Giants at Packers best matchup as opening lines released for wild-card weekend
"(Giants at Packers) will no doubt be the most popular game at the betting windows.”
It took until the final minutes of the final game of the regular season, late Sunday night, but the seedings and the matchups are all set for wild-card weekend next Saturday and Sunday. We talk with Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports for the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, about the opening lines on the quartet of postseason contests.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (Open: -2.5; Move: -3)
Oakland went into its regular-season finale at Denver with a chance to get the AFC’s No. 1 seed, stick at the No. 2 seed or drop to the No. 5 seed. The Raiders, minus star quarterback Derek Carr (broken leg), ended up with the worst of those scenarios. New starter Matt McGloin was hurt in the first half Sunday, rookie Connor Cook finished it out, and Oakland never got going in a 24-6 loss as a 1-point underdog.
So a team that went 12-4 SU (10-6 ATS) will be on the road as a wild card against AFC South champion Houston, in a 4:35 p.m. Eastern kickoff on Saturday.
The Texans (9-7 SU, 6-9-1 ATS) lost to Tennessee 24-17 as a 3-point road ‘dog Sunday. Despite that loss – along with that of new starting QB Tom Savage to a first-half concussion, putting erstwhile starter Brock Osweiler back on the field – the Texans opened -2.5 at the Superbook and were quickly bet up to 3 late Sunday night.
“Oakland looks defeated, but we’ve seen this Texans team lose this game before,” Kornegay said, alluding to last year’s wild-card round, in which host Houston got blown out by Kansas City 30-0 catching 3 points.
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks (Open: -7; Move: -7.5)
Seattle alternated SU wins and losses over the last seven weeks, but it was still enough to win the NFC West and earn the No. 3 seed. On Sunday, the Seahawks (10-5-1 SU, 8-8 ATS) erased an early 14-3 deficit to lowly San Francisco and held on for a 25-23 victory as a hefty 11.5-point road chalk.
Detroit could have been that No. 3 seed, or at least the No. 4 seed, were it not for an 0-3 SU and ATS skid to end the regular season. On Sunday night, in that aforementioned final game, the Lions fell to Green Bay 31-24 as a 3.5-point home pup. That dropped the Lions (9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS) to the No. 6 seed as a wild card.
Much like the Texans line, this one went up a half-point shortly after it was posted, to Seattle -7.5 for Saturday’s 8:15 p.m. Eastern matchup.
“Detroit looks like Oakland, except they still have their starting quarterback,” Kornegay said, while noting the Seahawks’ inconsistent play of late. “Seattle isn’t the team we’ve seen before. The Seahawks are definitely vulnerable.”
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (Open: -9.5; Move -10)
Pittsburgh is arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now, along with AFC No. 1 seed New England and perhaps Green Bay. The Steelers (11-5, 9-6-1) were 4-5 in mid-November, but haven’t lost since then, ripping off seven consecutive wins (5-1-1 ATS). In Sunday’s meaningless finale, Pittsburgh rested Ben Roethlisberger and fell behind Cleveland 14-0, but rallied for a 27-24 overtime victory to push as a 3-point home favorite.
Miami (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS) made a 7-1 SU run to clinch a wild-card spot after Week 16, then got blasted by New England in Week 17, losing 35-14 as a 7.5-point home pup. The Superbook expects it to be tough sledding to draw Miami money this week, even with the high opening number for Sunday’s 1 p.m. Eastern kick.
“I might have to give out a free beer with every Dolphins bet to attract money on them,” Kornegay said. “I stocked up and have my 12-pack ready!”
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (Open -4.5; Move: -3.5)
Several weeks ago, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers intimated his 4-5 team could win out. Then the Packers did just that. On Sunday, the Pack completed a 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS surge by beating Detroit 31-24 giving 3.5 points on the road to clinch the NFC North crown at 10-6 SU (9-6-1 ATS).
Meanwhile, New York went on an 8-1 SU spree (7-2 ATS) from mid-October to mid-December. The Giants (11-5 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) slipped up at Philadelphia in Week 16, but with nothing on the line Sunday, they capped the season with a 19-10 victory at Washington as a 9-point underdog.
“Best matchup of wild-card weekend could be a doozy,” Kornegay said of this 4:30 p.m. Eastern Sunday clash. “The Giants have a lot of confidence going into Green Bay. The Packers will have to overcome injuries to defensive backs (Quinten Rollins, Makinton Dorleant). This will no doubt be the most popular game at the betting windows.”