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NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend matchups set with early lines

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with Mike Evans after Evans scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. 

After a wild final regular-season weekend, the NFL Playoffs are set to kick off Saturday with Wild Card Weekend.

Here’s an early look at the matchups, as we have six games over three days, including a Monday Night playoff game:

Saturday, Jan. 15

Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5, 49)

4:30 p.m., NBC

The Raiders found their way into the playoffs with an overtime win against the Chargers on Sunday night, in what looked like a tie waiting to happen. But Daniel Carlson’s 47-yard field goal as time expired in the OT period gave Las Vegas a No. 5 seed and a matchup with the AFC North champion Bengals, who are seeded 4th. Cincinnati sat quarterback Joe Burrow and other starters against Cleveland in the regular-season finale, losing to the Browns, 21-16. Rested, the Bengals are near-touchdown favorites against a Raiders team that has won four in a row, but might have spent all its energy just getting into the playoffs.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (-4.5, 43.5)

8:15 p.m., CBS

This is the rubber match between these two AFC East, who split during the regular season. Division champion Buffalo lost the first matchup against New England as a 3-point favorite, but got a big win in the rematch. Now it’s win or go home. The Bills are the No. 3 seed and are playing with a lot of momentum, winning their last four games, while the Patriots stumbled late and are on the road as a 4.5-point underdog as the lines opened. This one, however, will be physical. Might be an under play, even if the line doesn’t move much.

Sunday, Jan. 16

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.5, 49)

1 p.m., FOX

Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions will host the Eagles in Sunday’s first playoff game. The Bucs, winners of the NFC South, enter as the No. 2 seed and an 8.5-point early favorite. Philadelphia, which slid into the playoffs as a 7th seed, has faced its share of adversity this season, but rebounded from an early season loss to the Bucs by doing enough to make the postseason in a hapless NFC East division. The Eagles did keep it close in their meeting with Tampa Bay on Oct. 14, rallying to score 15 unanswered points to make what looked like to be a blowout a 6-point game, 28-22, and cover the 12-point spread. But the postseason is Brady season.

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 49.5)

4:30 p.m., CBS

Which Dallas team will show up? The NFC East champion Cowboys certainly were the class of their division, but that’s not saying much. If Dak Prescott is on, Dallas will be dangerous, especially with that healthy receiving corps. The 49ers gutted one out in overtime in the regular-season finale to beat the LA Rams and earn the No. 6 seed in the NFC. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked good Sunday, but is still banged up. Will it be enough to overcome a game Prescott and Cowboys offense?

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-12.5, 46.5)

8:15 p.m., NBC

After getting some much-needed help just to make the playoffs, the Steelers come limping into this prime-time Saturday night matchup against the No. 2 Chiefs as the 7th seed. Kansas City easily dispatched Pittsburgh in their meeting the day after Christmas, 36-10, and could be considered the best team in the AFC. The line reflects that.

Monday, Jan. 17

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4, 50.5)

8:15 p.m., ESPN

The Cardinals started the season 7-0, but are 1-4 in their last five games to make the playoffs as the 5th seed from the NFC. The Rams, even though they lost in overtime the 49ers in the regular-season finale, seem to be playing their best football just in time, winning five out of their last six games. These two teams split the regular season, but if you’re looking at which team is playing the better football right now, it’s hard to go against LA.

-- FrontPageBets Staff

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