NFL Picks Wild Card Round (Saturday Games) (2022 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WILD CARD ROUND - SATURDAY GAMES)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Monday January 9th, 2023 at 4 pm Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
We wrapped up the 2022 NFL season with a 48-42-2 record against the spread on sides and totals. As far as proposition bets are concerned, we finished with a positive 59-54 record. A big thank you for following my NFL picks during the whole year my friend!
It’s now time to handicap playoff games! In this post, I will present my picks for the couple of games to be played on Saturday, while the rest will be addressed in another article later this week. The good news is both picks I’m about to reveal to you are considered as “official picks”, which means I liked them enough to place an actual bet on them.
Are you ready? Let’s rock and roll!
PICK #1 (3 STARS): UNDER 43 SEAHAWKS-49ERS
Both quarterbacks will be making their first career playoff start, so I expect them to be conservative. They will focus on NOT making critical mistake during this key wild card game. Both teams also have good running games, so they might lean on the ground game more than usual, which will milk the clock more quickly.
The two meetings between these two squads finished with a total of exactly 34 points this year, which means the under was the winning bet in both situations.
Seattle’s offense was firing on all cylinders at some point during the season, but it has slowed down significantly recently. Indeed, over their past five games, the Seahawks have scored an average of 17.8 points. Their defense also began to be more stingy, which led to all final four regular season games going under the total.
The last 16 times Seattle has faced a team with a winning record, the under has posted an impressive 12-4 record. Moreover, the last eight times Pete Carroll’s team played on grass, the under yielded a 6-2 record.
Now, if you focus on San Francisco, the under presented a 7-2 record when they faced teams with a winning record. Also, each of their past four playoff games have gone under the total.
So, all in all, give me under 43 points to be scored in this NFC West divisional matchup.
PICK #2 (2 STARS): JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +2.5 VS LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
At this time, most sportsbooks are making the Jaguars a 1.5-point underdog, but I decided to buy one point despite the slightly lower associated odds. My own bet ended up being Jacksonville +2.5 points at -120 odds in American format, which equates to 1.83 in decimal format.
A big worry for Chargers fans has to be coaching. Brandon Staley has taken many head-scratching decisions since being hired by the organization in 2021.
Last week, it boggled my mind that he kept his starters on the field all the way until early in the fourth quarter, even though this game was completely meaningless for the team. The Chargers were already guaranteed to get the #5 seed, so why risk injuries?
That’s exactly what happened when stud defensive end Joey Bosa aggravated a groin injury, while wide receiver Mike Williams hurt his back so much that he had to be helped to the team bus after the game. I’m sorry, but this was a very dumb decision, and he also makes weird calls during games regarding timeouts or going for it, or kicking a field goal or punting.
Trevor Lawrence had a difficult game last week in a tight victory over the Titans. However, since Week 9 he has thrown 15 TD passes versus just 2 interceptions, one of the better ratios in the entire league. After starting the season with a 2-6 record, the Jags rebounded by winning 7 of their final 9 matches to squeak into the playoffs.
I also like the fact that Jacksonville gets one extra day of rest after playing last Saturday. Meanwhile, the Chargers will be traveling through three time zones to play this game.
There are still a few factors that make me worry, and that explains why this pick is not rated higher. First, L.A. has beaten the spread the last five times they visited Jacksonville. The Chargers also hold a 5-1 record ATS on the road against teams with a winning record.
Finally, Los Angeles has the revenge factor going its way after suffering an embarrassing 38-10 loss against those same Jags back in Week 3.
Still, I am putting my money on the Jaguars as home underdogs. They ended the season with a +54-point differential while the Chargers finished only +7. In terms of the famous EPA statistic that I trust a lot, Jacksonville had a better offense than the Chargers, and they also had a better defense. Since the Jags are underdogs, my choice is clear: I am betting Jacksonville.
I’m looking forward to talk to you again later this week for my NFL betting tips for the other four wild card games. Thanks for being such a loyal reader, I appreciate you! This is Professor MJ, the nerdy statistician from Quebec City in Canada saying so long!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)