The betting lines indicate that the road teams could dominate the first round of the 2016 NFL playoffs, but a few home teams have a chance to surprise. Three of the four higher seeds on Wild Card Weekend find themselves as underdogs, via vegasinsider.com, including two teams that finished the regular season with a better record than their first-round opponent.
According to Odds Shark, road teams are just 28-52 straight up and 31-47-2 against the spread on Wild Card Weekend in the past 20 seasons. Home teams have won 11-of-16 wild-card games in the last four years, though it won't be easy for them to even split two of the four games this year.
Below are picks against the spread for every game on Wild Card Weekend, as well as updated betting odds at Las Vegas casinos.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Houston Texans
The Texans reached the playoffs by taking advantage of a weak schedule. Houston went 5-1 against the lowly AFC South, and they’ll have a tough time stopping the NFL’s hottest team. Kansas City hasn’t lost since Oct. 18, allowing just 12.8 points per game during their 10-game winning streak. Brian Hoyer has put up decent numbers this season, but he’s come back to earth after a hot start, posting passer ratings of 78.0 or less in four of his last seven starts. Kansas City struggled in their first six games, and their only win during that time was a seven-point victory in Houston. With the Chiefs playing much better at the start of the playoffs, they should beat the Texans by at least a touchdown this time around.
Prediction ATS: Kansas City
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati’s quarterback situation makes it very difficult to take the Bengals on Saturday night. The team is preparing to start AJ McCarron, and the Steelers have already won by 13 points on the road against the backup. The Bengals haven’t asked McCarron to do too much in three starts, but that would have to change against Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense. Even if Andy Dalton does give it a go, the quarterback still hasn’t proven he can win in the playoffs with a 0-4 postseason record. The Bengals have one of the NFL’s best defenses and they could keep the game close, but the Steelers averaged 32 points per game in the second half of the season and they’ll be difficult to stop this weekend.
Prediction ATS: Pittsburgh
Seattle Seahawks (-5.5) at Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have been the NFL’s most undervalued team all season long, and that continues on Wild Card Weekend. Minnesota had the league’s best record against the spread in the regular season at 13-3, and they are getting way too many points at home. The Seahawks dominated the Vikings when they met earlier this season, but it’s hard to imagine Seattle replicating that performance. Seattle might be the hottest team in the NFC, but they did lose to the 7-9 St. Louis Rams just two weeks ago. The line indicates that the Seahawks are about 8.5 points better than the Vikings on a neutral field, which isn’t the case, making Minnesota the easy pick.
Prediction ATS: Minnesota
Green Bay Packers (+1) at Washington Redskins
After starting the season at 6-0, the Packers have not played like a good football team. Green Bay is 4-6 in their last 10, including a miracle win against the Detroit Lions because of a 61-yard Hail Mary. Aaron Rodgers remains an elite quarterback, but he hasn’t been at his best with limited weapons, and Kirk Cousins might have had a better 2015 season. Cousins has thrown 23 touchdowns and three interceptions in the last 10 games, and Green Bay’s pass defense has struggled against top quarterbacks. Washington is allowing less than 19 points per game at home, and they are 12-4 against the spread in their last 16 playoff games.
Prediction ATS: Washington