NFL Betting Predictions: Championship Round Weekend Opening Line Report and Picks
Last weekend was quite possibly the most exciting Divisional Round of the playoffs the NFL has ever showcased. All four games were within one score, and the underdog won three out of the four games played. Both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady got beat out of the playoffs last weekend, marking the first time in 12 years neither will be playing for a conference title.
Doc’s Sports offers NFL expert picks for every game on our NFL predictions page.
In only his second year, Joe Burrow has now entered into the conversation as a future superstar of the NFL. Burrow led the Cincinnati Bengals to a road win against the Tennessee Titans in a defensive battle.
In possibly Tom Brady’s last game, he mounted a 24-point comeback in the fourth quarter where many Los Angeles Rams fans had thoughts of Brady’s 28-point comeback in the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons. Luckily for the Rams, they did not become victims of Brady’s history book and were able to beat the defending champions, 30-27. Matt Stafford showed why the Rams brought him to Los Angeles in this victory, throwing for 366 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams had their superstars kicking on all cylinders, and the Bucs could not overcome their depleted roster on offense, where for the most part looked very out of sync Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers continue to find ways of winning. The 49ers were able to beat the No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers by blocking a late fourth quarter punt for a touchdown, sending them to the NFC championship Game against their California rival. The 49ers were able to limit MVP front runner Aaron Rodgers, proving they can beat you a variety of ways.
Lastly, Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills left everything on the field Sunday night in Kansas City. In quite possibly the most exciting football game I have ever watched, the Buffalo Bills had Kanas City pinned on their 25-yard line with 13 seconds to play, Patrick Mahomes was able to move the ball in two plays to field goal range, which resulted in tying the game and an eventual overtime win. You would be hard pressed to ever find two quarterbacks ever playing at a higher level in the same game than on Sunday. As a fan, it must get you excited to see the matchup of Allen vs Mahomes over the next decade, and it also gave a sense of the torch passing from the Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethislberger to the next wave of quarterbacks.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will look to not lose three in a row to their divisional rival San Francisco 49ers in the same year. Under Sean McVay, the Los Angeles Rams have been an NFL powerhouse but are 3-7 vs Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers during that time. In a chess match between two young, brilliant minds of the NFL, McVay will look to snap their five-game losing streak on no bigger or more important stage than fighting for a berth to the Superbowl.
The Cincinnati Bengals have to repeat week 17 magic where they outscored Kansas City at Arrowhead 17–3 in the second half, completing an 11-point come from behind win. Beating the defending AFC champions twice in year will be a tall task for Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense are far removed from their midseason woes and seem to be on a mission in the latter half of the season. The Chiefs head into the game winning 11 of their last 12 and look to go to their third straight Super Bowl Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
Spread: -7.5 (Chiefs)
In a matchup where Vegas has given the Cincinnati Bengals no hope as -7.5-point underdogs, it comes as no surprise as the Kansas Chiefs have been overvalued in the spread all year. In the regular season the Chiefs were 8-9 against the spread. Most bettors fear their big play ability and putting games out of reach early. The good news is that the Cincinnati Bengals have similar big play ability with the most complete receiving corps in the NFL. The Bengals ranked second in the NFL with plays over 25 yards (42) compared to the Chiefs at 11th (34). Kansas City is also very efficient, completing the highest percentage of third down conversations via pass in the NFL and the second-best completion percentage in the Red Zone. Mix efficiency with their experience, and it will be a recipe hard to beat for the Cincinnati Bengals. Both defenses are Bottom 10 in the league for passing yards allowed, so expect this to be a shootout between two great quarterbacks. The Bengals will keep this one close, but the Chiefs will be playing for the Lombardi in two in weeks.
Pick: Bengals +7.5, Over 54.5
San Francisco 49ers (10-7) @ Los Angeles Rams (12-5)
Spread: -3.5 (Rams)
These two teams need no introduction, already meeting earlier this month where San Francisco defeated the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The 49ers and Rams have been creating one of the great rivalries in the NFL over the past four years. Two teams from California, two coaches who once worked together in Washington (2013), and two teams who have made Super Bowl appearances in the last three seasons. There are many storylines and underlying themes to this matchup, but ultimately it will come down to who can execute their game plan most efficiently. Both Kyle Shanhan and Sean McVay are the new brand or wave of coaching; both demonstrate outstanding creativity, leadership and have had tremendous success at a very young age. When looking at both team’s rosters, it is hard to ignore the superstar additions the Rams have made over the past three years, and anything less than a Superbowl will be a major disappointment in Los Angeles.
On defense, the 49ers are Top 10 in all major categories, giving them the edge on that side of the football. The Rams are no slouch, ranking 5th in the league in rushing defense. However, if there is a downfall, it would be their 23rd ranked passing defense.
On offense, both teams are in the Top 10 for yards per game (7th 49ers 375.5, 9th Rams 372.1), and the slight edge goes to the Rams for offensive efficiency, ranking 8th, compared to the 49ers 14th ranked efficient offense.
Overall, this matchup cannot be any tighter, and both teams have the players and coaching staff to win this game. I believe the Rams will overcome the 49ers curse on Sunday and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Pick: Rams -3.5, over 46.5
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