AFC Wildcard Picks Against the Spread

by | Jan 13, 2022

The longest NFL regular season in the history of the league is finally over. Six teams will compete in the AFC Wildcard round this weekend, with plenty on the line for all.

With no truly dominant team all season long, all six believe that they can win a Super Bowl this year. This is the first step towards that journey. Who prevails in these tightly contested contests? These are the picks against the spread for the AFC Wildcard round.

Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals -6

The Cincinnati Bengals decided to rest a lot of their players in Week 18 of the regular season. Even though they had positioning to play for to some degree, they felt like the risk was not worth the potential reward.

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Everything ended up working out for them, as they beat the Cleveland Browns and got the best position they can in the playoffs. To help even more, they essentially created a bye week for their key players so they are ready for a playoff push.

Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and plenty of other key starters return to the lineup looking for the franchise’s first playoff win since 1990. Will the offense be able to dice up the Raiders on defense enough to pull out the victory?

Cincinnati’s going to score points, that much is for sure. The key will be whether or not their defense can slow down Las Vegas enough to hold onto the victory. Cincinnati has some key players on defense to make that happen, but there’s also a chance that Las Vegas keeps scoring in their own ways.

Derek Carr and the Raiders had the opposite of a bye week in Week 18. They had the last game on Sunday, and it went into overtime. It almost feels like a short week for them. The Bengals can put some pressure on Derek Carr, who has been a bit inconsistent all year long.

There are plenty of demons around in Cincinnati, but this current squad doesn’t know about them. As far as they know, they are one of the most promising young teams in the NFL right now. Some might think that they are ahead of schedule a little early, but they take care of business and advance the next round with a double-digit victory over the Raiders.

Pick: Cincinnati Bengals -6

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills -4.5

Two divisional foes will battle it out Saturday night when the New England Patriots head to Buffalo to play the Bills. Many thought that Buffalo looked like the much better team throughout the year, but it’s evening out a bit as time goes on.

Playing a team for the third time in a year means that both know each other very well. Buffalo gets the home-field advantage, but both teams are very familiar with playing in cold-weather games. It should be viewed as a positive that Buffalo gets to play at home, but both teams won as the road team in the regular season.

This comes down to the defensive game plan for both teams. Bill Belichick and Sean McDermott can put limitations on any team. Expect it to be pretty low-scoring, which will make it hard for Buffalo to win by five or more points.

Buffalo still finds a way to make it work and advance, but it’s going to be a close one all day long. This has the chance to be the most competitive game of the weekend, as the Bills just get past the Patriots. Trust New England to keep it competitive enough that they are the safer pick against the spread.

Pick: New England Patriots +4.5

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs -12.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers snuck into the playoffs, meaning that Ben Roethlisberger gets at least one more game wearing the black and yellow. They face one of the toughest teams in the second half of the NFL season, and very few are giving them a chance to have success. Can Pittsburgh go into Kansas City and pull off the upset?

If they do, it will be viewed as one of the biggest upsets in recent playoff history. This is a Steelers team that lost by 26 points just a few weeks ago to the Chiefs in Kansas City. There’s always a chance to make some adjustments, but Pittsburgh might not have the personnel to get it done.

As for the Chiefs, they have adjusted their offense to have one of the most lethal teams in the game. It’s a challenge for Najee Harris and TJ Watt to lead the defense to completely limit Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes will have plenty of opportunities to pass and run, and they won’t have to worry about playing catch-up since Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t exactly dynamic.

There could be some people tempted to go with Pittsburgh against the large spread, as Rothlisberger will likely have a pretty decent game for him. However, Kansas City is on a mission right now, and they will come out firing from the beginning. They should be able to win by two touchdowns at least. A backdoor cover is possible, but Pittsburgh’s lack of dynamic offense lowers those chances.

Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -12.5

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