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Bengals
NFL Betting

NFL Wild-Card Best Bets

  • The Draft Network
  • January 14, 2022
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In addition to my picks and research which you can hear on the Hot Read Hits Podcast, here are some wild-card weekend notes on why I'm targeting these games, courtesy of BetPrep: By Tommy “The Hitman” The betting environment for postseason games is much tougher than the regular season. With fewer games, the lines are just much more efficient. So finding value is hard. We don’t bet just to bet. We bet to make money. So just one pick this week. But I’ll include my notes on some of the other games of interest. Raiders at Bengals (Under 49), Saturday, 4:30 PM EST My power rank has the Bengals as five points better than the Raiders. Playing into the Under is the expected cold weather. Derek Carr has not been a cold-weather quarterback in his NFL career. In seven career games when the temperature was below 40 degrees at kickoff, he has averaged 6.1 yards per attempt with a pedestrian 8-7 TD/INT ratio. It’s expected to be much colder than 40 degrees at kickoff in Cincinnati. Since losing Henry Ruggs, the Raiders are averaging just 19.4 points per game. Carr and company have scored a touchdown on just 16.5% of their drives (17-for-103) since their Week 8 bye. That puts them among the worst offenses in football. Only the Panthers, Texans, Falcons, Jaguars, and Giants have worse TD-conversion rates during this period. For the Raiders, tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs are not expected to be 100%. The Bengals offense could also struggle. Despite the Bengals winning handily in Las Vegas earlier in the season, Cincinnati’s offense mustered only 4.1 yards per play. That’s well below the NFL average and 1.8 yards per play below Cincy’s full-season total. Burrow needs the defense to blitz to make big plays. His EPA when facing the blitz is an elite 0.39. But it’s only about half that, 0.2, versus non-blitzes (that’s about average). The Raiders blitz at the league’s lowest rate (12.1%); and against Burrow earlier in the season sent an extra rusher on just three of 35 dropbacks. That was a big reason that Burrow, who led the NFL in yards per attempt, averaged a season-low 5.1 YPA in that game. Here are my main notes on some of the other key games. Josh Allen struggles with bad weather and it’s scheduled to be historically cold at kickoff for the Bills against the Patriots in Buffalo. The Bills have the wind game these teams played in Week 13 that everyone remembers, but we also have Week 11 in the rain versus the Colts, and Week 17 in the snow against the Falcons all at home. In those three games, Allen threw for 6.0, 4.8, and 4.6 yards per pass attempt. That Week 17 game was the coldest game Allen has started (26 degrees). He’s only played in four games in freezing temperatures in his career. The forecast is for two degrees, not including the wind chill (14 MPH winds also in the forecast). Tampa’s run defense ranks third for the year but just 15th in the last 10 games vs. the run. This game is expected to be played in 20-30 mph winds and rain. But boding well for Tampa Bay is that since 2002, quarterbacks making their first playoff start (Jalen Hurts) against a QB who is not (Tom Brady) are just 14-32-1 Against The Spread (ATS). Dak Prescott is better against zone defenses this year and San Francisco played zone on a sixth-most 72.1% of their snaps. Against zone in 2021, Prescott completed 73.7% of passes with an 8.1 YPA. Versus man, 46.5% and 6.5. The Steelers are a fraudulent playoff team: The Texans led for more offensive snaps this season than the Steelers did. They rank 31st in the NFL in success rate per play (40.2%). The Chiefs offensive “woes” are overstated: They closed the year second in the NFL in EPA per play, first in success rate per play, first in points per drive, fifth in yards per play, first in first down rate on early downs, and first in conversion rate on third down. The Cardinals haven’t scored more than two offensive touchdowns in a game since week 13. With Hopkins on the field this season, Arizona is first in YPA and third in EPA per play. Without him on the field, they are 16th in YPA and 24th in EPA. The Cardinals defense is regressing as well: Over these final five weeks, Arizona has allowed opponents to score on 53.2% of their possessions, which was 30th in the league over that stretch.

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