Wild Card Weekend is arguably one of the best sports weekends of the year. With the playoffs adding one additional team from each conference, we get six games to enjoy and bet on.
We start the action on Saturday with two AFC contests, with each offering betting value. Let's dig into the first: Las Vegas vs. Cincinnati.
The first game of the weekend kicks off at 4:30 p.m. EST Saturday in Cincinnati. The over/under is set at 48 points, the third-highest total of the wild-card slate.
The host Bengals are five-point favorites.
I see offensive advantages on both sides, with neither team sporting the best defense, so we'll load up a prop bet for both teams.
Mixon has seen a steep uptick with his involvement in the passing game of late, hauling in 13 catches his last two games.
He's caught all but one of his 14 targets and finished the past two with catch totals of six and seven.
Now he'll get a Raiders defense that has been vulnerable to running back production in the passing game. Las Vegas has allowed the seventh-most receptions to RBs this season.
In their past nine games, the Raiders are allowing 6.67 catches per game to the position.
Mixon is also better against this prop at home, going over this number in four of his last six in Cincinnati.
We stick with the plus-money receptions prop in this one with Zay Jones. Jones has seemingly become the Raiders' top receiver in terms of snaps and targets, volume I covet in a player prop.
Speaking of volume, there's an intersection that suggests plenty of Las Vegas passes are coming. The Raiders averaged the seventh-most pass attempts this season, while the Bengals see the fourth-most passes against them.
To me, that shows two tendencies I want to follow. Cincinnati's secondary isn't graded out particularly well, ranking 24th in DVOA.
Derek Carr and this offense should be slinging it, which is why I want a piece of the offense.
So, back to Jones. Jones has five-plus catches in five straight games and six of his last seven. So why are we getting this bet at +112?
My hunch is that it's because the return of Darren Waller is expected to siphon off targets from the other Raiders weapons, which is fair.
However, in the past two games Waller has played (including last week), Jones has seen target totals of seven and eight.
His role doesn't seem to diminish with Waller on the field, and if anything, the star tight end's presence might attract more attention, leaving the field open for Jones to capitalize.
Averaging 8.4 targets per game in his last five, I like Jones to continue seeing the work to hit this 4.5 receptions line. Cincinnati allows the 12th-most receptions per game to WRs.