NFL Wild Card Picks: How We’re Betting Seahawks vs. Eagles
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert
- Our experts reveal how they're betting Sunday's NFL Wild Card matchups.
- Find their spread and prop picks for Vikings at Saints and Seahawks at Eagles.
Wild Card Weekend wraps up with a pair of NFC matchups, and our experts are all over both:
- No. 6 Vikings at No. 3 Saints: 1:05 p.m. ET
- No. 5 Seahawks at No. 4 Eagles: 4:40 p.m. ET
Let’s dig into their favorite picks for Sunday’s games, including spreads and over/unders as well as Sean Koerner’s favorite props for both matchups.
NFL Wild Card Betting Picks: Vikings-Saints, Seahawks-Eagles
Odds as of Sunday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Sean Koerner: Vikings +8
I projected the Saints as 5.5-point favorites, but was not surprised to see them favored by more than a touchdown when the market opened. The Saints are clearly the better team and at home, but I feel the public is over inflating the advantage due to recency bias here.
Drew Brees broke two NFL records in a 34-7 victory over the Colts in Week 15. The Saints then followed that up with two impressive road wins, including a 42-10 victory over the Panthers, who gave up when they fired Ron Rivera weeks before.
However, the Saints have been far from perfect over the second half of the season. They were stunned by the Falcons at home in a 26-9 loss then barely beat the Panthers 34-31 at home two weeks later.
As for the Vikings, they bombed on Monday Night Football in a 23-10 loss and were able to rest their starters in a meaningless Week 17 loss to the Bears.
That extra week of rest allowed them to get closer to full strength with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison set to return. Adam Thielen may also be closer to 100% this week thanks to the added rest.
The Vikings also have a +3.0 edge in expected Pythagorean win differential over the Saints — the Saints have been a bit lucky with a 6-1 record in one-score games.
We have to remember that the spread itself is not a prediction by the sportsbooks, rather a number that they let the market ultimately set as their main goal is to divide the action evenly. If they were to float a -5.5 line here, they would get hammered by Saints tickets.
I’m proposing that the undercurrent of sharp action will be betting this number toward -5.5, so I wanted to lock in the Vikings when they were getting more than a key number of +7.5 as it’s more likely to move to +7 by kickoff than it is to +10.
Sean Koerner is 182-134-3 (57.6%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow his picks in our free app.
Koerner: Cousins’ Under 1.5 Passing Touchdowns (+115)
The Vikings’ team total of 20.5 translates to 2.11 projected offensive touchdowns, with 1.45 of them coming via the pass. Cousins’ 1.45 passing touchdown projection implies there’s a 57.5% chance he finishes with fewer than 1.5.
You may wonder how a 1.45-touchdown projection is showing so much value on the under 1.5 touchdowns — how could 0.05 be worth that much? It has to do with the nature of a stat like passing touchdowns.
The expected distribution for a 1.45-touchdown projection looks like this:
Sean Zerillo: Tre’Quan Smith Over 19.5 Receiving Yards
Despite recording only 18 catches during his sophomore campaign, Smith has clearly taken over No. 2 receiver duties in the second half of the season.
After their Week 9 bye, Smith outplayed every receiver on the roster (save for Michael Thomas), ranking second each week in percentage of offensive snaps played: 83%, 60%, 71%, 74%, 78%, 67%, 54% and 62%.
Conversely, he Vikings pass defense really struggled against outside receivers over the second half of the season, permitting the highest positive play rate (58%) while finishing in bottom-five in expected points allowed and points saved.
The Saints move Smith and Thomas around their formations, and will look to exploit matchups against a secondary that didn’t have one starter who graded out positively by expected points allowed.
Smith can hit the over here with one big reception, and with Minnesota’s defensive game plan centering around stopping Thomas, Smith could have another big game after a solid one against the Panthers (5-56-1) in Week 17.
Zerillo is 281-209-10 (57.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow his picks in our free app.
Stuckey: Saints -1.5/Eagles+7.5, 6-Point Teaser
My favorite bet of the weekend is a classic “Wong” teaser, which I’ve detailed throughout the season in my weekly teaser piece and on our podcast.
By taking the Saints down from -7.5 to -1.5 and the Eagles up from +1.5 to +7.5, I’ve crossed the two all-important key numbers of 3 and 7.
This Seahawks team has been mostly smoke and mirrors, winning countless one-possession games and benefiting from turnover luck while facing a number of backup quarterbacks.
I’m sure Russell Wilson will have a chance at some late-game magic to pull this out, but I think the Eagles can keep this within one possession, which all but one of the 11 teams that lost to the Seahawks have done this season.
Meanwhile, I make the Vikings-Saints line around 7, but feel comfortable teasing this down to under a field goal with Drew Brees and his offense playing at such a high level right now. The Vikings’ weak cornerbacks simply won’t be able to stick with Michael Thomas and Co.
Oh, and you better believe the Saints will get any pass interference call that’s remotely close on Sunday.
Stuckey is 320-269-9 (54.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow his picks in our free app.
Zerillo: Saints -1.5/Eagles +7.5, 6-Point Teaser
I’m also showing value on this teaser.
All trends point toward the Eagles being undervalued against the Seahawks. For one, our simulations project them as 60.1% favorites in the matchup, suggesting that they should be -150 on the moneyline.
Furthermore, the public continues to pile on the Seahawks with more than 80% of spread tickets backing Russell Wilson (see live public betting data here). And per my colleague John Ewing, since 2003 teams are just 45.6% against the spread when receiving more than 80% of spread bets.
Darren Rovell isn’t buying Carson Wentz to continue his recent hot streak. PointsBet is giving everyone in New Jersey boosted odds to Fade Rovell and bet on the Over of 265.5 Passing Yards for Wentz (normally -115, now +110). New customers get an exclusive promotion: Deposit $50, bet with $150. No strings attached. No rollover required.
With so many injuries on their offense, I’m not entirely convinced that the Eagles win this game outright, but their defensive line should have an edge over a depleted Seahawks offensive line and their newly-minted running back tandem of Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch.
I fully expect the Eagles to keep this game within one score, and I’m happy to tease them to +7.5 or higher — but you might get a better number on Sunday morning.
In Saints-Vikings, I’m essentially playing both sides of the coin; betting on Minnesota to cover straight up while also teasing New Orleans down to -1.5 or -2 with the Eagles. I’m anticipating a couple of one-score games in these NFC matchups, and betting them thusly.
Koerner: Tyler Lockett Under 66.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
Lockett’s wide range of outcomes can provide some hidden value at times, and luckily, this is one of those times.
He has a great matchup against a vulnerable Eagles secondary and bettors will likely be eager to bet the over on this market. I have Lockett projected for 4.8 receptions, which results in a 64.1-yard average in my simulations. However, his median is 58 yards. Looking at his game log this season, you can see this phenomenon in action. His average yards per game has been 66.1 yards, but his median yards has been 51.5.
There’s a 58% chance he finishes with fewer than 66.5 receiving yards according to my simulations. This of course means it just meets my threshold.