game during the same span. New York has won six of its last night and its defense is second in the league in points allowed (17.8 ppg). The Giants spent a ton of money this offseason on upgrading that side of the ball and it shows. The problem is with the offense that has scored less than 20 points in five straight. Eli Manning has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in five of the last six games. New York has gone under in 12 of its 16 games. Green Bay has covered in nine of its last 12 games as a slight home favorite. The Packers beat the Giants at home back in Week 5 23-16. SELECTION: Green Bay 21-17

 

Top two plays of the weekend:

Packers/Giants Under 44.5

Texans -3.5

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

 

(Brock Osweiler photo courtesy of www.houstontexans.com)