NFL Playoff Odds 2017: Early Predictions for Wild Card Games, Super Bowl Lines

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 2, 2017

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up before their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Wild Card round features some legitimate Super Bowl contenders, as well as teams whose season clocks are about to strike midnight due to quarterback concerns

Here's a look at the current playoff picture in each conference, as well as Wild Card round predictions and Super Bowl LI odds.

AFC Playoff Picture
1New England Patriots14-2AFC East; Home-Field Advantage
2Kansas City Chiefs12-4AFC West; First-Round Bye
3Pittsburgh Steelers11-5AFC North
4Houston Texans9-7AFC South
5Oakland Raiders12-4Wild-Card Berth
6Miami Dolphins10-6Wild-Card Berth

Source: NFL.com

NFC Playoff Picture
1Dallas Cowboys13-3NFC East; Home-Field Advantage
2Atlanta Falcons11-5NFC South; First-Round Bye
3Seattle Seahawks10-5-1NFC West
4Green Bay Packers10-6Playoff Berth
5New York Giants11-5Wild-Card Berth
6Detroit Lions9-7Playoff Berth

Source: NFL.com


No. 6 Miami Dolphins at No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 18:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Imag
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Although the Dolphins beat Pittsburgh during the regular season, a 30-15 victory in which running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns, it's difficult to see Miami making it two-for-two.

First, the Steelers are at home this time around, where they have a 6-2 record on the year. Miami is a so-so 4-4 on the road.

Second, the Steelers running game is lights-out behind Le'Veon Bell, who will face one of the weakest run defenses in pro football. Miami has given up 4.9 yards per carry this season, tied for worst with San Francisco. They also give up 141.8 yards per game on the ground, which is third-worst in the league.

Expect Pittsburgh to go to the ground early and often, controlling the time of possession for all four quarters. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they don't have the aerial firepower to come back from a deficit.

It's been a great first year for head coach Adam Gase, but the Dolphins' road will end in Heinz Field.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Dolphins 13


No. 5 Oakland Raiders at No. 4 Houston Texans

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 1:  Tom Savage #3 of the Houston Texans throws a pass during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Both teams come into this game with significant issues at quarterback.

The Raiders lost superstar Derek Carr for the season in Week 16, and backups Matt McGloin and Connor Cook proved incapable to carry the offensive load in a 24-6 loss to Denver on Sunday.

For Houston, Brock Osweiler failed to deliver on his $72 million contract and was benched. Backup Tom Savage hasn't done particularly well in his stead, and after today's lifeless 21-10 loss to Tennessee, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien didn't name a postseason starter, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Both pass games are in serious trouble, and both run games have been hit-and-miss all season, so expect a low-scoring affair decided by field goals, much like the Texans' recent 12-10 win over Cincinnati on Christmas Eve night.

Ultimately, this game is a toss-up. Give the slight edge to the home team.

Prediction: Texans 16, Raiders 13


No. 5 New York Giants at No. 4 Green Bay Packers

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 01: Devin Taylor #98 of the Detroit Lions chases down quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers during first-quarter action at Ford Field on January 1, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

This game has the feel of a Divisional (or even Conference Championship) game between two stout foes. We've seen the Manning-Rodgers playoff duel at Lambeau before, as Eli and the Giants took out the 15-1 Packers 37-20 in 2011.

On the Green Bay side, Rodgers can make any defense look foolish, especially on his home turf. While the Packers passing defense has been porous all season, it doesn't matter too much if Rodgers can find old friend Jordy Nelson time and again for 100-plus yards and a score or two every game. Davante Adams has also proven to be a capable second wide receiver, posting some massive stat lines this season.

The circumstances are a little different for the Giants this time around. Manning doesn't have a three-headed receiving monster like he did with Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham and two stout running backs in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Still, the one big weapon he does have (Odell Beckham Jr.) can change a game by himself, as he has proven to do time and again this year. 

It should be a great game between two very good teams. On a neutral field, it's a coin flip, but give the edge to the Pack in Lambeau.

Prediction: Packers 20, Giants 17 (overtime)


No. 6 Detroit Lions at No. 3 Seattle Seahawks

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass while covered by Rashard Robinson #33 of the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Seattle needs to find a running game and fast. Against the worst run defense in football (San Francisco) on Sunday, the Seahawks only managed 87 yards on 25 carries. Unfortunately, the offensive line has been poor all year, so Russell Wilson is going to have to work some serious postseason magic if the Hawks are to return to their third Super Bowl in four seasons. 

It's hard to see the Lions, who went 3-5 on the road this year, traveling to the Pacific Northwest and defeating the Seahawks at home, though. Seattle's home-field advantage, already best in the league, turns it up to 11 (or 12) in the postseason. The Hawks have won nine straight postseason games at CenturyLink Field dating back to 2005 and are a perfect 5-0 in the Pete Carroll era. Their last home playoff loss came in 2004, when Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander were leading the offense.

Prediction: Seahawks 24, Lions 10


Super Bowl LI Odds
New England Patriots19-10
Dallas Cowboys13-4
Pittsburgh Steelers8-1
Seattle Seahawks11-1
Green Bay Packers11-1
Kansas City Chiefs11-1
Atlanta Falcons11-1
New York Giants20-1
Oakland Raiders28-1
Houston Texans50-1
Miami Dolphins50-1
Detroit Lions50-1

Source: OddsShark


Checking the Super Bowl odds for a minute, it's interesting to note that the Pittsburgh Steelers have better odds to win it all than the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons. KC and Atlanta are No. 2 seeds who have byes through the Wild Card rounds, while Pittsburgh has to play a game next weekend and go on the road in two weekends should they beat the Dolphins. It shows how much respect Las Vegas is giving Pittsburgh right now.

Ultimately, it wouldn't be a surprise to see one (or even two) Wild Card teams representing their conferences in the Super Bowl.


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