2022 NFL Wild Card Weekend Early Bets: How to Bet Patriots-Bills, Bucs-Eagles, Rams-Cardinals
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots
The 2021-22 NFL playoffs are finally here. I’m so tired and worn down that I can’t summon the energy to write a more extensive introduction, but I honestly think that first sentence covers it.
The playoffs are here.
Although I’m not a trends bettor, I find that using the Action Labs database helps me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games.
Let’s take a look at a few trends for the early spreads and totals for this upcoming week. For the rest of my Wild Card Weekend plays, check out the FTN Bet Tracker as well as my best bets article.
All lines are from the Action Network NFL Odds page.
Abbreviations: Against the spread (ATS), return on investment (ROI).
Patriots +4.5 at Bills
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
The Bills should be favored over the Patriots, but anything more than a field goal is too much.
Both teams are top-10 in offensive and defensive expected points added per play (per Ben Baldwin’s RBs Don’t Matter website). They are Nos. 1-2 in the AFC in point differential (+194 and +159). Not much separates these teams.
And as AFC East rivals, they are utterly familiar with each other, which should help them keep this game close. Since 2003 (as far back as the Bet Labs database goes), road underdogs are 13-6 ATS (33.7% ROI) in the playoffs against divisional opponents.
Postseason divisional road dogs on average have outperformed the spread by a margin of +6.0 points per game.
For added measure, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is 27-15-2 ATS (25.8% ROI) as a road underdog since 2003 — and he’s 8-0 ATS (99.3% ROI) as a road underdog off a loss.
Action: Patriots +4.5 (-110) at DraftKings
Limit: +3.5 (-110)
Buccaneers -8.5 vs. Eagles
Kickoff: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
On the one hand, the Eagles are 7-3 straight up since head coach Nick Sirianni reenacted his favorite deleted scene from Silver Linings Playbook.
No way this guy actually interviewed for the job he has. pic.twitter.com/lCQaNjKImk
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) October 27, 2021
On the other hand, I still have little respect for his team.
The Buccaneers are No. 1 in offensive EPA per play (0.143), while the Eagles are No. 17 in defensive EPA per play (0.009). The Bucs and quarterback Tom Brady should be able to move the ball at will this weekend.
It helps that Brady is at home, where he has exhibited notable splits since joining the Bucs.
Brady at Home: 12-5 ATS | 38.2% ROI
Brady on Road: 9-11 ATS | -11.8% ROI
At Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs on average have outperformed the spread by a margin of +4.62 points per game.
Action: Buccaneers -8.5 (-110) at FanDuel
Limit: -9.5 (-110)
Cardinals +4.5 at Rams
Kickoff: Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
It is known that Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is something of a late-season fraud.
Another Kliff Kingsbury regular season in the books!
Let’s update how he’s ended every season as head coach
'14: lost 4 of 5
'15: lost 4 of 6
'16: lost 6 of 8
'17: lost 6 of 8
'18: lost 5 of 5
'19: lost 7 of 9
'20: lost 6 of 9 (1 win by Hail Mary)
‘21: lost 4 of 5
— Matt Mitchell (@olboyunclemitch) January 10, 2022
Kingsbury undoubtedly has the bonafides of a fake sharp, as evidenced by his deplorable 4-11 ATS record as a home favorite.
Kliff Kingsbury is now 4-11 against the spread as a home favorite. pic.twitter.com/LwTJ2zEYy8
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) January 10, 2022
But +4.5 feels like too much. These two teams are close. The Rams are No. 8 in offensive EPA per play (0.083); the Cardinals, No. 9 (0.079). The Cardinals are No. 6 in defensive EPA per play (-0.062); the Rams, No. 9 (-0.025).
And Kingsbury is no stranger to success on the road or as an underdog. Despite his fake sharpness, Kingsbury is something of a scrapper when pushed into a corner. As an underdog, Kingsbury is 18-7-2 ATS (37.4% ROI) for his career. On the road, he’s 17-6-2 ATS (40.5% ROI).
As a road dog? He’s 13-3-2 ATS (51.3% ROI).
No coach over the past three years has been more profitable for bettors to back as a road dog than Kingsbury.
A divisional matchup, this game could easily come down to a field goal.
Action: Cardinals +4.5 (-110) at BetMGM
Limit: +3.5 (-110)
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