Some may argue that last Sunday night’s NFC North title game between the Green Bay Packers (10–6) and Minnesota Vikings (11–5), which the Vikings won 20–13, resulted in a more favorable matchup for the wild-card team than the division champion.
Conspiracy theorists believe the Packers preferred a road game against the Washington Redskins (9–7) on Sunday rather than hosting the Seattle Seahawks (10-6). Seattle instead will be visiting the Vikings instead as 7-point favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
As the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for. Even if Green Bay would rather play Washington, the team looked pitiful down the stretch in losing consecutive games to close out the regular season.
The Packers also dropped six of 10 following a 6–0 start and failed to cover the spread in seven of their last 11 games according to the OddsShark NFL Database. Meanwhile, the NFC East champion Redskins are riding a four-game winning streak both straight up and against the spead.
Quarterback play figures to be the difference between Green Bay and Washington, and the one currently playing better will be suiting up for the home team.
The betting public may eventually side with Aaron Rodgers of the 1-point underdog Packers in this situation due to his past success, including a Super Bowl run that started on the road as a wild card five years ago.
But Kirk Cousins of the Redskins has been outstanding during their surge to the division title, throwing 14 touchdowns and one interception in winning five of the last six games.
In the other game, the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks are a dangerous wild-card team behind Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson, who enjoyed the finest season of his career this year.
Wilson led Seattle to a 38–7 rout of Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium in Week 13 with 274 passing yards, 51 rushing yards and four touchdowns overall. The Seahawks were three-point favorites in the first meeting and are more than double that for the rematch as the team nobody wants to face right now.
The NFC North champion Vikings had the best record against the spread in the league this season though at 13–3. They have also been a great underdog play under NFL Coach of the Year candidate Mike Zimmer, covering the spread nine of the last 10 times in that role.