NFL Playoff Odds 2022: Early Lines for Wild-Card Games and Super Bowl
The 2022 NFL playoff picture is nearly crystal-clear, matchups will be finalized after Sunday Night Football and oddsmakers have already set the lines for next weekend's Wild Card Round.
Who enters the upcoming slate of games favored, the odds supporting their quest for a title?
Not playing are the Green Bay Packers and Tennesee Titans by way of their No. 1 overall seeds in the NFC and AFC, respectively.
The Cincinnati Bengals clinched the AFC North for the first time since 2015, and with a dynamic set of young playmakers in quarterback Joe Burrow, running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, they will look to make some noise against experienced playoff squads like the Titans, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs.
On the NFC side, the Dallas Cowboys return to the postseason after a year off with Comeback Player of the Year candidate Dak Prescott looking to guide the storied franchise back to championship glory. Could inconsistency on offense prove problematic for one of the most dynamic teams in the field?
Lines via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Early Wild-Card Lines
Sunday, January 16
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9) (FOX, 1:00 p.m.)
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys (-3) (CBS, 4:30 p.m.)
Monday, January 17
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) (ESPN, 8:15 p.m.)
Saturday, January 15
Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (-6) (NBC, 4:30 p.m.)
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-4.5) (CBS, 8:15 p.m.)
Sunday, January 16
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-13) (NBC, 8:15 p.m.)
Super Bowl Favorites
Green Bay Packers (+380; bet $100 to win $380)
Kansas City Chiefs (+450)
Buffalo Bills (+750)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+800)
Tennessee Titans (+850)
Los Angeles Rams (+1000)
Dallas Cowboys (+1200)
Cincinnati Bengals (+1800)
New England Patriots (+2000)
Arizona Cardinals (+2500)
San Francisco 49ers (+2500)
Las Vegas Raiders (+4000)
Los Angeles Chargers (+5000)
Philadelphia Eagles (+6000)
Pittsburgh Steelers (+8000)
Wild-Card Game to Watch: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams
The NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals split their season series at one apiece and will play their rubber match in the Wild Card Round.
The Cardinals' statement win back on October 3 feels like an eternity ago, as the Kyler Murray-and-Chandler Jones-led Birds have dropped three of their last four, with a sole victory against the Dallas Cowboys preventing a full downward spiral as the regular season came to a close.
The Rams held off Arizona for a 30-23 win back on December 13. That victory sparked a late-season run for Matthew Stafford and Co. that had them in contention for the No. 2 seed before Sunday's overtime loss to the 49ers.
Two teams with great familiarity, their third showdown will be the most familiar match in the first round of this year's playoffs.
The question is whether Arizona will be able to exploit the protection weaknesses that plagued the Rams against San Francisco, pressuring Stafford and forcing him into poor decisions and a few turnovers. If not and Stafford is allowed to stand in the pocket and pick apart the secondary, it will be a long day for the Cardinals.
On the flip side, if Arizona can exploit the sort of coverage breakdowns that Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners offense did, the Rams will be one-and-done in a season that started with championship aspirations and featured several high-profile additions (Stafford, Von Miller, Sony Michel).
The Rams look and feel like the better team and should win to advance to the divisional round.
In the playoffs, as history tells us, "shoulds" matter not.
Storyline to Watch: Would the Real Dallas Cowboys Please Stand Up?
The Dallas Cowboys have momentum on their side following Saturday's 51-26 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles, sure, but are they a team that can really make a splash in the postseason?
Sure, quarterback Dak Prescott torched the Eagles defense, going 21-of-27 for 295 yards and five touchdowns, but that was hardly the NFC East rival's best and most competitive squad. The team made the conscious effort to sit starting cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Darius Slay, as well as linemen Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat and Javon Hargrave.
Add to that the key offensive players who sat out, and the 12th win of the season for the Cowboys rings hollower.
Sure, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson stepped up in the place of an injured Michael Gallup, notching five receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns, and tight end Dalton Schultz corralled another two scores. But Prescott and the Dallas offense will need those players to be factors entering the Wild Card Round next week, especially as opponents look to take away big-play threats like CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott.
In Week 17, Dallas had the opportunity to send a message to the rest of the NFC when it hosted an Arizona Cardinals team in a downward spiral. Instead, it was disjointed, sloppy and lost the game by three. Prescott had a statistically solid day but missed on some key passes that could have won Dallas the game. The playoffs are hardly the time to live and breathe on "could haves."
When Dallas takes the field for its wild-card matchup against the sixth-seeded San Francisco 49ers, it will not be able to afford a few sloppy or out-of-synch drives. There will not be a field of backups there for Prescott and his explosive offense to exploit.
The defensive front of the Niners, led by Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa, will pick them apart and make life a living hell for Prescott as he sees his window to get the ball to his playmakers shrink exponentially.
The offense is hardly the only issue. Despite playmakers like Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs, the defense gave up 315 yards to an Eagles offense led by Gardner Minshew, Kenneth Gainwell and Quez Watkins.
None of those players are George Kittle, Deebo Samuel or Jimmy Garoppolo.
Diggs, for all of his playmaking abilities, gives up a ton of big plays. Entering Week 16, 36 percent of receptions against him were for 15 yards or more, per Pro Football Focus. He will not be able to give up those types of plays against a 49ers squad with one of the most explosive playmakers in the league in Samuel.
None of this is to suggest the Cowboys are somehow undeserving of their position in the postseason, or that they are not a scary matchup for any of the six other teams in the NFC bracket. They are the division-winning team, though, for whom all must go exactly right if victory is to be had.
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