What a fantastic weekend it was in the opening round of the NFL Playoffs. Four great games were played and we hit on three out of four betting tips to start the playoffs series in decent form. There are another four massive games on this weekend in the divisional round of the Playoffs and we preview all of them and give our betting tips for the weekend’s action below!
The Colts trained continued to roll on wildcard weekend as they downed the Houston Texans by 14 points away from home. The Colts defence was fantastic in the win, allowing just 217 passing yards and 7 points. Andrew Luck completed 19/32 passes for two touchdowns while running back Marlon Mack racked up 148 rushing yards and a touchdown. The Colts defence will need to be firing again this weekend as they face one of the best offences in the league this weekend in the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs will be at home on the back of their bye week this weekend and are coming off a dominant 35-3 win over the Raiders in Week 17. They had, however, lost their previous two games in a row to the Chargers and the Seahawks before their Week 17 win, proving that their defence in particular can be vulnerable as they allowed 67 points over the two games.
While the Colts got the job done with defence in the wildcard round, they’ll likely have to rely on their offence this weekend to keep up with the high scoring Chiefs. The bookies have set a high line of 57.0 for the game given the scoring potential of the Chiefs, but we just think that is a little too high for a playoff game of this magnitude. 46 points between the Seahawks and the Cowboys was the highest total of the wildcard weekend and we think this one goes slightly under as well.
The Dallas Cowboys had a tough round one matchup against the Seahawks at home but managed to get over the line in a nail biter. Trailing by four points at the beginning of the final quarter, the Cowboys piled on two touchdowns in the final term to claim a two-point win. Dak Prescott was great in the win, racking up 226 passing yards as well as a passing and a rushing touchdown while star running back Ezekiel Elliot carried the Dallas offence with 169 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
The Los Angeles Rams will be at home for the divisional round matchup where they maintained a fantastic 7-1 record throughout the regular season. Their only home loss came at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15, where the Rams put up under 30 points for just the fourth time in the regular season. The Rams scored 32.9 points per game in the regular season, second only to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The line opens at a healthy seven points for this clash, which we think is a touch high given the Rams looked pretty shaky in their Week 14 and 15 clashes against the Bears and Eagles respectively. They rounded out the season with comfortable wins over the Cardinals and 49ers but we still have doubts on their offence heading into the playoffs. The Cowboys were one of the best teams in the league against the spread in 2018, going 9-6-1 and we think they cover this weekend.
The Chargers faced a tough test in week one of the playoffs as they travelled to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in the cold. They were defeated by the Ravens at home just a few weeks ago but came out victorious this time around claiming a 23-17 win. It was the Los Angeles kicking game that proved to be the difference as Michael Badgley slotted 5/6 field goal attempts, the longest of which a 53-yard bomb to lead the Chargers to victory.
The Chargers will face a Patriots team that despite finishing second in the AFC, has had an inconsistent year by their lofty standards. The Patriots closed out the regular season with wins over Buffalo and the New York Jets to secure the number two seed, but looked shaky at times throughout the year, losing games to Pittsburgh, Miami, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Detroit.
Despite their troubles in 2018, New England were still the only team in the league to go undefeated at home in the regular season. They maintained a perfect 8-0 record at home including great wins over the likes of Kansas City, Indianapolis, Green Bay and Minnesota. They have proven to be nearly impossible to beat at home throughout the Brady era, and the quarterback holds a 19-3 record at home in the playoffs, which is by far the best in the history of the league. Hard to look past the greatest quarterback-coach duo of all time even if they have been a little underwhelming this season.
Nick Foles continued his revival of the Philadelphia Eagles on the weekend, downing the Chicago Bears in Chicago in an absolute thriller by just one point. The Eagles put up just 16 points and Foles threw two interceptions, but it proved to be enough to get over the line against the struggling Bears offence. The Eagles will now face arguably the toughest test in football this season by travelling to New Orleans to face the Saints under the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
The Saints went 6-2 under the dome this season but one of those losses came in a Week 17 dead rubber against the Carolina Panthers. They played just four games all regular season where they failed to score 30 points, two of those games were still wins. Star skill position players Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas played limited roles in the Week 17 loss to the Panthers but should be back and ready to fire after two full weeks off.
The Saints start as big 9.5-point favourites here, which seems about right given their high-powered offence and the fact that they maintained the third best record against the spread in the regular season at 10-6. However, we just think 9.5 is a little high for a divisional playoff game, especially against a side that loves a nail biter in the Eagles and is playing like the team that won the Super Bowl last season.
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