NFL Picks: Wild Card Power Ratings and Cheat Sheet

Three charts this week. One is a chart with the six AFC teams in the playoffs and I included the home field advantage for the division winners. I did the same thing with the six NFC teams. The third chart is the current line for the four Wild Card games and my line for each game.

Team (Home field) After Week 15 After Week 16 After Week 17
Patriots (3.5) 14 14 14
Steelers (3) 10 10.5 10.5
Jaguars (2.5) 10 9.5 9
Chiefs (3) 9 8.5 9
Titans 4 4 4
Bills 4 3.5 4

As you can see from the AFC chart, the two wild card teams are very far apart from the four division winners. The Chargers and Ravens are both better than the Titans and Bills, and the AFC games would’ve been far more competitive if those teams made the postseason.

Team (Home field) After Week 15 After Week 16 After Week 17
Vikings (3.5) 11.5 11.5 11.5
Saints (3.5) 11 11.5 11
Rams (2.5) 11 11 11
Falcons 9.5 9 9
Panthers 9 8 8
Eagles (3) 9 8 7

The biggest takeaway from the NFC power ratings is that the No. 1 seed is rated last out of the six teams. I originally didn’t downgrade the Carson Wentz injury much because I thought highly of Nick Foles but he hasn’t been impressive since starting. Philadelphia could easily be home underdogs in the division round.

Game Thursday line My line
Titans at Chiefs Chiefs -9 Chiefs -8
Falcons at Rams Rams -7 Rams -4.5
Bills at Jaguars Jaguars -9 Jaguars -7.5
Panthers at Saints Saints -7 Saints -6.5

Based on my true numbers, I would be taking the underdog in each game. The lines are inflated this week for several reasons. One is the success of favorites especially in the second half of the NFL season. Another reason is the public gets more involved in playoff games and they tend to gravitate towards favorites. The other reason is for teaser purposes. Teasing a favorite six points would be a popular play this week but putting the AFC games at -9 makes it more of a challenge to tease.

The only underdog I would consider this week is the Falcons. I only have them as a 4.5-point underdog and the spread has crept up to Rams -7. There are plenty of concerns for the Falcons but I also wonder if the playoff stage will be tough for the Rams to cover a big number. Atlanta has some injury issues too so I’m likely going to stay away.

Bills-Jaguars is a game I will totally pass but if I had to pick I would take Jacksonville to cover.

The Chiefs at -9 is too high as well but there are two ways to attack this game. One is first half under 22 and that is my favorite play for the whole weekend. The Chiefs defense plays better at home and the Titans offense has disappointed most of the season. I also like under 44.5 but prefer first half in case there are some late scores at the end of the game.

The other ways to get exposure to that game is to tease the Chiefs 6.5 points to -2.5 and pair them with the Saints that would drop that line down to -0.5. I really like the Saints to bounce back from a Week 17 loss and I don’t think much of this Panthers team. New Orleans is back to having an elite home field and I wouldn’t be surprised if they covered a current seven-point spread.

Since I couldn’t offer much on the Wild Card round, I’m going to provide some hypothetical lines for the divisional round so you can be prepared to get the best number when those games open.

Patriots:

-8.5 vs Chiefs

-13.5 vs Titans

-13.5 vs Bills

Steelers: 

-4.5 vs Jaguars

-4.5 vs Chiefs

-9.5 vs Titans

Eagles:

+1 vs Saints (Eagles would be underdogs)

-2 vs Panthers

-1 vs Falcons

Vikings:

-4 vs Rams

-4 vs Saints

-7 vs Panthers

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