It’s hard to envision the chalk completely winning out in the NFL playoffs, so we should look for value on Wild Card Weekend.
With matchups set, some favorites are more significant than others, but there’s still a lot to like about how the board lines up.Will Underdogs Rise up for Wild Card Weekend?
When the lines first came out, you had to wonder about the Miami Dolphins’ status as double-digit underdogs against the Buffalo Bills. With Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ruled out, that doesn’t provide confidence in siding with the Dolphins, who’ll likely turn to Skylar Thompson as their signal caller. Buffalo is listed as a 3.5-point favorite, up from the initial line of ten. Miami and Buffalo have already played twice this season, and the games have been decided by a total of just five points. Still, the loss of Tagovailoa limits the Dolphins’ chances to pull off an upset, but they might have some value to cover the near two-touchdown-sized spread.
Sticking with the AFC side of the bracket, the Jacksonville Jaguars are sitting as slight home underdogs in their clash with the Los Angeles Chargers. At first glance, this appears to be a spot where the Jags’ value immediately jumps off the page. The Chargers received some key bodies back at the end of the year and have been playing quality football down the stretch. Still, the same applies to Jacksonville, winning five straight and capturing the AFC South crown. The Jags took care of business earlier this season against the Chargers, blowing them out 38-10. If you don’t put much weight into that blowout, it still demonstrates what Jacksonville can do when firing on all cylinders. Even if the line doesn’t move to three points (currently Chargers -2.5), there’s value in the home side winning outright on the moneyline at +108.
Shifting gears to the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants will collide for the second time in a month. The first meeting on Christmas Eve saw the Vikings come from behind and shock the Giants 27-24. With the slim margin of victory, the spread for the rematch is small. The Vikings are listed as three-point favorites. Brian Daboll has done a great job making the G-Men relevant in his first year as head coach, and is it a stretch to expect the Vikings to choke in a big game? Minnesota has put together some signature wins this season, but it’s difficult to know which version of the team will show up in the playoffs. The Giants could be primed to pull off the upset.