NFL Divisional Round Weekend betting previews and picks
On to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs following a heavily-best Super Wild Card Weekend. Our picks, opinions and leans did well on side selections, going 5-1, including 2-0 on picks. Totals sucked, but we'll keep attacking this week and continue to evaluate the match-ups, market and NFL weather reports. That includes in Green Bay, where bitterly cold temps below 10 degrees and sub-zero temperatures with wind chill will greet the players at Lambeau Field Saturday, as the NFC top seed Packers tackle the San Francisco 49ers.
But the most watched and bet game of the NFL Divisional Round will be Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills. I'll limit my analysis on that game as I'm in agreement with the Chiefs pick provided at OSGA.
Despite last week's side selections success, I'll continue a lighter betting approach and recommendation of reduced wagers on side and totals betting at the leading online sportsbooks. Clearly in-play live betting is an option to attack as the game unfolds and you monitor the personnel, play calling and try to handle the algorithms and line adjustments to get your bets in. Check out the bonus offers and reduced juice sportsbooks as you get in the game during the NFL Playoffs.
Our 2021 NFL season was a special one, finishing Week 18 with a 3-0 ATS sweep and two more outright underdog winners. Our weekly NFL underdog picks finished the season 28-12 ATS with 21 outright underdog winners - a 70.0% win rate and huge profits for bettors who followed along.
Here is ATS playoff data since 1988, courtesy of Playbook Newsletter. Rested home teams in the Divisional Round (TEN & GB) have gone 100-34 SU and 71-59-4 ATS. Road teams coming off a Wild Card Round SU and ATS win (CIN, BUF, LA & SF) are 53-69-2 ATS Divisional Round contests. Also, Divisional Round visitors coming off a Wild Card SU & ATS home win (CIN, LAR, BUF) are just 20-48 SU and 26-40-2 ATS. This year is different with just one team gaining the playoff bye into the divisional round.
Saturday, Jan. 22
Cincinnati Bengals (11-7) at Tennessee Titans (12-5) - 4:30 p.m ET on CBS
Line: Titans -3.5 (-103), Total 47.5 at BookMaker
Check the status of Titans RB Derrick Henry with an announcement Friday of his likely return to the field. Tennessee is healthier, rested and ready with the better coach, running game and defense to control the ball, clock and chains against Cincinnati. The Titans faced most difficult schedule of run defenses this season, and a big rushing game is expected against the Bengals, who allowed Josh Jacobs 83 rushing yards on 13 carries last week in a Wild Card win. Teams that rushed for 140 yards or more last week went 3-0 SU/ATS, and the Titans look like they'll have their share of success at the point of attack. That will also open up the passing lanes for QB Ryan Tannehill. The Bengals went 1-6 SU against teams with top-15 rushing efficiency numbers. Bengals QB Joe Burrow continues to produce and deliver the ball quickly under pressure, and he'll be dinking and dunking more in this match-up. If Burrow can carry the Bengals to victory, it will be very well earned. I'm not betting on it.
Prop Bet: TEN WR Julio Jones over receiving yards (44.5, rising sharply).
San Francisco 49ers (11-7) at Green Bay Packers (13-4) - 8:15 p.m. ET on FOX
Line: Packers -6 (-107), Total 47 at BetOnline
This play will be determined by the status and playing availability of 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo. He's likely playing, as is LB and DE Nick Bosa. Take 6 points as you're able on the 49ers if that's a side you prefer, as there is not that much separation between these two teams now with the Niners effective running game and improved defense. The running game was lacking early season when Green Bay beat San Francisco 30-28. The Packers were the best team this season, despite a poor rush defense that ranked No. 28 in defensive efficiency and 30th in both EPA per rush & rush success rate allowed. The 49ers will definitely go heavy with their ground game, while getting Debo Samuel involved in all facets and more touches running and receiving. Garoppolo will find his top TE George Kittle often when needing to pass. The formula will be to run the ball and control the ball, clock and chains. If the Niners can do that, they'll stay in this game and minimize MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays and passing yards with heavy zone coverage. Green Bay has not faced a quality quarterback since the end of Nov. in back-to-back weeks and allowed 28 and 31 points to the Rams and Vikings. San Francisco QB Jimmy G has never started a game in freezing temps, and I don't expect the 49ers to reach those point totals. But the tempo and match-ups can work for the 49ers if they don't fall behind. The Packers are mostly complete outside of some run defense issues, but we'll lean the 49ers way despite a third straight road game and the Packers 8-0 SU home record and 12-5 ATS mark and now rested and ready off a bye.
Lean: 49ers plus points
Sunday, Jan. 23
Los Angeles Rams (13-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) - 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC
Line: Buccaneers -3, Total 48.5 at BetUS
Cluster injuries in the secondary are a concern for the Rams, but the Buccaneers are missing some key skill players on offense. Tom Brady is still delivering the football with accuracy and passing often, as he led the league with 42 pass attempts per game. But the Bucs have faced just one capable and quality quarterback and offense since Dec. 1, and they jumped ahead of Josh Allen and the Bills and then held on for a 33-27 OT win at home with both quarterbacks combining for 100 pass attempts. The next week Tampa was a no-show in a 9-0 home loss to the Saints. The Rams are far more complete now, and this contest is likely filled with flying footballs as well. Recall Brady was 41/55 for 432 yards and a TD in the Rams 34-24 Week 3 win over the Bucs. Matthew Stafford was better and sensational on third down (15 yards per pass) finishing 27/38 for 343 and 4 TDs as the Bucs played without two key defensive backs. The Buccaneers blitz at a 41% rate under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles - highest in the NFL. But Stafford is going to hit some big plays, and his receiving core is top tier, with Cooper Kupp tearing it up. The Rams are running the ball more effectively now, including last week, with two Rams RBs carrying the ball 30 times for more than 100 yards. The Bucs run the ball just 23.1 times per game - lowest in the NFC, and you know that's a negative profile when evaluating point of attack play and rushing stats. It will be tough to run on the Rams, or protect Brady with top offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs likely out following an injury last week. Check status Friday and into weekend, but Wirfs is a big loss, while C Jenson and RB Fournette appear to be available. Aaron Donald and the Rams interior pressure is strong, and CB Jalen Ramsey will be shadowing Brady's top target, WR Mike Evans. I'll call for the Rams to counter the Buccaneers and Brady and for Stafford to win a big game and beat the Bucs.
Pick: Rams plus points and moneyline
Prop Bet: Rams TE Tyler Higbee over receiving yards (42.5) and receptions
Buffalo Bills (12-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (13-6) - 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Line: Chiefs -1.5, Total 53.5 at Sportsbetting.ag.
See the OSGA preview and Chiefs pick, and add an over the total play. Both teams will keep attacking knowing they cannot sit on any lead, and QB Josh Allen will be able to make some big plays and passes against the Chiefs man pressure. The Chiefs will counter with big play ability and threats downfield with Tyreek Hill, but more underneath routes against the Bills zone coverage and five defensive backs. Recall in the Bills 38-20 Week 5 win at Kansas City that weather and wind were a big factor, and the game was delayed at halftime. The Chiefs offense failed to score points twice inside the red zone, and the Bills missed points on another red zone opportunity. Kansas City also played that game without Pro Bowl DL Chris Jones, and CB Charvaius Ward and LB William Gay, who likely plays after this week's off field issue. All hands on deck for another shootout in the most watched and bet NFL game of the weekend.
Pick: Chiefs and Over
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and he crushed it in the 2021 NFL season going 28-12 ATS (70.0%) on his underdog picks. FairwayJay chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay