NFL picks against the spread for every Wild Card Weekend game originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The 2023 NFL playoffs have arrived.
There are seven games on Wild Card Weekend, including several rematches from the regular and a couple contests between division rivals. Perhaps the best game on the schedule is a Week 1 rematch between the Dallas Cowboys and Tom Brady‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The stage is set for a fantastic couple days of exciting playoff football. Here are our picks against-the-spread (ATS) for Wild Card Weekend (all times ET).
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)
Time/TV channel: Saturday, Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m. on FOX
Pick: 49ers -9.5
The 49ers ended the season on a 10-game win streak. They are the hottest team in the league and haven’t missed a beat with third-string quarterback Brock Purdy leading the offense. San Francisco went 2-0 against Seattle in the regular season, outscoring its division rival 48-20. The Seahawks lost three of their last five regular season games and scored just 17.8 points per matchup over that span. They also went 1-7 ATS in their last eight games.
The 49ers are a far superior team and should keep rolling into the Divisional Round.
Los Angeles Chargers (-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars
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Time/TV channel: Saturday, Jan. 14 at 8:15 p.m. on NBC
Pick: Chargers -2
The Chargers are the better team. They have a better quarterback in Justin Herbert, and running back Austin Ekeler is one of the toughest players to defend in the league. He tallied 1,637 total yards and 18 total touchdowns in 17 games.
The Chargers also ended the season 4-0-1 ATS. They’ve also covered the spread in nine of their last 10 games against the Jaguars and seven of their last nine road games. Los Angeles has won eight of its last 10 games versus Jacksonville overall.
The Jaguars closed the regular season with a five-game win streak, including a do-or-die finale against the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South title. They could definitely win this game. Starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence has taken a huge step forward this year, and the Jaguars also are playing at home.
But the Chargers have more high-end talent, the advantage at quarterback and more playmakers. A slim victory for the Chargers wouldn’t be surprising.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills (-13)
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Time/TV channel: Sunday, Jan. 15 at 1 p.m. on CBS
Pick: Bills -13
The Bills should have no trouble demolishing the Dolphins. Third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson is the expected starter this week for Miami.
Thompson has completed just 57.1 percent of his passes for 534 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in seven appearances this season. The Bills defense ranked sixth in yards allowed and second in points allowed. This unit is a matchup nightmare for Thompson.
The Dolphins barely made the playoffs and lost five of their last six games. They could only muster 11 points in a Week 18 victory over the Joe Flacco-led New York Jets with a playoff berth on the line.
The Bills have won seven of their last eight games versus the Dolphins. It would be shocking if that winning trend didn’t continue Sunday afternoon.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Time/TV channel: Sunday, Jan. 15 at 4:30 p.m. on FOX
Pick: Vikings -3
Not many people believe in the Vikings. They’ve had some strange performances, like a 40-3 loss to the Cowboys at home in Week 11. But the Vikings had some good wins against the Packers, Lions, Patriots, Dolphins, Giants and Bills. Minnesota also did a great job closing out tight games, evidenced by its 11-0 record in matchups decided by one score. The Vikings also are tough to beat at home in their weather-controlled indoor stadium. Minnesota tied San Francisco for the best home record at 8-1.
The Giants stumbled down the stretch with a 2-5-1 record in their last eight games. They did play a tough schedule during that span, but does anyone have confidence in Giants quarterback Daniel Jones outscoring a far superior offense on the road?
A loss would be a colossal failure for the Vikings after a 13-4 regular season.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-8.5)
Time/TV channel: Sunday, Jan. 15 at 8:15 p.m. on NBC
Pick: Bengals -8.5
The Bengals beat the Ravens 27-16 in Week 18 despite a lackluster second-half performance. With star quarterback Lamar Jackson likely unable to play for the Ravens due to injury, another double-digit win is very possible for the Bengals. Cincinnati ended the regular season on an eight-game win streak with an average margin of victory of 9.25 points. The Bengals also are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games and have won their last six home games.
Joe Burrow and Co. should breeze to another comfortable win en route to the Divisional Round.
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Time/TV channel: Monday, Jan. 16 at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN
Pick: Cowboys -2.5
The Cowboys are one of four teams Tom Brady has never lost against. He is a perfect 7-0, including a 19-3 victory back in Week 1. But a lot has changed since the season opener . The Cowboys have one of the NFL’s best defenses and rush the passer effectively. If they can get consistent pressure on Brady, this game shouldn’t be much of a contest.
The worst thing the Cowboys can do is let the Bucs hang around. Despite having an 8-9 record, Brady did engineer five game-winning drives this season. He’s still dangerous in those late-game situations.
Ultimately, the Cowboys are a better team on both sides of the ball and should win their first playoff game since 2018.