2022 NFL Wild Card Round Picks

New York Giants (9-7-1) at Minnesota Vikings (13-4)

The Vikings have the better record of these two teams, but the Giants have the significant edge in weighted DVOA (+0.5% vs. -18.6%), despite the fact that they have had significantly more injury problems this season than the Vikings. The Giants are not fully healthy, but they are healthier this week than they’ve been for much of the season, while the Vikings are moving in the wrong direction injury wise, losing several key players late in the season, most notably stud right tackle Brian O’Neill. Despite that, the Vikings are favorites of a field goal at home, suggesting they are the better team. My calculated line actually has the Giants favored by a field goal on the road, so we’re getting significant line value with the visitors, making them worth a large bet, both against the spread and on the money line.

New York Giants 27 Minnesota Vikings 24 Upset Pick +140

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +3

Confidence: High

Seattle Seahawks (9-8) at San Francisco 49ers (13-4)

This line is pretty high at 9.5, but the 49ers are on a 10-game winning streak right now and usually win big, with 10 of their 13 wins this season coming by double digits. One of their closer wins was an 8-point win over the Seahawks, but that game was in Seattle and wasn’t as close as the final score suggests, while the 49ers won by 20 in San Francisco earlier this season in a game that was not competitive. The 49ers also were not as healthy in those two games as they are now and, in large part due to improved health, the 49ers lead the league with a weighted DVOA of 38.6%, a big edge over the 15th ranked Seahawks (+4.1%). My calculated line has the 49ers being favored by 13 points, so the 49ers should be bettable at 9.5, even if only for a small play.

San Francisco 49ers 31 Seattle Seahawks 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -9.5

Confidence: Medium

Miami Dolphins (9-8) at Buffalo Bills (13-3)

These two teams played a pair of close divisional games earlier this season, with the Bills winning at home by three and the Dolphins winning at home by two. However, Tua Tagovailoa played in both games, which will not be the case in this game started by backup Skylar Thompson, and, even with Tagovailoa playing most of the season, the Dolphins have been a significantly worse team than the Bills this season in terms of weighted DVOA (+34.9% vs. +5.9%).

With that in mind, it’s safe to say this game in Buffalo won’t be nearly as close as the first two meetings between these teams. This line reflects that though, favoring the Bills by 14, and I actually think that’s a little high, with my calculated line at Buffalo -12. Because of that, I am going to take the Bills for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a no confidence pick, as the Bills could easily win by more than two scores if they play their best.

Buffalo Bills 27 Miami Dolphins 14

Pick against the spread: Miami +14

Confidence: None

Baltimore Ravens (10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)

Franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson remains out for the Ravens this week and they are 3-8 without him over the past two seasons, but they haven’t gotten blown out in most of those games, losing by more than 7 points just 3 times in those 11 games. In fact, the Ravens have lost just 7 games total by more than 7 points over the past 4 seasons. That’s relevant considering this line favors the Bengals by 8.5 points.

One of those instances of losing by more than 7 points came against the Bengals last week, but the Ravens rested several key starters in that game and still only lost by 11, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see them keep this one significantly closer, with a lineup that is significantly healthier around the quarterback position than it has been for most of the season. The Bengals, meanwhile, have lost a pair of starting offensive linemen, La’El Collins and Alex Cappa, to injury in the past few weeks. There isn’t quite enough here for the Ravens to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 Baltimore Ravens 17

Pick against the spread: Baltimore +8.5

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

The Chargers have the better record of these two teams, but the Jaguars have a significant edge in point differential (+54 vs. +7). The Chargers have played significantly better in recent weeks and have narrowed the gap between these two teams in weighted DVOA, but the Jaguars still have the slight edge (+5.2% vs. +2.2%) and the Chargers’ improved play in recent weeks is largely because of their improved health, which is now going in the other direction with the absence of talented wide receiver Mike Williams. 

The Chargers are still healthier than they’ve been for most of the season, but they’re also still missing several key players, while the Jaguars remain one of the healthiest teams in the league, which is one of the biggest reasons they’ve had a better DVOA and point differential than Chargers this season. Despite that, they are home underdogs of 2.5 points, so we’re getting good line value with the Jaguars, who are worth betting against the spread and on the money line at +120. I would also likely increase this bet if this line moved up to a full field goal.

Jacksonville Jaguars 30 Los Angeles Chargers 27 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +2.5

Confidence: Medium

Dallas Cowboys (12-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)

The Buccaneers beat the Cowboys by 16 in Dallas earlier this season and are now 2.5-point home underdogs, but that’s understandable when you consider that these two teams last faced back in week 1 and the Cowboys have significantly outplayed the Buccaneers since then, ranking 7th in weighted DVOA (13.7%), while the Buccaneers rank 25th in weighted DVOA (-11.6%). Injuries have been a big part of the reason why the Buccaneers have underachieved this season and they are significantly healthier now than they have been for most of the season, but my calculated line still has the Cowboys favored by a couple points, so we’re not getting significant line value with the Buccaneers.

That being said, I am still somewhat confident in the Buccaneers for pick ‘em purposes, purely because of Tom Brady’s history in big games. In his career, Tom Brady led teams are 60-33 ATS as underdogs of favorites or less than 3 points and 46-14 ATS against teams with a better record than his. This season has been different than the rest of Brady’s career in many ways and he is 3-6 ATS and 1-3 ATS respectively in those two situations, but they are legitimately a significantly healthier team now than most of the season. There’s not quite enough here for the Buccaneers to be worth betting against the spread unless we get a full field goal, but the money line is a good value, as the Buccaneers have a great chance of pulling the small upset.

Update: This line has showed up at +3 in some places. I think the Buccaneers are bettable at that number.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Dallas Cowboys 23 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +3

Confidence: Medium

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