Wild Card weekend presents some problems as there are some heavy favorites against some teams that backed themselves into the postseason. Washington became just the third team to qualify for the playoffs with a sub-.500 record and Chicago lost in Week 17 but ended up the No. 7 seed in the NFC.
Keep in my mind that in each of the past two wild card rounds in the NFL, three lower-seeded teams won games. Last year, Minnesota, Seattle, and Tennessee all won their wild card games as the lower seed. The Vikings and Titans were both underdogs.
Here’s a look at your best moneyline underdogs for wild card weekend.
It’s not often that you are a home underdog in the playoffs, but that is exactly where Tennessee is after winning the AFC South last week. Baltimore might be the hottest team in the NFL right now. The Ravens rushed for 404 yards last week in a blowout of Cincinnati, Baltimore’s fifth win in its last six games.
Both Baltimore and Tennessee can run the football. The Titans feature NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry who became the eighth player in league history to eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season. The Titans, with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, have the better offense. Baltimore has the better defense.
Tennessee did it last year as an underdog beating the Ravens in the Divisional Round of the 2019 playoffs. It will take a huge effort as the Titans will likely have to score on almost every possession, but playing at home may give them a slight advantage. Tennessee’s defense has only 14 sacks this season. If they can put any pressure on Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, they can pull the upset.
It will be another Herculean effort in Pittsburgh if Cleveland is going to win a playoff game for the first time in over two decades. The Browns beat the Steelers last week, but a handful of Pittsburgh starters were held out, including QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Still, the Browns managed to run the ball effectively. RB Nick Chubb ran for 108 yards and a touchdown. QB Baker Mayfield was sacked four times and held to fewer than 200 yards passing. Pittsburgh leads the NFL in QB pressure rate and Mayfield is one of the worst against pressure. He will have to play a near perfect game in order for the Browns to advance.
The one thing the Browns will have coming into Pittsburgh is momentum. Cleveland has not won a game in the Steel City since 2003. Their 2020 season has been a breakout year for the Browns and they will put it all on the table. Even with Roethlisberger and the other Steeler starters, Cleveland has the talent to pull of this upset.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.