NFL Playoff Picture 2022: Odds and Scenarios for Sunday's Wild-Card Games

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2022

NFL Playoff Picture 2022: Odds and Scenarios for Sunday's Wild-Card Games

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The NFL's Super Wild Card Weekend got off to a rousing start, with the Cincinnati Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders contesting an early-evening thriller. 

    The Bengals led by two touchdowns at one point, but Las Vegas had an opportunity to tie the game on their final drive. However, Germaine Pratt picked off Derek Carr on 4th-and-goal to seal the win and give Cincinnati its first playoff victory in 31 years. 

    Saturday's second playoff game wasn't nearly as exciting—unless you're a Buffalo Bills fan. Buffalo controlled the game from start to finish and embarrassed the rival New England Patriots to the tune of a 47-17 rout. 

    What does Sunday have in store? Let's take a look.

Odds and Preview for Sunday's Games

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Eagles (+7.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The line feels incredibly large in this game given the makeup of the teams involved. The Philadelphia Eagles can grind out games with their rushing attack, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing without some of their top stars.

    It's worth noting that the regular-season meeting with the Eagles was played in Philadelphia, but the Bucs only won that game by six points. Tampa Bay is also without receivers Chris Godwin (torn ACL) and Antonio Brown, who was released.

    Running back Leonard Fournette was not activated from injured reserve, either.

    Tampa Bay's third-ranked run defense does match up well with Philadelphia's run-heavy attack. However, the Buccaneers have been gashed on the ground at times—Buffalo, for example, rushed for 173 yards in Week 14.

    Jalen Hurts is just as dangerous on the ground as Bills quarterback Josh Allen, and Philly may have more success in running the ball than most might expect. It's hard to envision Philadelphia pulling out the upset, but it's not impossible. An Eagles cover feels even more likely.

    The Buccaneers have not been prone to blowout victories this season. See the first meeting between these two as an example.


    San Francisco 49ers (+3) at Dallas Cowboys

    The Dallas Cowboys are not afraid of the San Francisco 49ers' physical approach to running the football and playing tough defense.

    "I'm from Harrisburg, where the bullies get bullied," Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons said, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. "There's a bully in every gym. ... At one point, it's going to take somebody to stand up and fight. I ain't ever back down from a challenge."

    While Dallas may be ready for a physical fight, it shouldn't take the 49ers lightly. San Francisco is capable of controlling this game.

    Led by running back Elijah Mitchell and do-it-all playmaker Deebo Samuel, San Francisco can indeed bully Dallas' turnover-dependent defense—Dallas went 1-3 in games wherein it didn't force a turnover. The Cowboys also rank just 23rd in yards per rush allowed.

    The key factor here will be limiting mistakes and getting a clean performance from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. There's no guarantee that happens, but if San Francisco can establish the run early and control the tempo, we could see the first upset of Super Wild Card Weekend here.


    Pittsburgh Steelers (+12.5) at Kansas City Chiefs

    The Pittsburgh Steelers narrowly pushed into the playoffs—the Raiders sent them there with an overtime field goal in the regular-season finale—while the Kansas City Chiefs narrowly missed out on the No. 1 seed.

    The Steelers can be formidable, but Kansas City was one of the league's hottest teams down the stretch. A shootout loss to the Bengals was the Chiefs' only blemish over their final 10 games.

    The question in this game is whether Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense can generate enough to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and Co. Pittsburgh's 20th-ranked defense isn't going to win on its own.

    Roethlisberger even joked about Pittsburgh not being given a chance here.

    "We don't have a chance, so let's just go in and have fun," he told reporters.

    Pittsburgh is in the dance, so of course it has a chance. However, this is arguably the mismatch of the weekend. The Steelers may cover, but an outright upset feels incredibly unlikely.

Playoff Scenarios and Latest Super Bowl Odds

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    With both of Saturday's games being AFC contests, the entire NFC field is open. The Green Bay Packers are on bye as the No. 1 seed and await the lowest-seeded team to emerge from Sunday and Monday.

    The Tennessee Titans will face the lowest-seeded AFC team, which will be either the Bengals or the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both of the favorites won Saturday, which means that the Bengals have no shot at hosting a second playoff game in the divisional round.

    If the Steelers upset the Chiefs, they will travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans, while Cincinnati will visit Buffalo. If the Chiefs beat Pittsburgh on Sunday night, they will host the Bills, while the Bengals will visit the Titans.

    It will be either Buffalo or Tennessee for Cincinnati. It will be either Buffalo or Cincinnati for Tennessee. Everything hinges on Sunday's Chiefs-Steelers matchup.


    Super Bowl Odds

    Green Bay Packers 19-5

    Kansas City Chiefs 9-2

    Buffalo Bills 5-1

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-1

    Tennessee Titans 17-2

    Los Angeles Rams 10-1

    Cincinnati Bengals 12-1

    Dallas Cowboys 12-1

    San Francisco 49ers 20-1

    Arizona Cardinals 25-1

    Philadelphia Eagles 65-1

    Pittsburgh Steelers 80-1

Remaining Playoff Schedule

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    Lon Horwedel/Associated Press

    Sunday, January 16

    1 p.m. ET: No 7 Philadelphia Eagles at No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Fox, Fox Sports app

    4:30 p.m. ET: No. 6 San Francisco 49ers at No. 3Dallas Cowboys on CBS, Nickelodeon, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video

    8:15 p.m. ET: No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs on NBC, Peacock


    Monday, January 17

    8:15 p.m. ET: No. 5 Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams on ESPN, ABC, ESPN 2, ESPN+


    Divisional Round

    Saturday, January 22

    4:30 p.m. ET: Game TBD

    8:15 p.m. ET: Game TBD


    Sunday, January 23

    3 p.m. ET: Game TBD

    6:30 p.m. ET: Game TBD


    Championship Weekend

    Sunday, January 30

    3 p.m. ET: AFC on CBS, Paramount+

    6:30 p.m. ET: NFC on Fox, Fox Sports app


    Super Bowl LVI

    Sunday, February 13

    6:30 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock


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