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The NFL Playoffs Are Here And It Begins This Week With Super Wildcard Weekend

Last weekend was the final round of fixtures in the regular season in the NFL, and there was much to be decided across the 16 games played across Saturday and Sunday.

With Wildcard spots up for grabs in both conferences, Divisional titles to be decided and even the top seed spot up for grabs in the AFC, almost every game at the weekend had something riding on it and of course, that meant there were teams that made it into the post-season, and others that fell at the final hurdle.

Before we go into a bit more detail about this weekend’s Super Wildcard games, remember that you can enjoy a great range of bets on the postseason action in the NFL over the next month or so with bet365 Sport.

So let’s bring ourselves up to date with the postseason set ups in each conference of the NFL, starting with the NFC.

NFC Week 18 And Wildcard Seeds

In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers clinched the final Wildcard spot in that conference with a battling win over the Los Angeles Rams, who still hung on to top spot in the NFC West thanks to the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Arizona Cardinals.

That means that the Cardinals will not travel to face the Rams in one of this week’s three NFC Wildcard games. The 49ers will face off against the Dallas Cowboys while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Green Bay Packers earned the bye week and home field advantage in the NFC despite losing to Detroit at the weekend.

The Rams defeat saw the Buccaneers and Cowboys move up one spot in the rankings each to second and third respectively which leaves us with the following Wildcard games in the NFC.

Sunday January 16th

  • Philadelphia Eagles (7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2) 6pm UK Time
  • San Francisco 49ers (6) @ Dallas Cowboys (3) 9.30pm UK Time

Tuesday January 18th

  • Arizona Cardinals (5) @ Los Angeles Rams (4) – 1.15am UK Time

AFC Week 18 And Wildcard Seeds

Things were much less settled in the AFC with the top seed, a divisional title, plus twoNFL Bets Wildcard spots still to be decided on the final week of action.

In the end, the Tennessee Titans narrow win over the Houston Texans thanks to Julio Jones’ first touchdown for the Titans, was enough to give the Titans the #1 seed spot in the AFC, pipping the Kansas City Chiefs by virtue of their victory over the Chiefs earlier in the season.

The Chiefs finished as the second seed with the Cincinnati Bengals the fourth seeds despite a loss to the Cleveland Browns on the final week of the season. Finally, it was the Buffalo Bills who clinched the AFC East and the third seed spot as their victory over the Jets, combined with the Patriots loss to Miami ensuring that the Bills topped the division for a second season in a row.

The Patriots had already earned a Wildcard spot and they finished number 6 in the seedings but the other two spots were both decided by games that went down to overtime, due to the fact that the Indianapolis Colts muffed their lines by losing to the Jaguars.

That defeat meant the door was open for another team to move into the playoffs. The Steelers took that opportunity earning an overtime win over the Ravens which earned them an unlikely 7th seed spot and in the winner-takes-all clash between the Chargers and Raiders, it was the latter who prevailed with another overtime victory to clinch the #5 seed in the AFC.

That leaves us with the following AFC Wildcard games:

Saturday January 15th

  • Las Vegas Raiders (5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4) – 9.30pm UK Time

Sunday January 16th

  • New England Patriots (6) @ Buffalo Bills (3) – 1.15am UK Time

Monday January 17th

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (2) – 1.15am UK Time

Wildcard Weekend Tips

Saturday January 15th

  • Las Vegas Raiders (5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (4) – 9.30pm UK Time

Two of the more inconsistent teams in the NFL will meet in the first Super WildcardNFL Week 2 2017 Weekend game and this is a tough one to call. The teams did meet in November with the Bengals coming out on top 32-13, but that was chiefly down to them scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter.

The Bengals rested a number of starters last weekend in their loss to the Browns, whereas the Raiders were taken to overtime by the Chargers and with wintry weather scheduled in Bengals, and the Raiders playing their home games in an indoor stadium, it does seem advantage Bengals here.

However, the Raiders have won all their last four games to reach the playoffs and they have momentum, but with conditions set to be in the Bengals favour, I am taking Cincinnati for the win here.

  • Prediction – Las Vegas Raiders 17-31 Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday January 16th

  • New England Patriots (6) @ Buffalo Bills (3) – 1.15am UK Time

The second game on Saturday Night, or early Sunday morning UK time, sees two NFC East rivals lock horns for the third time this season. The Patriots defeated the Bills in Buffalo back in November, but the Bills gained revenge at Foxborough a couple of weeks later. That win essentially handed the Bills the divisional title.

With the chance of snow in Buffalo, no surprise in January, but much calmer conditions than the time the teams last faced each other here, I think that gives the Bills a slight advantage, but not one that I think is decisive.

In fact, I think the Patriots may have the edge here with that defense shaping up well against a Bills offense that is stuttering a little and I feel that New England could have the final say here in what should be a close one.

  • Prediction – New England Patriots 24-20 Buffalo Bills

 

  • Philadelphia Eagles (7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2) 6pm UK Time

There are not too many people giving the Eagles too much of a chance against the reigning Super Bowl champions, especially with this game taking place in Tampa where the weather conditions are going to be much more benign than if the game was in Pennsylvania.

But I just have a sneaky feeling that this could be the shock of the round. The Eagles were trashed by the Cowboys last week, but they had nothing to gain from that game and had already qualified for the playoffs. So, I think they probably played that game with half an eye on this one.

The Bucs have a number of injury concerns and I don’t think their defense matches up well against the Eagles, who are the team with the most rushing yards on average per game this season. If the Eagles can control the clock and run the ball effectively and get pressure on Tom Brady, then they could spring an upset here.

  • Prediction – Philadelphia Eagles 37-35 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

  • San Francisco 49ers (6) @ Dallas Cowboys (3) 9.30pm UK Time

After the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Rams last weekend to claim a playoff spot, I have seen a number of writers extolling the virtues of the 49ers and claiming that this team is good enough to reach the Super Bowl.

I struggle with that to be honest because they’ve lost seven games this season, even with the third best ranked defense in the NFL and Deebo Samuel apart, this is a team that doesn’t look capable of scoring heavily on offense as they lack those explosive playmakers.

On the other hand, I think Dallas are strong in all areas of the team and as we saw last week, they can rack up points against playoff calibre teams. So I am not following the 49er trend here as I am confident the Cowboys will win this one very comfortably.

  • Prediction – San Francisco 49ers 17-35 Dallas Cowboys

Monday January 17th

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (2) – 1.15am UK Time

The late game on Sunday/Monday is I think the most one-sided of all the Wildcard contests this weekend. The Steelers limped into the playoffs due to the fact the Colts could not beat the worst team in the NFL and in truth, I have seen nothing from Pittsburgh to suggest they could pull off a massive shock win here.

Their chances of success lie squarely on T.J.Watt being able to get to Patrick Mahomes consistently. If he can, then the Steelers could keep this close. If he is constantly double-teamed, as I feel he will be, then I think this could get messy for Steel City fans.

The Chiefs offense has blown hot and cold this season and defensively, they are not as strong, but when they get it right, they are still hugely dangerous and I think that will be the case here with the home side taking a comfortable win.

  • Prediction – Pittsburgh Steelers 13-42 Kansas City Chiefs

 

Tuesday January 18th

  • Arizona Cardinals (5) @ Los Angeles Rams (4) – 1.15am UK Time

For me, this is probably going to be the closest game of the Wildcard round. Just one game separated these two teams in the NFC West, but the one thing I can’t overlook here is that both teams come into this game suffering from a worrying drop off in form.

Both have won and lost games in seemingly equal measures over the last few weeks and for every solid performance and result, there has been a set back. The Cardinals in particular have seen their form tail off after they made a 7-0 start to the season, losing four of their last five.

One of those defeats came against the Rams just a month or so ago and the one thing I think tips this game in the Rams favour is the playmakers that they have on the team that can turn a game in an instant. In these games, this can be crucial and I think the Rams are better equipped to do that.

  • Prediction – Arizona Cardinals 28-31 Los Angeles Rams

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