NFL Betting Guide: Wild Card Monday

The 2023 playoffs are here. The final game of Wild Card Weekend has the Dallas Cowboys traveling to the southeast to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady.

Going by our nERD-based power rankings, this could end up being the best game of the weekend. The Bucs are ranked 11th, and the 'Boys check in 5th.

Using NFL odds and totals from FanDuel Sportsbook, where can we find value from these contests?

All star ratings are out of five from numberFire's model.

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cowboys -2.5 (-115) - 2 Stars
Cowboys Moneyline (-132) - 3 Stars
Over 45.5 (-106) - 3 Stars

The first week of the playoffs will be capped with an exclamation mark as we get a primetime matchup between Dallas and Tampa Bay. The Bucs limp into the playoffs as an under-.500 division winner while Dallas has performed like one of the league's best squads for most of the campaign.

It's been a struggle for Brady and the Bucs' offense this year, and the edge under center lies with Dallas, though the signal-callers rate out pretty similarly by our metrics.

Among quarterbacks with at least 150 drop backs this season, Brady sits smack dab in the middle of the pack with a clip of 0.12 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. Dak Prescott, meanwhile, has been good this year despite a Week 18 clunker. Dak is 10th in Passing NEP per drop back (0.16) and 3rd in Passing Success Rate (51.93%).

Switching to the ground games, Dallas has an even bigger edge. The 'Boys feature a two-headed monster of Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott. These two have combined for 425 carries on the year, and Pollard has been the more efficient of the two, ranking third among high-volume backs in Rushing NEP per carry (0.12). Pollard has also notched 39 receptions on the season.

Tampa ranks dead last in the league in terms of rushing, and Leonard Fournette has been the league's most inefficient ball carrier by our metrics, posting -0.10 Rushing NEP per attempt. Fournette logged only 668 rushing yards on the season, but he did provide valuable production in the passing game, recording 73 catches. The Bucs have mostly abandoned the run in a lot of games and sport the league's highest pass rate (66.7%).

Tampa Bay's strength has been its defense, and our metrics rank the Bucs seventh overall in D. But Dallas once again has the advantage, as the Cowboys slot in fourth in overall defense and fifth in pass D. The Dallas pass defense will be put to the test against the pass-happy Buccaneers.

After going through all that, it's easy to see why the Cowboys are road favorites. Dallas is a 2.5-point favorite and is priced at -132 on the moneyline.

Our model sees value on the Cowboys -- both on the spread and the moneyline. We project Dallas to win 27.50-22.54. We give them a 61.7% chance to cover the 2.5-point spread. The -132 moneyline implies win odds of 56.9%. We think Dallas wins 66.5% of the time.

The total is 45.5 points. We side with the over, projecting it to cash 62.3% of the time.

It's worth noting that 58% of the cash and 54% of the bets are on Dallas, per FanDuel Sportsbook.