As the NFL postseason prepares to kick off, all of the higher-seeded home wild-card teams are listed as favorites this weekend. That is quite a contrast from last year when three of the six visitors were favored and went on to win, going 2-0-1 ATS.
It’s been five years since all home teams were favored and covered in this round. But from 2017-2020, home teams went 6-12 SU and 2-15-1 against the line. As famed broadcaster Jack Buck might have blurted, “I don’t believe what I just saw!”
On the weather front, freezing temperatures ranging from 19 to 30 are forecast for Cincinnati’s home game vs. Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon. Oddsmakers opened with Cincinnati as a 6.5-point favorite, but most books including Caesars Sportsbook were dealing -5.5 as of Wednesday morning.
NFL · Sat (1/15) @ 4:34pm ET
|Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
Las Vegas Raiders (10-7, 8-9 ATS) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-7, 10-7 ATS)
Time: 4:30 p.m. EST
FanDuel Line: Bengals -5.5 (49)
The skinny: This game matches a pair of coaches who have never steered a team in the postseason, Las Vegas interim boss Rich Bisaccia and Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor, and a pair of QBs who have never participated in the playoffs in the Raiders’ Derek Carr and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow.
Facts: This is a rematch of a Week 11 game in Las Vegas when the Bengals, off a bye, won 32-13 as a 2-point choice. Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon had a season-high 30 carries for 125 yards.
This will be Vegas’ third trip the past five weeks across three time zones. In that stretch, they helped erase the playoff hopes of both Cleveland and Indianapolis.
Cincinnati’s Burrow, who threw for 971 yards in his past two outings, finished second behind Aaron Rodgers on the passer rating chart (108.3) this season after he was 24th in last year’s rankings in a season cut short by a midseason knee injury. In the waning moments of Cincinnati’s Week 17 division-clinching win over Kansas City, Burrow twisted one of his knee joints and opted out of last week’s game at Cleveland. He is not listed on the injury report.
The Raiders squeezed into the postseason in the last game of the season Sunday night, with a dramatic 35-32 home OT win over the L.A. Chargers.
The Raiders had a -9 turnover margin this season, the worst among playoff qualifiers. Bisaccia is reported to be the first interim coach to guide a team to the postseason, going 7-5 after replacing Jon Gruden.
Analysis: This will be Carr’s first playoff experience, after having been sidelined by injury in 2017 and yielding to Connor Cook, who made the only starting appearance in his career. Alas, the Raiders lost at Houston.
This season, their offense appears to be in decent shape with RB Josh Jacobs (questionable, ribs as of late Tuesday) having 129 rush yards last week and TE Darren Waller coming off the IR. He had 116 receiving yards in that previous meeting.
And, the weather shouldn’t be much of a factor for Carr. It’s barely going to be freezing, and two years ago in much similar conditions he threw for 391 yards at Denver.
What could give the Raiders an edge is that Burrow is the most sacked passer in the league (51), and Las Vegas is widely heralded for putting the most pressure on QBs with Maxx Crosby and Co.
Raiders Vs. Bengals Pick
Raiders 31, Bengals 28
Last week: 5-8 ATS, 8-5 SU
Season total: 125-131 (.488) ATS, 159-99-1 (.617) SU