While the dogs barked last week, the Divisional Round tends to be a place where the favorites thrive. Since 1990, favorites have won at about a 75% clip. That means NFL betting fans shouldn’t expect more than one outright upset.
Saturday's NFL Divisional Games
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
The line: Chiefs -5.5
This is a tough game to call as you’ve got the red-hot Colts, who have won 10 of 11, going on the road to face the top seed in the AFC. While the Chiefs lost two of three to end the season, a bye week should give them a chance to reset.
My concern here is that Indy has the better of the two defenses and the better of the two ground games. The Colts have allowed just 14 points per game over their last eight contests, which is the best mark in the NFL in that span.
Their ground game is fresh off a 200-yard day against a run defense that led the NFL in yards-per-carry (3.44). The Chiefs run defense is ranked 31st in that category (5.0).
This still figures to be a high-scoring affair as the Chiefs will be fresh but the Colts should either win this game or cover and keep it close. Take the Colts and the over with 888Sport.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
The line: Rams -7
Similar to the first game, a run defense should decide this contest as well. The Rams were dead-last in the NFL in yards-per-carry allowed at 5.1. That’s a big concern as they welcome the Cowboys and the NFL’s leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott, to town.
The Cowboys are a predictable team: If they can run the ball, keep the Rams offense on the sidelines and control the clock, they’ll cover and have a shot to win. If they’re down a score or two early, and are forced to throw a lot, they could get blown out.
I look for the Rams to sell out to stop the run. The Cowboys don’t have much of a passing game and the Rams have corners like Aqib Talib and Marcus Peterson to keep Amari Cooper under wraps. That means the Rams can load up to make sure Elliott doesn’t go off.
After a lousy effort in the playoffs last year, the Rams offense will be ready. The Cowboys will contribute enough points to get us over but not enough to cover. Take the Rams and the over with 888Sport.
Sunday’s NFL Divisional Games
Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
The line: Patriots -4
The Chargers-Patriots contest is probably the most evenly matched game of the weekend. The Chargers were the better team in the regular season and were 7-1 on the road this year (best road record in the league), so they have a shot. But New England is always tough to beat at home, off a bye and in the playoffs.
Even so, I’m going to back Philip Rivers in this spot – even if he’s 0-7 against Brady in his career. The Chargers have the better defense, the better pass rush, the better passing game and as long as they don’t make sloppy mistakes, which they are vulnerable of doing, they can cover and win here.
It should be a low-scoring grind but I like the Chargers here. Take LA and the under with 888Sport.
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
The line: Saints -8
Do the Eagles have any more magic in them? After winning at Chicago last week, the Saints will be on alert not to mess around with a team that is stronger in person than they are on paper.
While Nick Foles has played well, my concern here is that the Eagles have issues in the secondary and are going up against Drew Brees. The MVP candidate threw 21 touchdowns at home versus just one interception while averaging 9.54 yards per attempt. This Eagles defense let Mitchell Trubisky go for 300+ yards last week.
The Eagles can have a shot if this is a low-scoring, ugly game but the Saints – who are fresh off a bye with two weeks to prepare – will make sure that doesn’t happen. They’ll start hot, stay hot and force the Eagles to play from behind. Take the Saints and the over with 888Sport.