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NFL’s wild-card weekend offers no safe bets

Updated January 3, 2020 - 4:26 pm

Nothing is more difficult to handicap than the NFL’s wild-card weekend.

Three seasons ago, all four favorites won and cashed against the spread. In the eight games since, underdogs are 8-0 ATS.

Adding to our betting complexity is this gem from VSiN’s Point Spread Weekly: Sunday road NFC teams have been money makers, going 12-4-1 ATS in their past 17. Both NFC games are Sunday.

Buffalo (10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) at Houston (10-6 SU, 7-8-1 ATS)

1:35 p.m. Saturday (ESPN, KTNV-13)

Line: Houston -2½; total 44

Early money dropped the Bills from plus 3 to plus 2½. Lack of confidence in the Texans is understandable, but you might want to hold your nose when you back the Bills. They haven’t won a playoff game since December 1995.

One other reason to approach with caution: Josh Allen. Yes, the Buffalo quarterback has been much better in his second season, but since 2002, QBs making their first playoff starts during wild-card weekend are 8-28 SU and 10-26 ATS.

Deshaun Watson got his inaugural loss out of the way when he was beaten last season by Indianapolis.

I’m backing the home team.

Tennessee (9-7 SU, 9-7 ATS) at New England (12-4 SU, 9-7 ATS)

5:15 p.m. Saturday (KLAS-8)

Line: Patriots -5; total 44

All is not well with the Patriots. Last week’s shocking loss to Miami as a 17-point favorite highlights one of my favorite cliches: “Father time is undefeated.” Tom Brady had never lost in the NFL when he was at least a 14-point favorite.

His weapons are depleted. Yes, Julian Edelman is still helping, but Rob Gronkowski is enjoying retirement. Gambling on Antonio Brown blew up on the Patriots.

Yes, this is quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s first playoff game, but he’s not coming to Foxborough alone.

Running back Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing (1,540 yards), and he marched the Titans into the playoffs with a 211-yard game last week at Houston.

Rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown averaged more than 19 yards a catch. He will keep cornerback Stephen Gilmore busy all game.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel spent eight years playing for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. He knows the drill.

I’m backing Tennessee at anything over plus 3, and I will tease them over plus 10.

Minnesota (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS) at New Orleans (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS)

10:05 a.m. Sunday (KVVU-5)

Line: New Orleans -7½; total 49½

Early money took the Vikings with 8 points. I’m assuming those bettors didn’t watch Kirk Cousins lose to Green Bay at home Monday night in Week 16.

You can’t back Cousins when the lights are the brightest. He’s 0-9 straight up on Mondays with the Vikings and Washington, and he lost his only playoff start with the Redskins at home. As a 2-point favorite Cousins and the Redskins lost to the Packers 35-18 in 2015.

Give me Drew Brees and his 6-2 straight-up record in Superdome playoff games. And I will lay the points.

Seattle (11-5 SU, 7-8-1 ATS) at Philadelphia (9-7 SU, 7-9 ATS)

1:40 p.m. Sunday (KSNV-3)

Line Seahawks -1½; total 45½

The Eagles opened as 1-point favorites, and early money flipped to the Seahawks. I’m recommending an early bet on Seattle before the line climbs to minus 3.

It’s easy to forget that this is Carson Wentz’s first playoff start. An injury opened the door for Nick Foles during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run two years ago.

Wentz has been special down the stretch, willing an injury-riddled team into the playoffs with a four-game winning streak.

But the Seahawks have been road warriors, winning seven of eight away from Seattle, including 17-9 at Philadelphia on Nov. 24.

I would take Wentz in the rematch if the Eagles were healthy. But they’re not, and so I’ll take Russell Wilson and his 8-5 playoff record with the Seahawks.

More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting

Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is host of “My Guys in the Desert” weekdays from 2 to 4 p.m. on VSiN.com, SiriusXM 204 and 920 AM The Game.

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