As we ring in the New Year, the NFL regular season has closed and the contenders have been separated from the pretenders. It’s time for the playoffs, and luckily there are a few weeks of high-intensity football remaining as well as chances to make some money for NJ sports betting players. After an up-and-down close to the season with our ATS picks courtesy of BetStars NJ, we are wiping the slate clean for Wild Card Weekend.
With BetStars Sportsbook NFL lines, we provide ATS picks on each game along with a teaser you can take to the bank.
NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks By Brian Sausa, Lines Courtesy of BetStars NJ Sportsbook
BetStars’ lines as of Jan 3rd at 9:30 pm*
Four Jars of Sauce: Picks Against The Spread (ATS) For Wild Card Weekend
Houston Texans (-1) vs. Indianapolis Colts - Saturday, 4:35 pm
The BetStars app has the Texans as 1.5-point favorites over AFC South-rival Colts in the Wild Card round.
It’s always interesting getting a divisional matchup in the playoffs with teams which know each other well playing for a third time this season. The two teams split the season series, but the lone meeting in Houston saw the Colts end the AFC South-champion Texans’ nine-game winning streak. Both of these teams limped out to brutal starts and now meet each other in the postseason.
Indianapolis enters the postseason on a 9-1 mark and winners of four straight games. There is no hotter team entering the playoffs than the one led by Andrew Luck. The Colts will look to put up points once again against a stout Texans defense led by J.J. Watt while Houston QB Deshaun Watson makes his NFL playoff debut.
Despite the Colts’ success in Houston, I’m taking the team with the stronger overall defense in the early Saturday time slot. Houston by a field goal.
Pick: Houston Texans (-1)
Dallas Cowboys (-2) vs. Seattle Seahawks, Saturday 8:15 pm
BetStars NJ has the AFC-East champion Cowboys as a two-point favorite over the visiting Seahawks.
The Cowboys won 10 games and earned home-field advantage after surging to the top of the division in the second half of the season. Seattle was a team expected to be headed for a disastrous year, but Russell Wilson had other ideas and managed to lead them to a 10-win season and another playoff berth.
Although the Cowboys went 7-1 at home and feature a dominant offensive line and running game, the Seahawks are not a team you want to see in the playoffs (yes, even this version of the Seahawks). Wilson has worked magic one too many times in the playoffs to feel comfortable playing against him and his experience should show on Saturday.
That said, the Cowboys’ defense gets up to play at home and we know AT&T Stadium will be absolutely rocking for this Wild Card game. So long as Dak Prescott avoids the big mistake, Dallas survives and advances.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys (-2)
Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs. Los Angeles Chargers - Sunday, 1 pm
The BetStars NJ app has the AFC-North champion Ravens as field-goal favorites over the traveling Chargers on Sunday.
Going by recent memory only, the pick is Baltimore. The Ravens went to Los Angeles and handed the Chargers a sound 22-10 defeat in Week 16. Baltimore is now at home (where they play well) for Wild Card Weekend and the Chargers have to travel across the country.
However, I expect the Chargers’ defense to travel and keep electric first-year starter Lamar Jackson in check, at least enough to keep them in the game. The playoffs are usually not the time of year Philip Rivers and the Chargers shine, but I think that changes this year.
Los Angeles went 7-1 on the road this season and certainly doesn’t fear having to go to Baltimore. Behind bell-cow running back Melvin Gordon and a dynamic passing game, they provide enough offense to win outright in Baltimore and advance to the divisional round.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers (+3)
Chicago Bears (-6) vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday 4:40pm
According to BetStars Sportsbook, Chicago is six-point favorites at home against Philadelphia.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Nick Foles is leading the streaking Eagles as the playoffs begin. This time it’s on the road, but Foles has led Philadelphia to three straight wins and a playoff berth. The Bears clinched the NFC-North weeks ago and need to kick it into gear for their first meaningful game in a while.
I can’t see Foles’ magic continuing past this weekend, even if it has felt a little like deja vu sometimes. The fact is that even though he’s done it before, this is a rested Bears team and one that can eat up clock while scoring points before handing off to Khalil Mack and a monster defense.
Speaking of Chicago’s defense, I think that unit makes it way too tough on the Eagles’ offense while Mitch Trubisky takes care of the football and the offense does enough to secure victory in the first round. “Da Bears” move on by a touchdown against Philly.
Pick: Chicago Bears (-6)
Exotic Bet Of The Week: 3-Team Teaser (Wild Card Weekend Edition)
*A teaser allows you to alter the original spread by a certain number of points. When using three teams, the player is gifted 10 points in each game to add onto whichever end of the spread they choose.
EXAMPLE: If the Rams are 11.5-point favorites this week (-11.5), which makes the Eagles 11.5-point underdogs (+11.5). By using this game in a 3-team teaser, we have 10 points to use against the spread either way we choose. Either the Eagles can have 10 points added to make them +21.5, or the Rams’ spread can be lowered by 10 points, leaving them at -1.5 to cover.*
Wild Card Weekend 3-Team Teaser
- Seahawks +12 (originally +2)
- Texans +9 (originally -1)
- Chargers +13 (originally +3)
The BetStars NJ Sportsbook lines allow us to create an appetizing teaser for the first round of the postseason. It just makes sense that we’d see a lot of close games in the playoffs between the league’s upper echelon teams excluding the top two in each conference, which received byes. All three of these picks are made on the belief that the games will likely be closely-contested, and each team can lose by at least a touchdown and still cover. Houston may be in danger of losing, but the 8.5-point cushion feels like enough. The Seahawks and Chargers each get two scores on the road, where they could also be threats to win outright.
Best of luck!
About the Author:
Brian Sausa works as a Quality Control Coordinator inside MLB Advanced Media’s multimedia department. A journalism graduate with an extensive sports background, Brian has been employed by multiple progressional leagues in MLB, MiLB (Minor League Baseball), and the NHL. He brings to the table a personable approach as well as extensive written and verbal communication skills that can transfer into a number of fields. You can follow him on Twitter @BrianSausa
*BonusSeeker.com and its affiliates and advertisers are not liable for any losses experienced by gambling online or selecting betting tips recommended by our writers. Betting tips are offered for entertainment purposes, and in no way guarantee a win or increase your chances of winning a bet.