NFL Wild Card Preview: Seahawks struggles and Foles’ Bears battle
Odds and look-ahead for the playoffs
It’s all or nothing for eight of the NFL’s dark horses this weekend.
With the Wild Card sides including the 2018 Super Bowl winners and a side on a four-game win streak, there’s no guarantee of home comforts for the divisional champs.
Ahead of what promises to be an explosive weekend of gridiron, we delve into everything from road form to resurgent Quarterbacks – as well as delivering the odds…
Can Foles repeat his magic against the NFL’s best defence?
Once again, Philadelphia Eagles’ Quarterback Nick Foles has been cast as the unlikely hero. Back-up QB before leading the side to Super Bowl glory last year, he’s been recalled this season following back trouble for regular starter Carson Wentz.
It already looks like a blessing in disguise. There’s no doubting Wentz has talent. But Foles thrives in this scenario. In the pressure of this year’s Wild Card bid, he threw for 962 yards and four Touchdowns in the final three regular season games.
However, he’s yet to face a test like the Chicago Bears defence this season. Largely because there isn’t anything else quite like them.
The Khalil Mack-inspired Bears have given up the fewest points in the entire NFL, with just 263 in 16 games. And they’re only getting better. Three of their last nine opponents failed to reach the 10-point mark.
With Foles unlikely to get the protection needed to stop the Bears defence, this could be a bridge too far for him and the Eagles.
We go 2/5 for a Chicago win, while the Bears are 4/6 to keep their opponents to Under 19 points.
Seattle’s rocky road form makes Dallas trip tough
After three defeats in the opening five weeks of the season, Seattle Seahawks fans will probably be happy just to have made it into the playoffs. And the signs point to another uphill battle in the Wild Card Round.
The Seahawks travel to Dallas Cowboys, with road form definitely not the visitors’ strong suit. They’ve lost half their games away from the Emerald City.
In addition to losses to two of the play-off sides, they’ve been beaten by Denver Broncos (6-10) and San Francisco 49ers (4-12) – two of the worst sides in the NFL.
The Cowboys have won seven of their last eight home games, and have a new offensive star in Tight End Blake Jarwin. They should be too strong on home turf. Dallas are 4/5 in the Money Line, while the Cowboys -5 handicap is a 9/5 shot.
AFC South pair hard to separate this season
It’s no surprise that the closest Money Line odds of any playoff game this weekend come as Indianapolis Colts (Evens) head to Houston Texans (5/6).
First off, there’s this season’s head-to-head clashes. September’s meeting in Texas saw a 37-34 Overtime win for the hosts. And there were just three points between the pair again on Week 14, as Indy dominated the second quarter (17-0) en route to an eventual 24-21 victory.
Both have key offensive players who can make the difference. Texans star DeAndre Hopkins has the NFL’s second-highest rushing yards (1,572) and is an absolute first-down magnet. He’s also 13/2 favourite to score the game’s first TD.
Meanwhile, the Colts’ passing game is irresistible and often unstoppable when Andrew Luck is in full flow.
We’re expecting another enthralling and close contest here. With two strong offences on show, Over 48.5 Total Points is 10/11.
NFL Wild Card Games [UK Times]:
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – 9:35pm, Saturday
Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys – 1:15am, Sunday
Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens – 6:30pm, Sunday
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears – 9:40pm, Sunday
Click here for the latest NFL Wild Card odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing