The Cleveland Browns have already ended one lengthy drought this season and if things go right for them in the wild-card round, they could end up ending another one this year.
Thanks to their win over the Steelers on Sunday, the Browns were able to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2002, which ended the NFL's longest drought without a postseason appearance. Now that the playoff drought is over, the Browns need to figure out how to win in Pittsburgh, where they'll be playing on Sunday night.
The Browns haven't won a game at Heinz Field since 2003, which means Pittsburgh is probably the last place that the Browns wanted to play in the wild-card round. Over the past 17 years, the Browns have gone 0-17 straight-up and 5-11-1 against the spread (ATS).
The one thing possible working in the Browns' favor is that home teams have been struggling in the playoffs. Since the start of the 2017 season, home teams are just 1-11 ATS during the opening round of the playoffs (4-8 straight-up). That's an especially ugly record when you consider that every single one of those home teams was favored to win. If the streak continues, that could be trouble for the six teams that are hosting games this week (the Bills, Seahawks, Washington, Titans, Saints and Steelers).
With that in mind, let's get to the early odds.
NFL playoff early odds
(All lines from William Hill Sportsbook unless noted, all games on Sunday unless noted)
No. 7 Colts at No. 2 Bills
Saturday, 1:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Opening line: Bills, -7
The last three times a team has been favored by a touchdown or more during the wild-card round, it's turned into a disaster as those teams have gone 0-3 ATS and 1-2 straight-up, which isn't good news for Buffalo. One piece of good news for the Bills though is that they've won 13 straight games when favored by seven or more points (9-4 ATS). This game is being played in Buffalo, which is notable, because the Bills are 9-1 in home playoff games over the past 35 years. The weather in Buffalo usually serves as an advantage and that could happen agains this week with the high temperature expected to be just 28 degrees on Saturday. The Bills went 11-5 ATS during the regular season, which was tied for the best mark in the NFL while the Colts went 8-8.
No. 6 Rams at No. 3 Seahawks
Saturday, 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
Opening line: Seahawks, -4.5
After splitting their season series, the Rams and Seahawks are going to be meeting for a rubber match this week in Seattle. The bad part for the Seahawks is that Sean McVay has had some serious success against them. In the past seven meetings between these two teams, the Rams have gone 5-2 straight up, although the Seahawks did win and cover against the Rams during a 20-9 win back in Week 16. The upside in this game for Seattle is that if Jared Goff does play, he'll be coming off of thumb surgery and might not be 100%. If Goff can't go, then the Rams could be forced to turn to John Wolford at quarterback for the second straight week. One thing to like about the Seahawks in this spot is that Russell Wilson is 5-2 straight-up and 6-1 ATS in opening round playoff games. As for the Rams, this is the their first playoff game since their 13-3 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. The Rams went 4-2 ATS against teams that made the playoffs this year while the Seahawks went just 1-3.
No. 5 Buccaneers at No. 4 Washington
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
Opening line: Buccaneers -7.5
As we mentioned above with the Bills, being a big favorite in the playoffs isn't always a good thing as the last three times a team has been favored by seven or more in the postseason, the favored team has gone 0-3 ATS and 1-2 straight-up. Although Washington went just 7-9 on the year, the Football Team went 10-6 ATS, which is tied for the second-best record in the NFL. Washington is the third seven-win team to make the playoffs during a 16-game season and the previous two teams went 2-0 both straight-up and ATS in the wild-card round. The last seven-win team to win a game in the playoffs was the 2014 Panthers, who were coached by Ron Rivera, so he knows what it's like to be in this situation. Tom Brady also knows something about this situation. Over the past 10 years, Brady is 6-1 straight-up and 5-2 ATS in Saturday playoff games. On the other hand, the Buccaneers quarterback is 1-6 straight-up and 0-7 ATS in his past seven primetime games. No matter who wins this game, someone will be ending a long playoff drought this year: The Buccaneers haven't won a playoff game since 2002 while Washington hasn't won one since 2006.
No. 5 Ravens at No. 4 Titans
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (ABC)
Opening line: Ravens, -3.5
This will be the third time in the past 12 months that these two teams have played each other. Although the Titans were an underdog in each of the previous two games, they went 2-0 both straight-up and ATS, which includes a win in last year's divisional round when Tennessee was a 10-point underdog. The playoffs have been a nightmare for the Ravens, who have lost three straight in the postseason (1-2 ATS), including two straight with Lamar Jackson, who has never won a playoff game. That being said, if you want to bet on a team that's on a roll, then you should back the Ravens, who have covered in six straight games, including Sunday's win over the Bengals. That streak allowed Baltimore to go 10-6 ATS on the season, which was tied for the second-best mark in the NFL. As for the Titans, they're 3-2 both straight-up and ATS in the playoffs since 2017, which is pretty impressive when you consider that they were an underdog in all five of those games.
No. 7 Bears at No. 2 Saints
4:40 p.m. ET (CBS/Nickelodeon/Amazon Prime)
Opening line: Saints, -9.5
This game will mark the 12th time since 1991 that a team has been favored by nine or more points in the wild-card round and if the previous 11 games are any indication, the Saints are probably the team you want to bet on. In the other 11 games, the team that was favored big has gone 10-1 straight-up and 9-2 ATS. Of course, betting on the Saints can also be risky and that's because they haven't been a great team to bet on in the postseason. In their best five playoff games dating back to 2017, the Saints are 1-4 ATS and 2-3 straight-up. As for the Bears, they're almost as bad in the postseason: In their past nine playoffs games, they've gone 2-7 ATS and 3-6 straight-up. These two teams actually met back in Week 8 with the Bears covering as a 5.5-point underdog in a 26-23 overtime loss.
No. 6 Browns at No. 3 Steelers
Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
Opening line: Steelers, -3.5
This game is basically a worst-case scenario for the Browns, who can never seem to beat the Steelers, well, unless Pittsburgh is resting its starters, like the team did on Sunday. The past two times the Browns have made it to the playoffs (1994, 2002) they saw their season end in the same way: With a loss to Pittsburgh. Not only that, but the Steelers have absolutely owned the Browns during Ben Roethlisberger's career. Since Big Ben was drafted back in 2004, the Browns have gone 5-28-1 straight-up against Pittsburgh. The Steelers are also 10-6 ATS on the season, which is tied for the second-best mark in the NFL. That being said, the Steelers are just 3-5 both straight-up and ATS in playoff games since 2011. On the Browns' end, they're 3-12 ATS and 5-9 straight-up in their past 14 road games.