NFL Super Wildcard Weekend Saturday Bets: NFC West showdown and two young gunslingers clash
Fresh off one of the most exciting bowl seasons in years (minus the National Championship), enter the six-game Wildcard Weekend to begin the 2023 NFL playoffs.
If you have read any of my college football betting previews, you know that I love to fade the public when it comes down to big games. As the NFL playoffs ramp up, more “squares” will hop on the gambling trend and beat the sportsbooks.
Spoiler alert: It never works. I would rather be against whatever team is receiving most of the bets or on the side of casinos because they’ve been profitable for decades.
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Seahawks at 49ers (-9.5) | O/U 42.0
Once considered a bust in the NFL, Geno Smith revived his career this season with the Seattle Seahawks. After bouncing around the league for years, Smith potentially found a home in Seattle, getting the franchise to the playoffs while Russell Wilson won five games in Denver. This weekend, he will lead his team on the road to square off with division foe, the San Francisco 49ers, and their rookie quarterback, Brock Purdy, who was the 2022 NFL Draft’s “Mr. Irrelevant.”
On Friday afternoon, with over 60,000 bets counted, 65% are on the 49ers to cover, with 59% of the money on San Francisco. I’m not comfortable backing any team giving over a touchdown in the playoffs, so we’ll look at some player props.
The Seahawks’ defense currently ranks dead last in defending tight ends. They allow a league-high 70.9 yards with 4.8 receptions on 7.6 targets per game. George Kittle has at least four catches in all but one game with Brock Purdy and typically sees a ton of targets against Pete Carroll’s defense.
Seattle knows that George Kittle will be Brock Purdy’s security blanket in the passing game, but can they handle Kyle Shanahan’s new weapon, Christian McCaffrey? The Seahawks allow 150.2 yards on the ground per game (30th in NFL) and could not stop Run CMC when they first played against him. In their Week 14 matchup on Thursday Night, the former Carolina Panther rushed for 108 yards and a score (4.2 yards per carry) with a team-high eight targets for six catches for 30 yards.
McCaffrey went through limited practices due to a knee issue but should play on Sunday. Everyone is dealing with some injury at this point in the season and San Francisco’s most versatile weapon, Deebo Samuel, is no different. Deebo suited up for Week 18 after missing two games with knee and ankle injuries.
He seems healed up and it is the playoffs so there is no reason to hold him back. When Samuel missed the Week 14 Seattle game, backup Jordan Mason ran four times for 64 yards, one rush being a 55-yard scamper. Deebo’s over/under for rushing yards currently sits at 14.5, which is one touch out of the backfield for him.
Wildcard Weekend Bets SEA/SF:
- George Kittle Anytime TD scorer (+140)
- George Kittle OVER 44.5 rec yds (-120)
- Christian McCaffrey OVER 113.5 rush/rec yds (-115)
- Deebo Samuel OVER 13.5 rush yards (-110)
The Danny Tanner Lottery Ticket SGP (+500)
- 49ers Moneyline
- McCaffrey Anytime TD
- McCaffrey 60+ rush yds
- McCaffrey 25+ rec yds
- Kittle 30+ rec yds
- Deebo 13+ rush yds
Chargers (-2.5) at Jaguars | O/U 47.5
Saturday night’s matchup between missile launchers Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert should be about as fun as it gets offensively. However, seeing the Chargers favored against Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson and having to travel across the country to Jacksonville did not make sense to me. With only over 50,000 bets placed on Friday afternoon, around 55% are on Los Angeles, with close to a 50-50 money split slightly favoring Jacksonville.
These two squads met back in Week 3 under entirely different circumstances as James Robinson rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown in the Jaguars 38-10 rout in Los Angeles. Justin Herbert missed his top receiver Keenan Allen with Austin Ekeler hauling in eight passes for 48 yards but managing just five rushing yards on four carries.
Brandon Staley’s offense ranks 16th in explosive pass plays on the season (53, two less than the Eagles) against Jacksonville’s 10% average explosive pass play rate, tied for third worst in the NFL. Now that spread is starting to make a bit more sense, but the Chargers finished the season losing to the Raiders and Broncos on the road. They’re 5-4 away from LA, plus the Jaguars won six of their last seven games to clinch the AFC South crown.
This one hurts my brain to pick. I want to back the home team getting points with the more experienced coach, but that seems like exactly what Vegas wants me to do. With Derwin James most likely shadowing tight Evan Engram all game, Trevor Lawrence might exploit a mismatch with Zay Jones on the outside. Bryce Callahan locks down the slot as one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the league, which is where Christian Kirk primarily operates.
For the Chargers, I am banking on the Jaguars’ defense to give up some explosive passing plays and the Justin Herbert to Keenan Allen connection to keep sizzling. Allen has seen double-digit targets in three of his last six games and is averaging over 88 yards per game. I’ll trust him and Austin Ekeler to get the work done for the Los Angeles offense as they travel down to Duval County.
Wildcard Weekend Bets LAC/JAX:
- Zay Jones Anytime TD scorer (+195)
- Zay Jones OVER 49.5 rec yds (-115)
- Austin Ekeler OVER 94.5 rush/rec yds (-115)
- Keenan Allen Anytime TD scorer (+140)
Allen & Ekeler, Attorneys-At-Law Lotto Ticket SGP +600
- Ekeler Anytime TD
- Ekeler 25+ rec yds
- Allen Anytime TD
- Allen 75+ rec yds
Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez