Welcome to the NFL playoffs.
The enlarged Wild Card weekend gets underway on Saturday when the Las Vegas Raiders visit the Cincinnati Bengals (4:30 p.m. ET, NBC) before the Buffalo Bills host the New England Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, CBS).
Let’s start with the first game. The basics: the Bengals are favored by 5.5 points and the total is 49. If you want to place a moneyline bet on Cincinnati, the Bengals are -250 to win straight up while a Raiders upset is +200.
These two teams met during the regular season and Cincinnati beat Las Vegas 32-13 in Vegas. The Raiders enter the playoffs on a four-game win streak, though its biggest margin of victory during that stretch is four points. If the Raiders do pull the upset, it’s probably going to be a close game.
There are nearly 180 ways to bet either game at BetMGM, so spend your Friday procrastination time researching some bets like anytime touchdowns or yardage props.
The Bengals’ Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase both have better than even odds to score a touchdown on Saturday. Mixon is -200 to score a TD while Chase is -115. Mixon is at +450 to score the first or last TD while Chase is at +650.
The Raiders’ Josh Jacobs is at +100 to score. He’s just ahead of Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. We like Chase’s chances of scoring a TD on Saturday, especially at the odds. A Mixon TD seems likely too, but -200 isn’t much of a return.
If you like a Chase TD and a Bengals win, you can get that at -110. That’s pretty tempting. We’re on the Bengals to cover the spread and win relatively easily. The Raiders haven’t won by more than four points since Oct. 24 and have eked out their last four wins over non-playoff teams.
A David Carr rushing or receiving TD and a Raiders loss is at +900. That’s probably not worth betting unless you’re convinced that Carr will scramble or sneak his way into the end zone at some point. A Jacobs TD and a Bengals win is at +130. Not bad odds there if you like Jacobs to get into the end zone.
We’re also on board with more than a 70.5 receiving yards for Chase (-115) and over 262.5 passing yards for Joe Burrow (-110). Carr should also get over 250.5 passing yards too (-110). We’re inclined to fade Mixon’s 76.5-yard rushing total (-115) and Jacobs’ 21.5-yard receiving total (-110).
Saturday night, the Bills are favored by four and the total is 44. The Patriots are +165 on the moneyline while the Bills are -200 to get the win straight up. If you’re feeling frisky about the Patriots and Bengals (we are), a Pats-Bengals parlay is at +275.
An enticing play is a tie at halftime and a Patriots win. That’s at +2000; a Pats halftime lead and win is at +275 and a Bills halftime lead and a Patriots win is at +800.
The Patriots and Bills split their regular season matchups. New England beat Buffalo in Buffalo on a cold and windy night and then the Bills got their revenge in Foxboro a few weeks later.
The wind won’t be roaring Saturday night in Buffalo but it’s going to be absurdly cold. Saturday’s forecast high is set for 11 degrees with a low of 2. That sets up well for another Patriots gameplan to control the clock and run the ball as much as possible. Mac Jones threw just three passes in that road win.
The temperature is reflected in the yardage props for both Jones and Josh Allen. Jones’ total is at 205.5 while Allen’s yardage total is at 243.5. Allen has gone over that number 11 times in 2021, though his last two games — two cold home wins — went under. Allen was miserable in a 29-15 win over the Falcons two weeks ago, completing less than half of his passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns.
Allen may have to cary the Bills on the ground again. He’s rushed for over 60 yards in each of the last three games and four of the last five. His rushing total is at 45.5, nearly 20 yards fewer than Devin Singletary’s. We’ll take the over for Allen there.
Stefon Diggs is the only player with a receiving prop totaling more than 46.5 yards. Diggs is at 71.5 yards for the game while the Patriots’ Jakobi Meyers is a distant second at 46.5. Dawson Knox at over 33.5 is an enticing over, as is Cole Beasley at 36.5.
The Patriots’ Damien Harris is the most likely player to score a TD at +120. He’s at +800 to score the first or last TD of the game. The most likely Bills player to score is Singletary; he’s at +140 for an anytime TD, just ahead of Diggs at +155.
Warriors head to Chicago
The first ESPN game on Friday night could be a good one. Maybe. The Warriors head to Chicago to play the Bulls in a matchup of teams near the top of their conferences. The Bulls are favored by 3.5 points.
The Warriors are on the second leg of a back-to-back however, and Klay Thompson probably won’t be featured after playing on Thursday night in a blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. He played 21 minutes and had 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
The Warriors are also still without Draymond Green because of calf tightness. Steph Curry played 29 minutes against Milwaukee and was just 4-of-11 shooting for 12 points.
We’ll see how much the Warriors push it with a game against Minnesota on Sunday to close out a four-game road trip. The Minnesota game is a little more meaningful in a conference tiebreaker scenario and the Warriors are also heading home for a seven-game homestead over the next two weeks after that Timberwolves game. We’re all on the Bulls to get the win and cover on Friday night given the Warriors’ circumstances.
Kevin Na favored in Hawaii
Kevin Na shot a 9-under 61 in the first round of the Sony Open on Thursday. He’s now at +400 to win the tournament for a second consecutive year after taking a one-shot lead over Russell Henley and Jim Furyk in Round 1.
Furyk, 51, got to 8-under thanks to an ace on No. 17. Furyk’s odds to win the tournament are +2500. Not a bad bet if you think he can string together four good rounds. The Waialae Country Club is a short and narrow track that doesn’t penalize shorter hitters nearly as much as other courses as long as you’re getting the ball in the fairway.
Who cashed tickets on Thursday?
Bucks bettors were happy with that win over the Warriors. The Thunder also got an upset road win over the Nets on Thursday night. OKC won 130-109 as Brooklyn played without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. James Harden played 36 minutes and scored 26 points on 7-of-22 shooting.