In this column, we’ve settled on a couple of Wild Card games for a two-team, 6-point teaser. The first leg highlights the AFC showdown between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals slated for Saturday. The second leg features the NFC tilt between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scheduled to get underway on Sunday.
The games picked. We break down the matchups below and serve up some discerning thoughts about the teaser potential both represent.
First Leg: Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
Las Vegas Raiders +5½ Teased Up to 11½ at Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 11 at Allegiant Stadium, 32-13. The Bengals closed as the 2-point road underdogs in betting online markets, only to pull off the road upset in the 19-point margin of victory.
From that Week 11 victory, the Bengals went 5-3 and finished the season with a 10-7 record and clinched the AFC North title for the first time since 2015. Over the last eight games, the Bengals outscored opponents 224-173 and three times beat opponents in double-digits. It’s worth pointing out, though, that coach Zac Taylor rested most of his starters in Week 18’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, including rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
Cincinnati’s record against the spread (ATS) is 10-7-0 and includes a 4.9 margin of victory on average. At home, they’re merely 4-5-0 ATS with a 1.1 winning margin. Interestingly, the Bengals are 4-4-0 ATS as a favorite with a 6.1 winning margin on average.
The Raiders have had wild home and away splits this season, and not until they clinched the 35-32 win over the Chargers in their regular-season finale, did they know they were playoff bound. The Raiders might not be the typical feel-good story, but it’s a marvel they’re still standing after the upheaval within their organization in 2021. For that Las Vegas deserves some credit.
Perhaps, overcoming all those challenges has endeared them with bettors. The Raiders opened as the 6½-point road underdogs, but the public pounced quickly and bet the line down within hours of markets going to press. As it is, the Raiders are catching merely 5½ points at BetUS sportsbook.
Moving through a key number (6) basically has drained some of the value out of betting on the Raiders in point spread betting markets. However, teasing the line up to 11½ points in a six-point teaser gains back the lost value (and more).
Crucially, it works two ways, too. It affords bettors, who are looking to back the Raiders to cover, more wiggle room to work with especially if the Bengals offense explodes and runs away with this game. At the same time, it works if the Raiders deliver on their dangerous floater credentials and pull off the upset too.
Picks: Las Vegas Raiders +11½
Second Leg: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Philadelphia Eagles +9½ Teased Up to 15½ at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The last time the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crossed paths was on Thursday Night Football marking Week 6 of the regular season. Oddsmakers closed the Buccaneers on a touchdown line for NFL picks against the spread, but the final score was surprisingly closer than the odds would have it as Tampa Bay clinched the 28-22 win at Lincoln Financial Field.
The final score, however, belies the truly dominant performance of the Buccaneers in the first three quarters of the game, as they raced to a 28-7 lead with Tom Brady and Leonard Fournette leading the charge. The game seemingly in hand at that point, the Buccaneers took the foot off the pedal. Thus, allowing the Eagles to really get going in the final frame.
Although Jalen Hurts barely registered in the passing game, going 12-of-26 for 115 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He did add 44 yards on the ground with two rushing scores – both of which came late in the second half.
Tom Brady had a solid outing as he finished 34-of-42 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Leonard Fournette led the team with 81 yards on the ground and two scores while the recently-axed Antonio Brown led the team with 93 yards receiving and a touchdown.
In its entirety, it wasn’t a pretty performance by the Buccaneers and they nearly paid dearly for a lackadaisical fourth quarter. If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s to not take anything for granted – including a 21-point edge.
— Justin Lever 💚⚾️ (@JustinLever3) January 12, 2022
Tampa Bay opened as the 8½-point home chalk, but the line has moved up to 9½ points on the NFL odds board. Whether the line holds remains to be seen, but it’s evident by the early line movement that the public is hot on the hosts.
In many cases, 9½ points is plenty of points to be catching. Only four teams in the league finished the season with an average winning margin of 9 points or higher. Those are Buffalo Bills (11.4), Dallas Cowboys (10.1), New England Patriots (9.4), and the…wait for it…drumroll … Buccaneers (9.3).
Whittling Tampa Bay’s account to its 7-1 record at home reveals a much heftier number, In fact, the Buccaneers lead the league on this score with a 16.1-point average margin of victory.
That kind of dominance underscored by home-field advantage is potentially defining and could be a sign that this might be a more lopsided game than the current markets have it. Teasing the Eagles up to 15½ points, therefore, makes a lot of sense.