GENERAL BETTING CONCEPTS FOR WILD CARD WEEKEND
Wild Card weekend includes six playoff games. Two games are played this coming Saturday. Three more will kick off on Sunday. And, there's a Monday night game, as well.
All six playoff games in the opening round will feature re-matches from the regular season. That's the first time this happened since 2009.
Until last season's playoffs, underdogs had been on a great run in Wild Card games. First-round playoff pups were 15-3 ATS over the previous 18 games, up until January 2022. Then, the favorites collared the dogs and went 5-1 ATS. That's still a very persuasive 16-8 run for underdogs in the last four seasons.
Last season in this round, all six home teams were favorites. However, this year both Jacksonville (+1) and Tampa Bay (+2.5) opened as home underdogs to the Chargers and Cowboys, respectively.
Since 2017, the UNDER has gone 30-14 in NFL playoff action. That's an impossible data point to ignore.
SAT: 4:30 ET / 1:30 PT
SEATTLE at SAN FRANCISCO (-9.5)
This is the third meeting between these two NFC West rivals this season. San Francisco won the first two games by a combined score of 49-20, and neither games were that close. The real star for the 49ers was their #1-ranked defense, which shut down Seattle in both games. Way back in Week 2, the 49ers beat the Seahawks 27-7. San Francisco won again in Week 15 by a 21-13 score.
One angle that might be working in Seattle's favor is that rookie NFL quarterbacks tend to struggle in playoff games, going 9-18 ATS since 1983. Rookie Brock Purdy will start this week for San Francisco.
However, Seattle is a borderline double-digit underdog (some sportsbooks have SFO -10, but Spreads.ca still offers -9.5). The Seahawks are just 2-8 ATS as double-digit underdogs dating back to 2010 under Pete Carroll. There's also major concern about Seattle's recent form. After starting the season as one of the NFL's biggest surprises at 7-4, the Seahawks are just 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games (and 7-10 ATS overall this season)
San Francisco is the NFL's hottest team and has actually improved with a third-string rookie quarterback. No one foresaw this happening, not even 49ers fans. The Niners have won 10 straight games SU and have gone 8-2 ATS in those games (11-6 ATS overall this season). San Francisco Dating back to last season, the 49ers are 16-6 ATS in their last 22 games. And, San Francisco isn't just on a roll this season. The 49ers are 12-1 SU and 11-2 ATS in their last 13 home games. The 49ers are also 18-4-1 ATS in their previous 23 games played in January.
One data point, which may/may not be relevant: Even though San Francisco swept the regular season divisional series, the Seahawks previously dominated the 49ers in this intense rivalry, going 15-4 SU in their last 19 games against San Francisco.
As for betting the total, the UNDER is 8-1 in the previous nine San Francisco playoff games.
We like the UNDER 43. We posted earlier about the strong UNDER trends on playoff games, including recent SFO playoff games. Yet we also have an average total here that doesn't account for the strength of the 49ers' defense, which is the best in the league. This unit held SEA to 20 points in two games. So, if the OVER cashes the points likely have to come from SFO's offense.
Credit rookie QB Purdy for a stellar performance, 5-0 as a starter, and multiple touchdown passes in each game. But that streak might stop here. Given that rookies often fare poorly in their first playoff starts, coach Kyle Shanahan will probably draw up a run-heavy gameplan, taking advantage of duel-threat RB Christian McCaffrey. SEA's run defense ranks #30, so SFO should run the ball more than normal, and let the defense suffocate the Seahawks. The 49ers run the ball on 48 percent of snaps, which is the seventh-highest rate in the league -- that number will be higher this week, which should keep the clock moving.
Even though SEA fields a bad defense, 4 of their last 5 games have fallen UNDER the total.
SEA-SFO – UNDER 43 (Game Total)
UPDATE------Another reason to like the under for SEA-SFO is the weather forecast: "Rain. High near 58. South southeast wind around 11 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 29 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three-quarters of an inch possible."