NFL Wild Card Weekend Games Go Sideways for Teams, Sports Bettors

Posted on: January 16, 2023, 03:21h. 

Last updated on: January 16, 2023, 02:30h.

There are winners and losers in every sports competition. But few things are worse than losing after winning. That’s what happened in several of the NFL’s wild-card games over the weekend, leading to big losses for teams and sports bettors.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) walks off the field after giving up the wild card game to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game was just one of several that saw losing teams come from behind to win. (Image: Associated Press)

Out of all the upsets, the LA Chargers-Jacksonville Jaguars game will be one of the biggest of the season. Not because the Jags don’t have what it takes to be a championship team, but because the Chargers gave them the win.

The Saturday AFC game started well for the Chargers, as they took a 27-7 first-half lead. Perhaps they should have played a tighter game, because they apparently relaxed too much. At least one sports bettor – and plenty of fans – will never forgive them.

Games Gone Wild

Wild Card Weekend is an appropriate title for the NFL’s games on Saturday and Sunday. Insane comebacks, crazy clock mismanagement, and referees looking the other way marked the games.

However, the Chargers had a real shot at taking down the Jags after jumping out in front. One bettor was so confident at that point that he put up $1.4 million with DraftKings on LA to win. Instead of picking up $11,200, he lost everything when Jacksonville rebounded to win, 31-30.

Trevor Lawrence didn’t do his Jags any favors. The QB threw four interceptions as he tried to find his footing, but was able to find his composure in the second half. Thirteen points in the third quarter and 11 unanswered points in the fourth – all while keeping the Chargers to just a field goal in both – showed sheer determination.

Over in the NFC, QB Brock Purdy and running back Christian McCaffrey are proving to be hugely successful pieces of the San Francisco 49ers offense. The Niners had some initial trouble against the Seattle Seahawks, but regained control and walked away with a 41-23 victory on Saturday.

The Niners were trailing, although only by a point, at halftime. They pushed the chains on their opening drive of the second half, which appeared to frustrate Seahawks defensive back Johnathan Abram.

He took out his anger on San Francisco wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s leg, apparently twisting it during a tackle. It didn’t draw a flag, but it drew the 49ers’ ire. From that point, the game belonged to San Francisco.

Some will say that the odds were always against the Seahawks. They’ve been targets of bad refs this season, with even an NFL executive saying the Seahawks-LA Rams game was the “worst officiated game” of the season.

The Hits Keep Coming

The 49ers were heavy favorites to win at all sportsbooks. But oddsmakers had a difficult time choosing between the Jags and the Chargers. For the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday, they also ran into some difficulty.

Minnesota was in front at around -150 to +125, but the Giants continue to prove that they’re hungry. They played steady, methodical ball throughout the game, on the way to a 31-24 victory. Fortunately for the Giants, the refs’ erratic flag-throwing didn’t cost them the game.

For a team that has repeatedly been at the top of the list for Super Bowl contention, the Buffalo Bills didn’t look like a championship team against the Miami Dolphins. In fact, it’s possible the Fins would have won if it hadn’t been for sheer irresponsibility late in the game.

This game had the largest spread in NFL wild card history at 14 points. Bettors liked the odds and didn’t waste time backing the Bills, who despite jumping out to a 17-0 start, almost lost.

Down by just three points, the Dolphins had a chance to tie things up or even take the lead if they just worked smartly. They didn’t. Instead, with rookie QB Skylar Thompson trying to hold things together, Miami fell apart on fourth and inches, losing all hope of overcoming the 34-31 deficit. So much for the spread.


Ravens Come Up Short

The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, were inches away from pulling off the biggest upset of the year on Sunday night. They were tied with the Cincinnati Bengals, the huge favorites in the game, and only needed to cross the goal line as the fourth quarter began to unfold.

It wouldn’t happen, though. Instead, the Bengals stole the ball and returned it 98 yards for a TD. That would be the only score of the fourth quarter, but it was enough to give Cincinnati a 24-17 win.

Baltimore played smart ball behind backup QB Tyler Huntley, who proved more than once that he’s capable of leading the team. However, even amid miscues and broken (as well as dirty) plays, the Ravens couldn’t muster what they needed to pull off an upset.

Next up, on January 21, the Jags face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC semifinals. The Giants and Philadelphia Eagles face each other in the NFC race on the same day.

The following day, the Bengals and Bills meet for the other AFC game, while the second NFC game will see the Niners take on the winner of Monday’s Dallas Cowboys-Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup.