NFL Point Spread Picks - AFC Wild Card


When these two teams met in November, the final score was 32-13 but it was a 3 point game in the 4th quarter with 5 minutes left. At the end, Chase caught on in the endzone, Carr threw and interception, and Mixon scored to make it a 19 point game from a 3 point one.

Cincinnati benefited from a crappy division and one of the softest schedule by any team. Even with an easy schedule, they had nine one-score games. The are ranked right in the middle overall average team in DVOA both on offense and defensive side. On the defense, their weakness is in the pass as they rank 24th at 11 points below average.

Coincidentally the Raiders also had 9 one score games including the last 4 games of the season which they won. Their offense is ranked similar to the Bengals, but I would argue with Waller healthy they could be ranked slightly better. Derek Carr started the season on a tear but quickly regressed to his mean. The Raiders defensive corp is stronger against the run which will force more times for Borrow to throw. With the snowy weather, Cinci might be thinking of leaning on the run more and play conservatively which will not be the right strategy.

Two average teams that don't have any significant differences in matchups are hard to read and seem like a close game. Looking at the trends, this year home teams favorite by less than a TD are just 33-59 (35.9%) against the spread (ATS).

I'm not excited much about this game as it will come down to the last play. But in these situations of even teams, the price should be 3 or 3.5 for the home team and given it's 5.5, I'm taking the underdog. This is contrary to what my machine learning models say which is Cinci by 7. But the situational confidence is so low it's worth to look twice, handicap and adjust.

THE PICK: Raiders +5.5

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