The NFL playoffs finally are here, and it’s good news for both football fans and those who want to make a friendly wager.
There are just two road favorites (Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) among the six games, while three teams (New Orleans Saints, -10; Tampa Bay, -8; and Buffalo Bills, -7) are favored by more than a touchdown.
Not all of the favorites invoke much confidence, though, and here are two we’re likely to avoid this weekend.
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Tennessee Titans
The No. 5 Ravens enter Super Wild Card Weekend against the No. 4 Titans as arguably the hottest team in the NFL. Baltimore has found its footing in the run game, and Lamar Jackson propelled the 11-5 Ravens to five consecutive wins to conclude the regular season.
But this is the playoffs, and Baltimore doesn’t exactly offer a great deal of confidence. The Ravens, you might recall, were eliminated from the playoffs after one game in each of the last two seasons.
In fact, just last year, the then-top-seeded Ravens were embarrassed on their home field, after a first-round bye, in a 28-12 loss to none other than the Titans. This game likely will feature a lot of points (cough, cough the 54-point total), but we’re not all that confident the Ravens will be able to pull it out, never mind cover the spread.
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-10)
No disrespect to the No. 2 Saints, but this spread certainly feels high for a team that was a modest 4-4 ATS at home this season, even if New Orleans is going up against the seventh and final seed in the NFC.
In addition, the Saints have one major question ahead of Sunday’s game. While wide receiver Michael Thomas is expected to return from injured reserve, the Saints can’t be overly confident that running back Alvin Kamara will take the field.
Kamara was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list before the Saints’ Week 17 game against the Carolina Panthers, and Sunday is the first day he is eligible to return to the team. That, of course, depends on further COVID testing and whether he develops symptoms during the week. That’s just the kind of year it’s been, but the Saints are fortunate in that they definitely would’ve been without Kamara had the game been held Saturday.
The Bears, on the other hand, were 5-3 ATS on the road this season and have shown the ability to keep games close, with 11 contests decided by eight points or fewer, including a 26-23 overtime loss to the Saints in Week 8.