NFL Wildcard Round Playoff Tips: Tom Collins outlines his best bets for the weekend

By Tom Collins

Latest NFL Odds

12 January 2024

The knockout stages begin this weekend as a dozen teams take to the field in an attempt to progress through the Wildcard round of the 2023 NFL Playoffs. 

Win and you’re in, lose and you crash out. It is fair to expect thrills, spills, skills, chills and hopefully a few winning bets by following my selections listed below. Six games to cover in quick time, so I won’t waste any more characters in this intro.

Cleveland Browns (-2.5) @ Houston Texans (+2.5)

Kick-off: 9.30pm Saturday GMT

Can 38-year-old Joe Flacco lead the Cleveland Browns to a playoff victory? It’s eminently possible, although injuries to safety Grant Delpit, kicker Dustin Hopkins, and rookie receiver Cedric Tillman certainly don’t help his cause.

The Browns beat the Texans 36-22 on Christmas Eve and fairly torched them through the air. Flacco threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns, while Amari Cooper caught 11 passes for a record 265 yards. In what is a tricky game to start the playoffs, back Cooper to surpass 74.5 receiving yards in the rematch.

Prediction: Amari Cooper Over 74.5 receiving yards @ 10/11

Miami Dolphins (+4.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5)

Kick-off: 1.15am Sunday GMT

Living in Miami comes with a lot of perks, the most obvious being good weather. Going to Kansas City will be a bit of a shock this weekend with bitter conditions (below freezing expected) forecast at Arrowhead Stadium. Dolphins’ receiver Tyreek Hill will be used to it having played for the Chiefs for six seasons but the rest of the roster may struggle to adapt.

The Chiefs haven’t been at their brilliant best this term, but I like them in this match-up. The most attractive bet is to back Travis Kelce in the anytime touchdown market. Kelce, who regressed slightly with his production this season, has scored 16 touchdowns in 15 post-season games since 2017 and will be Patrick Mahomes’ favourite target once again.

Prediction: Travis Kelce anytime touchdown @ 11/10

Pittsburgh Steelers (+10) @ Buffalo Bills (-10)

Kick-off: 6pm Sunday GMT

Both of these teams have been pretty inconsistent this season, but they have pedigree in the playoffs and an almighty scrap may ensue. Bills quarterback Josh Allen spent a lot of time this year throwing interceptions, a whopping 18 of them, but he also has the ability to completely change games and I much prefer him to his Steelers counterpart.

The Bills allowed an average of 18.3pts per game this year (third-best) while the Steelers weren’t too far off with 19.1pts per game (sixth-best), so you should expect a relatively low-scoring encounter. Back the under in the total points market.

Prediction: Under 35.5 total points @ 10/11

Green Bay Packers (+7) @ Dallas Cowboys (-7)

Kick-off: 9.30pm Sunday GMT

Go Pack Go! A fantastic team performance saw the Green Bay Packers beat their fierce rivals, the Chicago Bears, last week to secure a spot in the playoffs. Given the Cheeseheads possess such a young squad, it’s a phenomenal achievement to even make it this far and they may not be done yet.

Saying that, it looks pretty unlikely that they will go to the AT&T Stadium and knock-off the #2 seeds on Sunday, especially given star corner Jaire Alexander suffered an innocuous injury in practice earlier this week. I’m obviously routing for my team (Packers), but I’ll back Jake Ferguson to rack up over 43.5 yards. The Dallas tight end has surpassed that number nine times this season.

Prediction: Jake Ferguson Over 43.5 receiving yards @ 10/11

Los Angeles Rams (+3) @ Detroit Lions (-3)

Kick-off: 1.15am Monday GMT

All the talk ahead of this game is about Matthew Stafford returning to Detroit to face his former team. The veteran signal caller will want to knock off the Lions and continue to build a frankly impressive legacy in the National Football League, and plenty of people believe that will happen thanks to the emergence of playmakers Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams.

However, I have my doubts that the Rams can outscore Detroit and, given I think the Lions are longshot contenders for the Super Bowl, I have to stick with them in this match-up. Jared Goff has as much drive to beat the Rams as Stafford does to beat the Lions. Remember, he played in Los Angeles for five less than fruitful years.

Prediction: Lions -2.5 alternative handicap @ 4/5

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3)

Kick-off: 1.15am Tuesday GMT

I don’t like this match-up one bit. The Eagles have been frankly awful over the last six weeks and their injury-hit squad, which includes star receiver AJ Brown (ankle) and quarterback Jalen Hurts (finger), is hardly the most trustworthy at this point. If they were facing anyone other than the Bucs I would take them on, but I have next to zero faith in Tampa Bay either.

As a result, I’ll have a little dabble in the first touchdown market. Despite scoring just two touchdowns on the year, Chris Godwin appears to me at the current prices given his target share (how many times the ball gets thrown to him) and the gaping zones that have regularly appeared in the middle of the field against this Eagles defence in recent games.

Prediction: Chris Godwin to score first touchdown @ 12/1

NFL Wildcard Round Playoff Tips

Browns @ Texans: Amari Cooper Over 74.5 receiving yards @ 10/11
Dolphins @ Chiefs: Travis Kelce anytime touchdown @ 11/10
Steelers @ Bills: Under 35.5 total points @ 10/11
Packers @ Cowboys: Jake Ferguson Over 43.5 receiving yards @ 10/11
Rams @ Lions: Lions -2.5 alternative handicap @ 4/5
Eagles @ Buccaneers: Chris Godwin to score first touchdown @ 12/1

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