This Week’s Safest NFL Bets – Wild Card Round, 2021
The first round of the 2021 NFL playoffs arrives this weekend, and it’s automatically unlike what any NFL fans and bettors have ever seen.
Adding an additional team per conference will do that all on its own (14 teams total), while the league also invites a below .500 division winner and a second-team that isn’t above .500.
This also could be a pretty explosive period of postseason play, as five teams in the 2021 NFL playoffs averaged over 30 points per game during the regular season. Nine put up at least 28 points per game.
The 2021 Wild Card round gets the ball rolling, and the matchups look pretty enticing on paper. The real question, of course, is what the best path to profit will be for sports bettors.
If you’re looking to bet on the first round of the 2021 NFL playoffs, join me as I break down my safest bets to target during Wild Card weekend.
Indianapolis Colts (+7) -117
This feels like a really thick spread for a pretty good Colts team that went 11-5. Indy has a legit running game built around Jonathan Taylor, who went completely nuts in the team’s must-win week 17 season finale.
SHEESH.— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 4, 2021
Jonathan Taylor (age 21) is the youngest player all-time to rush for 250+ yards pic.twitter.com/Srkk5KEazv
Taylor is the driving force for anyone betting on the Colts, but he will work simultaneously with a solid Colts defense to try to slow down an explosive Bills offense.
The matchup is workable for Taylor and Indy’s ground game, as the Bills have been an average defense against the run.
If Indy can run – and their defense can keep Josh Allen in check – they’re a very real threat to stage the upset. Even if they can’t, though, they have the tools to make this a game. Ultimately, seven points just feel like a lot in such a tense setting.
Buccaneers vs. Washington Under 46.5 (-110)
I know the Buccaneers have been lighting the world on fire lately, but context is a heck of a thing.
Tom Brady just got done putting up the most touchdowns ever for a quarterback over 40, and that shouldn’t be ignored.
However, he also has to go on the road and take on a pretty nasty Washington defense. He may also have to do so without top target, Mike Evans.
I can confirm @JayGlazer’s report that Mike Evans’ MRI revealed no structural damage to his knee. I’m told that’s it’s too soon to tell whether he plays this week. They will wait and see as the week goes on. But they are hopeful.— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) January 4, 2021
Whether Evans is suiting up or not, Tampa Bay’s inconsistent pass protection could be a key element to this game – especially going up against a strong Washington pass rush.
Oh, and Washington ended the year ranked tops against the pass.
Oh, the flip side, the Football Team is not an offense bettors like to trust in. The Over is just 5-11 in their games in 2020, and they put up the 25th most points per game on the year.
Washington won’t find it easy to run against the Bucs (#1 against the run), but their best path to success here is to play keep away and let a fresh defense tee off on Brady.
I doubt the Bucs lose, but don’t be shocked if this game ends up being pretty competitive – and really low-scoring.
Chicago Bears (+9.5) -110
The Bears are back in the playoffs despite their best efforts to miss out on postseason play. Chicago was red hot going into their week 17 finale against the Packers, but they fizzled in a seemingly must-win situation.
Luckily for them, they got major help with Arizona losing, and they snuck into the 2021 NFL playoffs at 8-8.
Unluckily, however, their reward is a road trip to take on the New Orleans Saints.
True, that could result in a beatdown, but let’s consider a few things here.
- Drew Brees has struggled in the playoffs
- Chicago has a solid defense
- The Saints could be down key players
- The Bears have nothing to lose
All of these things are true, plus it’s worth looking back to remind ourselves that Chicago played the Saints very well earlier this year.
Are the Bears really about to go into New Orleans and upset the Saints? I doubt it, but Minnesota did it last year, and the Saints have had a lot of bad luck in the playoffs over the last several seasons.
Chicago doesn’t need to pull off a miracle. They just need to keep this thing within 10 points.
Browns vs. Steelers Under 47 (-110)
One more bet I think qualifies as one of the safest NFL Wild Card bets this weekend is the Browns vs. Steelers game going Under.
The reality is that both defenses are pretty good and can create chaos upfront. That’s probably worse for the Steelers, who can’t run the ball worth a lick, and will have to contend with a motivated Myles Garrett.
Trusting the Browns in any capacity isn’t easy, but they are going to come to play. They’re a sound team with a nice foundation, and they’re playing their first playoff game since 2002.
Pittsburgh’s once stout run defense is pretty average now, thanks to injuries, and running the ball does two things. It keeps the ball out of Ben Roethlisberger’s hands, and it prevents Pittsburgh’s pass rush from turning Baker Mayfield into a pumpkin.
There is offensive potential here, but the 24-22 battle these two teams provided in week 17 is a pretty good blueprint for how this rematch should go. I think the Browns run a ton, and they slow things down and make this a pretty low-scoring affair.
There are more 2021 NFL Wild Card bets to consider, but these bets above are my favorite NFL Playoff locks for the weekend.
Obviously, nothing in the world of NFL betting is guaranteed, so along with my favorite plays, I always encourage you to brush up on the best NFL playoff betting strategies.
These picks stand out to me, but you can go against them or go with other bets if you so choose. You can also hit up the NFL betting picks linked at the top of this page.
Ready to bet right now? Head over to the safest sports betting websites to get in on the 2021 Wild Card action.