NFL Betting Trends and Playoff Props for Wildcard Weekend: Jags, Bucs Take Early Money

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Love for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers marked the first betting burst for NFL Wildcard Weekend.

A second wave of support greeted the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, as bettors ponder the quarterback matchups affecting their teams.

Strong backing embraces the San Francisco 49ers, while the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings registered an early split decision.

They are some of the early betting trends as the first weekend of NFL Playoff action approaches.

Here’s a look.

The Los Angeles Chargers opened at DraftKings as 2.5-point road favorites against the AFC South champion Jaguars. Jags bettors quickly said “check, please”, knocking that number down to 1.

The Chargers commanded 64% of the spread handle at -1 in a game that is highly bettable on both sides.

LA Chargers vs JAX Jaguars Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Sat (1/14) @ 8:15pm ET

LA Chargers at JAX Jaguars
TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida

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Public Bettors All Over Jags, Bucs

“The public really likes the Jags here,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “Jacksonville has a little bit of confidence with how well it played down the stretch. The Chargers lost last week to the Denver Broncos, even with all their players in.

“I think that line is right where it should be, although I would not be surprised if the Jags become the favorite at some point.”

Trevor Lawrence
Early betting trends see Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars taking money ahead of their NFL Playoff game vs. the Chargers (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Florida’s other home dog, Tampa Bay, commanded 61% of the spread handle at +2.5 against the Cowboys after bettors initially jumped all over the opening +3 line. That spread disappeared as quickly as a manager’s special in a supermarket.

“Those 3’s are gone,” Avello laughed. “Everybody in the world has that at 2.5 now.”

Also: NFL Playoff Picks for Wild Card Weekend

DAL Cowboys vs TB Buccaneers Odds NFL Odds

NFL · Mon (1/16) @ 8:15pm ET

DAL Cowboys at TB Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

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Monday Night = Heavy Betting Action

“We are already going to do a tremendous write on that game, being that it’s a Monday night matchup. The public may be thinking this is a different Tampa Bay team than they saw all year, which wasn’t very good (8-9). Now they think the Cowboys, who haven’t had a lot to play for recently with the Philadelphia Eagles always being expected to win the NFC East (which they did) are going to come out and be a first-class team.

“Whether that will happen, we don’t know, but it has the makings of a game with tremendous interest.”

The backdrop is the possibility of Tom Brady’s last game in Tampa Bay and Dak Prescott’s chance to win a big game in prime time. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game since 2018 and have not captured two post-season games in one year since a 1995 playoff run produced victory in the 1996 Super Bowl.

Bracket forecast: NFL Playoff predictions

Betting Market Waits, Reacts to Quarterback News

Florida’s road dog, the Dolphins, headlines the quarterback uncertainty section of the weekend.

Tua Tagovailoa has suffered three concussions and has been ruled out with a concussion.

Upon Wednesday’s news, the line spiked to around Bills -13.

Also, speedsters Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill are not 100% for Miami.

Game-time temps are expected to be in the low 30s, balmy for Buffalo, but not Dolphins weather.

Avello said Tuesday that bettors would wait to determine Tua’s news before weighing in more strongly. Buffalo had 80% of the spread-betting handle in presumably light wagering so far.

The same sentiment occurs in Cincinnati, where the Bengals have 92% of the DraftKings spread-bet handle at -7 against Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens.

That line would come down a couple of points if Jackson starts. Contradictory reports exist over whether he’ll make his first appearance since suffering a Week 13 knee injury against the Denver Broncos. Jackson has told people he thinks he’ll play, but others have expressed doubt.

A Ravens bettor who believes Jackson will play will be inclined to grab the +7. Bengals bettors, conversely, want to avoid laying 7 on a line that could ultimately become -4. The game opened at 6.5 and inched up to 7 late Tuesday night.

Baltimore has struggled mightily on offense. It has not reached the 20-point mark in six straight games and subsequently lost division contests to the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Bengals.

Although the offense has scuffled, the Ravens have a stout defense. They have held their opponents to 16 points or fewer in seven of the nine games since acquiring linebacker Roquan Smith in a mid-season trade.

The Ravens rewarded his impact on Tuesday, giving him a five-year extension.

NFL Network reported the deal is worth $100 million, making him the league’s highest-paid inside linebacker at $20 million per season.

Smith and Co. will try to tame a methodical Bengals team that has won eight straight, all covers, and steadily averages 26 points per game. Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins highlight a methodical team package.

Public Bettors Split on Giants vs. Vikings

The Giants and Vikings game lines up the way nearly everyone sees it. Their rematch of Minnesota’s 27-24 triumph last month produced a 50-50 spread-betting split at Minnesota -3 at DraftKings.

Bettors on either side will pounce if the line moves to Giants +3.5 or Vikings -2.5. If that happens, it’s a bonus because this line is where it should be.

The over-under of 48.5 was the highest on the board as of Wednesday morning.

Early moves: NFL Playoff Odds

Pro vs. Joes in Seahawks vs. 49ers

In the other games, Avello believes sharp bettors are taking the Seahawks, while the public at large will back San Francisco.

Analysis: Seahawks vs. 49ers odds, prediction

Saturday’s NFL Playoff Props

Gamblers seeking side action observe a wealth of prop bets, weekly wagers that cover the entire post-season, and adjusted futures odds across the sportsbook landscape. Here’s just a sampling:

Wild Card Weekend Props at DraftKings

49ers-Seahawks

Anytime and First Touchdown Scorers

  • Christian McCaffrey -150 to score, +400 to tally first
  • George Kittle -135, +750
  • Deebo Samuel +155, +800
  • Kenneth Walker +130, +900
  • Brandon Aiyuk +185, +950
  • San Francisco 49ers defense /special teams +425, +2200
  • Seattle defense/special teams +900, +5000

Chargers-Jaguars

Anytime and First Touchdown Scorers

  • Austin Ekeler -150, +500
  • Travis Etienne -135, +550
  • Keenan Allen +145, +1000
  • Mike Williams +170, +1200
  • Zay Jones +190, +1300
  • Trevor Lawrence +550, +3000
  • Jags Defense +550, +3000. (Their touchdown against the Tennessee Titans last weekend put the Jags in the postseason)
  • Chargers Defense +600, +3500

Weekly Specials

Seahawks-49ers

  • Walker 100 + yards and DK Metcalf TD +400
  • Kittle TD and McCaffrey 75 rushing yards +250

Chargers-Jaguars 

  • Lawrence 275 passing yards, Etienne TD +330
  • Herbert 275 passing yards and Ekeler touchdown +275

FanDuel NFL Playoff Props

FanDuel Sportsbook offers intriguing team-oriented bets and wagers that cover the entire postseason.

The props:

Highest scoring team of Wild Card weekend

  • Buffalo +460
  • San Francisco +600
  • Minnesota +650
  • Los Angeles and Cincinnati +750
  • Dallas +800
  • New York Giants and Jacksonville +1100
  • Tampa Bay +1400
  • Baltimore +2800
  • Seattle +3800

Highest scoring game

  • Giants-Vikings +320
  • Chargers-Jags +340
  • Dolphins-Bills +410
  • Cowboys-Bucs +450
  • Ravens-Bengals and 49ers-Seahawks +750

Which quarterback will throw for the most post-season yards?
This is interesting and tricky because gamblers must correctly forecast how many his/her selection will play.

  • Josh Allen is +240, with Patrick Mahomes next at +300.
  • Jalen Hurts is +500, followed by Joe Borrow at +550, Brock Purdy at +750 and Tom Brady at +1100.
  • Longshots include Justin Herbert at +1500, Kirk Cousins at +1900, Dak Prescott at +2000, Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence at +3400, and the trio of Geno Smith, Lamar Jackson, and Daniel Jones completing the lineup at +5000.

The second playoff game involving the key participants will likely decide this.

Chiefs on Top, Dolphins on Bottom for Caesars Super Bowl Futures

The Chiefs, the No. 1 seed, have climbed to +340 at Caesars to top the circuit.

The Buffalo Bills remain a square +400, while the San Francisco 49ers at +450, and the Philadelphia Eagles at +550 round out the top tier.

Live mid-range shots include the Cincinnati Bengals at +800. The Dallas Cowboys, fresh off the subpar performance last week against the Washington Commanders, have slid to +1300.

The Los Angeles Chargers are +2200 and the Tampa Bay Bucs are +2800.

The Vikings, who still had a shot for the No. 1 NFC seed late in the season, are +3000. The Ravens are a remote +4000 and the Seattle Seahawks share remote odds of +5000 with the Jags, a division winner.

The Dolphins, who limped into the playoffs, are +6000.

Prices from around the market: Super Bowl 57 odds

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a multiple award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970’s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. He has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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