Jan. 13, 2022
The NFL postseason festivities will begin this weekend with a jam-packed six-game slate that stretches from Saturday mid-afternoon all the way through Monday night - with the top-seeded Packers and Titans receiving the only two byes through the first round of action.
Mixing and matching different wagers often becomes overwhelming when the playoffs roll around, so VegasInsider betting expert Michael Crosson has you covered with a full slate of parlays and teasers to help handicap all six first-round events.
For my first play, I'll start with Saturday afternoon's postseason opener between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals. Coverage begins from Paul Brown Stadium at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
After finishing last in the AFC North with a record of 4-11-1 SU last year, the Bengals bounced back with a surprisingly excellent 2021 campaign, as Cincinnati defied its +2500 preseason odds to win the AFC North by posting a sturdy record of 10-7 SU and claiming the division crown for the first time since 2015.
On the other hand, the Raiders posted an identical record of 10-7 SU, yet barely snuck into the playoffs, as Derek Carr and company secured the top Wild Card spot in the AFC with a thrilling win-or-go-home victory over the Chargers in Week 18 (W, 35-32 OT).
I'll lay the points with Cincy here, as the Bengals' offense was phenomenal throughout the back half of the season, highlighted by Joe Burrow and company racking up 28 PPG on 361.5 YPG across their last eight games - which will likely serve as a steep uphill battle for a Raiders squad that's scored 17 PTS or less in seven of their last ten contests (19.4 PPG). For my second ATS play, I'll dive into Monday night's heavyweight NFC West rubber match between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams. Coverage begins from SoFi Stadium at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.
After jumping out to a red-hot 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS start to the year, the Cardinals completely fell apart during the back-half of the season and nearly missed the playoffs, as Arizona shamefully crossed the finish line riding a 3-5 SU and ATS skid - while averaging just 21.5 PPG and turning the ball over ten times during that time frame.
On the other hand, the Rams posted an impressive regular-season campaign in Matthew Stafford's first go-around under-center, as L.A. claimed the NFC West crown with a record of 12-5 SU, while ranking 7th in scoring at 27.1 PPG - and 9th in total offense at 372 YPG. I'll lay the points with L.A. here, as the Rams have scored 30+ PTS in three of the last six games, and if they approach that territory on Monday night - I highly doubt Kyler Murray and company will be able to match that level of production in a hostile road environment.
For my first moneyline play, I'll start with Round 3 between familiar AFC East foes, as the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills will square off for the third time since Week 13 on Saturday night. Coverage begins from Highmark Stadium at 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS.
After stumbling out to 2-4 SU start with rookie Mac Jones under-center, the Patriots quickly turned things around and seemingly had its sights set on the division crown during the back-half of the season - before ultimately dropping three of their last four games and coughing up their home-field advantage in the first round to Buffalo.
On the other hand, aside from a brief mid-season lull, Buffalo strung together an excellent 2021 campaign, as the Bills enter the playoffs sitting at 11-5 SU - highlighted by their top-ranked defense and third-ranked offense balancing a consistently rewarding formula.
I'll back Buffalo here, as New England's offense was incredibly difficult to trust through the waning days of the regular season, highlighted by the Patriots scoring 24 PTS or less in four of their last five contests - setting the stage for an unfavorable matchup against a Bills squad averaging 29.4 PPG across that same timeframe.
For my second moneyline play, I'll dive into Sunday mid-afternoon's compelling NFC matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Coverage begins from AT&T Stadium at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
After posting a relatively pedestrian start to the year (7-4 SU), the Cowboys quickly flipped the switch on offense down the homestretch of the regular season, as Dallas enters Sunday's contest sitting at 5-1 SU and ATS across the last six games - while racking up a lofty average of 34 PPG on 384 YPG during that time frame.
On the other hand, San Francisco snuck into the playoffs by posting an overtime victory over the Rams in Week 18, as the Niners finished up the regular season with a sturdy 4-1 SU and ATS run - despite their offense generating just 24.8 PPG across that span.
I'll back the Cowboys at home here, as San Francisco strung together an inspiring stretch of performances along their route to securing a postseason berth - but Jimmy Garoppolo and company will likely run out of steam in Sunday's road matchup against Dallas' top-ranked offensive attack (31.2 PPG, 407 YPG).
For the first leg of my teaser, I'll start with Sunday night's primetime AFC showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. Coverage begins from Arrowhead Stadium at 8:15 p.m. ET on NBC.
After stumbling out to a head-scratching 5-4 SU and 2-7 ATS start to the year, the Chiefs quickly flipped the script and looked like the best team in the league during the back-half of the season, considering Kansas City enters the first round of the playoffs riding an impressive 7-1 SU and 6- 2 ATS run - while averaging 32.4 PPG offensively and surrendering just 17.1 PPG defensively across that stretch.
On the other hand, after a rocky 5-5-1 SU start to the year, the Steelers surprisingly strung together wins in four of their last six regular-season games and snuck into the playoffs - which included gutsy upset victories over the Ravens (2), Titans, and Browns.
I'll take Kansas City by a touchdown here, as the Chiefs won six of their last eight regular-season matchups by six points or more, while racking up an average of 32.4 PPG on 401 YPG across that timeframe - and I highly doubt Ben Roethlisberger and company will be able to match that level offensive production on Sunday night.
For my second leg, I'll wrap things up with Sunday afternoon's NFC showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coverage begins from Raymond James Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX.
After posting a disappointing 3-6 SU start with Nick Sirianni at the helm, the Eagles showed remarkable resiliency and turned things around on both sides of the ball during the back-half of the season, as Philadelphia enters Sunday following wins in six of the last eight games - while averaging 27.1 PPG offensively and surrendering just 20.8 PPG defensively across that span. On the other hand, Tom Brady and the defending champs have played excellent football all year, as the Buccaneers claimed the second seed in the NFC with a sturdy regular-season record of 13-4 SU - while ranking second in the league in both scoring and total offense (30.1 PPG, 405.9 YPG).
I'll take Philadelphia plus a pair of touchdowns here, as the Eagles' defense has surrendered 17 PTS or less in six of their last eight games - and that type of defensive play should keep things competitive for the majority of this game.