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NFL AFC Wild Card Weekend: Why you should bet the Dogs and Unders

T.J. Watt

T.J. Watt

Michael Longo/For USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

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NFL AFC Wild Card Weekend Trends

This article will bring you trends worth noting for the Wild Card Weekend, such as ATS marks for quarterbacks, teams and situations as the dog or favorite.

A great stat for Wild Card Weekend to kick us off is brought to you by Joe Osborne of Oddshark. Underdogs are 15-7 ATS (68.1%) and 10-12 on the ML (45.5%) over the last five years of Wild Card Weekend. The Under has also been profitable with a 63.6% hit rate over the past five seasons.

Steelers at Chiefs (-12.5): O/U 46.5

Patrick Mahomes has played in eight postseason games over his career and sits at 6-2 on the ML (75%) and 5-3 ATS (62.5%).

In those eight games, the Chiefs were the home team for seven of them, winning six (87.5%), per NBC’s Edge Finder. Both of the Chiefs’ playoff losses came to the hands of Tom Brady and the Pats or Bucs.

While I think Kansas City gets the win because Ben Roethlisberger is no Brady, the spread is quite large for a playoff game.

KC with Mahomes in playoffs

KC with Mahomes in playoffs

Kansas City has only been a double-digit favorite once in the postseason with Mahomes. Kansas City was -10 against Houston in 2020 and won 51-31.

On the other hand, Roethlisberger has plenty of postseason history to go off. The Steelers have played 22 playoff games with Big Ben under center. In those 22 games, Roethlisberger is 11-11 ATS (50%) and 13-9 on the ML (59.1%).

Pittsburgh has lost three straight playoff games with Roethlisberger and are 2-8 ATS (20%) in the past 10, plus 3-7 on the ML (30%).

As the underdog at home or away, Roethlisberger is 4-4 ATS (50%). When he is a road underdog in the playoffs, Roethlisberger is 3-2 ATS and on the ML (60%).

The Steelers are 1-0 ATS and on the ML as double-digits dogs, beating the Colts back in 2006 on Jerome Bettis’ famous goalie fumble where Big Ben made a touchdown saving tackle. We cannot put any stock into that.

Over Roethlisberger’s entire career, he has only been a dog of +10 or heavier three times, going 1-2 ATS and on the ML. The Chiefs’ 36-10 win was the last game when the Steelers were +10 or worse.

The Chiefs ended the season 9-1 SU with its only loss to the Bengals in a shootout. The Steelers will not be able to match the Chiefs’ offense, but the defense of Pittsburgh could keep this competive for most of the game.

I expect the Chiefs and Bengals to be the two-heaviest bet favorites this weekend. If this number gets towards +13 or +14, I will be forced to play the Steelers or use them in teasers at +20 and +21. I do not think we see a repeat of the first time these two squads met.

Raiders at Bengals (-6.5): O/U 49.5

The Bengals have had four playoff home games since 2006 and lost every single one.

In those four losses, one game was decided by single-digits, while the other three were losses of 10 or more points, giving the Bengals a 10.7 points per game differential in that span, per NBC’s Edge Finder.

Are you going to back Joe Burrow to break that streak?

Bengals 0-4 at home in playoffs

Bengals 0-4 at home in playoffs

While Burrow and the Bengals have been the apple of my eye when it comes to fantasy, this is real-life betting and I want a winner.

Burrow will make his first career NFL postseason start after missing December and January last season. Burrow suffered a knee injury in Week 12 of last year and missed the remainder of the season. He has played like his knee is 110% this season, tossing 34 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, along with two rushing scores and 118 yards on 40 carries (3.0 ypc).

The weather is supposed to be impactful for this matchup as well. There are chances of snow from 1-3 inches along with the obvious cold weather of January in Ohio.

Las Vegas being an indoor team, could struggle if the weather is that bad, but something tells me weather doesn’t decide a playoff game -- and you should agree.

The Raiders last made the postseason in 2017 and 2003 before that. The Raiders are 6-3-1 ATS (60%) in its last 10 playoff games, but as you can imagine -- they were all a long time ago dating back past 15 years.

Las Vegas is not as talented as Cincy, not the sexy pick either but will likely be the sharp play with most pro/big bettors, while the public will back the Bengals -- and that is ok with me.

I will wait and try to get the +7 for the Raiders, but the Under 49.5 could be the play if it drops to 45 due to weather.

Patriots at Bills (-4): O/U 43.5

This could be the best game of the entire weekend.

Josh Allen versus Mac Jones. Let’s go baby!

This will be Jones’ first career playoff game, while Allen will make his fifth start in the postseason. Allen is 1-3 ATS (25%) in his playoff career with Buffalo and 2-2 on the ML (50%).

In the last four meetings between these squads, Buffalo has won three outright, all as the favorite. Which is funny, because over the previous 10 meetings, Buffalo still has three wins and were the underdogs consistently until Tom Brady left town, per NBC’s Edge Finder.



In the previous five matchups, the Over is 3-1-1 (60%) with only one total listed above 43.5 before kickoff (47.0 and it went Over).

It’s hard to back a rookie quarterback in his first NFL playoff start, especially on the road. At least Burrow will be at home.

The Bills closed the season out on four-game winning streak, all coming by double-digits. However, those wins came against the Panthers, Patriots, Jets and Falcons -- not impressive.

New England finished the season 1-3 on the ML (25%) over the final month of the season, dropping games to the Bills, Colts and Dolphins, while beating the Jaguars.

The Patriots are sliding right now, even against solid teams and I will have to hold that against them. New England will not be able to win like they did in the 14-10 primetime meeting earlier this season against Buffalo.

We saw the Bills come out completely different in its 33-21 win over the Patriots during Week 16.

I like Buffalo and with the spread at -4, it makes me believe this could be a touchdown-difference or more between the AFC East rivals.

New England started the season 6-0 SU on the road and 5-1 ATS (83.3%) this season, before losing and failing to cover in the final two road games.

I like Buffalo in this one and will see what type of line movement we get. If it moves back to Buffalo -3 with money coming in on New England, that would still be fine to play the Bills, in my opinion. I prefer the field goal, but will wait it out before taking the -4. If this moves to -4.5 or -5, I will likely grab the Bills quickly at -4 out to -125 odds.

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