Just seven games remain this season, with the Divisional Round set to kick off on Sunday morning Australia time with the number 1 seed in the AFC hosting the surprise Houston Texans in Baltimore. Then, the NFC 1 seed San Francisco 49ers welcome another surprise packet, the Green Bay Packers, with the winners moving onto Championship weekend next week. The excitement continues to ratchet up, and this week should be an absolute cracker.
Below, we will dissect the matchups, previewing how we think things will play out, and give out our Best Bet. Make sure you are following BeforeYouBet, as we will have dedicated Match Previews for the entire post season, and it’s all for free!
NFL 2023-24 Playoffs: Divisional Round Betting Tips
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium, Sunday 21st January, 8:30am (AEDT)
The Texans and C.J. Stroud showed no sign of nerves last week, as they completely dominated the Browns in Wild Card Weekend, running out 45-14 winners. Stroud was phenomenal in his first career playoff start, passing for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Texans controlled most of the game, however the result was confirmed when Joe Flacco threw two pick sixes in a row, with the Texans going from a 24-14 lead to an insurmountable 37-14 lead with 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Can this amazing rookie continue his spectacular campaign, or will the magnitude of the moment finally catch up with him?
The Ravens are off the bye, and with the Baltimore team also resting numerous stars in week 18, there could be some rust for the AFC #1 seed. There are also the well-publicised issues surrounding Lamar Jackson in the playoffs, with the soon-to-be two-time MVP sporting a poor 1-3 record in the playoffs. Has Lamar gotten over his playoff yips, or are we heading towards a huge boilover in the Divisional round?
Jesse Matthews / Tank Dell / Noah Brown (WR) – OUT
Kilian Zierer / Kenyon Green / DJ Scaife Jr / Tytus Howard (OT) – OUT
Jarrett Patterson / Scott Quessenberry (C) – OUT
Hassan Ridgeway (DT) – OUT
Jerry Hughes (DE) – OUT
Jimmie Ward (SAF) – OUT
George Fant (OT) – Questionable
Marlon Humphrey / Trayvon Mullen / Damarion Williams / Daryl Worley / Jalyn Armour-Davis (CB) – OUT
David Ojabo / Tyus Bowser (OLB) – OUT
Mark Andrews (TE) – OUT
Keaton Mitchell / J.K Dobbins (RB) – OUT
Tylan Wallace (WR) - OUT
Devin Duvernay (WR) – Questionable
Ar’Darius Washington (SAF) – Questionable
These teams met all the way back in week 1, with C.J. Stroud making his debut on the road in Baltimore. The Ravens won comfortably, 25-9, but a lot has changed since this game. Both teams have improved, but by how much? The Texans were viewed as a team that might win 5 or 6 games at the start of the season, and they’ve made the Divisional round of the playoffs, whereas the Ravens were clunky offensively to start the year but have slowly reaped the benefits of Offensive Co-Ordinator Todd Monken’s scheme. The Ravens were 9.5-point favourites in this game, which is extremely interesting, given that’s the spread we have for this game.
Speaking of this matchup, the side opened Ravens -9.5 and has stayed there all week. With numbers being so accurate this time of year, this is what we will be getting for the rest of the season, and there’s very little wiggle room in betting numbers. I make the Ravens 10-point favourites but see no value in this number.
As for the total, it opened 45, and has been bet down slightly to 44. I believe this is based mainly on potential weather in Baltimore, with cold and rainy conditions expected earlier in the week. It would appear now as though there shouldn’t be too much rain, however it will still be cold, with some strong winds expected intermittently throughout the game. This is where I get a little more interested, and where I believe the Texans may struggle to score points in this game. C.J Stroud and the Texans have struggled in outdoor conditions this season, with their last outdoor matchup being in week 15, and their last game in poor weather in week 14, where they were spanked 30-6 by the Jets. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ravens attack is clunky too, given most of their starters haven’t played for two weeks. Whilst I like both the Texans team total, and the game total going under, I’m going to take a slow first half here as the bet and bet under 21.5 first half points.
Under 21.5 points (1st half)
$1.97 (1 Unit)
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
Levi’s Stadium, Sunday 21st January, 12:15pm (AEDT)
See Houston Texans. The Packers were tremendous last week, and along with the Texans, were the biggest surprise packets in Wild Card Weekend. Amazingly, they seem to have hit a third successive franchise quarterback, with Jordan Love ascending towards the top of the quarterback rankings. Last week, Love threw for 272 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first career playoff start, as the Packers flew out to a 27-7 halftime lead. Aaron Jones was phenomenal, rushing for 118 yards and 3 touchdowns, seemingly hitting his stride just in time for the playoffs.
The 49ers are off the bye, and much like the Ravens, rested a bunch of players in week 18. There are so many similarities between these two games, and as such the handicaps will be similar.
Green Bay Packers
Tyler Davis (TE) – OUT
David Bakhtiari / Luke Tenuta (OT) – OUT
Eric Stokes (CB) – OUT
Samari Toure (WR) – OUT
Rudy Ford (FS) – OUT
Kingsley Enagbere (LB) – OUT
Isaiah McDuffie (LB) – Questionable
A.J. Dillon (RB) – Questionable
Jaire Alexander (CB) – Questionable
San Francisco 49ers
Cameron Latu / Ross Dwelley (TE) – OUT
Nick Zakelj (OT) – OUT
Talanoa Hufanga (SAF) – OUT
Clelin Ferrell (DE) – OUT
Danny Gray (WR) – OUT
George Odum (DB) – OUT
Dre Greenlaw (LB) – Questionable
These teams, coincidently, last met in the Divisional Round two years ago, as the #6 seed 49ers headed to the #1 seed Green Bay Packers, with the underdog coming home 13-10 winners. I take nothing from this game, given the changes in both teams, but I just find it fascinating the parallels that can be drawn between this matchup.
The 49ers opened 9.5-point favourites for this matchup, before being bet up to 10-point favourites early in the week. Packers money came in a +10, driving the number back to 9.5, where it has been for the rest of the week. I make the 49ers 9-point favourites, so found slight value in the Packers at +10, however I believe there is more value in the over here.
The total opened 48.5, and was quickly bet up to 50, with overs money continuing to come in through the week to where we now see the total hovering around the key number of 51. I love the over in this matchup. The 49ers have been the best offensive team all season long, and with two weeks of preparation, Kyle Shanahan should have this unit ready to rock. I think the only way this doesn’t get up is if the 49ers get out to a massive first half lead (21-3) and sit on the ball in the second half. Even then, it will be hard for the Packers not to concede the points needed for the 49ers to go over their team total here.
Also, a small play here on a derivative market, and that is a quick start for the Packers in this game. The Packers have shown that they are willing to take the reception if they win the coin toss, against what nearly every other team in the NFL does (defer). That means there’s a great chance the Packers start the game with the ball, meaning a much more likely chance at winning the first quarter. Just a small play, but one I don’t believe the market has factored in.
Packers ML (1st quarter) - $3.20 @ Palmerbet (0.5u)
San Francisco 49ers (team total) over 30.5
$1.99 (1.5 Units)