NFL Wild Card weekend: Will there be upsets again?

January 14, 2022January 19th, 2022

NFL Wild Card weekends are notorious for the underdog causing an upset. In the last 18 games across the past four Wild Card weekends, the underdog has covered the spread 15 times.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are making their first post-season appearance since 2015, while the Raiders travel with new-found confidence on the back of a four-match winning streak. This match is likely to be decided on whether Bengals wide receivers, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, have what it takes to complete the gains quarterback Joe Burrow makes.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

This is a repeat of Week 16 when Josh Allen passed for 314 yards and scored three touchdowns. The Patriots haven’t been at their best in the past four games, losing three of them, including that 33-21 defeat to the Bills.

The Bills boast the strongest defense in the league in the regular season, finishing as the only team to concede less than 300 points. The Pats went 6-2 away from home though so won’t be fazed by the challenge.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue their pursuit of a second straight trip to the Super Bowl. All eyes are on Tom Brady as he led the offense to the second-best record in the league, scoring 511 points.

The Eagles will look to their running game as they can control the clock with their long drives. The speedster DeVonta Smith alone is enough to keep the Buccaneers on their toes. Expect points galore in this one: over 45.5 is a tempting -110.

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys

Lead running back Elijah Mitchell’s knee injury in Week 18 is a concern for the 49ers, along with Trent Williams, whose elbow injury is similarly worrying, although he is confident he will play on Sunday, even if it means having a brace on his arm. The 49ers had a second half of the season resurgence and were one to avoid in the Wild Card matches.

No one would have wanted to play the Cowboys either, with their offense averaging over 30 points per game and running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard proving perfect foils for QB Prescott. The Cowboys have scored over 3.5 Touchdowns in seven of their last eight home matches in NFC. They are +125 to do so again.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs

The last meeting between these two teams saw the Chiefs stomp the Steelers 36-10. Despite the Chiefs 12-5 regular season record, they have not been the explosive team we all expected them to be. The focus will be on Patrick Mahomes to deliver his standard excellent level of play.

The good news for Steelers is that Najee Harris is expected to play, despite injuring his elbow in Week 18. Even Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t expect his team trouble the Chiefs, but could he pull a rabbit from the hat to delay his expected retirement?

Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams

Cardinals had a strong 7-0 start to the regular season, but recent results are not reflecting that. They got to the playoffs as the fifth seed after losing four of their last five games. With their star DeAndre Hopkins out due to a knee injury, their offense has not looked the same.

The Rams are favourites but will rely on their defense to get them through. They’ve scored less than 26.5 points in their last six home matches in NFC West. They are -105 to not break that threshold again on Monday.

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