Betting

Farley’s Best Bets for 2023 NFL Wild-Card Saturday

With the first round of the NFL playoffs quickly approaching it’s time to break down the best bets for this Saturday, which features two interesting games. First up is Seahawks vs. 49ers followed by Chargers vs. Jaguars.

I’ve decided to provide a teaser bet I’m confident will hit this weekend.

Two-Team, 7-Point Teaser (-140)

Bet: Tease down 49ers to -2.5, Tease up Jaguars to +9

Getting the 49ers under a field goal is the main reason why we need to make this a seven-point teaser, even if it demands we pay a little more juice (six-point teasers are -120). 

I think this is the best way to bet on each side of the Saturday games. In short, the high-level reasoning behind this bet is two-fold:

  • Even though the 49ers might seem unbeatable, they’re facing a division rival familiar with their style of play, and it’s hard to demolish a team three times
  • I think the Chargers might win on Saturday, but they rarely win by a large margin, especially against formidable teams like Jacksonville

Why 49ers -2.5?

San Francisco is a 9.5-point favorite for a reason. Back in Week 7, fresh off a bad road loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the injury-riddled 49ers got their doors blown off by the Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and his team weren’t in a great mood that day. Kansas City dropped 44 points and 529 yards on 58 plays, which is more than nine yards per play on one of the NFL’s premier defenses. It was complete domination, and it had many fans wondering if this was another over-hyped season for San Francisco.

That game was played on Oct. 23. The 49ers haven’t lost since. From Week 8 to Week 18, the vaunted 49ers’ defense has only permitted:

  • 14.4 points per game
  • 304.6 yards per game
  • Two touchdowns from running backs
  • Three total rushing touchdowns 
  • Only one 300+ yard passer
  • Only three 270+ yard passers

Needless to say, it appears the Kansas City loss woke up San Francisco’s inner beast. Fast-forward to now, and this team is poised as ever heading into the postseason. Unless you live under a rock, you’re well aware “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy has led the 49ers to six straight wins since Jimmy Garoppolo went down to injury.

Since he took over in Week 13, Purdy threw 13 TDs and only three INTs, he has a 69% completion percentage and he looks like a perfect fit for the rhythm-based San Francisco offense. He’s also surrounded by arguably the most talented group of offensive skill players in football. Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle are about as dynamic as it gets. And even better, All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams is healthy. 

While I’m high on the 49ers, I’d still rather take them in a seven-point teaser. Geno Smith was an elite starting quarterback this season, the metrics are undeniable, and the Seahawks already were embarrassed twice by their arch-rival. 

Seattle is under far less pressure than the 49ers. Kyle Shanahan is well aware the entire sports world knows how good his team is. Since Purdy seems to have a steady-enough hand to handle his role, there’s little to no reason why the 49ers shouldn’t find themselves in Super Bowl LVII.

That’s the expectation in the Bay Area and beyond. Purdy and his teammates have played ice-cold, calculated football this season, but their strength of schedule was rather lackluster. The Chargers and Dolphins’ wins were impressive, but the rest of their 10-game winning streak was against teams like the Rams, Bucs, Raiders, Commanders and the Cardinals twice. Only one of those teams (the Bucs) is in the playoffs this season, and let’s face it — they barely got there.

This is a high-pressure spot where the 49ers are expected to win. Because of that, Seattle is talented enough to keep it within a touchdown. I’ll lean toward Seahawks +9.5, but we’ll officially ride the 49ers -2.5 as the first leg of our teaser. 

Why Jaguars +9?

The Chargers and Jaguars are two similarly built teams. They’re young, they’re both led by upstart, young NFL quarterbacks (with amazing hair, I might add), and this will be a first-time playoff experience for much of their rosters. That’s what makes this game so hard to handicap, but there’s an angle I like.

The only teams the 10-7 Chargers beat by more than a touchdown are the Colts, Rams and Texans. Their average margin of victory in other of their wins was 3.28 points. Needless to say, the Chargers don’t qualify as the kind of squad that can put away a formidable playoff team. Then there’s the Chargers’ run defense, which allows an NFL-worst 5.4 yards per carry. I think the Jaguars can take advantage of this weakness.

Trevor Lawrence looked a little lost last week. That’s understandable, considering that was probably the biggest spot and the most high-pressure experience he’s had as a pro quarterback. One way to help Lawrence thrive in big-game situations is to establish the Jacksonville rushing attack.

Insert Travis Etienne. He has become a legitimate game-wrecker for opposing defenses. Although underutilized at the start of the season (he only had 54 rushing attempts in his first six games), Etienne has compiled five touchdowns and 1,125 rushing yards on only 220 attempts, resulting in an impressive 5.1 yards per carry. The Jaguars should be capable of taking advantage of the Chargers’ poor run defense, taking some immediate pressure off Lawrence. 

 

The Jaguars are good in these situations, too. They’re 4-0 against the spread this season as a home underdog, and they’ve only lost two games by more than nine points. 

In addition to all the reasons listed above, Chargers’ coach Brandon Staley has yet to prove he can handle making the right decisions in big-game moments. Staley prefers a high-risk approach — he likes going for it on fourth downs and last week he played his starters well into the fourth quarter of a meaningless game against the Rams.

That sort of style has cost his team in the past, and I’m not so sure it won’t cost them again on Saturday. On the other sideline is Doug Pederson, who transformed the Jaguars into a playoff team just one year after Urban Meyer’s atrocious leadership. Oh and he’s a Super Bowl champion coach, too. Just five years ago, the Pederson-led Eagles knocked off Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. 

There’s always inherent value when betting on a home underdog. That’s especially true when the opponent is as flawed as the Chargers. The Jaguars are riding a five-game winning streak into this matchup, and I’m confident they can keep it within a touchdown. We’ll comfortably tease up the Jaguars to +9. 

WATCH: Farley’s Full Thoughts on the Sunday Slate

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