Sean Pendergast

NFL Playoffs, Wild Card Round: This Weekend's Best Bets

Thankfully, Week 17 is over, and now the postseason is here.
Thankfully, Week 17 is over, and now the postseason is here. Photo by Joel Kramer (via Flickr creative commons)
Off the top, I want to share with all of you my New Year's Resolution for 2018, and it is this — I will not be doing a "Best Bets" post for Week 17 of the NFL season or any of the non-playoff bowl games this year. Yeah, I know that's almost a full year away, I hear ya. But there's a reason why most fantasy leagues don't have a Week 17, and there's a reason why stadiums are half full for bowl games in December — nobody gives a crap!

And trying to bet on stuff where nobody gives a crap is gambling treachery, as you can see from my record last week, painfully outlined below! I won exactly ZERO of my Best Bets last weekend.... ZERO. So now I am having to hurriedly scramble through typing this post so I can begin to research the process of donating a kidney, so I can pay off my bookie.

Screw you, Week 17.... screw you, meaningless bowl games.... screw you, right kidney, I never liked you anyway! Now onto the NFL wild card games....

Bills +8.5 over JAGUARS
The Bills return to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, and the Jaguars are division champs for the first time since that same season, and back in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, so we are guaranteed that one starving fan base is going to make it to the divisional round. Watching Blake Bortles, who's been the symbol of futility for the last three seasons before a decent 2017, operate in the postseason will feel weird, like watching a catfish run around with giraffes on a safari, and he is the key for the Jags. He must protect the football. The key for the Bills is the health of LeSean McCoy, who is nursing an ankle and missed practice time this week. I like the Bills chances of hanging around in this game, as I think Tyrod Taylor can make enough plays to keep the Bills in the game.

CHIEFS -8.5 over Titans
Back when the Titans beat the Texans in the first weekend in December in one of the most lackluster, least imposing NFL wins I've ever seen, by an 8-4 team no less, I said at that time that the Titans were the worst 8-4 team that I've ever seen and that I couldn't wait to bet against them in the postseason, regardless of who or where they were playing. I was really hoping they'd win the division so we could bet against them at home and catch some points, but alas, 8-4 predictably turned into 9-7 for Tennessee. Still, we get our chance to bet against them, and I'm a man of my word. No analysis necessary.... Chiefs roll.

Falcons +6.5 at RAMS
The Falcons are the biggest enigma for me of these eight teams playing this weekend. At times this season, they've looked like the team that romped their way through the NFC and to a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl last season, and at other times, they looked like the team coughing up said lead. I'm taking the Falcons here for three reasons — (1) 6.5 points is a ton of points for a team that can move the football like Atlanta, (2) the Rams home field advantage is spotty, at best, and (3) this is Jared Goff's first game on the big stage, and I think he is ripe to make a mistake or two. I think the Rams win a close game, largely on the strength of Todd Gurley, but I'll take the points.

SAINTS -6.5 over Panthers
A few weeks ago, before the Saints' and Falcons' second meeting of the season, I said on my radio show that the winner of that game, who would become the chalk at that time to win the NFC South, would be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. I didn't care that the NFC South winner was probably going to be the four-seed (Note: Philadelphia with Nick Foles is far less scary as a one-seed.). So the Saints won that game, and I stand by my contention. I love the Saints in this spot with home field advantage, with their ability to pound the football with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, and with their ability to slow down Cam Newton. The Saints have two double digit wins over the Panthers already this season, and that won't change on Sunday afternoon.

SEASON RECORD: 55-51-2 (51.9 percent)

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast