Wildcard Weekend: NFC Playoff Previews, Betting Picks & Predictions

Matthew StaffordThe NFC features week one matchups between the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks on Saturday (8:15 PM ET) and the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers on Sunday (4:40 PM ET). But first, as we did with our AFC Preview, we will start by taking a closer look at the conference playoff picture.

Earlier in the season, probably at the point when the team had racked off 11 wins in a row, the narrative around the league was that there were the Dallas Cowboys (+425 to win the SB, +160 to win the NFC Championship) and then there was everybody else. Dallas won 13 games total, finishing just behind the New England Patriots, who led the league with 14.

In the NFC though, it wasn’t as simple to say that the Cowboys were the only top team especially when the NFC East rival Giants (+1200 SB, +700 NFC) swept Dallas in both games this year, themselves finishing with 11 wins. The Giants, who bolstered one of the best defenses in the league were Dallas’ kryptonite and considering the Cowboys could face them again, picking Dallas is not a sure thing,

Aside for the Giants however there is one team that has been among the hottest in football and that is playing the best out of any playoff team currently and that of course would be the Packers (+700 SB, +425 NFC). They are the third favorites to win both the Super Bowl and NFC Conference Championship, no one has been a more productive unit than the one led by Aaron Rodgers ever since the team finished the year on a six-game winning streak. Out of the playoffs for much of the first half, Rodgers told the media the Packers would just have to win out to make it and win out they did, ensuring their spot in the playoffs and back on top as NFC North champions as well.

Green Bay and Dallas seems to be the way things are headed and a collision between the two could mark the NFC Championship. If that’s the case, I’m not 100 percent sold on picking the Cowboys.

Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks Preview, Betting Predictions & Picks

The Lions used to be a really good team and even led the division for a good while up until the second to last week of the season when the Packers tied them and then defeated them in the final game of the year. It was a couple of weeks before that however that Detroit reverted to old habits and ended the season slumping toward the finish, just barely holding on to the final playoff spot as the only non-double digit winning team.

The road for Detroit didn’t get any easier either as they will be faced with the Seahawks who have never lost a playoff game at CenturyLink and leads the overall series against the Lions 8-5. Not to mention, this is a team that still boasts one of the NFL’s best defenses.

Against Seattle, Detroit will be challenged with finding a way to get their offense clicking despite facing the league’s third stingiest defense in points allowed. However, as good as Seattle is, they aren’t as good as they can be and that’s because Earl Thomas is injured and his absence leaves some big question marks in the middle of the field.

For the Lions, what it will come down to is if Matthew Stafford (pictured) and co are actually equipped to take advantage of Thomas’ absence like the Arizona Cardinals did in the final week of the season. Stafford however has been dealing with an injured finger on this throwing hand and that has severely hampered his production over the Lions’ three game losing skid.

  • The Seahawks are favored by eight so take the Lions to cover the spread, even though my straight up pick would be for Seattle to win. So this preview’s betting prediction is to bet on the Detroit Lions +8pts @ -115 betting odds with either Bovada or BetOnline.
  • The pick is to take the under 44pts to be scored in this game @ -110 with either Bovada or BetOnline. Seattle normally plays to the under, especially in the playoffs.

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers Betting Preview, Predictions & Picks

As far as wildcard weekend goes, the NFL scheduling committee saved the best for last. This is probably going to be the game that determines which team goes on to face the Cowboys in the NFC Championship. The Lions are struggling, the Seahawks are battling injuries and the Atlanta Falcons are always suspect in the postseason. But the Giants and Packers have been great in the second half of the season and their date with destiny could all depend on how game one goes.

In a way it’s a shame that this is taking place during wildcard weekend and not in the next round because both teams absolutely deserve to advance. Only one of them will and that could depend on a few key factors.

For starters, Aaron Rodgers. Everything the Packers have been able to do during their six game winning streak has been because of their QB, who despite a slow start is garnering MVP buzz for his 15 touchdowns, zero interceptions and 121 passer rating as of late. Rodgers has done it all and he is a threat both in the air and on the ground.

New York has a really good defense, allowing the second fewest points per game in the NFL this year and they have done so thanks to an excellent downfield group featuring Landon Collins, a defensive player of the year candidate, and the deadly tandem of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins. Teams who have succeeded against them have not been ‘throw it down the field’ types as the secondary has been far too good for that. Rodgers’ offense is built on those type of plays and without a true running back right now, the team has relied on Ty Montgomery and Rodgers himself in that role.

But Rodgers is still Rodgers and when he’s hot, like he is right now, there is no better quarterback leading no better offense in football. New York will have their hands full with him and his weapons, including Jordy Nelson who led the NFL with 14 touchdowns and ranked sixth with 1,257 receiving yards.

  • Lambeau favors the home team, always has, so in this playoff matchup, our preview’s pick is to bet on the Packers -5pts @ -110 odds with Bovada Sportsbook en route to their seventh straight win. It is -5.5pts with BetOnline for the same odds.
  • Look for the total points on this one to go over the 44.5 points @ -115 with Bovada. It is over 45pts @ -110 with BetOnline.