NFL Wild Card Betting Picks From Analyst With 62% Winning Percentage

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After two rough weeks, we bounced back nicely with a 3-1 record in Week 18 to finish the regular season above 60% winning (41-25, 62%). Let’s see if we can carry that momentum into NFL Wild Card weekend!

Week 18 NFL Betting Picks (3-1)

Teaser: Chiefs-Raiders Under 58.5 points and Jaguars PK ✅

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Under 38 points ❌

Minnesota Vikings -7 over Chicago Bears ✅

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2.5 over Atlanta Falcons (1st Half) ✅

NFL Wild Card Betting Picks

George Kittle Over 43.5 Receiving Yards

It’s a well I went to many times early in the season and, quite honestly, never should have stopped going to. When facing the Seahawks, take the opposing tight end to hit his receiving props. I was actually quite shocked to see Kittle’s number so low — 43.5 yards? This is a guy that can knock that out with two grabs. Yes, he’s been held in check over the past two weeks: just 52 yards total.

But that’s not for lack of opportunity. He had 14 targets over those two games. In five games started by Brock Purdy, Kittle has at least five targets in each one. That includes a Week 15 matchup against the Seahawks in which Kittle went 4-93-2. Kittle was injured and didn’t play in the first meeting between the squads this season, but even backup Ross Dwelley had 38 yards. And Dwelley is not Kittle.

In Kittle’s last eight games versus Seattle, spanning five seasons, he averages 8 targets, 5 catches and 78.5 yards. Just twice in those eight games has he been held under 43.5 yards.

George Kittle has tormented the Seahawks in his career, no reason to think it won't continue in this year's NFC Wild Card matchup.
George Kittle has tormented the Seahawks in his career, no reason to think it won’t continue in this year’s NFL Wild Card matchup. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

Tight ends against the Seahawks are averaging 7.6 targets, 4.8 catches and 69.2 yards this season. They amassed over 1,100 yards total. Only the Titans allowed more yards to tight ends and no team allowed more fantasy points to the position than Seattle in 2022. There’s too much to like here to pass on this play.

Geno Smith Over 15.5 Rushing Yards

This number is way too low, quite frankly. Smith has eclipsed 15 yards rushing in each of his past five games and nine of the past 10. One of those games was against the 49ers.

And now it’s playoff time. That means do whatever it takes to win. Smith is going to have to play out of his mind to beat one of the best teams — and defenses — in the NFL. When push comes to shove, he’s going to need to take off and gain some yards with his legs.

The 49ers have allowed several non-traditional mobile QBs to run for more than 15 yards. Andy Dalton, for instance, rushed for 21 yards against them. Justin Herbert ran for 21 yards. Jarrett Stidham had 34 yards in Week 17. Russell Wilson ran for 17 yards.

Point is that San Fransisco is vulnerable to allowing QBs to scramble. And Geno is not shy about scrambling. He averages over four rushing attempts per game over the past 14 games. And, he averages six yards per carry when he does run. I think there’s more than enough here to hit this prop.

Jamycal Hasty Over 10.5 Rushing Yards

This seems like a strange one, I get it. But Hasty has quietly been stealing snaps from Travis Etienne. In fact, in a must-win game in Week 18 against the Titans, their snap share was nearly equal. Etienne was on the field for 55% of the snaps, while Hasty came in at 49%.

JaMycal Hasty saw enough snaps in Week 18 to give confidence he'll see the field in the AFC Wild Card matchup.
JaMycal Hasty saw enough snaps in Week 18 to give confidence he’ll see the field in the AFC Wild Card matchup. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Neither one did much work on the ground, but that’s because the Titans run defense is much better than the Chargers. Hasty only had three carries in the game, but Etienne had just seven. Again, not a massive difference between them. Etienne has also quietly been losing efficiency as the season goes on. That’s not surprising since this is his first full NFL season after missing all of last year.

In the first 10 games of the season, Etienne averaged 5.5 yards per carry. In the last seven games, that number dropped to 4.5. Still very good, yes. But it’s also buoyed by one blowup game against the hapless Houston Texans (9 carries for 108 yards). If you remove that game, he drops to 3.7.

This is not to say Travis Etienne isn’t good or that he is not important to this team. He absolutely is. But the Jags need to keep him fresh, especially if they’re going to make a run. They already limited his snaps in pseudo-playoff game last week. No reason they won’t do that again.

The Chargers are the worst in the NFL at defending the run, allowing 5.4 yards per carry. If that holds, Hasty would need just two carries to hit his over. I think he gets between 4-5 attempts, which is enough to gain 11 yards.

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Under 47.5

In building off of the previous analysis, Jacksonville is going to try to run the ball. I think the Chargers will too. Both teams have young quarterbacks making their first postseason start. They have coaches who will try to put them in the best position to succeed. Quicker throws, screens, run plays — all things that keep the clock churning.

Coaches tend to get more conservative in the playoffs, too. Both Doug Pederson and Brandon Staley are more on the risk-taking side, but I think that will be a little mitigated by the moment. That is backed up by recent trends, too.

According to the Philadelphia Enquirer, “Nearly two-thirds of all wild card games since 2015 have stayed Under the total (21 of 32) … Only once during this seven-year stretch did Over bettors turn a profit on wild card weekend: In 2020, the Over went 4-2. Remove that and the Under is 19-7 since 2015 (73%).”

Plus this:

Consider that last week Jacksonville’s offense managed just 13 points — they got a late fumble return touchdown just to reach 20 points. And prior to a bizarre final game against the Broncos, the Chargers defense had been very good. Between Weeks 14-17, Los Angeles opponents averaged 11 points per game.

Jacksonville has been a slight Under team this season, playing 9-8 to the Under. Los Angeles has a larger disparity, 10-6-1 to the Under. Prior to the Denver game, LA hadn’t seen a total go Over since Week 11 against the Chiefs. The Jags last three games have all gone under the total. Add it up and I think points will be hard to come by in this one.

Josh Allen Under 50.5 Rushing Yards

This is more of a gut feel because the stats do not back me up on this. And I am not afraid to admit that off the top. Allen has gone over 50 yards rushing in five of his six career playoff games.

But the Buffalo Bills have their eyes on a bigger prize. They’re massive favorites in this game — nearly two touchdowns — and I don’t think they want to risk their franchise quarterbacks health in any way, especially with a likely matchup next week against last season’s AFC Champion. To me, that means less designed runs for Allen.

Buffalo’s goal is to win this game easily, keep everyone healthy, and gear up for a potential Super Bowl run. The large spread indicates Buffalo will likely jump out early to a big lead, and again, that means more handoff to Devin Singletary and the emerging James Cook.

Expect more Devin Singletary and James Cook runs than Josh Allen rushes in the AFC Wild Card matchup against Miami.
Expect more Devin Singletary and James Cook runs than Josh Allen rushes in the AFC Wild Card matchup against Miami. (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)

Consider this, also: Josh Allen simply runs more when the game is in doubt. In contests that Buffalo won by double-digits, Allen rushed for 50+ yards just once in seven such games. In matches where the Bills either lost or won by eight points or fewer, Allen crested 50 yards in five of ten such games this season. He averaged 52.8 yards per game in close contests. In blowouts, the number was 33.4 yards per game.

Since I expect this game to not be particularly close, I’ll take Allen to stay under the total.

Minnesota Vikings -3 Over New York Giants

I have made a lot of money backing the Giants this season because I think Vegas has been very unfair to them in terms of spreads. Usually, they are heavily undervalued. Here, though, I think this spread is correct and I’m going to take the veteran QB over the kid making his first postseason start.

As discussed previously, first-time playoff starters struggle. Kirk Cousins doesn’t have the best record in postseason starts (1-2) and doesn’t have a TON of experience, but it’s better than Jones’ 0. Plus, Jones hasn’t played in a big game in his career. This is his first NFL Playoff game and he went to Duke for college. I don’t need to go in-depth about how Duke football doesn’t play in any big games.

Kirk Cousins experience gives him the edge over Daniel Jones in this NFC Wild Card matchup.
Kirk Cousins experience gives him the edge over Daniel Jones in this NFC Wild Card matchup. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

And the Giants struggled down-the-stretch this season. They were 7-2 through nine games but 2-4-1 in the final seven. These teams met in Week 17 and Minnesota won on a walk-off 61-yard field goal. Of course, that’s the spread in this game, since we’ve seen it already.

But, again, that was a regular season game. With Jones makes his postseason debut, I believe he’s going to make a couple mistakes that cost his team. Cousins, despite his faults, knows how to protect the football and has the postseason experience and the home crowd on his side. I’m backing the vet here.

Justin Jefferson Over 91.5 Receiving Yards

I think the Vikings are going to win, obviously, and that means JJ shows up. He already torched this Giants team for 12-133-1 in their first meeting, and I think another 100-yard game is a lock. The Giants just don’t have anyone who can cover him.

New York’s best-graded cover corner according to Pro Football Focus is Adoree’ Jackson, who ranks outside the Top 35 in coverage. Their secondary, as a whole ranks 31st. According to Sal Vetri on Twitter, Jefferson FEASTS against low-level secondaries.

Maybe the Giants will roll coverage over to stop Jefferson? Yeah, maybe. But they tried some of that in the first meeting and it opened up the seam for TJ Hockenson who went 13-109-2. It shows both can eat against this very weak pass defense, but I’ll back the best wide receiver in the game to hit his receiving prop.

Ja’Marr Chase Over 6.5 Catches

In his career against the Ravens (four games), Ja’Marr Chase has never had fewer than 7 catches. He averages 7.5 receptions on 11.3 targets. Bottom line: when Joe Burrow faces Baltimore, he looks to his #1 target. There is some trepidation here because the Bengals are big favorites in a game they’re expected to win, but Cincinnati is a gas-pedal team.

In fact, last season, Baltimore got pissed with Cincinnati for running up the score against them. I think the Bengals are using this game as a tune-up and they want Burrow, Chase, Higgins, and everyone on the same page before a likely showdown with the Bills. That means Burrow to Chase early and often.

Marlon Humphrey is no match for Ja'Marr Chase in this AFC North showdown in the AFC Wild Card round.
Marlon Humphrey is no match for Ja’Marr Chase in this AFC North showdown in the AFC Wild Card round. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Additionally, the Ravens best cover corner is Marlon Humphrey and he ranks just 21st in the NFL in coverage grade according to PFF. It’s going to take more than a guy outside the Top 20 in coverage to keep Chase from hauling in ball after ball.

Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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