Week 17 was a losing week overall (14-16). We started out terrible (4-10) but closed well (10-6). We suffered the dreaded double on the Steelers, Bills, Patriots, Packers, and Colts. Though we did get a double loss on the Bills game, I did say betting the Bills in the first half was the best move to make for this game. Conversely, we got double wins on the Titans, Rams, Seahawks, and Washington. We scored our fourth direct hit on the year, picking the exact score in the Seahawks vs 49ers game (26-23). On the year, we finished 258-237 (52.12%).
This week is my favorite each season. This year, we’ll have six games for the first time ever. With the addition of the seventh team from each conference this year, we get two extra Wildcard games this year. With the hectic season finally over, it’s time to focus on the good teams (not Washington and Cleveland) for the exciting slate this weekend.
2020 Regular Season Record: 258-237 (52.12%)
A breakdown of Wild Card Week NFL picks
Here we take a look at all the main Wild Card Week betting lines from the BetRivers Online Sportsbook. Got a minute? Check out a summary of Collin’s picks below. Got some more time? Read on for Collin’s in-depth analysis for his picks this week:
|Matchup/Line||Collin's Pick||Take With the Spread||Over/Under|
|Colts @ Bills -6.5 O/U: 51||Bills 33 Colts 17||Bills||Under|
|Rams @ Seahawks -3 O/U: 42||Seahawks 20 Rams 17 (with Wolford)||pick||Under|
|Buccaneers -8 @ Washington O/U: 44.5||Buccaneers 23 Washington 13||Bucs||Under|
|Ravens -3 @ Titans O/U: 54.5||Titans 30 Ravens 27||Titans||Over|
|Bears @ Saints -10 O/U: 47.5||Saints 30 Bears 17||Saints||Under|
|Browns @ Steelers -6 O/U: 47.5||Steelers 27 Browns 20||Steelers||Under|
Colts @ Bills -6.5 O/U: 51
The Bills have had at least 20 first downs in every game this season. It’s a historic achievement, but more impressive given their mostly one-dimensional offense. Over the past ten weeks, the Bills are 9-1. They’ve covered in each of their last six games, and their three losses have all been due to unique circumstances. Their first loss was on a weird Tuesday against the heavily rested Titans, who came off an unexpected bye. The second loss was just five days later, on a short week, against the Super Bowl champions in awful weather (especially for the Bills style of play). The third loss was on the “Hail Murray.” The Bills had that game, before a miracle heave gave them the loss.
The Colts are a true hot/cold team, but have generally been easier to predict for a majority of the season (mainly due to their balanced offense). The usage spike and emergence from Jonathan Taylor lifted the Colts down the stretch, as Taylor rushed for 741 yards and seven touchdowns over his last six games. Defensively, the Colts are second in rushing yards allowed per game but only 20th in passing yards allowed. Offensively, Philip Rivers has a fairly talented group of pass catchers, but his dwindling arm strength and inconsistent play has been an issue this season, at times.
As far as the matchup goes, the Bills are the team everyone is talking about, but the Colts are the team they absolutely didn’t want to see in the Wildcard. For one, the Colts are a team featuring a dangerous rushing attack. The Bills’ defensive weakness is stopping the run. The key factor in this game will be similar to the Buccaneers in their game. The Bills will have to get out to a decent lead early and force the Colts away from running the ball. If the Colts can keep the game close, I expect we will see this game come down to the wire. However, if the Bills get a decent lead by the half, we could see this game snowball in their favor. I expect the Bills to come out fired up, attacking the Colts’ secondary early. I do expect they’ll get a decent lead, and Philip Rivers will struggle in his advanced age in such cold weather.
Bills 33 Colts 17
Rams @ Seahawks -3 O/U: 42
The Rams were an easy pick last week. It wasn’t because Kyler got hurt, but instead that Kyler came into the game hurt. As for the Seahawks, we picked the exact score of their game last week. Conventional wisdom says I should know how this game should turn out, but I’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t the case. After a blistering offense carried the Seahawks through the first half of the season, it was their improving defense that carried them down the stretch. The Seahawks were on pace to be the worst defense in league history, before eventually figuring it out. Over the last half of the season, the Seahawks went 6-2, but only broke 29+ points once (against the Jets). The offense has looked a bit disjointed, but the defense has been fairly decent down the stretch.
For the Rams, it’s been a roller coaster season. Jared Goff has been disappointing, to say the least. The Offense has been inconsistent, and the defense has had way too much responsibility keeping them in games. Defensively, the Rams matchup well with the Seahawks in this game.
In their first meeting, the Rams beat the Seahawks 23-17. It was the last game of a stretch of four games in which the Seahawks lost three of the four. Their offense had been somewhat solved, at that point, and the Seahawks were in the middle of an adjustment period. In their second meeting on December 27th, the Seahawks frustrated Goff, and the Seahawks managed a 20-9 victory. For the rubber match, I expect the Seahawks should get a little more from their receivers this time around. The Rams managed to mitigate the damage in the first two games, but you can only hold a guy like DK Metcalf down for so long. I’m anticipating a heavy pass rush from the Seahawks, regardless of who is at quarterback for the Rams. Honestly, if it’s Wolford instead of Goff, the Rams should have a better chance moving the sticks. Considering how bad Goff is under pressure and the plays Wolford can make with his feet, Wolford would be the bigger threat in my opinion. If Goff starts, I have the Seahawks winning 20-13. If Wolford starts, I have the Seahawks winning 20-17.
Seahawks 20 Rams 17 (with Wolford)
Buccaneers -8 @ Washington O/U: 44.5
The Bucs were a true hot/cold team for most of the year. They showed up in a big way against bad teams, mediocre teams, and the Packers. Their secondary is the biggest question mark headed into this game, but the offense is the engine that drives this train. On the season, the Bucs had one of the top offenses in the NFL. Their rush defense was also stellar, but the Buccaneers struggled most against efficient offenses who had formidable pass rush units on defense.
Washington is almost a completely one-dimensional team, at this point. Struggling early in the year on offense, Washington put together a strong stretch, led by an emerging rushing attack (led by Antonio Gibson) and an efficient, yet limited, air attack (led by Alex Smith). The biggest strength of Washington is their defense (more specifically, their pass rush). They are the ideal defense to be facing this Tom Brady-led Buccaneers offense. The defense should be able to do a good job keeping the Buccaneers offense at bay. The only question is, how effective will this offense be with a hobbled Alex Smith.
Like the Buffalo Bills up in the AFC East, the Buccaneers have an interesting playoff map. Both teams face difficult matchups, albeit from inferior overall teams this week. Assuming the Bills and Buccaneers advance, both have potentially ideal matchups next week (Bills will likely face the Steelers, who they handled easily, while the Bucs would face the Packers, who they also handled easily).
In this matchup, it’s hard to go against the Buccaneers. As rough as the Washington defense is, the offense is just so awful, I can’t imagine Alex Smith, who has the mobility of John Elway today, won’t be able to take advantage of the Bucs’ glaring defensive weakness. I trust Brady to get it done here, even in harsh circumstances. I expect this game to be very low-scoring, but expect a Buccaneers win. Just don’t expect a very exciting offensive game. Regardless, it’s hard to believe the NFL is putting Washington in another prime time game.
Buccaneers 23 Washington 13
Ravens -3 @ Titans O/U: 54.5
The have looked particularly impressive this year against bad teams. They have the best point differential in the NFL and have been one of the hottest teams down the stretch. Their offense is a complex, dynamic rush-based attack, with a few weapons in the air to make defenses pay for over-committing. Defensively, the Ravens were more impressive early in the season, but they seem to play well for stretches each week.
The Titans have been a hot/cold team this season, much like the Colts and Bucs. Offensively, they run a balanced attack on offense, but their defense is among the worst in the league (particularly the pass defense). Despite the balanced attack, the Titans’ success doesn’t rest solely on maintaining a balanced attack. In a number of games this season, the Titans have rallied from large deficits to either win or come very close to doing so. Any moderate deficit isn’t beyond their reach, and shouldn’t limit their offensive effectiveness.
When these two teams met earlier in the season, the Ravens ran the ball for a large portion of the game. Despite the success and a large early lead, the Ravens decided to attack through the air in the second half, thus dooming them against a Titans team with a lot of momentum. In the Divisional round last season, the Titans ruined the Ravens’ amazing season by confusing Lamar Jackson, putting the Ravens into a negative game script, and forcing Jackson to become one-dimensional. In this year’s playoff matchup, I like the emerging star, JK Dobbins.
Though Dobbins had under 150 carries, he led all running backs in YPC at 6. Dobbins brings a lot of juice to the Ravens at the position and will make it difficult for the Titans to slow the run game. Though the Titans are truly weak stopping the pass, Lamar Jackson has failed to exploit their secondary in his last two tries. The Titans have a surging Derrick Henry, an efficient quarterback, and two great receivers.
I don’t expect this game will feature the same momentum swings we’ve seen over the past 12 months between these two, but I can’t imagine Mike Vrabel won’t have a bag of curveballs to throw at Lamar again this time around. I like the Titans in a close game.
Titans 30 Ravens 27
Bears @ Saints -10 O/U: 47.5
The Bears have been one of the most depressing teams of 2020. With any luck, we’ll only have to endure one game of Mitch Trubisky this playoffs. The Bears got off to a hot start. Following a lucky victory in Week 1, the Bears simply couldn’t put up with any more one-hop grounders to open receivers from Trubisky. Nick Foles filled-in admirably for a few games, but defenses eventually figured him out as well.
Following a six-game slide in the middle of the season, the Bears finished out well, winning three of their last four with Trubisky under center. He didn’t look horrible during that stretch, but the Bears are still just a team with a pretty good defense and only offensively potent against bad defenses.
The Saints, I feel, have gotten unlucky on the injury front this season. They managed to get the Broncos without an actual quarterback, so that was a nice break. Otherwise, the offense has been mostly dump passes to Alvin Kamara, gadgetry from Taysom Hill, and great defensive plays.
These two teams met earlier in the season, and it was closer than many expected. The Saints were comfortably ahead by ten late, but the Bears rallied to tie it, before ultimately losing on a late field goal. This time around, I am expecting more from the Saints. Michael Thomas missed the first game between the two, and the Saints are a lot more dynamic when Thomas can hold the secondary in check.
I don’t think the Bears will be able to string together many successful drives in the game. I imagine the Saints will control the game early-on, with the Bears hanging around for a good portion of the game. At some point in the second half, Trubisky will make one huge mistake, leading to a deficit too great to overcome. I like the Saints to pull away
Saints 30 Bears 17
Browns @ Steelers -6 O/U: 47.5
I don’t know where to start with the Browns. Late in the season, everyone was petitioning Kevin Stefanski for coach of the year. It made sense on the surface, but down the stretch, the Browns lost two of their final four. They lost to the Jets, as Stefanski made zero adjustments to his game plan. They beat the Giants, who don’t have a quarterback, and the Steelers (barely) who benched their quarterback and best defensive player.
The finale against the Steelers was just awful playcalling for a majority of the game. Forget the fact the Browns are 11-5 and look at how they actually have a negative point differential. This team really isn’t that good. They’ll be without their Pro Bowl guard, their other star defensive end, and their head coach.
The Steelers have been a team who was just good enough to beat everyone through eleven weeks. Once Washington ended their run, they seemed to hit a rough patch for a few games. Now, their key players are rested and ready to face the shorthanded Browns.
The Steelers are essentially a quick passing offense, much like the Patriots of several seasons ago. After thumping the Browns early in the season, the Steelers rested key guys last week and barely lost. This week shouldn’t be anything close to last week.
Given the two earlier matchups between these two, it’s safe to say the Steelers should take care of business in the rubber match. I expect the Browns will have success running the ball, but I like for the turnover-friendly Steelers defense to force a few and give the Steelers the cushion they need to hold off the Browns.
Steelers 27 Browns 20