Eli’s NFL Wild Card Picks: My Favorite Against The Spread Bets

Written By Eli Hershkovich on January 14, 2023
NFL picks

After going 47-25 (+18.89 units) with my picks in the regular season, let’s try to keep things rolling in the playoffs. Below are my NFL picks for Wild Card odds, including Giants at Vikings and Ravens at Bengals.

Join our Discord betting channel (under the #roles server) and receive an immediate notification whenever any of our staff members makes a bet. Click on any of the odds below to place a wager, too.

Giants at Vikings: Spread, Moneyline, Total

In case you’ve missed the headlines, Minnesota won a NFL-record 11 one-score games this season. That insinuates that negative variance may be headed the Vikings’ way, especially versus an opponent that outplayed them on paper in Week 16.

However, New York has a negative theory working against itself as well. First-time playoff quarterbacks are 16-34 straight up and 14-35-1 against the spread versus QBs with at least one postseason nod. Not all trends are worth considering, but Daniel Jones certainly fits this description.

So, is either team worth betting for your NFL picks? Mind you, there’s a notable line adjustment from their previous game (-4.5), too.

Giants’ Health Improving

I wound up backing the road underdog on Tuesday, which you’ll find in our aforementioned Discord betting channel. For one, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee), safety Xavier McKinney (fingers), edge rusher Azeez Ojulari (ankle), and nose tackle Leonard Williams (neck) are all expected to suit up.

Not only is Jackson’s top-30 coverage grade notable versus All-Pro wideout Justin Jefferson, yet the latter two names also supply defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale with vital pieces versus Minnesota’s underwhelming offensive line.

On top of that, the Giants blitz at the league’s highest rate. That won’t aid Kirk Cousins, who parades the ninth-worst Dropback EPA against the blitz. The first time around, New York struggled in coverage while pressuring with more than just its front four, but Jackson’s presence should help mitigate those concerns.

Related: Super Bowl 57 Odds

Mismatch On The Sidelines

Although Cousins’ counterpart will be under pressure in his own right, Giants head coach Brian Daboll presents plenty of postseason experience. I trust Daboll to adjust from their last meeting — particularly with a more balanced attack.

In New York’s three-point defeat on Christmas Eve, Jones accrued 42 dropbacks while tailback Saquon Barkley only received 14 touches on the ground. Granted, Jones boasts the second-highest passer rating versus zone looks, which represents Ed Donatell’s vulnerable defensive structure. But his unit also ranks No. 21 in rushing success rate.

For context, a play is deemed successful if it produces:

  • 50 percent of the yards needed to move the chains on first down
  • 70 percent of yards to gain on second down
  • 100 percent of yards to gain on third or fourth down

Expect a heavier dose of Barkley in their rematch, allowing the Giants to milk the clock via their below-average pace in neutral situations (per Football Outsiders) in the process.

Beat The Closing Line Podcast: NFL Wild Card Betting Breakdown

To listen to the audio-only version of this episode, subscribe to “Beat The Closing Line” on Apple Podcasts.

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Ravens at Bengals: Spread, Moneyline, Total

Since Sunday, Cincinnati () has compiled the highest percentage of bets to win the Super Bowl at BetMGM Sportsbook. But despite the betting public’s infatuation with the defending AFC champs, there’s reason to back the other side.

Market Inflation Is Evident

Teams on a winning streak of eight or more games have gone 9-22 (29.0%) ATS in the NFL postseason. As I mentioned earlier, trends aren’t worth contemplating unless there’s context. Here, we’re seeing a slightly blown up spread because of the Bengals’ red-hot record, along with the Ravens’ situation under center.

Lamar Jackson, the 2020 NFL MVP, will miss his sixth straight game with a sprained PCL in his left knee. Whether Tyler Huntley (shoulder) or Anthony Brown receives the nod, the market clearly doesn’t respect Baltimore’s offense.

Nevertheless, Joe Burrow & Co. have scuffled of late, tying for the league’s fourth-fewest yards per play (4.6) in their last three games.

For a second straight week, they’re up against a Ravens defense that has been invigorated by the Roquan Smith trade. Baltimore boasts boast the third-rated defensive DVOA — 12 spots higher than their previous ranking — since acquiring the All-Pro linebacker ahead of Week 9.

If Mike Macdonald’s bunch can deliver a similar performance from the Week 18 loss to the Bengals, it’ll set up its offense to play ball control with its elite zone rushing scheme. Similar to the Giants, the Ravens’ tempo in neutral situations ranks No. 22 across the NFL.

Cincinnati is also most susceptible on the ground. These factors should help establish a positive script for the well-rested J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

NFL Picks Conclusion

I backed Baltimore at +9.5, and I’d still play it down to +8.5. Good luck with your own NFL picks for Super Wild Card Weekend.

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