Our Favorite NFL Wild Card Betting Picks for Titans vs. Patriots
Billie Weiss/Getty Images. Pictured: Sony Michel, Tom Brady
- Our experts reveal how they're betting Saturday's NFL Wild Card matchups.
- Find their picks on the Titans vs. Patriots spread and over/under below.
The NFL playoffs are here!
Wild Card Weekend kicks off with a pair of AFC matchups, and our experts are all over both:
- No. 5 Bills at No. 4 Texans: 4:35 p.m. ET
- No. 6 Titans at No. 3 Patriots: 8:15 p.m. ET
Let’s dig into their six favorite picks for Saturday’s games, including spreads and over/unders as well as props.
NFL Wild Card Betting Picks: Bills-Texans, Titans-Patriots
Odds as of Saturday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Stuckey: Texans -2.5
There’s slight value on the Texans since I make this spread higher than a field goal.
The coaching mismatch does scare me, especially since I assume Sean McDermott and his staff have been preparing for the Texans for the past two weeks as they clearly had no interest in their meaningless Week 17 matchup against the Jets.
The Bills were much better than I thought earlier on, but they still defeated only one playoff team all season, and that was the Titans back when Marcus Mariota was under center. They were also gifted four missed Titan field goals from Cairo Santos (who was then waived) in a 14-7 victory.
The Bills definitely benefited from the easiest schedule among all AFC teams (SOS .461) as well as favorable weather conditions in a number of games that may be contributing to some inflated defensive statistics.
So, while both teams finished with a 10-6 record, it was a much more difficult path for the Texans. They finished with a 3-3 record against playoff teams — and they rested starters for their Week 17 loss to Tennessee — while the Bills went 1-4 with their lone win coming against a completely different Tennessee team.
J.J. Watt’s return is the wild card here. The Texans defense has fallen off a cliff without him, and while I don’t expect he’ll be at full strength, he’ll draw attention and could still easily make a game-changing play or two.
While the coaching edge favors the Bills, the Texans have the better quarterback (with playoff experience), home-field advantage and are coming off the hardest strength of schedule among all AFC playoff teams (.520). I expect them to move the ball on the ground and for Deshaun Watson to make just enough plays through the air and with his legs to pull out a close victory.
And don’t sleep on their punting advantage!
Stuckey is 319-268-9 (54.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Sean Zerillo: Bills WR Cole Beasley Over 47.5 Receiving Yards
The playoff team that has struggled the most against slot receivers is the Texans, who finished in the bottom five in points saved (-40.1) against the slot, per Sports Info Solutions.
Their defense allowed a 57% positive play rate to slot receivers while permitting 9.24 yards per target, finishing 29th and 31st in those respective categories.
A lot of that damage has come against Bucs castoff Vernon Hargreaves III, who is responsible for a league-worst -12.8 points saved since joining Houston in Week 12. But fellow corner Gareon Conley ranks as a bottom 15 corner (-6.3 points saved) in the slot over the same span.
Beasley sat out Week 17 against the Jets, but he abused the Pats secondary, who ranks in the top two against slot receivers in most categories, in his last outing; and I anticipate that he’ll find room against Houston while working as the security blanket for the conservative Josh Allen in this road playoff game.
I’ll bank on Beasley achieving his season average (51.8 yards per game) in a strong matchup.
Zerillo is 277-205-10 (57.5%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Mike Randle: Carlos Hyde Over 64.5 Rushing Yards (-113)
As fans, we’re attracted to speed and power, especially with running backs. Hyde has been undervalued all season because he’s a 29-year-old plodder. However, as the lead back in a home playoff game against the Bills, Hyde’s props jump off the page.
Hyde has exceeded this number nine times this season, but the casual fan will be swayed by recency bias. He managed only 27 yards at Tampa Bay and 13 at home against Tennessee. However, the Buccaneers and Titans both rank top-10 in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA.
The Titans get to face a Bills’ run funnel defense that allowed 4.6, 5.3 and 5.9 yards per carry to opponents primary backs over their last three road games.
I would be the over up to 67.5 rushing yards.
Randle is 246-242-5 (50.4%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Sean Koerner: Dawson Knox’s Under 24.5 Receiving Yards
Knox has been a low-volume tight end all season, but he has a high yards per catch at 13.9. I have him regressing with an expected yards per catch of 12.3. I also have him projected to average 2.0 receptions in this game.
In my 10,000 simulations, he averages 24.2 yards per game but a median of 17.0. Despite averaging right around 24 yards across the sample, he finishes with fewer than 24.5 yards more than 60% of the time.
Chris Raybon: Patriots -5
It seems like every season we enter the playoffs with some reason to doubt the Patriots — and maybe we should.
But not yet.
Not in Foxborough, where the Patriots are 10-5 against the spread all-time in Wild Card and Divisional Round matchups with Tom Brady, including 7-1 in their past eight.
Not against Ryan Tannehill, who has gone 0-6 as a starter in Foxborough, losing by an average of 22.2 points per game.
And certainly not in Tannehill’s playoff debut, a spot that has led to a dismal 12-31-1 ATS record since 2002 for teams going up against a quarterback with playoff experience.
The Patriots are a flawed team, but they’re equipped to handle the Titans.
Belichick will focus the efforts of a run defense that finished the season ranked sixth in DVOA on stopping Henry. Five of his six 100-yard games came against run defenses ranked 20th or lower, and none came against a unit better than 14th. And when Tannehill goes to the air, the Patriots’ league-best pass defense led by Gilmore should be able to limit rookie sensation Brown, who accounted for 29% of Tannehill’s yardage and 27% of his passing touchdowns over the quarterback’s 10 starts.
And finally, I’m not ready to declare Brady dead yet. There have been more struggles than we’re used to, but it’s not as if he’s suddenly inept. Just two weeks ago, Brady went 26-of-33 for 271 yards and a touchdown with no picks against a Buffalo pass defense ranked fifth in DVOA to put the AFC East in the bag for the Pats.
With the stakes once again raised, I’d expect Brady to be similarly-efficient against a shaky Titans’ pass defense that ranks 21st in DVOA. And in honor of my colleague Stuckey, I’ll also point out that the Patriots have a massive edge on special teams, where they rank third in DVOA to the Titans’ 29th.
According to Simple Rating System, The Patriots’ schedule-adjusted margin of victory this season is 10.4. Even if we don’t adjust the Titans’ 6.6-point average margin of victory in Tannehill’s starts for their easier-than-average schedule or the 21-point beatdown they laid on the Texans team resting its starters in Week 17, this line should be Patriots -6.5 or -7 once you factor in home-field advantage.
I’d bet this up to -6.
Raybon is 191-150-11 (56%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Randle: Patriots -5
I simply can’t see the Patriots losing consecutive home games to the Dolphins then Titans. New England’s defense is still the best in the NFL, ranking first overall by a substantial margin. The Patriots are first in pass defense DVOA and sixth in run defense efficiency.
Historically, Tannehill has struggled against Bill Belichick defenses. Per Evan Silva, Tannehill has faced a Belichick defense 11 times and has held the quarterback to a 15-to-11 touchdown-to-interception rate and a 4-7 overall record. With Stephon Gilmore shadowing A.J. Brown and rain in the forecast, the Titans will have their most challenging set of defensive circumstances they’ve faced all season.
While the Titans’ defense has been stout against the run, they have been very generous to opposing pass catchers. They’ve allowed 101 receptions to opposing running backs, second-most in the league. Look for both James White and Rex Burkhead to find success in the passing game.
This is a bet on the Brady-Belichick legacy and against a Tennessee team on the road against a historic defense. The rumor of the Patriots demise has been greatly exaggerated (at least for one week). I’m giving the points with the Patriots in Foxborough.
Matthew Freedman: Titans-Patriots Over 44.5
Since Tannehill became the starter for the Titans in Week 7, they have put up points with ease.
- Tannehill’s starts (10 games): 30.4 points scored, 23.9 points allowed
- Other starts (six games): 16.3 points scored, 15.3 points allowed
They’ve also allowed significantly more points.
It’s possible opposing offenses have played more aggressively with Tannehill at quarterback since they know they need to score more points to keep up with the Titans.
On top of that, the Titans have a funnel defense that ranks No. 6 against the run but No. 20 against the pass in DVOA. Teams are incentivized to pass against the Titans, and given the superiority of the passing game, that could result in more points.
And perimeter cornerback Malcolm Butler (wrist, IR) hasn’t played since Week 13. He suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9, and since then the Titans defense has ranked No. 30 in pass success rate allowed (per Sharp Football Stats).
In Tanny’s 10 starts, the over is 9-1 (77.5% ROI).
Freedman is 551-427-22 (56.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.