NFL Playoff Odds 2022: AFC, NFC Postseason Picture and Wild-Card Predictions

Theo SalaunCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2022

NFL Playoff Odds 2022: AFC, NFC Postseason Picture and Wild-Card Predictions

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    Ellen Schmidt/Associated Press

    It took until the final seconds of Sunday night's overtime game, but the stage is finally set for the NFL's 2022 Wild Card Weekend.

    While the first seeds Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers will get an extra week to prepare, 12 other playoff teams have a hard act to follow. Week 18 was as spicy a taste of postseason intensity as anyone could have ordered, with three matchups between playoff-contending squads all going to overtime—including the regular-season finale.

    For the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and a handful of others, Week 18 was a heartbreaker. For the 12 who clinched their spots in Wild Card Weekend, it was a final chance to sharpen iron. Here's how those six matchups project.

AFC Wild Card Round Predictions

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    Jeff Dean/Associated Press

    5. Las Vegas Raiders at 4. Cincinnati Bengals

    Saturday, January 15 (4:30 p.m. ET)

    Coming off of a clutch, playoff-cementing 35-32 overtime win over the Chargers, momentum is surely with Las Vegas. Unfortunately, that was just the second time the Raiders scored 23-plus in a game since Week 7.

    Cincinnati, on the other hand, has dropped 30-plus in their last two games with its starters active: 41 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 and 34 against the Chiefs in Week 17. 

    The last time Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon and Tee Higgins donned their helmets, they handled their business and celebrated an AFC North title with cigars. The Raiders showed scoring potential, but a shaky defense means the high-powered Bengals shouldn't have any trouble scorching past the six points they're favored by.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 35, Las Vegas 24


    6. New England Patriots at 3. Buffalo Bills

    Saturday, January 15 (8:15 p.m. ET)

    You never count out Bill Belichick and the Patriots, this 10-7 season—with a rookie quarterback and low hopes—has proved that. But the Bills are AFC East champs for a reason and they're coming into Wild Card Weekend with wind in their sails (and reasonably favored by 4.5 points). 

    While New England has lost three of their past four games, Buffalo is on a four-game winning streak—including a 33-21 win over the Patriots. 

    New England was able to win the teams' first matchup, but it's hard to draw upon a 14-10 contest in a unique, snowy armageddon. The Patriots face an uphill battle this weekend and that's not even considering the potential absence of star rookie defensive lineman, Christian Barmore, who injured his knee in Week 18.

    Prediction: Buffalo 24, New England 17


    7. Pittsburgh Steelers at 2. Kansas City Chiefs

    Sunday, January 16 (8:15 p.m. ET)

    The Chiefs are 9-1-0 since Week 7 and, with a long-awaited offensive turnaround, are averaging 35.4 points over their last five games.

    The Steelers are 5-4-1 since Week 7 and just clawed past a Tyler Huntley-led Baltimore Ravens 16-13 to give themselves a chance at the playoffs.

    Pittsburgh managed to get in—thanks to the Colts loss and Raiders win—and a rematch with Kansas City awaits them. In their last matchup, the Chiefs won 36-10. This could be closer (out of respect for Mike Tomlin), but Kansas City is favored by 13 and even that feels low.

    Prediction: Kansas City 31, Pittsburgh 14

NFC Wild Card Round Predictions

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    5. Arizona Cardinals at 4. Los Angeles Rams

    Monday, January 17 (8:15 p.m. ET)

    Maybe no wild-card matchup's odds are subject to change as much as this one. On the surface, Los Angeles should feel like an easy win and the 4.5-point spread may feel overcautious.

    Arizona has lost four of its last five games, while the Rams were on a five-game winning streak (including a 30-23 win over the Cardinals in Week 14) until Week 18's loss to San Francisco.

    This game isn't until Monday, though, and that means there's even more of a chance that the Cardinals get DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt back from injury. When they had those two, they beat the Rams 37-20 in Week 4, helping cement why their returns could prove so pivotal.

    Prediction: Los Angeles 28, Arizona 21


    6. San Francisco 49ers at 3. Dallas Cowboys

    Sunday, January 16 (4:30 p.m. ET)

    This just might be the hardest wild-card matchup to project, with both teams rolling in red-hot. 

    San Francisco just erased an 0-17 deficit to beat the playoff-bound Rams 27-24 and clinch a postseason berth in overtime. Dallas just dropped 51 points on the playoff-bound Eagles, the offense's second 50-plus game in three weeks.

    Big scores aside, the 49ers likely deserve the edge. Over their past five weeks, they've beaten two playoff teams (Rams and Bengals) and lost by just three points to the Titans. By contrast, the Cowboys' victory over Philadelphia was their first over a playoff team since Week 6.

    While Vegas gives Dallas a 3.0-point edge, Kyle Shanahan and San Francisco have proven their mettle against tougher competition.

    Prediction: San Francisco 28, Dallas 24


    7. Philadelphia Eagles at 2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

    Sunday, January 16 (1 p.m. ET)

    Both Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are 4-1 over their last five games, with one matchup against a playoff squad during that span. The Eagles lost 51-26 to Dallas and the Buccaneers won 33-27 against the Bills—a point in favor of the Bucs.

    When they last met, Tampa Bay survived a few Jalen Hurts scores and won 28-22 in Week 6—another point in favor of the Bucs.

    Leonard Fournette's injury status will need monitoring, but it's easy to see why Tampa Tom and the Bucs are Wild Card Weekend's second-highest favorites (favored by nine points). 

    Prediction: Tampa Bay 24, Philadelphia 14


    Lines via DraftKings Sportsbook.


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