NFL Debuts 14-Team Playoff For 2021 Wild Card Weekend
This season marks the first time ever that the NFL has used a 14-team playoff system, allowing an additional team from each conference to qualify as a 3rd wild card spot.
The Indianapolis Colts earned the 7 seed in the AFC, and deservedly so. They fought with the AFC South champion Tennessee Titans for the entire year and finished with an 11-5 record.
The Colts are placed toward the bottom of the Super Bowl 55 futures and are predicted to lose this weekend to the 2 seed Buffalo Bills by 6.5 points.
The new playoff format was intended to make room for outlying teams that were able to earn 10 victories, but the Miami Dolphins missed the NFL Playoffs with a 10-6 record. The AFC seems to be the better conference on paper, and oddsmakers concur.
The team with the highest odds to win Super Bowl LV is the AFC’s Kansas City Chiefs, and they have been the top dog since the days following their SB 54 win last February.
The NFC does not feature the same level of high-end talent that the AFC does, and includes two duds amongst their postseason qualifiers. The Chicago Bears backed into the final wild card spot with an 8-8 record while the Washington Football Team managed to win their division with a sub .500 record of 7-9.
Naturally, both teams are predicted to lose on the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend, making for much less intrigue on the NFC side of the playoff bracket.
2021 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend Schedule
1 PM – CBS
#7 Indianapolis Colts at #2 Buffalo Bills
BUF -7, BUF -300/IND +240, O/U 51.5
4:30 PM – FOX
#6 Los Angeles Rams at #3 Seattle Seahawks
SEA -3.5, LA +145/SEA -175, O/U 42
8 PM – NBC
#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #4 Washington Football Team
TPA -8.5, TPA -400/WAS +310, O/U 44.5
1 PM – ABC
#5 Baltimore Ravens at #4 Tennessee Titans
BAL -3.5, BAL -170/TEN +140, O/U 54.5
4:30 – CBS
#7 Chicago Bears at #2 New Orleans Saints
NO -10, CHI +395/NO -540, O/U 47
8 PM – NBC
#6 Cleveland Browns at #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
PIT -6.5, CLE +220/PIT -270, O/U 47.5
As you can see by the above NFL Playoff schedule, Chicago and Washington are predicted to lose by 10 and 8.5 points to the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively.
Super Bowl betting sites aren’t giving any respect to Washington or the Bears, so why should viewing audiences?
Another strategic aspect of the league’s inclusion of two extra wild card playoff teams was to allow for two additional games during the opening round, creating for two triple-headers instead of the 4-game Wild Card Weekend slates they’ve offered in the past.
Those two extra games equate to the exact same number of potential duds that are included on the schedule this weekend.
America is chock full of pro football junkies, so they’ll watch, and bet. But it is hard to feel great about what is being presented in front of us while 10-6 teams are sitting at home and watching the parade go by.
Source: USA Today