After a thrilling first round of NFL Playoffs in which we hit on two out of three bets, we are back with another round of betting tips for this weekend’s Divisional Round of playoffs below.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday 8.35am AEDT)
The Falcons captured a great upset win over the Rams in Week 1 of the playoffs to advance to the divisional round, where they’ll face the Eagles in Philly in what should be a tough contest. It was a great all around effort by the Falcons, especially the defence, who kept the leagues highest scoring team throughout the regular season to just 13 points in the win. Star wide receiver Julio Jones was also massive for the Falcons, hauling in nine catches for 94 yards and a TD.
They’ll need to be much better this weekend, however, as they face arguably the best all around defence of the regular season in the Eagles. Philly allowed just 18 points per game throughout the regular season, and were the only team to keep their opponents to an average of under 80 rushing yards. As good as they’ve been on defence, the Eagles offence could be a major issue, with starting quarterback Carson Wentz still on the sidelines through injury. Given, they do have one of the better back up QB’s in the league in Nick Foles, but with limited playoffs experience and only three starts this season, Foles will likely play more of a game manager type role here.
In the three games Foles has started this season, he has thrown at just a 54% completion rate, compared to that of 64% by Ryan. Sure the Philly defence has been outstanding this season, however, so often in the playoffs we see big QB’s and big skill position players step up to the plate as so many of the Falcons did last season. Because of these factors, the Falcons have opened as $1.69 favourites and we like them to take this one in a close match.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (Sunday 12.15pm AEDT)
In what could be one of the most lopsided betting markets in playoff history, the New England Patriots will start as 13.5 point favourites at home against the Titans on Sunday afternoon. The Patriots cruised to the first seed in the AFC this season and after the Titans upset Kansas City away from home in the Wildcard Round, they’ll get the tough task of travelling to Gillette Stadium to take on the Pats this weekend.
The Titans rallied from a 21-3 deficit at half time in their game against the Chiefs to come back and win 22-21 as running back Derrick Henry rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown. Henry should once again be the barometer for the Titans this weekend as they face a Pats team that allowed the third most rushing yards per game of any team in the league.
Henry will have to be massive for the Titans here if they have any chance of putting up enough points to keep up with the Pats, somehow, we can’t see that happening. Bill Belichick led defences have an enate ability to adapt, especially in the playoffs, and with so much post season experience at his disposal, we can’t see him losing this game.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (Monday 5.05am AEDT)
The Jags were able to narrowly defeat the Bills in round one of the playoffs in a tight 10-3 slugfest. As it has been all season, the Jags defence was exceptional in the win, allowing just 263 total yards, although they only had a total of 230 themselves. The Jags allowed the second fewest points per game throughout the regular season at just 16.8 and will need to be massive again here against one of the most dynamic offences in the league in Pittsburgh.
Antonio Brown is the big question mark surrounding this game. The star receiver, who was the only player in the league to be a unanimous first team all-pro this season, is still in doubt to return from a calf injury that has kept him out of the line-up since Week 15. When he is in the line-up, the Steelers boast arguably the best 1-2 receiver-running back combination in the game with Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
It’s hard to think that Brown won’t get up for a playoff game that the Steelers must win to advance. We expect him to be in the line-up on the weekend, and the progress shown by rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and veteran Martavis Bryant in his absence only add to the Steelers offensive depth. Jags QB Blake Bortles has had massive issues throwing the ball lately, and threw for just 87 yards in the win over the Bills, who allowed over 230 per game this season. We think the Jags will struggle to score enough to keep up with the Steelers here.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (Monday 8.40am AEDT)
The New Orleans Saints played out a thrilling, high scoring match against their division rivals in the Carolina Panthers in Round 1 of the playoffs. In the end it was the Saints who came away with a five-point win to advance to the divisional round where they’ll take on the red hot defence of the Minnesota Vikings.
Make no mistake, this game will be one on the side of the ball that pits the New Orleans offence vs the defence of the Vikings. In those areas, the two teams are arguably the best in the league, and if one team can stem the flow of the other in that aspect of the game, they will go a long way to winning. The Vikings boasted the best mark in league throughout the regular season in yards allowed and points allowed per game and will enter this game as 5 point favourites at home.
Minnesota were ten point winners when the two teams last met all the way back in Week 1 of the regular season. However, Sam Bradford played in that game, but has not played since October 9th after suffering a season ending knee injury. Back up Case Keenum has zero playoffs experience, which could be a big factor going head to head against talented veteran Drew Brees. Might seem silly to go against the best defence in the league but we think the Saints keep the ball rolling here as away underdogs.
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