Let’s take a look at the betting odds for this week’s NFL Wild Card action. Two games especially interest me for this week’s upset picks: Packers vs. Cowboys and Eagles vs. Buccaneers.
I personally like to invest three-quarters of a unit in the underdog ATS and the remaining quarter in the underdog ML.
- Packers ML (+290)
- Buccaneers ML (+135)
Sunday, January 14, 2023 – 04:30 PM ET at AT&T Stadium
Dallas Is Overrated
Many bettors like to think that Dallas is a slam dunk because it is playing at home. It is true that Dallas has been tremendously better at home than on the road. The stats don’t lie: the Cowboys are scoring an absurd number of points per game at home. But the stats are misleading.
While the stats seem to suggest that the Cowboys should have no problem covering a large spread at home, because of how many points they score, the stats don’t distinguish between Dallas’ opponents.
At home, the Cowboys have walloped Giants, Patriots, and Jets teams that lacked the offensive capacity to stay on the field, which means that their defense gets worn down. Also at home, they walloped the Rams, who regularly lose handily to playoff teams, the lowly Commanders, and a slumping Eagles team.
Recently, Seattle, a fringe-playoff team, stayed within six of Dallas in the Cowboys’ venue. Most recently, Detroit came within a point of upsetting the Cowboys in Dallas.
Good teams have thus proven more than capable of hanging with Dallas in Dallas. Is Green Bay a good team?
Green Bay’s Improvement
Green Bay might not look formidable given its 9-8 season record, but the Packers’ season record masks its late-season turnaround. The Packers are 6-2 in their last eight games.
Unlike the Rams, they’ve proven their worth against playoff teams. For example, they beat the Chiefs by eight in Green Bay, and they beat the Lions by seven in Detroit.
Most recently, they won in Minnesota by 23 before beating a vastly improved Bears team that had upset multiple fringe-playoff teams. Green Bay is clearly a good team, one that is playing good football.
Jordan Love and Aaron Jones
Jordan Love is the NFL’s hottest quarterback right now: he’s thrown nine touchdowns to zero interceptions in his last four games. His current stretch of play is particularly impressive because he’s sustained it against tough competition. Carolina has one of the NFL’s top-ranked pass defenses, yet he helped the Packers score 33 against it.
The same story can be said for Aaron Jones, who has finally overcome the hamstring and then knee injuries that plagued him throughout the earlier phases of the season. Jones enters Sunday’s game having exceeded 110 rushing yards in three straight games, including most recently against the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
Green Bay’s Defense
The Packers went through a mini-funk on defense that they have overcome, most recently holding the Bears to nine points and the Vikings to ten points. Their ability to hold teams below their average creates promise for their outlook.
Dallas has anyhow cooled off against good competition, failing to exceed 20 points against the Bills, Dolphins, or Lions before blowing out a Commanders team last week that gave up on its season.
Green Bay’s offense is performing well against the best of defenses while its defense has become a reliable force, and Dallas is an overrated team at home against good competition.
NFL Pick: Packers +7.5 (-110) at Bet365
NFL Pick: Packers ML (+290) at Bet365
Monday, January 15, 2024 – 08:15 PM ET at Raymond James Stadium
Given how poorly Philadelphia has played lately, the odds might seem too good to be true. But the odds are what they are because they reflect Philly’s earlier-season success. Because the Eagles are a different team than they were before, the odds are repeatedly way off.
Most recently, the Eagles were favored by five against the Giants, yet they lost by 17. Two weeks ago, Philadelphia lost to an Arizona team that was dogged by 12.5 points. The Eagles enter Monday’s game on an 0-6 ATS run, because teams repeatedly exploit their new deficiencies.
Tampa Bay’s Pass Attack
With their change at defensive coordinator only making things more disordered and worse, the Eagles are especially vulnerable on defense.
Most recently, to give two examples, New York’s Tyrod Taylor was highly productive. Before that, Arizona’s Kyler Murray was very efficient. Opposing quarterbacks are amassing yards and touchdowns.
Tampa Bay’s quarterback Baker Mayfield has already thrived recently against two teams with porous secondaries: the Packers when they were in their funk and the Jaguars. Mayfield has a great group of wide receivers led by Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, both of whom will take advantage of Philadelphia’s issues in the secondary.
Jalen Hurts and AJ Brown
Tampa Bay has one of the NFL’s top rush defenses, and it’s proven its worth against the NFL’s top-ranked rush defenses. Ranked fifth against the run largely thanks to Vita Vea, the Bucs are hard for any team to run on.
Whereas the Bucs’ offense will be able to be two-dimensional, Philadelphia is going to have to keep up with Tampa Bay’s offense by scoring via its pass attack.
NFL Pick: Buccaneers +3 (-110) at Bet365
NFL Pick: Buccaneers ML (+135) at Bet365
*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.