WE MADE IT. The 2021 NFL season never felt as in peril as 2020 did, but still, it’s good to be in the playoffs and to see SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND get started. It’s also nice to write a picks column that only features six games and not 16. Yay me!
I happened to close the season pretty hot and nearly walked down Pete Prisco and Ryan Wilson. Here’s to finishing off the season with a scorching playoff set of bets.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook
Super Wild Card Weekend ATS Picks
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App
This game is getting the Saturday afternoon Super Wild Card Weekend treatment which shouldn’t be surprising, but we shouldn’t dismiss these two teams. Derek Carr and the Raiders making the playoffs is absolutely wild considering their coach resigned in the middle of the season over a decade-old email scandal that emerged while another team was being investigated and the tragic situation involving Henry Ruggs. Unprecedented circumstances for an NFL team. Maybe Derek’s brother was right — the younger Carr has led game-winning drives on three of the last four games. He’s playing like a very clutch NFL quarterback right now. He’s not as good as David thinks but he’s a lot better than public perception (I’ll take some blame for that). This is a good spot for Las Vegas, because Maxx Crosby — honestly he could be charged for at least a misdemeanor after the Storm Norton matchup in Week 18 — is a terror rushing the passer. The Raiders create problems up front. If Joe Burrow has time to throw, I love the Bengals here. He went 956 yards, 12 touchdowns and no picks in two playoff games at LSU, while rushing for two more. Burrow in a must-win/playoff game is not a thing you want to bet against. We just haven’t learned it yet. The whole matchup comes down to the Bengals’ pass protection — if they can keep Burrow clean to throw downfield, Cincy can run away with this.
The pick: Bengals 27, Raiders 21
Props, Best Bets: Bengals -5.5
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Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
This is an awesome bracket this year — we’re getting a Cold War AFC East Rubber Match on Super Wild Card Weekend. No one’s talking about the Bills and Pats because New England has 20 years of dominance on Buffalo. But the Bills just won the AFC East for the second year in a row and are hosting their rent-free tenants on the first weekend of the playoffs. Maybe I’m putting too much into it, but this feels like a pretty big swing moment for this division. Rookie quarterbacks do NOT win in the playoffs and the Bills have a better roster and home-field advantage. I’m probably crazy but I want to back Bill Belichick here. Make it even crazier: I think it turns into a shootout and it’s the “Mac Jones Game” when he slings it around.
The pick: Patriots 24, Bills 21
Props, Best Bets: Over 44 (wait and bet it at the lowest market number)
Sunday,1 p.m. ET
TV: FOX | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Is the Saints game an outlier for the Eagles? New Orleans didn’t make the postseason, but the Saints have a great defense. And they were great against the run … until Philly wrecked them in Week 11. That was the launching pad for the Eagles rush offense, but they haven’t played anyone since then — two Giants, one Jets, two WFTs and a group of Cowboys that didn’t give them the chance to run — so I’m a little worried Philly isn’t as an elite a rush offense as we thought. The Bucs are healthy/healthier on defense and are just a bad matchup for Jalen Hurts and Co.
The Pick: Buccaneers 31, Eagles 17
Bets: Fournette over receiving yards, Fournette/Gronk anytime TDs
49ers at Cowboys
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS, Nickelodeon | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
SLIME TIME, BABY! Nick’s playoff game returns and CBS landed a whopper of a matchup with two long-time NFC rivals squaring off in this meat-of-the-sammy Sunday afternoon game that should draw tons of eyeballs, particularly as parents get kids to watch via the fun, goofy nature of the Nick broadcast. And the game will be great too — this is the tightest spread of the entire weekend, with the Cowboys favored by just a field goal. More than a few people believe the Niners can pull off the outright upset, including myself. Dallas will probably be able to score, but I think the concern here is the Cowboys being unable to slow down the 49ers’ run game. Kyle Shanahan has been cooking over the second half of the season and Deebo Samuel is fully healthy and ready to roll. Love the Over in this spot, but think the Niners is the best play here.
The Pick: 49ers 31, Cowboys 24
Bets: Niners +3 and ML
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NBC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Kansas City Chiefs
I loved the Chiefs against the spread right up until I heard Ben Roethlisberger say, quite publicly, the Steelers have no chance. This is the final game of his career! And he’s saying that to everyone? That means REALLY Ben thinks they can win in Arrowhead on Sunday night. Maybe it’s the Steelers losing to the Browns last year (proof of how fragile a playoff berth can truly be). It’s reverse false backwards overconfidence and I love it. I’ve got a Sunday Superdog Pick Six Podcast parlay of Eagles/49ers/Steelers on the moneyline — feel free to tail at 63-1 if you’re inclined. It’s probably losing — and so are the Steelers — but Ben’s comments make me believe they can keep it within the number.
The Pick: Chiefs 24, Steelers 21
Bets: Steelers +12.5
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: ABC/ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (click here)
Los Angeles Rams
The first-ever game on Monday night wraps up Super Wild Card Weekend and it’s a scorcher, with two NFC West division rivals engaging in a rubber match. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have been much better on the road than at home, but I think that might be more noise than signal. The Rams have just been better down the stretch, winning games despite Matthew Stafford struggling at times and claiming the division. Stafford’s second half performance against the 49ers is a major red flag but his first half performance should inspire hope he can come out and win his first playoff game. Kyler Murray’s 1-5 against the Rams in his career. Love Sean McVay and Co. in this spot.
The Pick: Rams 28, Cardinals 21
Bets: Rams -4