Conventional betting wisdom says to take the underdogs in general, and to focus on them even more during the NFL playoffs. If you can find a double-digit dog, even better. But maybe there is such a thing as getting too many points. Since the Wild Card was first introduced in 1978, underdogs have gone 63-55-6 ATS; however, give those dogs more than a field goal, and they’re just 33-35-1 ATS. That dynamic could come into play for both of Sunday’s Wild Card games.

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (1:05 PM ET, CBS)
The road to Super Bowl 51 looks very long for the Dolphins (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS). They’ve got the longest odds on the futures market at +7500, and it’s been confirmed that back-up quarterback Matt Moore will start Sunday in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill. That leaves Miami as the only double-digit dog available during Wild Card Weekend. They’re +10 at press time, holding steady since the open, with the total dipping from 47 to 46 on what should be a chilly day in Pittsburgh.

But there’s a catch. The Steelers (11-5 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) lost 30-15 in Miami back in Week 6, coughing up the cash as 8-point road favorites. That was the game where Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tannehill had a pedestrian performance in what turned out to be one of his worst seasons in the NFL. Moore was better than replacement-level when he started 12 games for Miami in 2011. Playing in cold weather won’t help their cause, but the Dolphins should have some value here after playing in the shadow of the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (4:40 PM ET, FOX)
It should be another cold one at Lambeau Field, but the Giants (11-5 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) are no strangers to these conditions. In both of their Super Bowl wins behind quarterback Eli Manning, the G-Men went to Wisconsin and beat the Packers (10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) as sizeable underdogs before going on to upset the Patriots. New York is getting 4.5 points this time, up from +4 at the open, with a total of 44.5.

The Packers won six straight to claim the NFC North, and yes, they beat the visiting Giants 23-16 in Week 5. But New York earned the cover as 7.5-point puppies despite the absence of key offensive players. Green Bay’s defense responded with an unusually strong game in what’s been a difficult season without cornerback Sam Shields. The Giants are healthier now, so if defense wins championships, Big Blue is in a much better position to take Sunday’s Wild Card game – and maybe even another Super Bowl at +1200.


*Odds as of January 6, 2017