The expanded playoff field means two more football games. It also means two more games to bet on.
BetMGM released its points spreads for the six playoff games on wild-card weekend on Sunday night. This is the first season with the new expanded playoff format. The NFL increased the playoff field from 12 teams to 14 this season.
Here’s a first glance at the point spreads for the wild-card games in the expanded playoff field:
It’s surprising to see a good 11-5 Colts team as a touchdown underdog. But the Bills might be the NFL’s hottest team.
Led by quarterback Josh Allen, who has a case to be the league’s MVP, the Bills have lost only three games all season and one was on a Hail Mary against the Arizona Cardinals. They didn’t have much to play for in Week 17, sat many starters in the second half and still beat the Miami Dolphins 56-26, which kept Miami out of the playoffs. The Colts have been good on both sides of the ball most of the season but they have a big challenge against the Bills, who are hosting their first home playoff game since 1996.
Had this matchup taken place a few weeks ago, the spread probably wouldn’t have been less than a touchdown. The Steelers have stumbled, however. They started the season 11-0, then lost four of five to finish the season. They did play well in the finale against the Browns, considering many key players sat. They lost 24-22, missing on a two-point conversion in the final two minutes that could have tied it.
Cleveland is in the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. It will be Baker Mayfield’s first playoff game. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has started 21 playoff games.
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans
The Ravens finished the season very well, and as a result, they are road favorites. It’s still a bit surprising to see them giving more than a field goal against a Titans team that won the AFC South and beat Baltimore in the playoffs last season.
It’s a matchup between two good running teams. Derrick Henry became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. The Ravens’ run game, led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, got hot late. They rushed for 404 yards, a franchise record, in the finale.
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-8.5)
The Bears are getting more than a touchdown, and it’s understandable. Even though the Bears got in the playoffs due to a late surge, most of the wins came against bad opponents. Chicago lost the season finale with a chance to get in the playoffs, but the Arizona Cardinals also lost to let the Bears back into the postseason.
The Saints should get running back Alvin Kamara back for the game off the reserve/COVID-19 list since it will be played on Sunday of wild-card weekend. That’s a big boost for an offense that played well the past couple weeks after quarterback Drew Brees returned to the lineup from injury.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)
BetMGM must believe that Jared Goff will play on Saturday. Or, they don’t think there’s a huge difference between Goff and John Wolford, whose first NFL start came in Week 17.
Goff had thumb surgery after Week 16 and Rams coach Sean McVay wouldn’t say if Goff will start the Rams’ first playoff game. Wolford did play fairly well in the finale against the Seahawks, but there would be a lot of pressure making his first playoff start against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. This seems like a line that could move the most during the week, depending on Goff’s injury status.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7) at Washington Football Team
Tampa Bay is one of two road favorites on wild-card weekend, and that’s no surprise. Washington became just the third team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record. They clinched the NFC East title with a win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, finishing with a 7-9 record. The Buccaneers finished 11-5 with Tom Brady throwing for 40 touchdowns this season. Presumably, almost every 6-point teaser for wild-card weekend will include the Buccaneers.
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