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An underdog moneyline winner cashing in overtime on a late Sunday night in Vegas was the perfect ending to the NFL's regular season. Underdogs that covered the spread ended the year 98-40 on the moneyline with a 71% win rate. We are not about to abandon the dogs that have been so good to us all season simply because the regular season has ended.
The wild-card round has recently provided some very profitable upsets if you were on the right side. Last year it was the Browns and Rams. The previous season, three out of the four games in the wild-card round produced underdog moneyline winners (Vikings, Titans, and Seahawks). This year's super wild-card weekend gives us betting action through Monday night, but it's Saturday's first game that should provide us with the biggest payout.
Las Vegas (+200) at Cincinnati
There is always that one team that nobody wants to play. If you watched Joe Burrow outscore the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago, you're probably thinking I am talking about the Bengals. As dangerous as this Bengals offense has been, the Raiders have embraced the role of a team that refuses to go away.
Since traveling to Pittsburgh in Week 2 and winning outright as 5.5-point underdogs, the Raiders have thrived in the road underdog role. They were 7-point dogs when they won in Dallas and were getting 8.5 points when they stunned the Colts in Indianapolis. Then as an encore in the season finale, they ruthlessly took out one of the league's best young quarterbacks while a national audience begged for a tie to ensure his survival. The Silver and Black showed no mercy. Now they face off against Joe Burrow.
Maxx Crosby and his men upfront will be out to rough up Cincinnati's future MVP. Their success will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. The Raiders' pass rush ranks third in QB knockdown percentage and gives its secondary the benefit of dropping more defenders in coverage. Anchored by the fifth-best rush defense in success rate allowed since Week 9, the Raiders can make the Bengals one-dimensional. Burrow struggled with interceptions early in the season when the play-calling lacked balance. I can see coach Zac Taylor panicking in his playoff debut and becoming too reliant on the arm of his franchise quarterback. A pass-heavy approach will only play into Las Vega's pass rush, allowing Crosby to tee off relentlessly. Bet the Raiders as a road dog on the moneyline. Rinse and repeat.
San Francisco (+135) at Dallas
Admittedly I had visions of Micah Parsons hunting down Jimmy Garoppolo the second I saw this matchup. Then I realized how good Garoppolo has been for the 49ers down the stretch. He is currently tied for fourth in QB success rate with Aaron Rodgers, while San Francisco is tied with Tampa Bay for the most yards per play this season.
The 49ers' pass rush suddenly looks like the unit that carried them to the Super Bowl in the 2019 season. They are finally getting healthy in the secondary and have recorded the second-most sacks in the second half of the year. Dak Prescott has elite weapons at his disposal, but we saw in the Cowboys' loss to Kansas City that pressure can take him off his game.
I'm on for the 49ers in what I expect to be a close game that will be a treat for all fans. This game could come down to adjustments, where the 49ers hold an advantage on the sidelines. Kyle Shanahan will be able to scheme players open against Dan Quinn's defense and take advantage of Dallas' high-risk/high-reward style of play. Expect explosive plays on the ground and through the air for the 49ers. If they can score with Dallas, I will take +135 to the bank.