NFL

NFL Wildcard Tips: Bills to stump Steelers, Eagles in trouble

NFL play-off betting - Bills and Eagles in action
NFL play-off betting - Bills and Eagles in action

Paul Higham previews all six of the games across Wildcard Weekend and gives us his game picks and best bets for each one...


It all gets serious now as the NFL play-offs begin with what they call the Super Wildcard Weekend with six games coming up across three days.

You can read more about all 14 play-off challengers with a team-by-team verdicts, but here we'll dive right in to a weekend full of huge storylines.

NFL Wildcard Weekend schedule

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills

(21:30 GMT Monday)

Match Odds: 15/4 | 1/51.20
Points Spread: Bills -9.5
Total Over/Under: 33.5

The wild snow and strong winds forecast in Buffalo moved the game until Monday, so it won't be as severe but still could be an attritional slugfest, which brings big outsiders Pittsburgh right into the contest as they've been running the ball hard with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.

Losing TJ Watt is huge though and won't help stopping Josh Allen, who really takes it up a notch in the post-season. He's the only QB in history to average 250 passing yards and 50 rushing yards a game in the play-offs.

Allen will be unleashed with more designed runs and without Watt the Steelers will struggle to contain him. With conditions making this a low-scoring arm wrestle, Buffalo's X-factor will be the difference.

Pick: Bills to win by 1-10pts @ 6/42.50

Josh Allen 50+ rushing yards @ 7/52.40

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Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(01:15 GMT Tuesday)

Match Odds: 4/61.67 | 5/42.25
Points Spread: Eagles -2.5
Total Over/Under: 42.5

The Eagles limped into the play-offs, Jalen Hurts is struggling with a finger injury and AJ Brown is out - which means they're in prime upset territory at improving Tampa Bay.

Baker Mayfield has rib and ankle injuries to deal with, but he's got previous for battling through and if anything Hurts' finger may be the bigger problem of the two.

Philly still have one of th best rosters in the league and with no mistakes they'll win this, but that defence is a worry, especially against the run, meaning Rachaad White could have a big game.

The Bucs have momentum and home advantage, and things just don't smell right with the Eagles, so let's plump for the upset.

Pick: Bucs to win @ 5/42.25

Back Rachaad White 70+ rush yards & TD @ 2/13.00

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Cleveland Browns @ Houston Texans

(21:30 GMT Saturday)

Match Odds: 3/4 | 9/10
Points Spread: Browns -2.5
Total Over/Under: 44.5

DeMeco Ryans and CJ Stroud are the first rookie head coach-QB combo to reach the play-offs, and just how they react could decide whether Houston just enjoy the experience or go on an unlikely run.

Veteran Joe Flacco is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and from sitting on the couch a few months ago he's back in the hunt for a second Super Bowl ring. Oh, and he's got a perfect 5-0 wildcard game record.

Flacco and Amari Cooper, who torched Houston in Week 16, will get plenty of joy again, and while Stroud and Nico Collins should also have their moments, this Browns defence is no joke, perhaps the best in the league, and they can produce enough to get the job done.

Pick: Browns to win @ 9/10

Back Browns win, Flacco 2+ TD passes & Cooper anytime TD @ 4/15.00

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Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs

(01:00 GMT Sunday)

Match Odds: 15/82.88 | 9/20
Points Spread: Chiefs -4.5
Total Over/Under: 44

This could be one of the coldest NFL games on record so that usually limits explosive passing games - and cold hands won't help the Chiefs' hapless receivers who have the most drops in the league.

Miami can do a lot of damage on the ground with DeVon Achane and raheem Mostert but the Chiefs have the second-best scoring defence in the NFL (17.1ppg) while the Dolphins have plenty of injuries in their defence.

Patrick Mahomes will need to generate some sort of aerial attack though, and Andy Reid will find ways of getting the ball to Travis Kelce, the only man he can trust in the passing attack.

Pick: Chiefs win by 1-10pts @ 13/82.63

Back Chiefs win & Kelce anytime TD @ 11/53.20

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Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys

(21:30 GMT Sunday)

Match Odds: 13/53.60 | 3/101.30
Points Spread: Cowboys -7
Total Over/Under: 50.5

The Cowboys have won 16 straight home games but the Packers are 5-0 at AT&T Stadium, including a Super Bowl win aginst Puttsburgh, when Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was on the Packers sideline.

Jordan Love has been excellent and his 32 passing TDs was topped by only Dak Prescott's 36 this season, and when you throw in Aaron Jones and Tony Pollard then this could be the shootout of the weekend.

Pick: Cowboys win & over 49.5pts @ 5/42.25

Pollard & Jones anytime TDs @ 7/24.50

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Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions

(01:00 GMT Monday)

Match Odds: 11/82.38 | 8/131.61
Points Spread: Lions -3
Total Over/Under: 51.5

Another shootout brewing here as Matthews Stafford returns and Jared Goff faces his firmer side. Stafford averages 277.7 passing yards per game at Ford Field, which is fourth most ever for a QB at a venue.

Sean McVay and Dan Campbell will empty the playbook in this one and that should leads to points with playmakers in the passing and running games on both sides.

The Rams missed 17 field goal and extra point kicks, the most in a season since 2001, and how often have we seen big play-offs games come down to the last kick?

It's a coin toss for me this game but the extra bit of experience in the Rams squad could just tip things in their favour.

Pick: Rams to win @ 11/82.38

Back over 53.5 total points @ 1/12.00

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