NFL Playoff Picture 2022: Wild-Card Odds, Picks and Matchup Scenarios

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2022

NFL Playoff Picture 2022: Wild-Card Odds, Picks and Matchup Scenarios

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The playoff mindsets of the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers feel the furthest apart of any set of NFL Wild Card Weekend opponents.

    Kansas City enters Sunday night's game between the teams with an all-business mentality as it attempts to reach the Super Bowl for the third time in the Patrick Mahomes era.

    Pittsburgh was just lucky to qualify for the postseason after the unexpected results that occurred in Week 18. Ben Roethlisberger already said his farewell to Steelers fans in Week 17, and the team will be playing with no pressure.

    The Steelers' approach could either scare you about a bet on Kansas City or increase your confidence that the Chiefs will replicate the 26-point win at Arrowhead Stadium from Week 16.

    The scenario is a bit different for the No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup in the NFC since the Philadelphia Eagles got into the postseason with one week to spare.

    Philadelphia enters Raymond James Stadium on full rest and with the possibility to hang with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enough to cover the second-largest point spread on the wild-card board.

    If the Chiefs and Bucs win their playoff openers, they will get a second home playoff game against the highest remaining seed in their respective conferences. The lowest remaining seeds in each bracket head to the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans for the divisional round.

NFL Wild-Card Weekend Odds

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    Emilee Chinn/Associated Press

    Saturday, January 15 

    Las Vegas at Cincinnati (-5) (Over/Under: 48.5), 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC

    New England at Buffalo (-4) (O/U: 44), 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS


    Sunday, January 16

    Philadelphia at Tampa Bay (-8.5) (O/U: 46), 1 p.m. ET, Fox

    San Francisco at Dallas (-3) (O/U: 50.5), 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS

    Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-12.5) (O/U: 46), 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC


    Monday, January 17

    Arizona at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) (O/U: 49), 8:15 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN

Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-12.5)

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers likely have the most relaxed mentality of the 14 playoff teams. 

    Roethlisberger shed some light on that mindset when he met with the media Wednesday:

    "I would assume, as a group, you understand that we probably aren't supposed to be here. We probably are not a very good football team. Out of 14 teams I think are in, we're probably number 14. ... We're probably 20-point underdogs, and we're going to the No. 1 seed, the No. 1 team. I know they're not the No. 1 seed, obviously, but they're the No. 1 team that has won the AFC the last two years, arguably the best team in football.

    "We don't have a chance. So, let's just go in and play and have fun."

    The have-fun approach could either help the Steelers stay close in a game where all the pressure is on the Kansas City Chiefs or it may hurt them against the all-business No. 2 seed.

    Kansas City wrecked the Steelers at home in Week 16 and a similar result could pop up Sunday night, especially if Roethlisberger is put under pressure.

    The Chiefs forced a fumble and an interception off the Pittsburgh quarterback, sacked him twice and limited him to 159 passing yards. That is not the formula to winning, or even covering the 12.5-point spread, for the Steelers. And that recent performance is cause for concern.

    Pittsburgh was not convincing in the final month of the regular season, as it failed to reach the 20-point mark in three of its past four games.

    Kansas City has consistently pushed the 30-point mark with Patrick Mahomes at the helm. The Chiefs averaged 33.1 points per game in the six contests following their Week 12 bye.

    The Chiefs are much better on offense, and they should not have a difficult time moving the ball on a team they hung 36 points on in Week 16. Pittsburgh's defense has not changed much, and Roethlisberger's play has not drastically altered since then.

    Mike Tomlin's Steelers might be able to hang for a half, but the Chiefs have the potential to win this game by more than the 26-point margin they had over the AFC North side in their regular-season meeting.

Philadelphia (+8.5) at Tampa Bay

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles are the peskier underdog of the two No. 7 seeds.

    The Eagles used a four-game winning streak to get into the postseason, and they have the best rushing offense in the NFL. Nick Sirianni's team could trouble the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense enough to stay within nine points and cover the point spread.

    Philadelphia ran for more than 200 yards in four of its past eight games. That identity was developed long after the Week 6 loss to the Bucs in which the Eagles used a late touchdown to get within one score.

    The Eagles defense contained Tom Brady and Co. in the second half of that contest, which allowed Jalen Hurts to cut the deficit from 21 points to six with a pair of rushing touchdowns.

    Tampa Bay's offense is not at full strength because of the season-ending injury suffered by Chris Godwin and the knocks that Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette are dealing with.

    Brady still has the potential to win the contest by double digits because he is the best postseason quarterback of all time. He won his first few Super Bowls with the New England Patriots with little premier talent at wide receiver. He has done much more with far less at the position in his career.

    Philadelphia could dictate the tempo if its rushing attack works. That would limit the number of possessions for Brady and the Tampa Bay offense.

    The Eagles can succeed defensively if Darius Slay slows down Mike Evans and they find a way to contain Rob Gronkowski.

    Those are both tough tasks, but if the Eagles slow down the Bucs for even a quarter, covering the point spread should be in play, especially if they run the ball well.


    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

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