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NFL Wild Card 2018: Final predictions and betting odds

By Luis Tirado Jr.
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Heading into the NFL Wild Card 2018 weekend, here are final predictions and betting odds for every game played on Saturday and Sunday.

The NFL Wild Card 2018 weekend is finally here as eight teams will be playing for a shot to advance to the Divisional Round. Two games will be played on Saturday with the final two on Sunday with a lot at stake for each respective team.

On Saturday, Jan. 6, 2017, the Tennessee Titans will go up against the Kansas City Chiefs for the first game of the day at 4:35 p.m. Eastern. The second game is at 8:15 p.m. Eastern between the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams. Then on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2017, the Buffalo Bills will go up against the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1:05 p.m. Eastern with the final game of the weekend at 4:40 p.m. Eastern between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.

Who knows who will ultimately win each game but here you’ll find my final predictions for every Wild Card game including the latest betting odds from my friends over at Sports Book Review.

Without further ado, let’s get right to it!

Next: Titans vs. Chiefs

Titans vs. Chiefs

When it comes to the Titans vs. Chiefs game, this one could really go either way but the deciding factor will be which team outshines the other in the ground game. The Titans will be without running back DeMarco Murray but will more than likely give a heavy dosage of reps to Derrick Henry who should be able to keep those chains moving. On the other side, the Chiefs have a superstar in running back Kareem Hunt who will undoubtedly be an x-factor on offense but one area of concern will most likely cause the Chiefs to end their postseason early.

The Chiefs have one of the worst run defenses in the league and if quarterback Marcus Mariota can manage this game well from under center and have the Titans offense establish the run early, they’ll leave this game victorious. Even Sports Book Review has the Titans as +7 favorites over the Chiefs most likely due to their lack of being able to stop the run.

Final Prediction: Titans 24, Chiefs 10

Next: Falcons vs. Rams

Falcons vs. Rams

I fully expect the Falcons vs. Rams Wild Card game to be a shootout between quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Jared Goff. The Falcons don’t resemble the powerhouse they once were just a year ago which the Rams will fully take advantage of. In the grand scheme of things, the Falcons are as inconsistent as they come and have struggled all season long. They’re still haunted by their Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots and nerves will be at an all-time high to ensure a repeat performance doesn’t happen this time around.

Compared to the Rams, I actually have them being an early Super Bowl favorite. They play close to flawless football in every aspect of the game and are led by a young franchise quarterback that totaled 3,804 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. This is the Rams moment to shine as I expect this game to be a close one up until the 4th quarter when Goff, Todd Gurley, and Cooper Kupp will come through in the clutch. Sports Book Review has the Falcons as +4½ favorites over the Rams but I just don’t see it happening. The Rams are a team on a mission to earn a championship after all their hard work from their final 11-4 record during the regular season.

Final Prediction: Rams 38, Falcons 28

Next: Bills vs. Jaguars

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 31: Quarterback Blake Bortles #5 hands the ball to Running Back Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 31: Quarterback Blake Bortles #5 hands the ball to Running Back Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Bills vs. Jaguars

Now, I might be a little biased here since I’m a diehard Jets fan but looking at it from purely a football perspective, the odds are against the Bills in their Wild Card game against the Jaguars. They’ll more than likely be without their star running back LeSean McCoy due to a severe ankle injury and the truth of the matter is, he’s a huge part of their offense. The Jaguars have one of the best running backs this season in Leonard Fournette who’s healthy and ready to make even more noise in his rookie year.

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I’m going out on a limb here and predicting that quarterback Blake Bortles will have a very good game and put up some big numbers. He’s been inconsistent this past season but in the NFL Playoffs, and especially with everything on the line, something tells me Bortles will step up and rise to the occasion.

Sports Book Review has the Bills actually as +7 favorites over the Jaguars but I just don’t see it happening especially since it’s a road game for the other team from New York. Sorry Bills Mafia, your postseason hopes will end on Sunday.

Final Prediction: Jaguars 31, Bills 16

Next: Panthers vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints and Mark Ingram #22 of the New Orleans Saints talk during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 24: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints and Mark Ingram #22 of the New Orleans Saints talk during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Panthers vs. Saints

Make no mistake about it, the Saints are indeed a dangerous team in the NFL Playoffs. Their offense is lethal and well, balanced thanks to two solid running backs in Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara. The Panthers, on the other hand, kind of fall in the same category as the Falcons. They’re another team that was once a powerhouse but simply don’t have that same efficiency to truly be a top contender. Even the Saints were able to take care of them not once but twice during the regular season to sweep them in their division rivalry games.

Must Read: NFL Wild Card 2018: Preview, TV and Live Streams

Quarterback Drew Brees knows he can’t play forever as he’s more than likely playing the final few years of his future Pro Football Hall of Fame career. Expect to see Brees play more lights out football and quickly take care of business as the Panthers won’t be able to keep up with all their offensive weapons, their stout defense, and a team looking for one more shot at glory before Brees eventually hangs it up. Sports Book Review actually has the Panthers as +5½ favorites over the Saints but I’m going against the spread.

Final Prediction: Saints 41, Panthers 23

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