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2018 NFL Playoffs – Wild Card Weekend

Updated: Jan 6, 2019

Predictions for this weekend's action


This year’s playoff field is seemingly as ripe with parity than ever, but Plan Z Sports is here to help you navigate it as profitably as possible. We simulated every possible playoff matchup 5,000 times each through our predictive models and will give you some tips on this weekend’s action.



Saturday 1/5/2019 Games


(6) Indianapolis Colts

Record: 10-6

Record (ATS): 8-7-1

A-Team Power Ranking: 14

Conf Champ %: 3.0%

Super Bowl Champ %: 0.8%


(3) Houston Texans

Record: 11-5

Record (ATS): 7-8-1

A-Team Power Ranking: 5

Conf Champ %: 14.7%

Super Bowl Champ %: 5.7%


Point Spread: HOU -1

Over/Under: 48.5

Prediction: Houston 30 - Indianapolis 24


In what is essentially deemed a pick 'em game by Vegas, these two division rivals will settle a regular season split that saw the road team win by a FG in each contest. Moving the ball should not be too difficult for the Texans against the Colts, who ranked 10th in scoring defense but we have as the adjusted 25th ranked defense after benefiting greatly from the softest schedule in the NFL. Nevertheless, Houston's offense is not the key to this game, their success hinges on their ability to make Andrew Luck uncomfortable in the pocket and force a turnover or two.


Indy has been on a roll winning 9 of their last 10 games, with the only blemish being a 6-0 stinker in Jacksonville in week 11. Luck will be throwing early and often, so if his protection holds up as well as it has this year expect him to clear 300-yards without much difficulty. The Colts' defense is what could doom them in this one, but they should be able to pick up at least a couple sacks against the porous Houston O-Line and if they can find a way to turnover Houston (3rd fewest giveaways in the NFL) then that is a clear path to a win. I still see Houston covering in this game with the over also coming in.


 
WILD CARD WEEKEND BEST BET

(5) Seattle Seahawks

Record: 10-6

Record (ATS): 9-5-2

A-Team Power Ranking: 6

Conf Champ %: 6.9%

Super Bowl Champ %: 3.9%


(4) Dallas Cowboys

Record: 10-6

Record (ATS): 9-7

A-Team Power Ranking: 11

Conf Champ %: 3.4%

Super Bowl Champ %: 1.5%


Point Spread: DAL -2.5

Over/Under: 43.5

Prediction: Seattle 24 - Dallas 23


In playoff football, I tend to trust the elite QB-Coach combinations when I am on the fence, and this matchup is exactly that. The Cowboys boast the #3 Adjusted Defensive Ranking in the NFL, going toe-to-toe with Seattle's #6 Adjusted Offensive Ranked unit. Expect Dallas defense to keep Seattle's offense in check for much of the day, but without the benefit of turnovers against a Seahawks team that had the fewest turnovers in the league. Dallas will ride Zeke Elliott trying to limit how much Dak Prescott faces obvious passing situations and therefore minimize the negative plays. Ultimately, I trust Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson a heckuva lot more that the Garrett-Prescott combo in a game that will likely come down to which team can make a couple big plays. My money is on Seattle turning Prescott over at least 1-2 times and capitalizing on short fields to win this game outright.



 

Sunday 1/6/2019 Games


(5) Los Angeles Chargers

Record: 12-4

Record (ATS): 9-7

A-Team Power Ranking: 8

Conf Champ %: 6.9%

Super Bowl Champ %: 3.1%


(4) Baltimore Ravens

Record: 10-6

Record (ATS): 8-8

A-Team Power Ranking: 2

Conf Champ %: 16.2%

Super Bowl Champ %: 7.9%


Point Spread: BAL -2.5

Over/Under: 42.0

Prediction: Baltimore 23 - Los Angeles 20


The Ravens come into the playoffs having won 6 of their last 7, averaging a ridiculous 230 rushing yards per game over that stretch. The Ravens will count on their defense, which the A-Team Adjusted Defensive Power Rankings reflects as the top unit in the NFL, to shut down Philip Rivers and the #8 Adjusted Power Ranked offense with plenty of star potential. The Chargers were 4-1 as road dogs this year and many pundits (including my counterpart here at Plan Z Sports) have the Chargers covering in this one, but I recommend betting on the Ravens top defense to make life miserable for the potent Chargers offense and for Lamar Jackson to lead the ground game to do just enough to come away with a 3-point W and barely hit the over.


 

(6) Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 9-7

Record (ATS): 7-9

A-Team Power Ranking: 12

Conf Champ %: 1.5%

Super Bowl Champ %: 0.7%


(3) Chicago Bears

Record: 12-4

Record (ATS): 12-4

A-Team Power Ranking: 4

Conf Champ %: 15.5%

Super Bowl Champ %: 8.9%


Point Spread: CHI -6.0

Over/Under: 41.5

Prediction: Chicago 24 - Philadelphia 17


Okay, let me get this disclaimer out of the way - I am admittedly biased as a die-hard Bears fan. I know, I know, there is no room for that in sports handicapping nor in any respectable editorial, so it is a good thing that this is ultimately just some guy's blog post. But also, the Bears are really good this year. Led by an opportunistic defense (#2 Adjusted Power Ranking and the most takeaways in the league) and a respectable offense, the Bears boast the best record against the spread in the NFL going 12-4 including 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Nick Foles-led Eagles are in a similar situation, looking to repeat last year's tremendous run at a championship behind their backup QB. By A-Team rankings, Philly faced the toughest schedule this season compared to all other playoff teams, but on the road against a vicious Bears defense I just do not see the Eagles doing enough to keep this game within a touchdown.


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