As the weather across much of the country gets colder and the calendar goes deeper and deeper into January, it’s playoff time in the NFL. While there’s nothing structurally different about regular season football and playoff football — except for the the absence of post-season ties — it’s undeniable that playoff games feature a special physicality and anxiousness that’s taken to another level.
That’s the recipe, and the results is (usually) more conservative play-calling, stronger defensive performances and, ultimately, (usually) lower-scoring games . The 2022 postseason’s opening wild-card round is filled with interesting opportunities to bet the under. Let’s look at the NFL betting odds, going through the best candidates:
Second Runner-Up: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
- When: Saturday, Jan. 15th (8:15 p.m. ET)
- Total: 43 Points
There’s nothing like a divisional rivalry renewing in the playoffs, especially in Buffalo, where the temperature high for Saturday reaches double digits…perhaps, This game is at night, so it’ll be especially cold, tough for both Mac Jones and Josh Allen to grip the ball and even tougher for their receivers to catch the passes.
These teams have already had one extremely low-scoring matchup this season — the Patriots won in Buffalo in November despite throwing just three passes — and while it’s not expected to snow Saturday evening, the game could take on a similar feel. If you’re making NFL predictions, look for Bill Belichick and the Patriots to rely heavily on their ground game, with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson to shelter Jones from having to take too many risks through the air.
Plus, the Bills have the No. 1 scoring and yardage defense in the NFL, which just so happens to be the No. 1 defense in terms of fewest passing yards allowed, fewest passing touchdowns allowed and fewest yards allowed per pass attempt. Jones threw for just 145 yards and was picked off twice when the Bills beat the Patriots in Foxboro in Week 16.
Buffalo’s offense is in the top five in both scoring and yardage, but it took awhile to get going last week against the lowly Jets after committed three turnovers against the not-as-lowly Falcons the week before. It’ll be a much tougher test against the Patriots’ top-five defense which forces a ton of turnovers.
Pick: Under 43 Points
First Runner-Up: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- When: Sunday, Jan. 16th (1:00 p.m. ET)
- Total: 49 Points
It’s no surprise how good Tom Brady has been this year and how explosive the Buccaneers can be, but Tampa Bay is without a handful of key playmakers on the offense. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ pass defense is better than credited. Tampa not having Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and possibly Ronald Jones limits Brady’s options, even if Leonard Fournette returns and Le’Veon Bell continues to get targets.
If you’re betting online, consider the under here because it’s set at a high 49 points, despite a Philadelphia defense that has been playing well as of late. Also, the Eagles’ run-heavy offense doesn’t match up particularly well against the Buccaneers’ extremely-talented front seven, headlining one of the NFL’s best rushing defenses.
There is the concern about Brady having a monster game and the Bucs scoring 35-plus points, yet Philadelphia is 10th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed, 11th in passing yards allowed. To stop Brady is to pressure him, and the Eagles can do that well with Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave and Derek Barnett.
It won’t be easy for the Eagles to pull off this upset. However, it’s much more likely they play well defensively and dont figure to engage in a true shootout with the Buccaneers. Philadelphia also held its own with Brady when these teams played earlier in the season.
Pick: Under 49 Points
Under of the Week: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams
- When: Monday, Jan. 17th (8:15 p.m. ET)
- Total: 49½ Points
Another divisional matchup, one between two teams that were neck-and-neck for the NFC West title during the season. The Cardinals and Rams split their regular season meetings, both of which were relatively high-scoring. However, neither team has played to its offensive potential in later weeks. So, the point total of 49½ points on the BetUS Sportsbook seems a bit high.
Arizona and Los Angeles rank in the top third in the NFL in many major offensive categories, but a mix of injuries and ineptitude have led to less-than-stellar play on that side of the ball. Arizona finished the regular season with four losses in five games, due in large part to the Cardinal offense’s inability to convert long drives into touchdowns. Quarterback Kyler Murray really misses DeAndre Hopkins — who likely is still a few weeks away from returning — and he might be running into a bit of a wall.
The same could be said for Matthew Stafford, who led the Rams to a 5-1 record down the stretch. However, he is dealing with a few nagging injuries and threw eight interceptions in his last four games.
The overall numbers aren’t impressive for either defense, but they’re familiar with the opposition offenses and are better than the statistics might show. Look for it to be a bit of a sweat, but the under in this one should hit with neither team sharp offensively heading into the playoffs.