NFL Wild Card Best Bets | Predictions & Picks for AFC & NFC Playoffs First Round

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2022

The AFC Wild Card round is going to be an absolute blast, with fantastic games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

We will see several elite quarterbacks on display, including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow. Plus, we will see Ben Roethlisberger in potentially his last NFL game ever and Derek Carr and Mac Jones make their playoff debuts.

To get you prepared for the week ahead, here are our best bets and picks for the Wild Card round of the NFL postseason.

Please note that all NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 11.

Marcus Mosher’s Best Bets NFL Betting Record: 61-45

AFC Wild Card Predictions

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs Prediction

The Chiefs won the earlier matchup this season with ease, and that was even without Travis Kelce, who missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. However, the Steelers have managed to win some ugly games this year and have even beaten a few other AFC playoff teams including the Titans and the Bills.

The Chiefs are the far better team, but don’t be surprised if the Steelers and their defense keep this game very close going into the final few possessions.

Steelers vs Chiefs Prediction: Chiefs 23, Steelers 20

Sportsbook Play of the Day

Before making your NFL Wild Card betting picks, you should know that TwinSpires Sportsbook is one of the best around. Take advantage of TwinSpires’ outstanding welcome bonus, which gives you a risk-free bet of up to $1,000 when you .

Read Anthony Cervino’s TwinSpires Sportsbook review for more insight and get your welcome bonus below, or continue reading this analysis for our best NFL Wild Card tipster picks.

Steelers vs Chiefs Best Bet: Steelers +12.5 (-109) on TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

The Chiefs will probably win this game, but the Steelers shouldn’t be double-digit underdogs. They have a knack for keeping games close, and their defense will likely make two or three big plays to put their offense in scoring position.

Look for Pittsburgh to run the ball early and often with Najee Harris and keep this game within a touchdown.

Steelers vs Chiefs Best Bet: Under 46.5 Points (-109) on TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

The Steelers have scored more than 20 points in just one of their last four games. They are averaging a mere 20.2 points per game this season, so don’t expect this to be a shootout.

This game should be fairly low-scoring despite the Chiefs having far more offensive firepower. Pittsburgh will create some pressure on Mahomes, which should keep the score down.

Las Vegas Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals Prediction

The Raiders are one of the best stories in the NFL. After a 6-7 start, they have managed to win their final four games and have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2016. They’ll have a chance to get some revenge over the Bengals, who beat them by 19 points in November.

But as well as the Raiders have been playing as of late, this is a tough matchup for them — especially when you consider all of the snaps they had to play on Sunday night to defeat the Chargers.

They should hang around for a while, but expect the Bengals to get a close win.

Las Vegas Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals Prediction: Bengals 24, Raiders 20

Raiders vs Bengals Best Bet: Raiders +5.5 (-110) on TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

We like the Bengals to win outright, but for the Raiders to keep this game close. They have one of the NFL’s best kickers in Daniel Carlson, which should help them get some early scores since he’s money from anywhere inside 50 yards.

The Raiders are also running the ball extremely well over the last few games, but the difference here is that the Bengals have Joe Burrow and Las Vegas does not.

Look for this to be a one-score game and for the Bengals to win, but for the Raiders to cover.

Raiders vs Bengals Best Bets: Under 49 Points (-110) on TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

With this being the first playoff game for both Burrow and Carr, it’s fair to expect some nervousness and shaky play. Both teams will likely rely heavily on their run game early on as they settle in.

It would be a bit of a shock if either offense scores more than 30 points, as these pass rushes should be able to find success. Look for this to be a low-scoring game with both teams only scoring in the low to mid-20s.

New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills Prediction

The Patriots and Bills will meet for a third time this season, with this final matchup happening in Buffalo. The Bills are favored in this game, and they should be, since they have the better and more experienced quarterback in Josh Allen.

The Bills have now made the playoffs in each of their last three seasons and are suddenly one of the most experienced teams in the AFC. They should win this game, but you can expect that it will be extremely close.

Patriots vs Bills Prediction: Bills 20, Patriots 17

Patriots vs Bills Best Bet: Patriots +4 (-110) on TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

The best bet here is to take the Patriots to cover the four-point spread. They have one of the best defenses in the NFL and they do a good job of containing Allen, especially from the pocket. New England should be able to keep the Bills under 21 points, even though this game is in Buffalo.

The key for the Patriots will be generating enough points to stay in this game. Look for Josh McDaniels to utilize the run game early and often as they try to wear down Buffalo’s defense. And don’t be shocked if the Patriots use some trickery on offense, such as a wide receiver pass, to help put some points on the board.

Patriots vs Bills Best Bet: Under 43 Points (-110) on TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

This game has all the makings of a low-scoring contest in Buffalo. Much like we saw in the first meeting in Buffalo, look for Bill Belichick to take the ball out of Mac Jones’ hands and lean heavily on the run game.

Neither team is likely going to have much success airing out the ball, so the Under is a good bet here on Saturday night.

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

Bank on both teams to lean on their respective rushing attacks when the Patriots and Bills meet in the postseason. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

NFC Wild Card Predictions

The NFC Wild Card Round of the 2021-22 NFL Playoffs has arrived. It’s been a long season full of twists, turns, injuries, COVID-19, and parity, but this is what the teams play for. This is why the fans watch. The road to Super Bowl 56 begins now.

To get you ready for the upcoming slate, here are our best bets and picks for the NFC Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs.

Anthony Cervino’s Best Bets NFL Betting Record: 33-25

Check out more of our NFL Wild Card Betting Tips

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Philadelphia Eagles Prediction

The Buccaneers and Eagles are set to meet for the second time this season. This time, it will be in a win-or-go-home scenario.

While the Eagles are getting healthier — key players including Miles Sanders (hand), Jordan Howard (stinger), and Dallas Goedert (COVID) are all expected to be ready to play against Tampa Bay — so are the Buccaneers.

Bucs studs including Leonard Fournette (hamstring), Shaq Barrett (COVID), and Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) are all expected back on their end.

With both sides in line to be as healthy as you can be for a January matchup in an NFL season, expect a superior Buccaneers club to get the job done.

While Tampa Bay will be shorthanded at wide receiver compared to the last time these two teams met back in October, they still employ Tom Brady, the ultimate difference-maker when it’s all on the line.

Buccaneers vs Eagles Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Eagles 24

Buccaneers vs Eagles Best Bet: Eagles +8.5 (-112) at TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

The Eagles have been one of the hottest teams in football, going 7-3 in their past 10 games. They also went 4-1 in their final five, but lost in the season finale against Dallas. However, the Eagles barely played any of their starters.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have won seven of their past eight, including three straight. They managed to weather the storm of Antonio Brown, injuries, and playing from unfamiliar deficits along the way.

These two teams met back in October in Philly in a game the Bucs won 28-22. While this matchup is being played in Tampa, I expect the Eagles to put up a fight and keep the game close.

The Buccaneers will win the game, but it won’t be easy and it won’t be clean either. Brady will make early mistakes, which will keep the Eagles in the game, but in the end, he will find a way to win. Look for Fournette and Rob Gronkowski to carry the offense to victory.

Buccaneers vs Eagles Best Bet: Over 49 (-110) at TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

I don’t entirely trust the total, which is set at 49, but I do like it to go Over. When the Eagles and Bucs met in October, the Under hit. However, that total was set at 53 and 50 points were scored. If they score 50 again, the Over will hit this time around.

While Tampa Bay’s defense was their bread and butter last postseason, they have struggled at times in 2021, especially facing running quarterbacks. Tampa’s defense allowed the fourth-most rushing yards to enemy signal-callers (399) along with three rushing scores.

Jalen Hurts rushed for 44 yards and two of those scores when these two teams met earlier this year.

Hurts’ versatility, as well as the return of Fournette, will be the difference in the game in terms of points scored.

Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers Prediction

The Cowboys and 49ers will revisit their playoff rivalry dating back to 1972 on Sunday. While the 49ers will not be an easy out, the Cowboys should get the job done at home.

Both the Cowboys and 49ers match up well on either side of the ball. The difference in the game will be turnovers. The Cowboys ranked No. 1 in turnover differential (+14) while the 49ers are 10th worst (-4). The Cowboys are also the No. 1 team in takeaways, which they will need to pull out a victory.

With a menacing pass rush and an opportunistic defense facing Jimmy Garoppolo, who isn’t the most mobile quarterback in the world, I will err on the side of the Cowboys. They will expose all of the reasons why the 49ers wanted to move off Garoppolo on Sunday en route to a Wild Card win.

Cowboys vs 49ers Prediction: Cowboys 30, 49ers 24

Cowboys vs 49ers Best Bet: Cowboys Moneyline (-152) at TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

If you believe the Cowboys will win this game outright, take their moneyline at (-152). While some moneylines are juiced, this one is within reason. Clearly, Vegas believes the 49ers will keep this game close — and I think they will too — but this is good news for sports bettors facing Dallas.

The Cowboys have won five of their past meetings with the 49ers, including a 41-33 home win last season with Andy Dalton under center. The 49ers will keep this Wild Card meeting a tad closer, but in the end, we will see the end of the Garoppolo era in San Francisco.

His mistakes under pressure will cost the 49ers.

Cowboys vs 49ers Best Bet: Cowboys -3 (-110) at TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

I like the Cowboys to cover the three points on Sunday. I see Dallas winning by six. However, if they do end up squeaking by, perhaps by a field goal, you will push unless you play it safe and buy a half a point down to (-2.5).

The Cowboys won 12 games this season, 11 of which were won by at least four points. The Cowboys were also No. 1 in the regular season when it came to covering the spread with a 13-4 mark.

Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals Prediction

The Rams and Cardinals will meet for the third time this season. In the regular season, these two teams split 1-1. However, in the long run, the Rams have owned the Cardinals, defeating them in nine of their past 10 games.

The first time the Rams and Cardinals met in 2021, Kyler Murray led his team to victory. The same couldn’t be said in their second meeting. A shorthanded Rams team edged out the Cardinals, 30-23.

In the rubber match, I will lean on the Rams. I am not the biggest Matthew Stafford guy, especially for his showings down the stretch. His deficiencies will eventually cost the Rams and get them bounced out of the playoffs, but he will play well enough to get them into the Divisional Round.

The Cardinals started out 2021 terrific, but their late-season struggles — as well as the loss of DeAndre Hopkins — will prove to be too much for Murray to overcome.

Rams vs Cardinals Prediction: Rams 34, Cardinals 24

Rams vs Cardinals Best Bet: Rams -4 (-110) at TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

Stafford has been around since 2009 and picked up his first career win over a 10-win team this season, which just so happened to come against the Cardinals a few weeks back. Stafford will also pick up his first career postseason win against the Cardinals on Monday night.

When it comes to experience at quarterback and coaching, I will favor the Rams over the Cardinals, and it is not close. I am not saying Kliff Kingsbury and Murray will never get there. They are actually pretty close. However, now is not their time.

I would take the Rams up to (-6).

Rams vs Cardinals Best Bet: Over 49.5 (-113) at TwinSpires

Wager: 1 Unit

Look for points to be scored on Monday night. The Rams and Cardinals have two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. The Over has also hit in three of their past four meetings.

While both teams can also play stout defense, they seem to have each other’s number in terms of scoring. At least 53 points have been scored between the Rams and Cardinals in four of their past five matchups.


Marcus Mosher

Marcus Mosher is an NFL analyst at The Game Day, residing in Erie, PA. He covers the NFL from a betting and fantasy perspective, producing written and video content. Marcus currently hosts multiple football-related podcasts and is a managing editor at USA Today’s Sports Media Group covering the Las Vegas Raiders. He has previously worked at The Athletic and Bleacher Report.

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