Welcome to the Saturday Wild Card Round edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll break down both games and analyze their profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sports, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Let’s take a quick look at how things went in Week 17 and follow that up with a closer look at both of Saturday’s Wild Card matchups.
Recapping Week 17
Week 17 winners: Texans -6.5, Texans moneyline
Week 17 losers: Cowboys-Giants under 41.5
Final regular-season record:
ATS Picks: 24-10 (.706)
ATS Leans: 4-2 (.667)
Moneyline: 11-7 (.611)
Over/under: 1-2-1 (.333)
Saturday Wild Card Round NFL Betting Picks
Indianapolis Colts (10-6) vs. Houston Texans (11-5)
Over/Under Total: 48.0
How They Fared in Week 17
The Colts punched their ticket to the postseason with a 33-17 win over the division-rival Tennessee Titans in the year’s last regular-season game. Andrew Luck completed 24 of 35 passes for 285 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Marlon Mack gained 119 yards and scored a touchdown on 25 rushes while Dontrelle Inman was a pace-setter for the pass catchers, logging five grabs for 77 yards and a touchdown. T.Y. Hilton (2-61) and Eric Ebron (4-60-1) were productive as well.
The Texans disposed of a mostly disinterested Jacksonville Jaguars squad by a 20-3 score to clinch the AFC South crown. Deshaun Watson threw for 234 yards and added 66 on the ground, along with a rushing score. Lamar Miller returned from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury to total 56 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. DeAndre Hopkins turned in a trademark effort with a 12-147 line. The Texans defense sacked Blake Bortles thrice and hit him six times overall.
- Out: WR Ryan Grant (toe)
- Questionable: WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) – no practice this week/ WR Dontrelle Inman (shoulder) – three limited practices this week/ S Clayton Geathers (knee) – two missed practices, one full practice this week/ S Malik Hooker (hip) – three limited practices this week.
Questionable: WR Keke Coutee (hamstring) – three full practices this week
The Texans prevailed in Week 3 by a 37-34 margin in overtime in Indianapolis. Both quarterbacks enjoyed prolific days, but Luck stood out with 464 yards and four touchdowns. Hilton led the pass catchers with a 4-115 line. Watson countered with 375 yards and a pair of passing scores while Hopkins was good for 10 catches, 169 yards, and one of the touchdowns.
The Colts countered with a 24-21 win at NRG Stadium in Week 14. Luck once again exploded: this time to the tune of 399 yards and two TDs. Hilton accounted for 199 of those yards on nine receptions. The Colts notably did a much better job on Hopkins the second time around, limiting him to a 4-36-1 output.
Summing It Up
Luck answered all questions about his surgically repaired shoulder in emphatic fashion this season and is a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year as a result. The prolific quarterback benefited from the best pass protection in the NFL (league-low 18 sacks allowed) and had no trouble reestablishing his prolific connection with Hilton.
Then, Inman has also come on late in the season for Indianapolis. Despite the fact both receivers are vulnerable to injury, there seems to be little doubt they’ll take the field Saturday. Mack also proved to be an excellent complementary option on the ground to Lucks’ exploits although he’ll be hard-pressed to make consistent inroads versus a Texans squad that allowed the third-fewest rush yards per game (82.7). However, Ebron could present a matchup issue for Houston. He burned them for at least four catches and a touchdown in both meetings this year.
Then, the Texans bring plenty of firepower in their own right. Watson made a pretty impressive return from injury too. He rebounded from last season’s ACL tear to start all 16 games and finished with 4,165 passing yards and a 26:9 TD:INT. He added 551 rush yards and five more scores on the ground. Miller fell just below the 1,000-yard mark (973) but did miss two games. He posted his best yards-per-carry figure (4.6) since the 2014 season. And Hopkins gave secondaries fits all season once again. He produced career bests in receptions (115) and receiving yardage (1,572) while racking up 11 touchdowns.
By the Numbers
The Colts were 8-7-1 (53.3. percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 3-2 (60.0 percent) mark versus the number as road underdogs. Indianapolis was also 3-2-1 (60.0 percent) against the spread in division games.
The Texans were 7-8-1 (46.7 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 4-4 (50.0 percent) mark versus the number as home favorites.
The Final Word
The Colts demonstrated they could hang with the Texans this season in both meetings. And they certainly proved their ability to score a critical late-season victory in Houston in Week 14. They are also a terrible matchup for the backbone of Houston’s defense — their pass rush. On the other side of the ball, Houston’s league-worst pass protection (62 sacks allowed) is a very poor fit for a Colts’ squad whose 38 sacks ranked them in the top half of the league.
While road playoff wins aren’t exactly the norm, these two teams know each other well enough for such an occurrence. And the Texans’ secondary has simply been no match for Luck or Hilton. This, combined with how well the Colts protect their quarterback, makes for a bad recipe for the home squad. I’m leaning toward Indy pulling the upset here and Luck’s remarkable run continuing for at least another week.
The Lean: Colts +1, Colts moneyline
Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
Over/Under Total: 43.0
How They Fared in Week 17
The Seahawks edged the Arizona Cardinals by a 27-24 margin. Russell Wilson completed 12 of 21 passes for 152 yards with a touchdown and an interception, playing the entire contest. Chris Carson ripped off 122 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries to cap a career season. Tyler Lockett led the air attack with two receptions for 66 yards while the Seattle defense sacked Josh Rosen on six occasions.
The Cowboys mostly held true to their word in letting key offensive starters play in a wild 36-35 win over the Giants. Dak Prescott went all four quarters and completed 27 of 44 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns, the last one to Cole Beasley with 1:32 remaining to secure the victory. Ezekiel Elliott did sit for the contest, giving way to Rod Smith as the lead back (12 carries, 35 yards, one TD). Amari Cooper also suited up but produced a modest 5-31 line. However, Beasley made six grabs for 94 yards and his game-winning touchdown while tight end Blake Jarwin broke out for seven catches, 119 yards and three scores.
Questionable: OL J.R. Sweezy (foot) – no practice this week
Out: DL David Irving (ankle)
The Seahawks scored a 24-13 victory at CenturyLink Field back in Week 3. Wilson threw for 192 yards and two TDs. Lockett was the primary beneficiary, producing a 4-77-1 line. Carson was a workhorse with 32 carries, 102 yards, and a rushing TD.
On the other page, Dak Prescott had a rough day, throwing for just 168 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per attempt and taking five sacks. That said, Ezekiel Elliott was a bad matchup for Seattle. He ripped off 127 yards on 16 rushes.
Summing It Up
The Seahawks took an interesting path to the postseason this year. For once, it didn’t involve an over-reliance on Russell Wilson’s arms and legs. The veteran quarterback put up the second-fewest passing attempts of his career (427), yet he was extremely efficient with them. Wilson managed to produce a career-high 35 TDs while equaling a career low in interceptions (seven).
Wilson’s reduced workload was in direct correlation to Seattle finding its best running back since Marshawn Lynch’s halcyon days. Chris Carson finished with 1,151 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns over just 14 games. When Wilson did air it out, he mostly relied on his trusted duo of Lockett and Doug Baldwin. Then, David Moore flashed as a third receiver and red-zone target. The second-year wideout finished with a 26-445-5 line, even as he tailed off during the stretch run.
The Cowboys looked nothing like a postseason contender personnel-wise at the start of the season. With a receiving corps helmed by Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Tavon Austin, and Beasley, Dallas was in danger of a disastrous season. Then, an interesting thing happened when the games started to count. The Cowboys were able to ride excellent defense, an elite running game, and prudent quarterback play to remain in contention in a weak NFC East. The October acquisition of Cooper seemed to be the final piece of the puzzle. He gave a generally anemic passing game a jump start for several key games during the second half of the campaign. Meanwhile, the defense allowed the sixth-fewest points per game (20.2), including 18.5 per home contest.
By the Numbers
The Seahawks were 9-5-2 (64.3 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 3-1-1 mark (75.0 percent) as road underdogs. Seattle was also 7-4-1 (63.6 percent) versus the number in conference games.
The Cowboys were 3-2-1 (60.0 percent) against the spread as home favorites this season.
The Final Word
This sets up as a slow-paced game heavily focused on the run, which plays to both teams’ strengths. Each of the two main running backs demonstrated he could rack up some yards against the opposing defense this season. And Seattle’s run blocking appears to be exponentially better at this point than it was in that Week 3 meeting. While home field represents a sizable advantage for the Cowboys, the Seahawks have been excellent against the number all season and have the talent to keep this within a field goal. The three-point home advantage for Dallas simply means the oddsmakers see this game as even. That’s fitting given how closely matched these teams are.
The Pick: Seahawks +3