Playoff football is here and I'm excited to take my regular season betting momentum into the postseason after going 5-2 with the Lock of the Week hitting yet again to close out Week 18.
I made my full predictions for this year's playoff outcomes, including my Super Bowl contenders and winner, on the "NFL" section of this site, which can be viewed here:
Before we get into my favorite picks for the opening round of the playoffs, I wanted to give a brief recap of my betting performance for the 2022 regular season.
I finished the year with a record of 69-49, which means we hit at a 58.5 percent clip. In betting percentages, that's quite a bit higher than the 52.4 percent break-even point, meaning that if you tailed all my picks this season, you would have made a decent amount of profit.
The real money was in my weekly Locks, which lived up to their reputation by finishing 13-5, a 72.2 percent win percentage. There were only 18 of those bets I gave out (one per week), but that would have been a nice profit stream for you as well if you had just placed money on those every week.
I split all the picks I gave this season by type to see which area I performed best, and it was pretty even between my bets against the spread versus bets on the point total. Interestingly, though I didn't give out these picks a lot, I went 3/4 on bets made against a team's point total. Maybe I'll pursue that area further next season.
Here's a breakdown of my performance on a week-by-week basis:
I gave out seven picks each week with three exceptions: I gave a special Double Lock in Week 2 (that hit) to make eight total picks for that week, I didn't give out any picks in Week 12, and I only gave five picks in Week 14. While I never had a perfect 7-0 run, I went 6-1 in two separate weeks, along with two 5-2 weeks as well. My worst performance all season was 3-4, which I'm happy with as it means there were no individual weeks where I lost big.
One final bit of analysis before we get to my picks for this week's playoff games. I was curious to see my performance with each of the 32 teams in the league. So I calculated how many games I won and lost in bets involving each team. Here are the results:
As you can see, I went undefeated when betting on two teams this season: Cincinnati and Tennessee. I think the most impressive figure I see here, however, is that I went 10-1 when betting on games involving Tampa Bay. (As a side note, I included them in five of my weekly Locks this year, and all five of those bets hit.)
Here's a very interesting point regarding my biggest losers: My worst team to bet on from a win percentage standpoint was Seattle, with just a 1-4 record. Following the Seahawks were San Francisco, the L.A. Rams, Las Vegas, and Arizona. Now, you'll notice that all these teams are located near the west coast of the U.S. I live in Tennessee, so I don't get much exposure to those west coast teams unless they're playing in primetime typically.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I thought it was interesting that I did best on two of the three teams located closest to me geographically (also going 3-1 on Carolina, which I didn't mention and is the fourth nearest team to me), while performing worst on the teams located furthest away from me. That's something I'll analyze next season to see if there's any repeating patterns over another year's betting sample.
Now, let's turn to the picks I like for Wildcard Weekend, which will take place on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday this week. There are two picks here for Saturday's games and two on Sunday. Funny enough, and maybe against my better judgment, I'm turning to a west coast game for bet one here.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Under 42.0
Funny enough, and maybe against my better judgment, I'm turning to a west coast game for bet one here. The reality is that the 49ers have the best defense in the entirety of the NFL, and they've got Seattle's offense figured out. They held Geno Smith and company to just 7 points in their first meeting and 13 in the second, and the Seahawks have only reached 20 points once in their last four games (a 23-6 win over the Jets). While San Francisco's offense has been really good under Brock Purdy, you have to think Kyle Shanahan will be a bit conservative in his playcalling to ensure his rookie QB remains comfortable in his first playoff start. My biggest fear is, however, the Niners exploding for 30-plus points to nearly reach the over by themselves, but I imagine a standard San Francisco playoff game where they run the ball down Seattle's throat and the clock stays ticking. I expect something like a 24-10 final.
Jacksonville Jaguars +2.5 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
I like the Jaguars to win this game outright at home. Jacksonville has been a different animal down the final stretch of the season and are playing their best ball heading into the playoffs. The Chargers have been fairly consistent for the bulk of the season but my gut is telling me that they won't be able to go in to Jacksonville and pull off a win in primetime. I know it was just the third week of the regular season, but people may not remember that the Jaguars marched into L.A. and handed the Chargers a 38-10 L several weeks back. Both teams have come a long way since then, but after hearing the news that Mike Williams will be out with a back injury, the odds of Los Angeles winning this game have diminished in my opinion. Austin Ekeler will probably score at least one touchdown and I expect Keenan Allen to come through with a few big catches, but I think Trevor Lawrence is going to find a way to get his team through to the second round in Jacksonville's first playoff appearance since 2017.
Buffalo Bills -13.5 vs. Miami Dolphins
This is a pretty massive spread for a playoff game, but Mike McDaniel has already announced that rookie Skylar Thompson will make his first playoff start at quarterback after making his first start in the NFL a week ago versus the Jets. If you watched that game, you'll see why I like the Bills even at such a wide margin. Miami could only muster 152 yards through the air, and they only had six points on the board prior to their game-winning field goal with 18 seconds to play. They couldn't sustain drives, and when they did take a step forward, they shot themselves in the foot and took two steps back. They were able to still win against New York to secure their spot in the playoff, but their stay will be very short-lived. Buffalo will take advantage of all of Miami's mistakes and turn at least one turnover into six points the other way. This will be a rout as the Bills look to keep building confidence to begin their Super Bowl run.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings Under 48.0
It feels like Minnesota's offense has been either really good or really in their games this season, sometimes changing with the turn of a half (see their 33-0 comeback win over Indianapolis). And while I like the Vikings to end up winning this game, it's the one in which I think we're most likely to see a major upset. New York has been decent against the pass this year, and I think Brian Daboll knows that you win in the playoffs by running the ball well, a stat that the Giants place fourth in the whole league as a team. Maybe my confidence in New York's defense is inflated after they just held the full-strength Eagles to 22 points with a lot of their backups in. But I expect this to be a lower-scoring game where 24 points will be enough to win, meaning that whatever the other team scores will have to fall below the 48 point total. This should be the most tightly contested game on Sunday, as it's sandwiched between the Dolphins-Bills and the Ravens-Bengals. I think it'll be more of a grind it out playoff feel to counteract the potential routs taking place before and after it.
Written by Nick Swatson