What a great week it was in the first round of the NFL playoffs. There were some thrilling results in the first six games and there are another four to look forward to this weekend as the divisional round kicks off on Saturday. We have you covered with a preview and betting tips for all four games below.
Sunday 8.35am (AEDT)
The Packers will be refreshed and well rested after securing the top seed in the NFC and earning a bye in the first week of the playoffs. They will host a dangerous Rams side that upset the Seahawks on the weekend, winning 30-20 in a brilliant defensive performance away from home. The Packers finished the season with a 13-3 record and were 7-1 at home. They were, however, just 5-3 against the spread at home after failing to cover against the Vikings, Jags and Panthers at Lambeau Field this season.
The Rams finished the season with a 10-6 record but it was their defensive play later in the season that really stood out and was the catalyst in their win over the Seahawks. In their last four games of the season, the Rams allowed just 13.25 points and across the course of the year and the record in their 16 games was 4-12 in favour of the under.
We think this one should be another low scoring game. The weather in Green Bay on Saturday is going to be in the negatives at its coldest and there is some forecast of snow. Throw into the mix the fact that the Rams have the best defence in the league at the moment and it has the makings of a bit of an arm-wrestle.
Monday 10.40am (AEDT)
The Buccs and Saints will square off in arguably the most hyped clash of the divisional round on Monday morning from 10.40am. Tom Brady has been to 13 AFC Championship games over his illustrious career but he’ll be looking to win his way into his first NFC Championship game with a win over the Saints here. His counterpart, Drew Brees, who has been at the helm of one of the best offences in the league this season.
The Saints finished the season with a 12-4 record and were solid in Week 1 of the playoffs against Chicago, even if they struggled to move the ball at times. They captured a 21-9 win as Brees put up 265 passing yards and two touchdowns. The win over the Bears marks the third straight game the Saints have covered the spread after finishing the season with dominant victories over the Vikings and Panthers.
The Buccaneers were one of the hottest teams in the league to finish the season. They won their last four games of the year and followed it up with a solid win against Washington in the first round of the playoffs. They did, however, fail to cover the high 10 point spread in the win. On the contrary to the other NFC clash, we think this one has the potential to be a shootout. The Buccs have averaged 38.25 points per game over their last four and the conditions under the Mercedes-Benz Superdome should be primed for scoring.
Sunday 12.15pm (AEDT)
This is a mouth-watering matchup in the AFC as two of the hottest teams in the NFL square off on Sunday afternoon. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were fantastic in their win over the Titans in the wildcard round, keeping their opponents to just 13 points to book a date with the Bills in the second round.
Buffalo continued to go about their business, punishing teams with dynamic offence as they have done for the whole back half of the season. They put up 27 points in their win over the Colts but failed to cover the spread in the three point win. The game snapped an eight game streak of covering the spread, a stretch where they put up a mammoth 37.8 points per game.
This will be a great matchup between two of the more mobile and dynamic quarterbacks in the league. Lamar Jackson is the proven quantity but Josh Allen has been the form quarterback in the league over the last few months. The Bills start as 2.5 point favourites and we like them at that line, especially at home. They are 7-1 straight up and against the spread in their last 8 and should roll here.
Monday 7.05am (AEDT)
Rest or rust, which will win out when the Chiefs take on the Browns on Monday morning? The Chiefs have been the team to beat all season long. The reigning Super Bowl champions finished the season with a 14-2 record, earning them the top seed in the AFC and the week off that comes with it. Will that help or hurt them against a Browns side that has lots of momentum at the moment?
The Browns captured a fantastic upset win over their divisional rivals the Steelers in the first round, putting up 48 points on the back of four interceptions and one forced fumble. Considering the sheer amount of turnovers the Browns forced, the fact that they still allowed 37 points is concerning as they come up against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Love this one to be a high scoring game as well. Baker Mayfield should live or die by the pass here, meaning this should be a pretty high tempo game and there’s no doubt that Andy Reid and the Chiefs won’t shy away from passing the ball. Back this one to be similar to the Browns-Steelers game, especially if the Chiefs get out to an early lead.
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