NFL Wildcard Weekend – Sunday Edition
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Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers -10.5 Total: 45.5
Sunday’s action kicks off with the sixth-seeded Dolphins visiting the third-seeded Steelers. This will serve a rematch between the two teams after Pittsburgh was beaten 15-30 on October 16th. Although, personnel has changed a bit for both teams since that game was played.
The Fins Are Limping In
Like Oakland, who lost their starting quarterback late in the season, the Dolphins suffered the same fate. Ryan Tannehill went down in Week 14 with a sprained knee. He is practicing but will be unavailable for Sunday’s contest. Although, he has a good chance to return if Miami should advance.
After starting the year 1-4, the Dolphins were destined for another down year. However, after their line became healthy, the defense began to play a bit better, and the team went on quite the run. They went 9-1 the rest of the way and clinched a playoff spot in Week 16, ending the year with a 10-6 record.
Pittsburgh Is Dominating
The Steelers have had an up and down year themselves. Their low point might have been the regular season loss at Miami. Despite inconsistency for much of the season, Pittsburgh is getting hot and have all their top weapons healthy.
They finished the season with a 7-0 run and clinched a playoff spot against the rival Baltimore Ravens in Week 16. Their 11-5 record was good enough for the third seed in the AFC. Pittsburgh rested several key starters in Week 17, so they’re fresher than most teams coming into the postseason.
The Steelers opened as -10 favorites in this contest. Betting action has been mostly even between both sides, but the line did shift to -10.5 late Friday evening. The move is on a key number and complicates things from a betting perspective.
This game is one of the toughest for me to call on the slate. If you got Pittsburgh -10, congratulations as it looks like that line is no longer going to be around. The question now is if there is value on Miami at +10.5
A market move like this is significant. However, the matchup still is worth considering. I don’t doubt the Steelers’ ability to score points against this Miami defense, but Pittsburgh’s inability to stop opponents has become a major problem.
Baltimore’s offense is rather pedestrian, but they easily went up and down the field against Pittsburgh’s defense. I will lay the -10.5 with the Steelers in this one, (mostly due to the betting market) but I could see this one staying within single digits.
Pick: Steelers -10.5
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers +5 Total: 44.5
The Giants head to Lambeau Field for the second time this season, but this time, the stakes are higher. Green Bay narrowly defeated the visiting G-Men on Oct. 9, by a score of 23-16. For both teams this time around, it’s survive and advance.
New York Finishing Strong
The Giants have suffered from inconsistency this year, but they would have likely won their division if they weren’t in what became a tough NFC East this season. They finished the year with an 11-5 record after defeating the Redskins 19-10 in Washington, despite playing their backups for much of the game.
Kings of the North
It wasn’t an easy season for Packers’ fans. Their team was as inconsistent as any other team mentioned in this article. In fact, they had a four-game losing streak from Oct. 30th to Nov. 20th that looked like it was the end for Green Bay this year.
However, sparked by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers ran the table the rest of the way to once again sit atop the NFC North. They clinched the division in the final game of the regular season calendar, beating the Lions 31-24 to finish the year with a 10-6 mark.
The Packers opened as -3.5 favorites in this game. The action on both sides has been about 50/50 since the odds opened. However, the line has moved in favor of Green Bay. Currently, it’s at Packers -5 and -5.5 across the industry.
I will say, I’m shocked to see the odds move in favor of the Packers to such a great extent. They’re a good team, especially at home, and Aaron Rodgers is on fire lately, but New York isn’t getting enough respect.
Their defense is one of the better units in the league, and they have a shutdown cornerback, in Janoris Jenkins, who actually has a chance of slowing down Jordy Nelson and the Packers’ passing attack.
The Packers’ secondary has been one of the worst units in the league. They are also extremely banged up in the secondary, with Quinten Rollins ruled out and Damarious Randall questionable. New York has the speed and talent to beat them with Odell Beckham and Sterling Sheperd.
I love New York in this spot. I wouldn’t be shocked if they pulled the upset and won outright.
Pick: Giants +5.5