2022 NFL Playoffs Wild-Card Round Picks, Preview & Odds
The best time of the (new) year is upon us: The 2022 NFL betting playoffs are finally here. This weekend kicks off the wild-card round with 12 of the 14 playoff teams in action — the AFC No. 1 seed Tennessee Titans and NFC No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers have byes — with intriguing pairings all over the place, including matchups between division rivals.
Let’s run through all six games and make some picks based on the current Las Vegas NFL odds:
Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals Odds by BetUs
|Raiders||+6 ( -100 )||49 ( -110 )||+195|
|Bengals||-6 ( -105 )||49 ( -110 )||-245|
Saturday afternoon’s first game of the weekend is between two teams who weren’t necessarily expected to make the playoffs. The Raiders — after a wild regular-season finale win against the Los Angeles Chargers — used a late-season, four-close-games winning streak to get in. Meanwhile, the Bengals had a big three-game winning streak in December to secure their division title and playoff berth.
No team other than the Kansas City Chiefs or Tampa Bay Buccaneers boasts as many high-level offensive playmakers as the Bengals, but six points is still a lot to expect for Cincinnati to cover. Derek Carr is playing the best football of his career right now, Josh Jacobs is running well and Las Vegas’ defense did a great job down the stretch. Look for the Bengals to win a very tight game, but the Raiders will play well enough to cover.
Pick: Raiders +6 (-110)
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Odds by BetUs
|Patriots||+4 ( -110 )||44 ( -110 )||+170|
|Bills||-4 ( -110 )||44 ( -110 )||-200|
As it did in the last matchup in Buffalo between these teams, the weather could play a big role Saturday evening. The Patriots and Bills are facing off with the temperature expected to be in the low single digits. This won’t make it easy for both Mac Jones — a rookie who played his college ball at Alabama and who grew up in Florida — and Josh Allen to grip the ball, and for their receivers to catch passes.
However, Buffalo gets the edge in that department since Allen is a little more used to the elements and because it’s clear that New England’s coaching staff doesn’t necessarily trust Jones in adverse conditions. Also, Jones limped to the regular-season finish line, with his performance dipping down the stretch.
The Patriots do have solid running backs in Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, but the Bills have a more well-rounded offense and should be able to outscore New England.
Pick: Bills -4 (-110)
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Odds by BetUs
|Eagles||+9½ ( -110 )||46 ( -110 )||+310|
|Buccaneers||-9½ ( -110 )||46 ( -110 )||-400|
The Buccaneers are, understandably, big Sunday-afternoon favorites against untested Philadelphia, who didn’t win a single game this season against a playoff team. While teams can only play the teams on their schedule — and Philly happened to play a lot of bad ones — it’s still pretty clear that the Eagles struggled mightily against good opponents.
Tampa Bay also isn’t a great matchup for Philadelphia since the Buccaneers have the NFL’s best rushing defense and the Eagles run the football more than any other team. Granted, quarterback Jalen Hurts running is different from a running back taking a handoff, but the sentiment remains.
It’s also going to be really tough for Philadelphia to stop quarterback Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ dynamic passing attack, even if Cyril Grayson is out. Tampa Bay’s spread is a lot to cover. However, if any team can handle a touchdown-plus teaser-line number, it’s the Buccaneers.
Pick: Buccaneers -9½ (-110)
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys Odds by BetUs
|49ers||+3 ( -105 )||51 ( -110 )||+140|
|Cowboys||-3 ( -115 )||51 ( -110 )||-165|
If you’re making NFL picks against the spread, this is the game to target as a potential upset. Dallas opened as a three-point favorite on the broader betting market. The spread has stayed put throughout the week, likely to remain until Sunday’s late-afternoon kickoff provided there’s no late-breaking injury or COVID news.
The Cowboys have been world-beaters lately, having won five of their last six games and playing impressive football on both sides of the ball. However, all five of those wins have either been against non-playoff teams or playoff teams resting starters (Eagles in Week 18). The Cowboys have lost their last three games against fellow playoff teams at full strength.
On the other hand, the 49ers have won three of their last four games against playoff teams, including a pair over the Los Angeles Rams. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown too many picks as of late, but he’s done just enough to win. Add in that the 49ers’ defense has really kicked it up another notch, especially in overtime wins over the Rams and Bengals.
Pick: 49ers +3 (-110)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Odds by BetUs
|Steelers||+13 ( -110 )||46 ( -110 )||+525|
|Chiefs||-13 ( -110 )||46 ( -110 )||-700|
The Steelers eked into the playoffs, so their reward is a trip to Kansas City and a Sunday-evening game against the Chiefs, winners of nine of their last 10 games. Kansas City is firing on all cylinders right now and has even gotten into a defensive groove, making Pittsburgh’s job difficult here.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has looked much better in recent weeks and the Steelers played well down the stretch, but they were shellacked, 36-10, by this same Kansas City team in Week 16. There isn’t much reason to think it won’t happen again.
The opposite number, Patrick Mahomes, is on fire and so are all of his weapons, so it’s reasonable to think the Chiefs will cover the almost-two-touchdown spread. The only thing really working in the Steelers’ favor is Kansas City’s playoff history of getting off to slow starts, then having to fight back in the second half. With how well the Chiefs have played for months, that doesn’t seem likely.
Pick: Chiefs -13 (Even)
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Odds by BetUs
|Cardinals||+4 ( -110 )||49½ ( -110 )||+165|
|Rams||-4 ( -110 )||49½ ( -110 )||-195|
Finally, we wrap up this week’s slate with another divisional matchup, this a Monday-evening affair. The Cardinals and Rams closed out the regular season in completely different directions. Arizona lost four of their last five games, including one at home to the Rams. The Cardinals have really struggled to replace DeAndre Hopkins’ production on offense, and have had issues maintaining pressure on defense.
The Rams won five of their last six games, the only blemish being a Week 18 home overtime loss to the 49ers. Even with quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing a handful of interceptions after being mostly mistake-free for much of the season, LA found ways to win. Stafford’s overall numbers don’t look great, but he’s been particularly good in fourth quarters (12 touchdowns and no interceptions).
This should be a pretty close game, but with the Rams needing to put things away late, Stafford will come to the rescue and deliver Los Angeles a win and a cover.
Pick: Rams -4 (-110)
Parlay all of these together for a payout better than +4600!