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AFC/NFC Wild Card Predictions, Odds & Picks

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated November 9, 2022
12 min read
Afc And Nfc Wild Card Teams

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The NFL’s 2020 / 2021 began as a unique season due to the worldwide pandemic, and now that the postseason is upon us, credit must be given to the league, the players’ union, the individual franchisees, and the entire football world for having done what it takes to make these 17 weeks flow by with few unresolvable hiccups happening.

Due to the unique nature of this pandemically-challenged season, the NFL decided to change the way it runs its playoffs, now allowing more wild card teams and decreasing the number of first-round byes, this the result of the most recent collective bargaining that was put in place during the offseason.

Here we take a quick look at the NFL predictions and odds of the top football franchises who, depending on what happens in Week 17, could still sneak through the Wild Card door and into the next NFL postseason. Good luck.

Postseason Outlook as of Week 17

The following Divisional Winners have already clinched a playoff spot:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10 – 5) have already clinched an NFC Wild Card spot.

There are still two divisions that have yet to be clinched:

  • The AFC South, which the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans are fighting over
  • The NFC East, which Washington, Dallas and New York could still take

Bear in mind that whichever team does not win the AFC South could still become one of that conference’s Wild Card teams.

AFC Wild Card 2020/2021 Odds

Odds taken 1 Jan, 2021 from DraftKings Sportsbook

Team Yes No
Miami Dolphins -278
Cleveland Browns -590
Baltimore Ravens -1430
Indianapolis Colts -250
Tennessee Titans -1430


Odds from DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or check out more offers and promo codes for the best online sportsbooks.

NFC Wild Card 2020/2021 Odds

Odds taken 1 Jan, 2021 from DraftKings Sportsbook

Team Yes No
Chicago Bears -159
Los Angeles Rams -500


Odds from DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or check out more offers and promo codes for the best online sportsbooks.

Keep in mind the odds in these wagers will shift before the actual Week 17 games are played, so be sure to check back here often to get all the latest numbers.

The AFC North Dominates This Wager

Even football fans backing teams from other divisions have had their eyes on the AFC North this season, mostly because every single team in that division has a quarterback story worth following – Steelers’ veteran Ben Roethlisberger, Browns’ Baker Mayfield, Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow.

Now at the end of the regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals are out of the hunt (their rookie starting QB Joe Burrow went down for the season in Week 11 with a knee injury – a torn ACL and MCL) and the Steelers are so confidently in the playoffs that they have decided to rest their starters (tired QB Ben Roethlisberger in particular).

But the Ravens and Browns are still in the postseason hunt, and a win from either of those teams will get them one of the three remaining AFC Wild Card spots in the playoffs.

Chicago Bears Still Capable of Winning a Wild Card Spot

This has been an interesting season if you are a Chicago Bears fan – one that started on a 5-1 burst of wins and has ended up in Week 17 after a quick trio of victories in a row – now if only Chicago could somehow erase that horrible six-game losing streak it suffered between Weeks 7 and 13.

Blame the up and downplay of the two quarterbacks that were starting – veterans Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles – but also blame injuries and the inability to find that final score in the close ones (the Bears lost five of their games by one score or less).

Now the Bears must beat the 12 – 3 Green Bay Packers, of all teams, in order to earn themselves one of the NFC’s two remaining Wild Card spots (the Tampa Bay Bucs already snagged one), so they had the best hope that the Packers decide to rest guys like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, but since Green Bay is still trying to clinch the #1 playoff seed, don’t count on it.

The Pandemic Postseason Will be Unique

The 2020 / 2021 NFL season did not appear at all familiar to those used to watching – from empty stadiums and missing players and rescheduled games and frustrating roster switches, the total number of changes won’t be known until the regular season unfolds after Sunday’s games are played.

The playoffs will be unique this season for those same reasons, but also because the most recent collective bargaining agreement addressed some of the major issues teams had with the way the postseason was run.

The main change that will have a tremendous effect on who eventually makes it to the Super Bowl will be in the decrease in the number of first-round playoff byes from two down to one since many of the prior champions were the direct beneficiary of that way of doing things.


AFC: Cleveland Browns (-590) because their rookie coach appears to be a genius and the team’s talent level should be enough to get them past the resting Steelers and to the postseason as a Wild Card.

NFC: Los Angeles Rams (-500) – it took them a while, but Jared Goff and Sean McVay have finally figured out how to put points on the board and they should earn another shot at the championship.

2020 / 21 Wild Card Playoff FAQs

How Are the Wild Card Teams Decided?

The National Football League is made up of two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).

The AFC and NFC are then divided into four divisions each – North, South, East, and West.

At the end of the season, the teams in each division with the best overall record are seeded 1 through 4 based on their overall won-lost-tied record.

In addition, three wild-card qualifiers from each of the two conferences (those are the three teams with the best overall record of all remaining teams in the conference) are seeded 5, 6, and 7.

How Does the Wild Card Playoff Round Work?

The first round of the NFL playoffs is called the Wild Card round (of course the advertisers like to call it the Wild Card Weekend so it lasts longer).

In the Wild Card round, the second-seeded division winner hosts the seventh-seeded wild card, the third hosts the sixth, and the fourth hosts the fifth.

It is interesting to note that there are no restrictions regarding teams from the same division matching up in any of the playoff rounds, in fact, it happens often.

Why Is It So Critical for a Team to Earn a #1 Playoff Seed?

The top seed from each conference receives a bye, meaning they do not have to play, and they are automatically advanced to the second round of the playoffs, which gives them a chance to rest and recover as well as a game plan against their potential opponents.

Plus, they receive home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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This year, the top seeds in each conference are:

AFC: Kansas City Chiefs

NFC: Green Bay Packers

The Chiefs have clinched that #1 seed, but the Packers must win in Week 17 to clinch theirs or face a series of tiebreakers that may (or may not) fall in their favor.

Who Won the Wild Card Round in 2019?

Last season there were only four total Wild Card teams chosen:

AFC: The 10 – 6 Buffalo Bills and the 9 – 7 Tennessee Titans

NFC: The 11 – 5 Seattle Seahawks and the 10 – 6 Minnesota Vikings

Only the Tennessee Titans made it past the Divisional Playoffs Round, though they eventually lost in the AFC Championship game to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, final score 24-35.

Has a Wild Card Team Ever Won the Super Bowl?

Yes, it has happened six times so far in the past, all between the years 1980 -2010:

  1. Oakland Raiders (1980, Super Bowl XV)
  2. Denver Broncos (1997, Super Bowl XXXII)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (2000, Super Bowl XXXV)
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (2005, Super Bowl XL)
  5. New York Giants (2007, Super Bowl XLII)
  6. Green Bay Packers (2010, Super Bowl XLV)
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Mike Lukas

1204 Articles

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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