NFL Divisional Round Matchups are Set
It is largely considered the best weekend of football for the entire NFL season. The playoff fat from the Wild Card Round has been trimmed – we’re looking at you, Philadelphia – as the final eight teams move to within two wins of making the trip to the Super Bowl.
The eight teams remaining range downward from the San Francisco 49ers, with their five Super Bowl trophies. We have the most recent Super Bowl champion, the Kansas City Chiefs. And then there are the Detroit Lions, the only NFL franchise around for all of the previous 57 Super Bowls that hasn’t yet played in one.
The eight remaining head coaches also spread the gamut. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is the only coach in league history to have more than 100 wins with two different franchises. Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is the second-longest continuously tenured head coach in the league, having just finished his 16th season in Baltimore. Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans is in his first year.
We have two No. 1 overall draft picks at quarterback in Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have both won MVP awards. We have a rookie leading the Texans in C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick last April. Plus we have the very last player taken in the 2022 NFL Draft in 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-9.5)
The Texans are just the fourth team to win a playoff game with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, and the first since 2009. They also showed in their blowout win of the Cleveland Browns that a top-flight defense, like that of the Ravens, will not intimidate them.
Cleveland’s defense was one of the best we’ve seen in years, and Stroud and company scored on five of their nine possessions, and their 280 yards passing was the second-most allowed by Cleveland all season.
NFL online bettors are also profiting from a Texans bet. This was their third straight week of covering the spread, and their 10th cover in 18 games.
Maryland-based brick and mortar sportsbooks have also been paying out on Ravens games with regularity. Baltimore is 11-6 against the spread this season, which includes a 16-point win over the Texans when these two teams played in Week 1.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-10)
The Green Bay Packers have more playoff wins at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, than the Cowboys have themselves. That second win came on Sunday in the Packers’ ninth all-time playoff matchup against the Cowboys. Now they head to Santa Clara for an NFL record 10th all-time playoff game against the 49ers.
The 49ers have won five of their previous nine meetings, including the last four. And Wisconsin online sports bettors beware – not only have the Packers lost four straight playoff games against the 49ers, they failed to cover the point spread in all four losses.
BetUS.com has this as the biggest spread of the weekend, with the 49ers favored to win by 10 points. The Niners were double-digit favorites in five games this year, and covered the spread in four of them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions (-6)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers capped the season-ending slide of the Philadelphia Eagles, 32-9, on Monday night. It’s the second time in three years that the Bucs have beaten the Eagles in the Wild Card round. Baker Mayfield was outstanding, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns. The Tampa Bay defense held the Eagles to 0-for-11 on third and fourth downs.
The Bucs defense will need to be that good again, as they now travel to Detroit, the fifth-highest scoring team in the league this season.
A note to the many football fans who will be at Michigan retail sportsbooks this weekend – the Bucs and Lions are tied for the best record against the spread this season at 12-6. Detroit has covered in four of their last five games, while Tampa Bay has covered in five of their last six.
There is a big contrast in how these teams go about getting wins. The Lions have hit the over in 11 of 18 games. The Buccaneers have gone under in 12 of their 18 games. Bovada.lv has the over/under for Sunday’s game set at 48.5.
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills (-3)
The final game of the Divisional Round is a rematch from the Divisional Round two years ago, and one of the best playoff games we’ve ever seen. The Buffalo Bills took the lead in that game with 13 seconds left on the clock, which proved to be too much time for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. They tied the game in regulation, then won it in overtime, 42-36.
The Chiefs and Bills survived frigid winter weather to win their Wild Card games. Kansas City covered the spread against Miami in the fourth-coldest game in NFL history. The Bills covered against the Steelers after their game was postponed a day because of more than three feet of snow.
BetUS.com has made the Chiefs the underdog for just the second time this season. Buffalo is the favorite for the 16th time in 19 games.