saturday nfl wild card picks
PHOTO CREDIT: CRAIG DUDEK

We forge ahead into NFL Super Wild Card Weekend, and for the first time, the opening round of the NFL Playoffs will feature a six-game slate over three days. Things get started Saturday in Cincinnati where Bengals will host the Raiders. That game gives way to round three of an AFC East showdown between the Patriots and Bills.

Let’s take a look at how to bet these two games with our best NFL Wild Card Saturday game picks.

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Best Saturday NFL Wild Game Picks

Raiders vs. Bengals

It’s mixed fortunes for Las Vegas here in the Wild Card round. The Raiders have to be physically and emotionally exhausted, as the stakes of that overtime win last Sunday night undoubtedly exacted a toll. However, now they get to play with house money in Derek Carr’s first career playoff game. Remember, Carr helped get his team to a Wild Card game in 2016, but broke his fibula in the penultimate regular season affair, forcing him to miss the playoff loss at Houston.

Expect the eighth year veteran to let it all hang out here and make the most of this opportunity that wasn’t even guaranteed until Daniel Carlson nailed that 47-yard field goal to defeat Los Angeles in Week 18. Carr already leads the league’s sixth-ranked passing offense and will face off against Cincinnati’s 26th-ranked pass defense. Carr got Darren Waller back last week, too, and the team’s best player will be another week healthier for this one.

Las Vegas, which allowed the seventh highest points per game this season (25.8), will likely need a productive passing game to keep pace in this one against a Bengals bunch that averages the NFL’s seventh most points per game (27.1). Cincinnati scored all those points despite running the eighth fewest plays per contest. Imagine what the Bengals could do here against the Raiders, who allowed opponents to run the ninth most plays per game against them.

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You don’t have to do all the imagining, actually, as the Bengals already dropped 32 points on the Raiders in Las Vegas back in Week 11. Since 2011, Cincinnati has played nine of 13 same-season rematches over the total after winning the prior meeting. One of those nine games that played over occurred this season when the Bengals beat Baltimore 41-21 against a posted total of 44 after defeating the Ravens in their first meeting earlier in the year.

The Raiders are likely to help Cincy continue this trend, as they have allowed 26.8 points per game in their last 18 same-season rematches on the road. But, Vegas’ offense should also be capable of doing its part here, as it averaged 6.1 yards per play (the league average is 5.6) in the first meeting with Cincinnati, despite scoring just 13 points.

The Raiders have only played six of their last 21 games under the total as underdogs. We could see that continuing without the services of Darius Philon in the middle on defense here. Philon was dominant in clogging the middle against the Chargers, but was lost to a knee injury. Without his run-stuffing abilities in short yardage situations, Las Vegas could be forced to commit more men to the box, opening up shots down the field against single coverage for Joe Burrow off of playaction.

It also would make for easier sledding if the Bengals get the ball inside the five yard line and need to punch it home for touchdowns.

There is the possibility of cold temperatures and possibly even some snow here, but that doesn’t always mean low-scoring conservative games. Remember, the receivers know where their cuts will be, but the defenders do not. Also, think of those wintry playoff games early in Tom Brady’s career in which he pointed out that foul weather slowed everything down, giving him an advantage, one that Burrow could utilize here, as well.

Cincinnati has played five of its last six over as favorites, four straight over the total when laying points at home, and ten straight over the number as favorites off a SU divisional road defeat. The Bengals have also played five of their last six home games over the total and are on a 13-2 over run at home against teams that turn the ball over less than 1.5 times per game (Las Vegas turned it over 1.4 times per game this season).

Raiders vs. Bengals Pick

Both quarterbacks will be playing in the first playoff games of their careers, but the moment does not seem too big for either. We expect to see each able to move the ball productively through the air with Cincinnati averaging the second most yards per completion in the NFL and Las Vegas throwing for the league’s sixth highest average when on the road. Expect to see the ninth over in the Bengals’ last 11 home games against teams with winning road records.

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Raiders vs. Bengals ATS Pick: Raiders/Bengals OVER 48.5 

Patriots vs. Bills

This third meeting between two bitter AFC East rivals looks for all the world as if it will be played in the coldest temperature for a game at Orchard Park in over 25 years and perhaps the second chilliest ever for a Bills’ home game.

These two have already experienced a weather-affected game against each other on this field when gale force wind gusts and precipitation led to a 14-10 New England victory inWeek 13 in which the Patriots threw the ball just three times the entire game.

Bill Belichick is no stranger to these types of conditions in playoff games and you can expect him to try to turn it into an advantage for his team, which is built around a dual threat power run game and a punishing defense.

New England offers the NFL’s eighth best rushing attack, with Buffalo finishing the regular season sixth in rush yards per game due to the boost that Josh Allen’s legs give to its stats. Buffalo (13th) and New England (22nd) are both weaker defensively against the run, so both are likely to look to exploit that perceived vulnerability in these cold temperatures.

That may prove especially true for Buffalo, which used Allen so effectively on the ground in the last meeting between these two a few weeks ago.

Both defenses are extremely effective on the defensive side of the ball, which should make points hard to come by in such a high stakes game in adverse conditions. Buffalo is the league’s best defense in terms of total yards allowed and points allowed, while New England ranks fourth and second, respectively, in those two categories. In fact, these are the NFL’s best two teams at limiting the pass, as well.

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New England welcomes tight games against good scoring defenses, playing eight of their last 10 under versus opponents allowing less than 20 points per game. The Patriots have also played eight of their last 10 under as underdogs, including four of their last five as road pups.

New England, which saw four of its last five away games stay under the number, has played 32 road games under the total to just 16 over across the last six regular seasons.

Wildly, 12 of the Patriots’ last 13 games have stayed under when playing the second of back-to-back road games. Buffalo matches up well with those trends, too, as the Bills have played four of their last five games under as favorites and five of their last seven below the posted total when laying points at home.

Patriots vs. Bills Pick

These two teams have played four of their last five meetings under the number in Buffalo. We don’t see that changing in this important, frigid setup, especially with a Buffalo franchise that has played seven of its last 10 January games under. The under has cashed in roughly 54 percent of the league’s games this season, an encouraging sign for a contrarian bettor in a points-happy NFL.

This should be a solid spot for an under bet as the under has lost just 11 times in the last nine years on Wild Card weekend, including a 12-6 record in the last four years during the Wild Card round.

Patriots vs. Bills ATS Pick: Patriots/Bills to go UNDER 44