WAGERING ON WILD CARD WEEKEND
The teams, dates, times and venues are set for one of the most anticipated weekends on the NFL schedule when everything is on the line in one game, winner take all, loser go home. They call it the ‘Wild Card Weekend’.
The two teams with the best overall records, based on win percentages, get to rest up on Wild Card Weekend. They call it a ‘first round bye’, which means that the 4 teams with the best records will be home watching Wild Card Weekend on TV and evaluating their future competition. Obviously first round bye is a coveted position to be in, not only for the rest, but for the chance to observe the teams that you will be facing when you do take the field on the following weekend.
In the AFC, or the American Football Conference, the two top teams at the end of regular season play were the Baltimore Ravens with a 14-2 record and the Kansas City Chiefs at 12-4. They are the number one and number two seeds respectively in the playoffs.
The New England Patriots, falling out of their usual placement as a first round bye after losing inexplicably to the Miami Dolphins in the last game of the regular season, are the number 3 seed and must face a tough Tennessee Titans team that just managed to sneak into the playoffs as the 6th seed in the AFC.
The Titans will go to Foxborough, Mass. to face Tom Brady and his 3rd seed Patriots for the evening game on Saturday as 5.5 underdogs with the over & under being set at 43.5. The winners of this game will have to travel to Baltimore next and take on the NFL leading Ravens in the divisional playoffs.
The early game on Saturday will take place between the number 4 seeded Houston Texans who will host the number 5 seed Buffalo Bills down in Houston as 3 point favorites with the over & under being set at 41.5. The winners will take on a well rested Kansas City Chiefs team on Sunday January 12th at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Over in the NFC, or National Football Conference, the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints all ended up with the same overall record of 13 wins and 3 losses. The seeding is then determined by head-to-head matchups between the teams concerned.
As the 49ers defeated the Saints in the waning weeks of the regular season, San Francisco became the number one seed and the Saints fell to the number three seed and missed the first round bye they had previously anticipated.
Green Bay is the number 2 seed in the NFC and will enjoy the first round bye this year while the Saints will host the number 6 seed Minnesota Vikings, with whom the Saints already have a colorful history, in the early game on Sunday Jan. 5 in New Orleans as 7.5 point favorites, the largest spread being offered for Wild Card Weekend. The over & under in that one is 47.5 points.
Whoever comes out on top between the Saints and the Vikings will next travel all the way out to San Francisco to take on the 49ers coming off their first round bye week. At least the weather should not be too much of a factor in sunny Santa Clara.
The last contest of Wild Card Weekend will take place in Philadelphia as the Eagles, who finished as the number 4 seed, will welcome in the number 5 seeded Seattle Seahawks who are favored in the game by 1.5 points. The over & under for the Seahawks and Eagles game is at an even 46 points.
The lucky winners of the Seattle-Philadelphia game will then get to travel up to the frozen tundra in the wilds of Wisconsin and take on the number 2 seed Green Bay Packers, probably in the cold and snow, in the conference playoffs.
In an interesting side note, all of the Wild Card Weekend games and Conference playoff games, with the exception of Houston and New Orleans, will be played in open, outdoor stadiums in the winter time. So, bundle up, make your bets and hang on for a couple of weeks of prime NFL action.