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American Sports

Wildcard Weekend: Playoffs 1st Round Preview & Tips

This weekend is one of the best of the year for NFL fans. Wildcard weekend is the start of the playoffs with 12 of the 14 teams who have made the postseason in action. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles are the pair who will have their feet up at home awaiting their first opponent.

BetConnect will have all the action from every game so let’s break down each matchup.

Seahawks @ 49ers – Saturday 9.30pm

They have already met twice this season with the 49ers coming out on top in both. Week 2 was a 27-7 final score at Levi Stadium (where Saturday’s game will be played) with a 21-13 scoreline in the reverse fixture in week 15.

The 49ers have been the strongest defence in the league, averaging just 16.3 points against over the season. The Seahawks have improved themselves on the D side of the ball but they looks set to come up short for the third time this campaign against the 49ers.

Conclusion: A blocked FG returned for a TD was the only score the Seahawks managed when playing here in week 2, not looking likely to put up many points here. Perhaps under 40.5 points at 57/50 is the way to go in what looks a defensive dual.

Chargers @ Jaguars – Sunday 1.15am

‘London’s team’ the Jaguars made their way into the playoffs having been 2-6, ending up with a 9-8 record. That included a comfortable win over the Chargers in LA, 38-10 in Week 3.

The Jags showed great resilience and determination to come from behind in their Week 18 game against the Titans to claim their spot. A 6-1 record since their bye week has them as a red-hot team entering play so the Chargers will need a serious game plan to come away with a win.

Conclusion: Not sure how the Chargers are favourites here. It’s a long time since their heavy defeat to the Jags but their wins this season on the road came at Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Arizona and Indianapolis. Those teams had a combined record of 25-58-2 and 13-27-1 at home. In short, poor teams. The Jags are red-hot and at odds against (8/7) on the money line, look the play.

Dolphins @ Bills – Sunday 6pm

The loss of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could prove the decisive factor in the all AFC East matchup. The teams won their respective home games against one another this season, the game in Miami won by 2 points and the one in Buffalo by 3.

The Dolphins limped into the playoffs, losing 5 of their last 6 games, the sole win in week 18 when 3 field goals and a safety saw off the Jets. The Bills are playing for their injured safety Damar Hamlin, the player discharged from hospital on Wednesday. That motivation for the playoff run could be huge.

Conclusion: Both meetings this season have been tight but with the Dolphins losing their starting quarterback, this could be a little different. Dawson Knox has a receiving TD in 4 straight games and can continue his hot run as an anytime touchdown scorer at 11/5.

Giants @ Vikings – Sunday 9.30pm

The Giants enter the game without a playoff success since their Super Bowl win in 2011! This is only their second trip to the postseason since that win so fans will be ready to enjoy their day out. In the Vikings, they face a strangely inconsistent team.

The Vikings finished 13-4 but their Week 10 come for behind win over the Bills followed by a 40-3 thrashing at home by the Cowboys shows that they are not the most predictable. They beat the Giants 27-24 in Week 16 so this could be a close one again.

Conclusion: This is one of the least appealing of the 6 games as a betting medium. The Vikings should win, 8-1 at home including the narrow 3 point win over these Giants. There have generally been plenty of points in Vikings home games so perhaps over 48.5 at 1/1 is the way to go. 7 of their 9 home games have gone past this mark.

Ravens @ Bengals – Monday 1.15am

A pair of AFC North teams with the Bengals finishing the season 6-1 at home. That sole defeat came in Week 1 when the Steelers beat them in overtime. They split decisions with the Ravens, losing 19-17 in Baltimore in Week 5 before beating them in Cincinnati in week 18, 27-16.

The Bengals had a 17-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter, never looking in danger. The Ravens defence have had to step up given the teams lack of offence after quarterback Lamar Jackson went down with a knee injury. 17 points is the most they have put up in their last 6 games, they need to produce a fair bit more to win this.

Conclusion: Home cooking has been good for the Bengals this season and this looks no different. The Bengals at 10/11 on the -7.5 handicap looks a mark they should overcome.

Cowboys @ Buccaneers – Tuesday 1.15am

These teams met in Week 1, the Bucs coming away from Dallas with a 19-3 win. They have gone in opposite directions since, the Cowboys finishing 12-5 while the Bucs finished as the worst division winners with a losing 8-9 record.

In the NFC only the Rams scored less points on offence than the Bucs which with Tom Brady as their quarterback is a worry. The Cowboys are 8-1 at home but only 4-4 on the road and that will be the hope that the home side have.

Conclusion: Another game that makes limited appeal from a punting point of view. The Bucs have looked awful at times this year and while the Cowboys have not been strong on the road they can hopefully cover a small -1.5 handicap at 3/4.