The start of a new year means the start of a new postseason in the NFL. Unlike in previous years though, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of drama surrounding Wild Card weekend.
The four favorites in the NFL Wild Card Weekend odds are all tremendous favorites, and in the AFC, only one of the four teams playing in the first weekend of the tournament figure to have any chance whatsoever to reach the Super Bowl.
Football odds courtesy of Bookmaker.eu
#4 Houston Texans (-3) vs #5 Oakland Raiders (37.5)
Saturday, January 7, 4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let’s just get this dog of a game out of our system as quickly as possible, shall we? It was only fitting last year that Houston, when it was the worst of the 12 playoff teams by a country mile, whimpered out of the second season without a single point being scored.
Now, the Texans got a nice gift in the form of a first-round date with one of the perhaps two or three teams they might be better than in this version of the postseason.
Oakland Is Not a Bad Team, It’s Just a Team with Bad Luck
When you win 12 games, you should theoretically win your division, but the Raiders couldn’t beat the Chiefs this year in two tries, and they happened to have one of the best teams in the NFL in their foursome. Worse luck, though, came when Derek Carr was knocked out for the season with a gruesome leg injury in Week 16.
What’s worse now is that we’re left with two teams with zero quarterbacks between them. Does it really matter if it’s Brock Osweiler or Tom Savage for the Texans? And does it really matter if it’s Matt McGloin or Connor Cook for the Raiders?
#3 Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) vs #6 Detroit Lions (42.5)
Saturday, January 7, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC
The Seahawks didn’t end up getting a bye in the first round of the playoffs this year, but this might end up feeling like a relatively close second best alternative.
Seattle doesn’t necessarily have itself a Super Bowl type of roster this year, especially with Earl Thomas done for the season thanks to a broken leg, but it’s still a really good team with a massive home field advantage.
Let’s not forget that this team went into Foxboro and beat Tom Brady earlier in the season in a primetime game.
In a Vacuum, Lions Overachieved This Season
They won nine games, one or two more than most expected, and they had a shot to win the NFC North on the last night of the season against Green Bay.
However, in the big picture, they lost their last three, weren’t really competitive in the fourth quarter of any of the three games, and took a two-game lead and turned it into a disaster in the division.
The team hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991, and CenturyLink sure isn’t the best place to try to change any of that, knowing that the Seahawks are 9-0 in this building in the playoffs since 2004.
#3 Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) vs #6 Miami Dolphins (47.5)
Sunday, January 8, 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Many believe that Pittsburgh is the only team with any chance whatsoever at beating the Patriots in the AFC playoffs. The Steelers are scorching hot with seven straight wins, they’ve got two Super Bowl victories in the Ben Roethlisberger era, and they have arguably the most lethal offense in the AFC with the three “B”s of Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
Miami Is Not the Same Team It Was Back in October
Pittsburgh was beaten down 30-15 by the Dolphins in a game that wasn’t that close in October, and this is a chance to exact revenge. Don’t think for one second though, that Miami is anywhere near the same team that won three months ago when these teams met.
Jay Ajayi is banged up. Ryan Tannehill is out. And Toto isn’t in Miami anymore. The Dolphins have a rookie head coach who has effectively never called a playoff game in his life (since Peyton Manning did all of the heavy lifting for him in Denver ), and he’s got a career backup starting at quarterback on the road against a quarterback who has already won 11 playoff games and two Super Bowls in his career.
Good luck with that.
#4 Green Bay Packers (-3.5) vs #5 New York Giants (44.5)
Sunday, January 8, 4:40 p.m. ET, FOX
Oh, the history! These two teams have met in the playoffs twice in the Eli Manning era. Both games have been here at Lambeau Field. Both games resulted in Giants upsets. Both games represented the only loss at home for two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, first Brett Favre, then Aaron Rodgers.
Both times, the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl by beating the Patriots. History couldn’t strike for a third time… could it?
Green Bay Is Running Hot in NFL Odds for Sure
The team has won six in a row, and Rodgers played like the MVP at the end of campaign after saying that his team had the ability to run the table. The Packers did just that in their last month and a half, and their reward was the NFC North title and the home game that came with it.
But the Giants could legitimately be the second best team in the NFC, and they’ve got two wins over the Cowboys and a close loss here at Lambeau already to their credit this year and should definitely not be counted out in the NFL postseason odds.
For more NFL playoffs news, check out Patriots Enter NFL Playoffs as Overwhelming Favorite on Super Bowl LI Odds