NFL Point Spread Report: Wild Card Weekend Edition

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson (right) forces a fumble by Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (left)
Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The best point-spread team in the land, facing an opponent that closed the regular season on a 7-2 ATS run.

The team that finished with the best road and underdog ATS marks, catching points at a division rival that’s failed to cash in four of its last six home games (and five of seven as a short favorite).

A squad that’s covered four straight games, hosting an opponent that’s cashed in three straight.

There are as many intriguing point-spread storylines heading into NFL Wild Card Weekend as there will be on-air mentions of Tom Brady’s seven Super Bowl rings. OK, maybe not that many. But there are still plenty of NFL point-spread trends for bettors to ponder before placing their action.

So let’s get to it in the NFL Wild Card Weekend edition of the NFL Point Spread Report.

All statistics based off closing numbers per All odds via The SuperBook as of 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 13.

Raiders Vs Bengals (-5.5/49)

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders
Image Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-The Enquirer/USA TODAY Network

Before jumping into these teams’ point-spread trends, let’s tackle the (ancient) elephant in the room: The Raiders haven’t won a playoff game since George W. Bush was wrapping up his second year in the White House (Jan. 12, 2003). Cincinnati hasn’t tasted victory in the postseason since W’s father was wrapping up his second year in the White House (Jan. 6, 1991).

One of those droughts will end late Saturday in Cincy — and one will live on.

While these squads have dropped a combined eight consecutive playoff games (with seven of those losses belonging to the Bengals), they enter Super Wild Card Weekend in fine form. Cincinnati had won three straight before resting its starters in a meaningless Week 18 loss at Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Raiders needed three straight victories to clinch their second playoff berth in 19 years, and they got it.

The Bengals covered the spread in six of their last eight games, including the last four in a row. Las Vegas has followed a 1-6 ATS drought — including a 32-13 Week 11 home loss to Cincinnati as a 2-point underdog — by cashing in all three games during its season-closing winning streak.

Other noteworthy trends in Raiders vs. Bengals:

— Raiders are 4-1 SU/ATS in their last five as an underdog (one pick ’em)
— Bengals are 3-1 SU/ATS in their last four as a favorite
— Bengals are 5-0 SU/ATS in their last five series meetings, dating to November 2012
— Under is 5-3 in Raiders road games this season
— Over is 7-3-1 in the Bengals’ last 11 overall and 5-0-1 in their last six at home
— Under is 8-1 in the Bengals’ last nine January games

Patriots Vs Bills (-4/44)

New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon celebrates while leaving the field following a victory against the Buffalo Bills
Image Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We’re not sure either of these AFC East rivals have finished thawing out after their Week 13 Monday night encounter in upstate New York. (And if they have, they’re probably about to freeze over again.)

With wind gusts over 40 mph, game-time temperatures barely above freezing, and a rain/snow mix, New England prevailed 14-10 as a 3-point underdog on Dec. 6. The Pats pulled off the upset despite dialing up an offensive game plan straight out of the 1930s (46 rushing plays, three pass attempts).

Buffalo returned the favor three weeks later in Foxborough, rolling 33-21 as a one-point road underdog.

Since consecutive losses to the Patriots and Buccaneers, the Bills have won four in a row (3-0-1 ATS). Conversely, since a 7-0 SU/ATS run capped by their victory in Buffalo, the Patriots are 1-3 SU/ATS.

Other noteworthy trends in Patriots vs. Bills:

— Patriots are 3-1 ATS as an underdog this season
— Bills are 7-5-2 ATS as a favorite
— All 11 of Buffalo’s wins were by 12 points or more (average victory margin: 20.9 points)
— Five of New England’s seven losses were by 6+ points
— Under is 4-1 in the Patriots last five road games
— Under is 6-3 in Bills home games this season
— Four of the last five series clashes in Buffalo have stayed Under

Steelers Vs Chiefs (-12.5/46) 

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass downfield while Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark (55) rushes against Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr. (65)
Image Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, Ben Roethlisberger told the media his Steelers “don’t have a chance” to win at Kansas City on Sunday. The quarterback said that with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Deep in his heart, though? Big Ben probably believes it.

That’s because Pittsburgh traveled to Arrowhead Stadium just three weeks ago, fell behind 30-0, and lost 36-10 — and the Chiefs didn’t even have All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce that day.

Of course, the Steelers did rally to win and cover their final two games (Cleveland at home; Baltimore on the road) to swipe the AFC’s final wild-card berth. And they do enter the playoffs on a 4-2 SU and ATS roll. However, Pittsburgh had dropped four straight road games (1-3 ATS) prior to outlasting the Lamar Jackson-less Ravens in overtime last week.

Kansas City rolls into the postseason on a 6-2 SU and ATS roll, including four consecutive wins and covers at home. Victory margins in those four home games: 10 (Cowboys), 13 (Broncos), 38 (Raiders), 26 (Steelers).

Other noteworthy trends in Steelers vs. Chiefs:

— Steelers are 6-4 ATS as an underdog this season
— Chiefs started the season 2-7 ATS (0-5 at home), then cashed in six straight games (four at home) before finishing 0-2 ATS
— Chiefs were favored in every game this season, but only five of their 12 victories were by 13+ points
— Over is 5-0 in the Chiefs’ last five overall (2-0 at home)
— Over is 4-1 in the Steelers’ last five on the road

Eagles Vs Buccaneers (-8.5/46)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (left) runs away from Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Davion Taylor (left)
Image Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s yet another rematch of a regular-season meeting, this time involving teams with contrasting styles — both on the field and in the betting market. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s concentrate on the latter.

Tampa Bay was a fairly easy team to figure out this season: The Bucs went 6-2 ATS at home (tied for the second-best home mark in the league); 3-6 ATS on the road; 7-2 as a double-digit favorite; and 2-6 ATS as a single-digit chalk.

One of the Bucs’ road (and short-favorite) ATS setbacks came at Philadelphia in Week 6. Tampa Bay raced out to a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter, but the Eagles rallied for the final two scores, tacking on a 2-point conversion after the second one. That allowed Philly (+7) to cover in a 28-22 defeat.

However, the Eagles never had any kind of point-spread rhythm this season. After failing to cover in three of their first four contests, they went 7-5-1 ATS (including 4-3 ATS on the road). Philadelphia also was 3-5 ATS as an underdog, 4-2-1 ATS as a favorite, and 1-1 in pick ’em games. And over their final 13 contests, the Eagles’ longest ATS winning streak was two (as was its longest ATS losing streak).

Other noteworthy trends in this matchup:

— The Eagles failed to cash in their last two games against Washington and Dallas, part of a 1-2-1 ATS finish to the regular season
— Since a 4-0 ATS run from Weeks 11-14, the Bucs are 2-2 ATS and have alternated spread covers in their last five (they cashed in last week’s 41-17 home rout of Carolina)
— Over is 4-1 in the Eagles’ last five overall, but Under is 3-1 in their last four on the road
— Tampa Bay has followed a 7-3 Under run by topping the total in its last two

49ers Vs Cowboys (-3/51)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Chicago Bears
Image Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas capped the regular season with a 51-26 thrashing of the Eagles as a 6.5-point road favorite in Week 18. With that, the Cowboys completed their worst-to-first point-spread journey, finishing an NFL-best 13-4 ATS a year after going 5-11 ATS.

Within that sterling 2021-22 point-spread mark, Dallas went 10-3 ATS as a favorite (No. 1 in the NFL) and 8-1 ATS on the road (tied with Arizona for No. 1). However, after cashing in their first three home games, the Cowboys were 2-3 ATS in Jerry’s World.

San Francisco caught fire for bettors down the stretch, going 7-2 ATS after covering in just two of its first eight contests. Starting with a blowout of the Bears in Chicago on Halloween, the 49ers are 4-2 ATS in their last six road games.

This is the only Super Wild Card Weekend matchup among teams that didn’t face off in the regular season.

Other noteworthy trends in 49ers vs. Cowboys:

— 49ers were 2-1 ATS as an underdog (both spread covers came in outright wins over the Rams)
— 49ers ranged from a 4-point favorite to a 3.5-point underdog in 10 of their 17 games; they went 5-5 ATS in those contests
— Cowboys are 6-1 ATS as a favorite of 6.5 points or less this season
— Under is 3-1-1 in the 49ers’ last four
— Over was 5-1 in the Cowboys’ first six games (3-0 at home), but Under was 8-3 in their last 11 (3-2 at home)

Cardinals Vs Rams (-4, 49.5)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray rolls out to pass
Image Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s only fitting that the road team won and cashed in both regular-season clashes between these NFC West rivals. After all, no team had a bigger home/road dichotomy during the 2021-22 campaign than Arizona.

The Cardinals went 8-1 SU and ATS as a visitor, but 3-5 SU/2-6 ATS at home. The only team that walked out of its own building with a victory over Arizona? The Detroit Lions (go figure).

Back in Week 4, the Cardinals went to Los Angeles as a four-point road underdog and cruised to a 37-20 win. The Rams got their revenge in Week 14, hanging on 30-20 as a 3-point road pup.

Arizona started the season 7-0 SU/6-1 ATS but finished with a 4-6 SU/ATS whimper. However, the Cardinals are a perfect 6-for-6 as an underdog (all outright victories).

Meanwhile, Los Angeles went on a point-spread roller coaster ride throughout the season: 4-2 ATS, then 0-5 ATS, then 4-0 ATS, then 0-2 ATS.

Other noteworthy trends in 49ers vs. Cowboys:

— Five of the Cardinals’ six outright upsets and seven of their eight road wins were double-digit blowouts (only exception: 25-22 win at Dallas as a 6.5-point underdog in Week 17)
— After cashing in their first two games at Sofi Stadium, the Rams went 2-4 ATS at home
— Under is 3-1 in the Cardinals’ last four overall and 3-1 in their last four on the road
— Under is 4-1 in the Rams’ last five overall
— The total has alternated in the Rams’ last eight overall (last game: Over)
— Over is 4-1 in the last five series meetings (2-0 this season)

NFL ’Dogs Have Their Day (And Season)

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott raises his arms to signal a touchdown
Image Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Underdogs covered the spread in 10 of the 16 games in Week 18, ending a stretch in which favorites delivered a profit in five consecutive weeks (going 44-29-2 ATS).

Not including pick ’em contests, underdogs cashed at a 52.2 percent rate during the 2021-22 NFL season (140-128-3 ATS).

Although 11 games topped the total in Week 18, the Under was still the profitable play over the course of the regular season, going 144-125-3 (53.5%).

Below is a recap of various regular season point-spread and Over/Under results:

Best Overall
Cowboys 13-4
Packers 12-5
Lions 11-6
Five teams tied at 10-7

Worst Overall
Jaguars 5-12
Panthers 5-12
Bears 6-11
Giants 6-11
Jets 6-11

Best Home
Packers 7-1
Buccaneers 6-2
Lions 6-2

Worst Home
Falcons 1-7
Panthers 2-6
Cardinals 2-6

Best Road
Cardinals 8-1
Cowboys 8-1
Bengals 6-2
Colts 6-2

Worst Road
Jaguars 2-6
Jets 2-6

Best Favorites
Cowboys 10-3
Packers 8-5
Patriots 8-5

Worst favorites
Raiders 0-5
Steelers 2-5
Panthers 2-5
Ravens 3-8

Best Underdogs
Cardinals 6-0
Packers 4-0
Ravens 5-1

Worst Underdogs
Bears 3-10
Jaguars 5-10

Best Over
Vikings 11-6
Chargers 10-7
Chiefs 10-7
Eagles 10-7
Jets 10-7

Best Under
Broncos 5-12
Jaguars 5-12
Giants 5-11-1
Seahawks 6-10-1
Steelers 6-10-1