Wild Card Weekend 2015 is expected to be highly competitive, as no team is even favored by a touchdown at Las Vegas casinos. Every road team is getting at least three points, but evidence from the regular season suggests that a few underdogs will have a chance to pull off an upset.
The Cardinals ended the 2014 NFL regular season with the best record against the spread, covering 11 of 16 betting lines. Even as they struggle down the stretch, Arizona still managed to cover the spread in three of their final four games. They are significant underdogs against a team that won four fewer games than them.
Indianapolis had the second-best record against the spread, and they’ll host Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs. Only the Cowboys were better against the spread on the road than the Bengals, who covered five of eight betting lines.
Of any team that is playing on Wild Card Weekend, the Lions have the worst record against the spread. Detroit won 11 games to make the playoffs, but only covered seven point spreads.
Below are picks against the spread for every game in the first round of the playoffs.
Arizona Cardinals (+6) at Carolina Panthers
Carolina is one of the hottest teams in the playoffs, and no postseason team is playing worse than Arizona. Since Carson Palmer went down for good, the Cardinals have struggled mightily to move the ball, failing to score more than 20 points in seven straight games. The Panthers have won four consecutive games against losing teams, and the Cardinals are losers in four of their last six contests.
Prediction ATS: Carolina
Baltimore Ravens (+3) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers beat the Ravens by 20 points in Pittsburgh on Nov. 9, and they have the blueprint to defeat their rivals. Baltimore has one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes against the Ravens in their last meeting. Even if Le’Veon Bell can’t play or isn’t as effective, Pittsburgh’s aerial attack should be enough to help them advance.
Prediction ATS: Pittsburgh
Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts dominated the Bengals in their Week 7 meeting. Cincinnati is a different team now, considering A.J. Green was injured and Jeremy Hill has emerged as a top running back, but Indianapolis still has the advantage at home. Of their 11 wins, the Colts have covered the spread 10 times. The Bengals have lost on Wild Card Weekend in three straight years, failing to cover the spread in any of those games.
Prediction ATS: Indianapolis
Detroit Lions (+6.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Dallas is playing extremely well. They haven’t lost since Thanksgiving and Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray both played like MVP candidates in the regular season. However, the team only has a .500 record at home, and the Lions have been among the best NFC teams all year. Ndamukong Suh won’t be suspended for the contest, and he could help contain Murray, and give the league’s No.2 scoring defense a chance to keep the game close until the end.
Prediction ATS: Detroit
Season Record: 124-127-4