Super Wild Card Weekend turned out to be not quite as "Super" as advertised this past weekend, with five of the six games ending as a blowout. Hopefully, we're in for a few more exciting games in the Divisional Round and we certainly should be considering seven of the eight division winners will be competing.
We finished last week 3-3 for (-0.14 units) with my picks on the sides and totals. The Texans, Bills, and the OVER between the Packers/Cowboys came through for us. If you bet the spread on the Rams instead of moneyline, like I did, that was also a winner. The Dolphins and the OVER between the Eagles and Buccaneers fell short.
There are only seven NFL games left this season for us to watch and bet on so let's try to make the most of them. It's time to dive into my best bets for the Divisional Round.
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NFL Divisional Round Best Bets for Every Game
Texans vs. Ravens Prediction
I flirted with the idea of taking the points with the Texans in this spot, but I think the better bet is to take the UNDER.
Both offenses in this matchup poorly with the strengths of the opposing defense. For example, no team runs the ball more than the Baltimore Ravens with 50.28% of their plays being running plays. Now, they face a Texans defense that's second in opponent yards per carry (3.5), sixth in opponent rush EPA, and first in opponent rush success rate.
Teams have been able to throw the ball against them, but that's generally not what the Ravens do. They might struggle to get their offense firing on all cylinders against the stout run defense of the Ravens.
On the other side of things, 72.1% of the offensive yards gained by the Texans come through the air, which is the second highest mark in the NFL. Now they face a Ravens team that has arguably the best secondary in the league, ranking first in opponent yards per pass attempt (5.1), second in opponent dropback EPA, and fourth in opponent dropback success rate. CJ Stroud could be in for a long night.
Finally, you can toss in the fact these two defenses rank inside the top eight in the NFL in opponent third down conversion rate and both in the top half of the NFL in red zone defense and we all of a sudden of a recipe for a low-scoring affair. I'll take the UNDER.
Pick: UNDER 45.5 (-105)
Packers vs. 49ers Prediction
By the majority of metrics you want to look at, the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the NFL. Sure, you could argue that title belongs to the Ravens due to them beating the 49ers late in the season, but the metrics generally rank the 49ers higher.
For example, the enter the playoffs ranking first in Net Yards per Play (+1.6), EPA per play, and Success Rate. Their offense is dynamic and effective and few teams have had an answer for them all season and I don't think the Packers will either.
The Packers offense became a top 10 unit, bordering on top five by the end of the season, but a team that challenges the 49ers has to be a team that can play defense and the Packers absolutely can not do that.
The Packers are 20th in opponent yards per play (5.4), 23rd in opponent EPA per play, and 26th in opponent success rate. The 49ers offense is going to have their way with them.
Green Bay's offense may need to score on every possession in order to keep pace with San Francisco and I just don't see the Packers being able to do that. I'll lay the points with the 49ers.
Pick: 49ers -10 (-105)
Buccaneers vs. Lions Prediction
This is certainly the ugliest bet of the week for me to place, but I think it's the right side. Not enough good things can be said about the Lions offense, but I just can't get over their defense. Would I pick the Lions to win the game? Yes. Would I bet on them to cover a six-point spread? No.
The Lions defense allowed the Rams to average a staggering 7.7 yards per play and 9.4 yards per pass attempt. Luckily for them, Sean McVay made some terrible decisions throughout the game and the Rams went 0-3 in the red zone.
The Buccaneers certainly aren't as good offensively as the Rams, but they have the weapons in the pass game to attack this Lions secondary. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Cade Otton are more than enough to take down a Lions defense that's 30th in opponent yards per pass attempt (7.3) and 25th in both opponent dropback EPA and opponent dropback success rate.
The biggest question of the game will be which version of Baker Mayfield will show up, but if it's the same version that showed up against the Eagles, the Lions could be in for a scare.
One key area to keep an eye on in this one is the Lions red zone offense. It's what won them the game against the Rams, scoring a touchdown on all three trips to the red zone. They sport the second best red zone offense in the NFL, scoring a touchdown on 65.67% of red zone trips. Now, they face a Buccaneers defense that's third in the league in that area, keeping teams to scoring a touchdown on just 42.86% of red zone trips.
If the Bucs can force field goals instead of touchdowns at key moments of this game, they're going to be in a good spot to cover this spread.
Pick: Buccaneers +6 (-105)
Chiefs vs. Bills Prediction
I love the Bills and I'll be rooting for them in this game, but I refuse to fall for the trap of betting against Patrick Mahomes as an underdog, especially in the playoffs. The Chiefs outranked the Bills in Net Yards per Play this season at +0.8, and also had the fifth best road Net Yards per Play at +0.5.
We can even look at their Week 14 loss to the Bills and despite losing the game, 20-17, the Chiefs outgained them 5.6 yards per play to 4.5 yards per play. Josh Allen struggled in that game, completing just 23-of-42 passes for 4.6 yards per throw. That's because of the Chiefs secondary, which is one of the best in the NFL, allowing just 5.4 yards per throw this season while ranking third in opponent dropback EPA and second in opponent dropback success rate.
The key for the Bills winning this game is to run the football early and often. Based on their gameplan against them earlier this season, I'm not confident they'll do that.
Then there's the immeasurables. The Chiefs have been here, albeit not on the road, plenty of times in the past few seasons. Nobody has had more success in high-pressure playoff situations than the Chiefs since Mahomes took over as their quarterback.
You also have to be concerned by the Bills defense, which just allowed the Steelers to gain 324 yards of total offense against them. If they play that poorly against the Chiefs, their season is over.
Pick: Chiefs +2.5 (+105)
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
You can check out all of Iain's bets here!