Mental Mismatches | NFL Week 18

Matthew Malec

In the playoffs, smart teams win, and dumb ones (if they even make it) tend to go home early. Let's see who will likely be sent packing on this Wild Card Weekend before the big guns battle it out. Keep in mind we will see smaller Index gaps as many of our bottom feeders are no longer playing.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals (-5)

At 28th, the Raiders are the lowest-ranked playoff team by far, and the seventh-ranked Bengals should have little problem dispatching them, especially given their rest advantage.

Cincy was able to rest starters Week 18, including Joe Burrow, while the Raiders needed an overtime win on Sunday night just to get here. Cincinnati, your first playoff win since 1991 may just be coming.

Pick: Bengals -225

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys (-3)

The Cowboys come into this one with a 16 spot Index edge, their offense should be able to score touchdowns, and their suddenly dominant defense should force the Niners' field goals.

In their dome, the offense is still dangerous, and they too should be better rested than their opponent given that they played Saturday and had little to play for in the fourth quarter, while the Niners were in overtime on Sunday afternoon. Maybe it is finally the Cowboy's year.

Pick: Cowboys -165

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills (-4)

Surprise surprise, Bill Belichick's team finished atop the Intelligence Index again. They now travel to Buffalo for what is probably the biggest Bill's home game of this century.

The Bills finished sixth on the Index, a very respectable showing, and their crowd will be raucous against a rookie quarterback making his playoff debut. And yet, you'd have to think Belichick has some aces up his sleeve. They're the league's smartest team for a reason.

Pick: Patriots +175