NFL Betting Predictions: Divisional Weekend Opening Line Report and Picks
An eventful Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs is in the books. The league’s powerhouses all survived. And from a betting perspective, we went 1-2 last week, bringing our season record to 21-18-1. On Saturday, the 49ers trailed at halftime before blowing the Seahawks out of the water, easily covering the 10-point spread. On Sunday, the Vikings lost to the Giants, 31-24, in a close game throughout, losing and failing to cover as slight favorites. On Monday night, the Cowboys raced out to a 24-0 lead, before eventually winning 31-14, eliminating Tom Brady from Super Bowl contention. Before jumping into a high stakes divisional round, let’s take a look at the biggest storylines from the Wild Card round.
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- Purdy delivers again: Brock Purdy keeps on performing for the 49ers, as they stretched their win streak to 11 games with a dominant win over the Seahawks. A playoff rematch against the Cowboys awaits.
- Jaguars pull off a miracle: Trevor Lawrence threw 4 first half interceptions and dug his team into a 27-0 hole. He then threw 4 TDs and rallied for a 31-30 win on the back of a walk off 36-yard field goal. A trip to Arrowhead awaits, where a 27-0 deficit will not be reversed.
- Bills survive late scare: Buffalo had a home playoff game against a reeling Miami team with Skylar Thompson under center for the Dolphins. What should’ve been a walk in the park turned into a nailbiter, after the Bills pulled ahead 17-0 and subsequently blew the lead. They held on for a 34-31 win, but that kind of performance won’t suffice against stronger opposition.
- Giants keep rolling: The New York Giants opened up their passing game against a weak Vikings defense, and it paid dividends. Daniel Jones threw for 301 yards and 2 touchdowns en route to an eventually comfortable road win over Minnesota. A trip to Philly to take on their divisional rivals is up next for New York.
- Huntley falls short: The Ravens were tied 17-17 with their division rivals, the Bengals, in the fourth quarter, with the ball on Cincinnati's 2-yard line. A costly fumble followed by a 98-yard scoop and score turned out to be the final score of the game, sending the Ravens home.
- Dallas steps up: It’s rare to say a 31-14 score is flattering for the losers, but it really is. The Cowboys ran riot over the Buccaneers, dominating on both sides of the ball. A tantalizing matchup against the 49ers has been set for Sunday night, giving the Cowboys a chance to avenge last season’s heartbreaking loss.
Game 1: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
Opening Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5)
The Kansas City Chiefs earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the valuable bye week that goes with it. Another dominant regular season from Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes is in the books, as the duo looks to claim their second Super Bowl title. Standing in their way is an invigorated Jaguars unit. The Jaguars had one foot out the door after falling behind 27-0 to the Chargers last week. However, a miraculous comeback saw them claw all the way back and win the game on a walk off field goal, stretching their win streak to 6 games. Against the Chiefs, the Jaguars know they cannot afford to make the same early game mistakes, and Trevor Lawrence must be more responsible with the football. Lawrence will need to throw the ball well, to take advantage of a mediocre Chiefs defense that struggles with the passing game. An early lead may sprout doubts in the minds of the Chiefs faithful, but I’m not concerned whatsoever. The Chiefs have seamlessly adapted to life without Tyreek Hill, and Mahomes is poised to take advantage of a porous Jaguars defense. The Chiefs are ranked 1st in passing yards, while the Jaguars allow the 4th most passing yards per game. It is rare to find this kind of discrepancy at this stage of the playoffs, but Mahomes will happily take advantage. The Chiefs have the ability to blow out teams, and the Jaguars are the perfect target. They are coming off a feel-good win against the Chargers and are susceptible to allowing big passing plays. I’m expecting a double digit first half lead, followed by a comfortable win and cover for the Chiefs.
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5)
Game 2: Cincinnati Bengals vs Buffalo Bills
Opening Line: Buffalo Bills (-5)
The Bills welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to Buffalo, for a tantalizing AFC battle. The Bengals are coming into the game on a 9-game win streak, and will be looking to make the AFC championship for the second straight season. These two teams were scheduled to meet on January 2, but the game was canceled while the Bengals were winning 7-3, due to Damar Hamlin’s health. The connection between Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase continues to grow stronger. And now that Burrow has an adequate offensive line, there is no telling where this Bengals team can go. They didn’t have a convincing win over the Ravens in the Wild Card round, but the game never felt like it was slipping away from the Bengals. The Bills were the Super Bowl favorites for every week of the season, except Week 18 and onwards. There is no disrespect towards the 13-3 Bills, who sported the 4th ranked offense, and 2nd ranked defense, but something doesn’t sit right with this team. Josh Allen has not been at his best over the last few weeks, and the Bills can’t afford any slip ups from him against a hungry Bengals defense. Honestly, I’m shocked to see the line where it is. The difference in quality between these two teams has not been tangible over the final months of the season, and this 5-point spread is disrespectful towards the Bengals. I will happily be taking the +5 on the Bengals and will be sprinkling on the +200 moneyline too.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (+5)
Game 3: Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers
Opening Line: San Francisco 49ers (-4)
A rematch of last season's Wild Card game is upon us. The Cowboys head to San Francisco looking for redemption after last year's disastrous final seconds after the Cowboys ran out the clock on themselves en route to a 23-17 loss. Both teams are coming into this matchup even more confident than last year, with a playoff win under their belts. The 49ers possess one of the most well-rounded offensive attacks in the league, with Christian McCaffrey at running back, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk at wide receiver, and 6-0 Brock Purdy at signal caller. The open field talent allows an inexperienced Purdy to succeed, not to mention the top-ranked defense. The 49ers have a smothering defense that allowed just 16.3 PPG throughout the season. For the Cowboys, they will be looking to build off their dominant win over the Buccaneers. They limped into the playoffs on the back of a 26-6 loss to the Commanders, with Dak Prescott throwing 11 interceptions over the final 7 games of the season. On Monday, Dallas played a turnover free game on offense, and their defense returned to their early-season form, getting to the quarterback early and often. The lone blemish was kicker Brett Maher, who missed 4 straight extra points after going 50/53 in the regular season. In San Francisco, neither team will give an inch, and every yard will have to be earned. When it comes down to it, I have no choice but to side with the 49ers. A 4-point spread is more than reasonable for a team on an 11-game win streak, all but one of which came by 6+ points. The 49ers defense, coupled with their dynamic offensive players, will be enough to get the win and cover. While everything fell into place for the Cowboys against the 8-9 Buccaneers, this will be a very different matchup, with a very different outcome.
Pick: San Francisco 49ers (-4)
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