One of the favorite weekends of the year for NFL betting fans is Wild Card weekend.
The Wild Card weekend was first created in 1978 when they added one wild card team to each conference. Over the years, the NFL added more teams to the playoffs and thus, created the most exciting weekend in sports.
In the 2018-19 season, we have four of the best matchups you will see on a Wild Card weekend. There will be three rematches of games from the 2018 season, including a third game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans.
On Saturday night, the Seahawks will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in what promises to be one of the most physical playoff games of the season. We will also get to watch the 2017 Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia Eagles take on the red-hot Bears in Chicago.
Top NFL bookmakers have initially set three of the games with point spreads of three points or less. That means we should have some highly competitive games this weekend, and hopefully, entertaining ones as well.
Typical NFL betting strategy doesn’t always apply this weekend. Wild Card games tend to be sloppy, especially in the first half. You typically have three to four “okay” teams playing during this week and the nerves from both sides become quite evident early on.
In some years, the quarterback play can be very questionable, leading to some fairly low-scoring games. It’s not flashy or even fun, but betting the “under” for the first half is typically a safe bet.
If a game is going to have a lot of scoring in it, it will usually happen in the second half. But in the first quarter or two, teams are just trying to feel each other out. Take the “under” in the first half of these games and reap the benefits.
Typically, the “better” team in the Wild Card round will have the home-field advantage. That’s not a profound statement by any means, but it is noteworthy. Unlike the regular season, the home teams in the playoffs are usually a few "wins" better.
That is why the home teams have had great success in the Wild Card round. From 2000-14, the home team won 59 percent of the wild-card games. That is a two-percent increase from the regular season advantage. If the two sides are similar, bet the home team and increase your odds of winning.
In a quarterback-driven league, betting on the better quarterback will calm a lot of your nerves. Nothing is more frustrating than betting on a playoff team that has a bad quarterback. If the team you bet on is down by seven or more, that lead will feel like it is insurmountable.
Even if they are up by seven, all you will want your team to do is run, run, and run to protect the lead. Wild-card games tend to be funky and weird things do tend to happen. When betting on the game, you want to have the best quarterback on your side. Even if it means taking the lesser team, always side with the best passer.
One of the reasons bettors enjoy the Wild Card weekend so much is that we typically see some great upsets. Some of the greatest playoff moments in NFL history come during the Wild Card round (Marshawn Lynch’s run against the Saints, the Music City Miracle, Frank Reich's comeback, etc.) We typically see a lot of upsets during this week and fairly close lines.
If you find an underdog team you love, don’t be afraid to bet on them during this wild week of games. Upsets are what has made this week so much fun in the past.
One of the most overlooked areas in football is the special team units. But every week in the NFL and especially during the playoffs, these units swing games for better or for worse. While the kicking game isn’t as important as the quarterback position, it does significantly impact the outcomes of games as the kicking game directly correlates to the number of points scored.
Before the week of games, identify the teams with the best kickers and returners and keep that in mind before betting on a game.
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