NFL Playoffs — Wildcard Round Preview
The 2023 NFL playoffs are finally here!
You can find every game, from the Wild Card Round to the Super Bowl, on Aver Exchange!
But first, here’s our betting guide to the opening round of matchups and anything you might have missed in the regular season…
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks: +426
San Francisco 49ers: -526
The Seattle Seahawks travel south to face their division rival, and NFC West champion, the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have been possibly the strongest team in the NFC, winning 10 in a row heading into the playoffs, including beating the Seahawks 21–13 in December. It seems like it doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback for San Francisco as QB Brock Purdy, the last pick in the 2022 NFL draft, hasn’t missed a beat since getting the job. Led by strong offensive and defensive lines along with star players like Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle, the 49ers are the favourites to come out of the NFC and make the superbowl. The Seahawks, led by quarterback Geno Smith, have been a great story but likely don’t have enough talent to make this interesting.
Notes: At -526 you certainly don’t have the best odds but it’s hard to imagine anyone beating this 49ers team.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Los Angeles Chargers: -144
Jacksonville Jaguars: +122
Driven by two young star quarterbacks in Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence, this is one of the most exciting matchups in the first round of playoff games. The last time these two teams met was week 3 when the Jaguars dismantled the Chargers 38–10. Since then, the Jaguars have gone 7–7 and the Chargers have gone 9–5. Both teams have shown flashes of top level talent but also the volatility of having a young quarterback. These are two talented, young teams playing great football leading into the playoffs. This game feels like it has high scoring potential.
Notes: Los Angeles is dealing with an injury to their best offensive target in Mike Williams, will need to fly cross country, and play the Jags coming off an extra day of rest. Jags at +122 looks like good value for two closely matched teams.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins: +669
Buffalo Bills: -809
The Dolphins struggled to finish the regular season, finally snapping a five game losing streak by winning the finale. With quarterback Tua Tagovailoa unlikely to play due to a concussion, Skylar Thompson, who failed to throw a touchdown in their matchup against the Jets last week, will be starting. To make matters worse, Tyreek Hill (ankle), Jaylen Waddle (ankle), and Raheem Mostert (thumb) are dealing with injuries too. On the other side, the Bills closed out the regular season with an inspirational win, one week after their safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field. They’ve been incredibly resilient all season, led by one of the best players in the world — quarterback Josh Allen.
Notes: The talent dropoff from Tua Tagovailoa to Skylar Thompson might be too much to overcome.
New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings
New York Giants: +144
Minnesota Vikings: -156
The New York Giants have been playing way above their talent level, which is why their head coach Brian Daboll is among the top candidates for Coach of the Year. The Giants, already locked into their playoff seeding, rested most key starters last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Minnesota Vikings also had a productive season, winning the NFC North. Many critics will point out that the Vikings became the first team in NFL history to win 12+ games with a negative point differential during the regular season (overall, they were outscored by opponents by 3 points this season). Unlike the generally healthy Giants, the Vikings have some major offensive line issues with their starting RT Brian O’Neill landing on injury reserve.
Notes: In week 16 the Vikings escaped with a win over the Giants after hitting a 61 yard field goal to end the game. This time around, it seems like the Giants could upset the Vikings.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens: +376
Cincinnati Bengals: -456
For another year in a row, the Ravens have struggled to end the regular season as they miss their star quarterback Lamar Jackson. His absence looms over this matchup as he hasn’t practiced since week 13. So much of what makes the Ravens offense go is Jackson’s unique running talent, and if he isn’t ready, that is a huge hurdle to overcome. On the other side, the Cincinnati Bengals ended the season on an eight-game winning streak. The Bengals do have some offensive line concerns with Guard Alex Cappa picking up an ankle injury in week 18, just a few weeks following La’el Collins tearing his ACL. While their offensive line is shakey, QB Joe Burrow hasn’t lost any confidence and as he put it last week, this Superbowl window “is my whole career”.
Notes: Bengals look strong in this matchup, Joe Burrow went to the Superbowl with a weak offensive line and it’s hard to bet against him.
Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dallas Cowboys: -133
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +117
The final game of the first round is the Dallas Cowboys travelling to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the Bucs. The Cowboys have been struggling as of late, going 2–2 in their last four regular season games. Quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown an interception seven games in a row. While they haven’t played their best football recently, they still have stars across the roster including potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate Micah Parsons. On the other side, the Bucs have struggled this year, winning the NFC South on a losing streak. That being said, the Bucs have beaten the Cowboys in the last two season openers, including this year where the Bucs won 19–3 and the Cowboys didn’t score a single touchdown. Fun fact, Brady also has a 7–0 record against the Cowboys in his career.
Notes: These are two talented teams who have played flawed seasons. Even though he is getting older, Tom Brady has shown he can lead the Bucs to victory when it counts.