NFL Wildcard Weekend Predictions Against The Spread

As Bob Dylan would say, the times they are a changin.  The 2018 regular season in the NFL is complete and the playoffs are here.  The wild-card round features seven new teams this year at   The only familiar face: the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. It all starts Saturday with Colts-Texans at 4:35 p.m. ET followed by Seahawks-Cowboys at 8:15 p.m. On Sunday, Chargers-Ravens kicks off at 1:05 p.m., and Eagles-Bears wraps things up at 4:40 p.m. ET.  I’m hoping to keep my hot streak alive that started last weekend.  So let’s dig into the Wildcard Weekend predictions against the spread.

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Indianapolis Colts +2 at Houston Texans O/U 48.5

Three months ago, both these teams were headed in the wrong direction at 1-3. Since then they’ve combined to go 19-5. Both teams feature excellent defenses but Indianapolis’ offense is built on balance and protecting Andrew Luck, while Houston is more of a “wing-it” approach to moving the ball down the field.

Andrew Luck, who was sacked 41 times in 2016 (he missed 2017 with an injury), has gone down just 18 times this season. He was sacked twice in the last three regular-season games and enjoyed a five-game stretch in Weeks 6-11 where he wasn’t sacked at all.

Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, has endured an alarming 62 sacks this season.  He went down 16 times in the last three games and in the two previous matchups with the Colts, Watson was sacked 12 times.  Look out Deshaun.  They’re coming again.    The Colts are going to win this game.  Take them on the moneyline and with the small amount of points.  If a teaser makes you feel better, go for it, you will be getting more than a touchdown with the six points from WANNA.

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Seattle Seahawks +2.5 at Dallas Cowboys O/U 43.0

The running game is the new black in the NFL.  That crazy, high scoring game between the Chiefs and the Rams earlier this season was an illusion to what’s really going on this season.   The best teams are now pounding the ball on the ground.  Both the Seahawks and Cowboys have made their livings doing so, however in slightly different ways.

Ezekiel Elliott is the Dallas workhorse.  He has 307 carries for 1,434 yards and six touchdowns.   On the other side Seattle relies on a three-headed monster of Chris Carson (1,151 yards, 9 TDs), Mike Davis (514 yards, 4 TDs) and rookie first-rounder Rashaad Penny(419 yards, 2 TDs).

But for all their similarities, there are big differences, too. Seattle’s offense ranks ninth overall while the Cowboys are a distant 24th (26th in passing, 19th in rushing).

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys have been lights-out this season.  It starts with Demarcus Lawrence up front (10.5 sacks), Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch at linebacker.   And if Dallas is going to slow down Seattle’s methodical, steady-as-she-goes, clock-consuming offense, it will be because its defense consistently gets off the field.

My feeling is that Jason Garrett is finally going to be less conservative this time around.  He’s going to try and prove everyone wrong about him in the post-season.   There’s just one small problem, his lack of experience.  And the lack of experience from his QB Dak Prescott as well.  Compare that to Russell Wilson / Pete Carroll combo.  It’s proven many times over.  The Seahawks are not a great road time but Seattle wins this game.  Take them with the small number, which will likely go to Pick-em by game time at  And we like the Teasers with Seattle here as well.  Seattle has not lost a game by more that six points all season long.

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Los Angeles Chargers +3 at Baltimore (O/U 41.5)

The Ravens were surgical in their win against the Chargers a month ago.  Sure, if Antonio Gates doesn’t fumble late in the game the outcome would have been different.   The good news is that Philip Rivers can be a one-man surgeon himself. We’ve seen it countless times over his 15 NFL season career. He looks like a sitting duck, slow and plodding, but it’s all an illusion.  He throws accurate passes and delivers the ball quicker than just about any other quarterback.

And the Charger defense is real.   Now, everyone knows what’s coming with the Ravens and the RPO and yet nobody has been able to stop it.    Will this be the week that it eventually gets shut down?

There’s an argument that Jackson will be at a disadvantage because the Chargers have already seen him this season.   I believe in this argument.  I also believe that Lamar Jackson is not ready to win a playoff game when it counts in the 4th quarter.  He’s a rookie.  If the Chargers force him to beat them with his arm the Ravens are in trouble and everyone knows it.  They almost lost to the Browns on Sunday.  And Rivers won’t throw a pick on the first play of the game.  And Antonio Gates, if given the chance to get a big catch to seal a win will do so this time around.  I love the fact that public money has moved this line to 3.  Take the Chargers.  With the points and the moneyline and the teaser.  
Philadelphia Eagles +5.5 at Chicago Bears O/U 41

Nick Foles has got some kind of “it” factor again, doesn’t he?  Once again he’s filling in for an injured Carson Wentz, and he’s again playing like a pro bowl QB. But for all his success in big games, he’s never faced a defense like this 2018 Bears’ team.

So the question is, can Nick Foles, who has back-to-back games with a passer rating of 102.1 or better, continue this torrid pace in the playoffs.  Foles was incredible against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game a year ago and Minnesota had the league’s No. 2 defense. All Foles did was go 26 of 33 for 352 yards with 3 touchdowns and no turnovers.

But for as good as that Vikings’ defense was, they’re not this year’s Bears.  They consistently dominate anyone they play. It starts with Khalil Mack, obviously, and perhaps the biggest concern is safety Eddie Jackson, who has six picks this year but it battling an sore ankle.  But he’ll play.

On the other side of the ball, first-year coach Matt Nagy’s biggest task will be keeping quarterback Mitchell Trubisky comfortable against this aggressive Philly pass rush.   We know the moment isn’t too big for Foles, but this is Trubisky’s first rodeo. He’ll need to complete easy throws to Tarik Cohen early to get into a rhythm and then lean more on Jordan Howard as the game moves on.  That’s been their playbook all year and it works.   But they’ll need their wide receivers: Allen RobinsonTaylor Gabriel and Anthony MIller are listed as questionable so watch the injury report.
The Bears’ 20th-ranked offense can’t afford to be without these three.    I like the Bears in this game.  I would be much more comfortable laying 3 or 3.5 points so the Kincaid teaser might be a better bet for me coupled with one of my earlier picks above.  Either way, I think Chicago wins this game by a touchdown or more.  
That concludes my NFL Wildcard Weekend picks against the spread.  Good luck with your selections this week, and I hope to see you in the NFL Playoffs Cash League at
Jack Kincaid is a senior NFL Analyst at

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