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Odds Analysis & Picks For Sunday's NFL Wild-Card Games

Weather could play a major factor for Sunday's wild-card matchups in the NFL. It's expected to be 20 degrees Fahrenheit and windy in Pittsburgh and a ghastly 10 degrees in Green Bay. 

If you missed my article on betting bad-weather NFL games from December, you can check it out here. You can also check out my odds breakdown and picks for the Saturday wild-card games here.  

Here's my take on Sunday's action: 

Dolphins at Steelers -10, 45.5

My take on the odds: 

Huge line shift here after the Steelers opened as 7.5-point favorites. The forecast is cold (20 F) with winds of 11 mph, which isn’t exactly South Florida weather. The total opened at 47.5 and it has been dropping through the week as bettors catch on. Miami announced mid-week that Matt Moore will almost certainly start rather than the injured Ryan Tannehill, which had zero impact on the line. 

Betting keys to the game: 

Through a pile of injuries to the O-line and elsewhere this season, the Dolphins somehow managed to scrape together 10 wins. The winning ends this Sunday and I agree with the line move that the Steelers opened way too low as 7.5-point favorites. 

The biggest mismatch for me is at the line of scrimmage where the Steelers have one of the best O-lines in the league going up against a defensive front that has been a mess. The Dolphins rank third-worst in the NFL against the run this season (140.4 yds against/gm) and own a D-line that has talent but just can’t seem to jell. 

That has to be terrifying as the Dolphins get set to face Le’Veon Bell, who rushed for 748 yards in December and was named AFC offensive player of the month. The Steelers are 9-0 when they rush for more yards than their opponent this season and 2-5 when they don’t and I like their chances of winning that battle on Sunday. 

The Miami defensive line is a huge reason the Dolphins are one of the best OVER bets in the NFL this season. The OVER went 12-4 in Dolphins games this year and 9-1 in their last 10 thanks to the team giving up an average of 24.6 points in those games. That’s going to be a problem against a Pittsburgh offense that has scored at least 24 points in each of its last eight games. 

My Pick: 

OVER and Pittsburgh. 

Giants at Packers -4.5, 44.5

My take on the odds: 

Over the years several oddsmakers have told me they can always depend on Packers money more so than any other NFL team. So it’s a little bit of an eyebrow raiser they opened at -5.5 and dropped to -4.5, especially considering they’re on a six-game winning streak.

If anyone is going to challenge the Packers, though, it’s New York, one of the most popular sports betting markets in the world and they are coming in hot on the Giants to cover this spread. Remember that the only losing Super Bowl for sportsbooks in Nevada on recent record was the 2008 Super Bowl when the Giants upset the Patriots and books took a negative-2.8 percent loss on the action. 

The line moves for this game could have as much to do with geography as handicapping. It’s also going to be cold as hell – 10 degrees Fahrenheit – and bettors tend to like the points in the cold. 

Betting keys to the game: 

You can’t underestimate the cold when temperatures get this frosty. If you don’t live in a cold place, it’s truly hard to explain how brutal 10 F feels – in particular when it’s not a dry climate, like Green Bay, just off the shores of Lake Michigan.  

That said, Green Bay has the best straight-up record when it’s 32 F or colder over the past three seasons, according to our records, at 8-1 (and 5-4 against the spread). The Giants are 0-1 SU and ATS in these conditions so they’re definitely not as accustomed to frigid temps. 

The UNDER also cashed at 61 percent over the last three years when it’s 32F or colder (16-25) so I think we can expect to see more UNDER money before kickoff. 

Other than the elements, the Packers enter this game on a 6-0 (5-1 ATS) winning tear and they’ve piled up at least 30 points in each of their last four games. Amazingly, Green Bay is 10-1 this season when allowing fewer than 30 points, which isn’t asking much of the defense. The Giants, meanwhile, haven’t scored more than 28 points this season or more than 19 points in any of their last five games. 

One concern for Packers bettors is that this defense has been stopping the run at the expense of giving up the pass. They’ve held opponents to 88 yards rushing per game over their last three but have surrendered a staggering 346.3 yards passing during that span. 

The Giants also tend to save their best for the playoffs and are 7-2 against the spread in their last nine wild-card games. 

My pick: 

Packers -4.5. The weather works in Green Bay’s favor and this offense has been unstoppable lately. 

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