NFL Best Bets for Wildcard Weekend: Back 2 Road Teams To Cover!

NFL Best Bets for Wildcard Weekend Back 2 Road Teams To Cover!

We’re into the playoffs as the NFL season flips into 2024. We have a six game slate across the long weekend with some interesting line movement throughout the week and some weather spots that we’ll look to highlight. I’ll break down some bets below but first let’s take a look at the weather. 

Houston/Dallas/Detroit are all dome stadiums so no weather concerns here.


This one got a lot of attention earlier in the week in what will be a very windy game on Sunday afternoon. We’re expecting temperatures below freezing and snowfall before the game (unlikely to fall during action).

We’ll see winds in the mid-twenties as with gusts reaching 35mph. The lookahead on this game was 40.5 and has come crashing down to 34.5 or 35. The weather seems to be priced in at this point in a game that will be difficult to pass and kick.


Saturday night in Kansas City is not going to be a fun time for anyone traveling from Miami. The surface temperature will be 0 degrees with a consistent wind of around 15mph and gusts in the upper twenties.

Some weather reports have shown a “feels like” temperature of 20 or 30 degrees below zero. The total has dropped a couple points from 44 to 43 or 43.5. 

Browns at Texans

Joe Flacco and the Cleveland Browns head to Houston to take on the Texans after their Week 18 victory and the Jaguars’ disappointing loss gave them the AFC South crown. This is a coach-of-the-year matchup between the two favorites in Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski and Houston’s DeMeco Ryans.

This will be rookie standout CJ Stroud’s first playoff start, which is a concern, going up against a former Super Bowl winner in Joe Flacco. Historically, first-time starts for quarterbacks in the playoffs have produced lower QBRs and poor ATS records. That being said, we just watched Joe Burrow march to the Super Bowl in his first playoff appearance a few seasons ago. 

Another storyline this season has been the difference between the Browns’ defense at home and on the road. Yes, I do believe that scheduling has something to do with these results, but looking back at the full season, it’s hard to disprove that the Browns defense performed significantly better at home.

Despite having a better record than the Texans, the Browns now find themselves on the road in what should be a good home crowd in Houston. That being said, I don’t think that the Texans’ offense has faced a test quite like the Browns in 2023.

The Texans did pick up early season wins against the Saints and Steelers, but on their road to the playoffs, they’ve yet to face an elite pass rush like the Browns will present. They’ll obviously be without WR Tank Dell and they’ve still yet to find any consistency in the ground game.

Stroud will be asked to throw the ball a lot in this game, which I think will leave him exposed to sacks and pressures. If the Texans try to counteract this by emphasizing the running game, I think that will put them in a game state that is difficult to come out with a victory. 

The Browns’ offense has skyrocketed under Joe Flacco, despite continuously losing offensive linemen throughout the season, as well as star RB Nick Chubb. By EPA/play Joe Flacco hasn’t been all that great, but the Browns offense has been extremely aggressive with Flacco at the helm.

I’m not putting too much stock into the Browns’ 36-22 victory over the Texans in Week 16 as the Texans were without CJ Stroud. Plus the injury to K Dustin Hopkins forced the Browns to keep their offense on the field and inevitably run up the score on a Texans defense that was out of the game by the fourth quarter.

Best Bet: Browns -2

This game opened up at around Cleveland -1 and quickly got bet out to -3. We’ve since seen some buyback on the Texans, which I agree with as -3 on the road was probably the upper bound of where this line should be. Now that the line has come back to around -2, I think it’s worth a 1% play on the Browns.

If we continue to see Texans money, anything in the -1 or PK range would be worthy of a larger bet, but this is where I expect this line to close. I’ll be looking for a live over in this game, but am not playing in pregame as it is dependent on how aggressive the Texans are going to be in their passing offense. 

Rams at Lions

Keeping this one simple here, I think there are advantages to the Rams here that are not baked into the line. The Lions playoff drought has been made abundantly clear by the media as Matthew Stafford will be making his first playoff start in Detroit, albeit wearing an opposing uniform.

We know that Jared Goff and Rams HC Sean McVay had a strong connection as McVay was an integral piece of Goff’s ascension as a QB, effectively coaching him through his reads at the line of scrimmage. The Rams had a great opportunity to get healthy in Week 18, allowing Cooper Kupp to rest and giving Puka Nacua the balance of the game after breaking the rookie single-season yards record.

Offensively, I think the Rams have the advantage at QB and in the wide receiver core, despite Amon Ra St. Brown being arguably the best player on the field. The Lions will certainly miss TE Sam LaPorta, although more recent reports have suggested that he will attempt to play despite a scary-looking knee injury in Week 18.

Best Bet: Rams +3

I think LaPorta is integral to the offense and if he is out or limited, the Lions will have a much more difficult time in the red zone. We’ve seen the side get bet down from -3.5 to -3 but I still think the +3 is valuable for the Rams and would also consider playing the ML. 

Looking at the total, this sits at 51.5 pretty much across the board without much movement throughout the week. I’m not playing this one pre-game, but if the Lions want to win this game, I think they need to do it on the ground with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs.

We also know that Sean McVay becomes ultra-conservative when trying to manage a lead and is a strong candidate to simply run the ball out in an attempt to kill the clock. I don’t have enough conviction in the Lions’ game plan to enter the game state needed to keep this total under, especially given the question marks I have around this Lions’ defense. If we enter a shootout type of game state, I give the advantage to the Rams. 

Max Gilson

Sports Betting Contributor

Max is a seasoned sports analyst from New York who is known for his work on The Noise podcast. He brings a unique perspective on sports betting to the table, one that focuses on a quantitative approach and finding the best price. He can be found on X @max_thenoise